#SpeakAmerican?

So great is the viewership of the super bowl that it costs $133000 per second to air an advertisement. In this year’s super bowl, the coca cola ad was worth every penny and second. For those who have missed it, the commercial features the song “America is beautiful” sung in many different languages while a number of American scenes – kids at the movies, teenagers surfing, families dining – are shown.

The immediate internet explosion that resulted may seem surprising to those who find the ad a heart rendering message of American diversity. Twitter, of course, was the popular medium for arguments. @Tedbrewster, for example, tweeted, “America being overridden by multiple cultures and languages will divide and weaken us, not make us stronger. #SpeakEnglish #SpeakAmerican.” And not only twitter, but also politicians have gone on board: Former congressman Allen West repeats the tweet in a fancier manner, “If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing America the Beautiful in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come – doggone we are on the road to perdition.”

The arguments of these American conservatives display much bigotry and historical ignorance. First, unless one is speaking Cherokee, Sioux, or any other Native American language, “American” cannot be spoken. The United States has always been a multi-lingual country; ironically, most Americans today are descendants of immigrants who did not even speak English. The overly patriotic xenophobic who waves around the American flag while preaching the importance of English as the only true language of America is essentially a hypocrite.

 

As to the argument that America will be weakened if it is overridden by multiple cultures and languages, the only response needed is that America is already ridden with multiple cultures – without the supposed effect of being “weakened”. In fact, the nation is defined by its ethnic diversity. The term “melting pot” to describe America has long since been replaced with the term “salad bowl”. The conception of the melting pot suggests that anyone who enters the U.S. is assimilated into the American belief system; all the cultures are blended together to form a new, mixed one. Those who believe in this “melting pot” conception do indeed have a valid argument against the divisive nature of the advertisement. However, the truth is that America has numerous different cultures that retain their identities. In other words, the nation contains pockets of ethnicities and cultures that do not truly “mix”, but instead intermingle harmonically with other cultures. America is, therefore, a “salad bowl”. The distinctive cultures and beliefs in the vast country retain their own “taste” but contribute to form the whole.

The Coca-Cola advertisement simply shows the beauty in this conception by bringing to attention the separate-but-united nature of the nation. Those who find the commercial misleading or unpatriotic have yet to see the truly beautiful America described in its iconic song, “America is Beautiful”.

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