From Sea to Shining Sea?

Staff Editorial

In a sea of forgettable advertising
came a Coca-Cola commercial that
struck a chord in all Americans. For
some it incited joy, unity — the intended
response. But for others, it elicited
anger, defensiveness and pride, albeit
of a different kind.
The commercial depicted people of
all backgrounds, races, socioeconomic
statuses, and yes, languages, singing
“America the Beautiful.” The controversy,
as seen on social media, stems
from the song being sung in languages
other than English, and the inclusion of
two apparently gay dads in the ad.
There are two types of pride when
it comes to your country: one which
displays openness and a wish to include
others in your society, and yet another
which includes pride in the exclusivity
of your homeland.
Those who trended #speakamerican
and #boycottcoke belong to the latter
group. Congressman Allen West argued,
“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.”
But it is a falsehood that English is a
requisite to being American. If we as a
country cannot accept those who speak
different languages, come from different
countries, or are in any part different,
then we have failed. The intended
purpose of this country was to serve
as a beacon of freedom. Freedom of
religion, speech, press; the right to assemble
and petition, the consent of the
governed and shared power — all were
groundbreaking ideas when America
wrote them into existence.
Sadly, to some, America’s beauty is
still an entity that can only apply to old
white men who speak English. In the
words of Fox News host Todd Starnes
“So was Coca-Cola saying America
is beautiful because new immigrants
don’t learn to speak English?”
If we lose the ability to adapt and
progress, we lose the ability to be
Americans. The concept of America
extends beyond one central language
or faction. America is beautiful for the
ideals it was founded upon — ideals that
insist we keep changing for the better.
However, some still argue that the
commercial only served to divide the
country. Conservative pundit Glenn
Beck put in his unrequited two cents
by saying, “It’s in your face, and if you
don’t like it, if you’re offended by it,
you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re
for immigration. You’re for progress.
That’s all this is: to divide people.”
We agree with Beck (for perhaps
the first time) that issues often elicit a
divisive response. However, sometimes
it is necessary to be alienating, for the
greater good.
By including a gay couple, gay citizens
everywhere found acceptance. By
showing a woman in a burka, Muslims
everywhere found recognition in
a country that often denies it to them.
By expanding the definition of what it
means to be American, people everywhere
felt included in the country.
What Beck fails to realize is that the
American dream is a fallacy if it can
only extend to people from one language,
background, gender, race or sexual
preference. The American dream
is, in its nature, inclusive.
Sometimes that inclusivity will be
abrasive, and it will be met with comments
such as West’s and Beck’s. But
progress is, and it has always been met
with resistance. There will always be
those who suggest the movie, the story,
the doctrine, or in this case — the ad,
goes too far.
But in our opinion, and that of columnist
Dan Savage, it didn’t go far
enough.
Savage recently tweeted, “Now, @
CocaCola? Put a pair of Russian gay
dads in an ad that you run in Russia—
during the Olympics. #CheersToSochi.”
Especially during the Olympics, it is
important to provide a strong image of
America. Let’s face it, America is stronger
when its original intentions are upheld,
including its love for freedom of
all types. When everyone is included.
And, sorry Glenn Beck, but in this day
and age, that includes every sexuality,
race and gender

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