About That Coke Ad

Dear every conservative getting his underwear in a twist about that Coca Cola Super Bowl commerical in which not only was the “deeply Christian patriotic anthem” sung in something other than the English that Jesus spoke, but also featured a gay couple being happy with their kid:

Dudes, you’re aware that Katharine Lee Bates, the writer of the song, was almost certainly a lesbian, right? And while undoubtedly Christian, Bates used her faith as a foundation for progressive social activism that would have given the conservatives of her time, and possibly some conservatives now, the shudders and shakes (she also nearly resigned her professorship at Wellesley when the school thought to force its faculty to profess their fealty to the Christian faith).

Bates was a pacifist with the dream of uniting people “from the Pacific to the Atlantic, around the other way… and that will include all the nations and all the people, from sea to shining sea.” Which is to say that it’s an excellent bet that Bates would be delighted to hear her song sung in as many different languages by as many different sorts of people as possible.

And as for the idea that “unity” requires all people to be the same and adhere to the same top-down political and social orthodoxy, there’s this useful quote:

In 1910, when a colleague described “free-flying spinsters” as “fringe on the garment of life”, Bates answered: “I always thought the fringe had the best of it. I don’t think I mind not being woven in.”

In their outrage about “America the Beautiful” being hijacked to represent something it does not, conservatives are perhaps missing the irony that the song has been hijacked at least once before, by them. Perhaps they’re just mad that someone had the temerity to hijack it back. I don’t think it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that Ms. Bates would be amused by that.

253 thoughts on “About That Coke Ad

  1. This is where I will note that just because Coke has this nicely irritating to conservatives ad, doesn’t mean that Coke does not have its own share of social/political headaches at the moment, not the least of which is a sponsorship of an Olympics set in a country festooned with officially-sanctioned homophobia. This isn’t about Coca Cola, per se, it’s about the song “America the Beautiful.”

    I’ll allow some kvetching re: Coke, but please note that the actual topic is the song, the response to the ad, and Ms. Bates.

    (Also, before someone tries to complain: I am aware that not every conservative person has an underwear twist going on about the ad. The observations in the entry are directed toward the ones who do.)

  2. It was amazing to see an American company profess the view that we are an amazing nation due to our inclusiveness and welcoming people to our shores, and then have thousands of “Mercans” stand up and prove them wrong.

  3. It’s a wonderful video. Those freaking out are probably reliving their shock and rage at the 1970′s “teach the world to sing” advertising campaigns.

    I don’t even know what to think about the seeming majority of conservatives who are convinced that it’s our national anthem.

  4. At this point, I am reluctant to even use the term ‘Conservative’ for some of these people. It’s moved a long way from conservatism into radicalism and bigotry.

  5. Well, it would probably make a better national anthem than that old drinking song… or at least one that’s easier to sing.

  6. I was just going to say, I have more of a problem with Coke murdering union organisers in developing countries than I do with a nice multicultural ad… although it is a perfectly good nice multicultural ad.

  7. @Jim Saul

    Double Irony in that most of them were watching the Superbowl, which includes a singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” before the start of play. Assuming they didn’t skip the pre-game show.

  8. I think it is asinine to be upset, offended, angered or otherwise affected by a commercial on television during the Super Bowl. The purpose of the ad is to sell Coke. Therefore, tugging at the heartstrings of Coke drinkers everywhere, the writers of the ad went the “we are all one nation so we should all drink Coke ’cause it’s awesome” route. That is it.

    Side note: I think the song being in different languages is okay. It is what our country IS, whether people like it or note.

    Side note #2: I am a conservative. Just not a stupid, delusional, its my way or the highway conservative. Most are, unfortunately.

  9. I knew as soon as I saw that Coke ad that it would bring out the loonies.

    Coke and Cheerios have both created ads that are perfect for luring bigots out of their dark little holes so that we can identify and shun them. I especially enjoy the fact that Cheerios sort of doubled down. “Oh… You don’t like our cute biracial family? You really, really don’t like them? OK. Maybe we’d better buy our first ever Superbowl ad and put that cute family in it. How would you like that?”

  10. That was not annoying. Worth listening to once, certainly. Maybe I’ll stop automatically skipping all commercials.

  11. Ok; I am, once again, totally baffled. That is seriously weird; I think it’s just as well I have you to interpret because left to my own devices I could not find anything in that ad which might offend anyone other than a dentist…

  12. The *only* thing about this ad that bothered me – and I really did enjoy the ad – was the fact that not even one of the First Nations was used in it. No ‘indigenous peoples’ of any country was utilized, for that matter. I feel very strongly about the mainstream media and it’s marginalization, or utter disregard for both the First Nations of America, and those indigenous peoples elsewhere in the world. But I was by no means ‘upset’ by the commercial. I liked it very much, just wished it had also included at least one of the First Nations.

  13. Rob Port:

    When the most popular TV and online media sources amongst conservatives start revving up the noise machine, it’s no longer a strawman. As much as I would like to believe that Fox News and Breitbart do not speak for many conservatives, there has been exactly zero evidence to support that and a ton to rebut it.

  14. John,

    I think the answer by nearly all conservatives WAS “Meh, whatever.” I frequent many conservative sites and other than the one guy at Brietbart, one former congressman, and Todd Starnes I have seen nothing about this.

  15. Well, I consider myself to be moderately conservative, so here’s my comment: I didn’t watch the Super Bowl last night, I didn’t see the commercials, so I’m not going to comment on something about which I know nothing. End of non-comment…..;)

  16. Think on this…what is everyone talking about: Coke. Yes, they’re talking about the ad, but talking about it (and Coke) well after it was aired is marketing gold. It tells the advertisers they got a great return on their advertising dollar. With this kind of reaction, do you think others may follow down the same path? Why wouldn’t they? So-called ‘boycotts’ won’t hurt the bottom line of Coke, and actually will keep the story alive for more time than if nobody had said a peep.

  17. I agree with the other conservatives who have posted–I regularly frequent PJMedia, NRO, Instapundit, Reason, and other right wing sources, and no one cares about that Coke ad. The two Super Bowl ads they are talking about are:

    1. The Butterfinger threesome ad, mostly because it was really creepy, and

    2. The Sodastream ad, which brought out the worst of the left wing anti-semites (for the poster who linked to the YouTube comments on the Coke ad, check out the comments on the Sodastream ad. See how many times Scarlett Johansonn is called an “Israeli wh***.”) Conservatives, being pro-Israel, are defending it and Sodastream, whose greatest crime appears to be providing jobs for Palestinians.

  18. The thing that most baffles me about this is: A song is not important because of the language it was written in. Its important for the meaning and the feelings – the language is just the vehicle to express those things.

    Singing America the Beautiful in any language is saying the same thing. In fact, singing America the Beautiful in another language is a patriotic act: You’re spreading the message to folks who may not speak English and frankly it may be the only time they hear a positive thing about America in a language they can understand.

  19. I thought it was an awesome ad. My wife (a filthy socialist immigrant) couldn’t understand why the first words out of my mouth after seeing it were “That’s going to cause an uproar with the Stupid Set.” The game wasn’t even over before the twitter blew up with the fake outrage.

    The only thing I enjoyed that was the thorough beat down the Seahawks delivered to a team still associated with John Elway.

  20. artemisgrey – One of the languages used in the commercials was Keres, which is one of the languages spoken by several groups of New Mexico Pueblo people.

  21. Conservatives, being pro-Israel, are defending it and Sodastream, whose greatest crime appears to be providing jobs for Palestinians.

    Now there’s a strawman. It’s been almost a century since a conservative candidate for President won a majority of the Jewish vote, and in elections over the last two decades, that percentage has been from 15%-30%.

  22. Conservatives generally do not like the song America the Beautiful, and they generally are glad and have resisted urges to make it the national anthem because of all the reasons you cite. Telling conservatives that it is essentially a progressive song will not cause a mass change in mind, it will just cause the song to be a partisan thing and it will eventually splinter down the ideological divides.

    People who want to maintain, and then rollback American culture to a pre-1965 mass-immigration form are not bad people. They recognize that diversity is not the pancea that occasionally has been sometimes promised.

  23. Artemisgrey: “The *only* thing about this ad that bothered me – and I really did enjoy the ad – was the fact that not even one of the First Nations was used in it. No ‘indigenous peoples’ of any country was utilized, for that matter.”

    Maybe I don’t have your eye for “ First Nations “, but these images strike me as people who to my eye might be of “indigenous peoples” somewhere in the world;

    0:09 young woman blowing sand; 0:11 person in vehicle reaching for coke; 0:31 smiling man in hat; 0:38 solemn youngster; 0:43 filtered view of a man 0:54 female dancing; 0:55 man in hat

    Or is your point that there was no specific use of obvious cultural images of, say, Native Americans to “sell” coke? Which, frankly, I think is FINE. To me it was one of the better ads of the night, because it just showed…people. People of all kinds, living ordinary lives, in a situation where they might drink Coke, and it didn’t MATTER what their skin color or facial features were.

  24. I did not realize that, Pamela!!! I’ve been trying to identify all the languages (as opposed to trying to guess nationalities off of physical representation, which is not really acceptable) and I’m finding it pretty much impossible. But I am VERY glad to find that out! It would be nice to see more mainstream media advertising focus specifically on all the First Nations everywhere, but I’ll withdraw my complaint with this ad, now that I know there was at least some marginal recognition for First Nations.

  25. I love when something is simple and effective. Although, choosing just the right faces, and the amount of time each shot would be, must have been a hefty task, as well as the language choices. It is strange, but not upsetting, that such a sense of community could be captured, (and bottled ha ha ha), by a soft drink company. As purely from a content perspective I thought it was a nice bit of art.

  26. Jesse,

    It is possible that conservatives are pro-Israel without winning a majority of the Jewish vote. This seems to empirically be the case.

    Note also that most American liberals are also pro-Israel.

  27. Folks:

    Let’s not get sidetracked into discussions that are not on point to the entry, please. Sodastream and Israel/Palestine would one of those discussions.

  28. John, don’t confuse me with facts! I don’t want details!!! Let me just get my outrage on and be done with it!

    And, lest anyone think I believe the conservatives have a monopoly on this attitude, let me say, No, I’m well aware that the progressives do it too. As a left-leaning independent voter, it just makes me weary and tone-deaf.

  29. Susan, since I don’t really think ‘judging’ where people are ‘from’ based off of their appearance is acceptable, I was going off of languages specifically and recognizing them by sound. After the fact, I’ve been trying to research it online, again with languages, since to me, various nations don’t ‘look a certain way’. As I just said in a comment, it’s been almost impossible to find out every language used, but I knew there was no American Indian languages *that I was familiar with*. As Pamela pointed out, there WAS a language used which is shared by several of the New Mexico Pueblo peoples. Which makes me happy.

    And for me, it’s not a matter of ‘using’ Native peoples to ‘sell’ a product, but in this case there was a sense of ‘many nationalities, one nation’ and since the First Nations have had a culture within our country’s borders since before it was ‘our’ country, I felt like they should have been portrayed. Which, they were, in some small facet.

  30. [Deleted for generic vaguely racist commentary floating on top of unearned and unproven assertions. Yeah, no, dpmaine. I suspect that you were unhappy that your previous comment was ignored and were trying for a second bite at the apple. Nice try, but unless you can make your assertions in ways that aren't just so cluelessly race-baiting, you might as well just sit this thread out - JS]

  31. By today’s definition, I consider myself a conservative in that I’m in favour of small government, a respect of the Constitution we written and amended and holding to values of respect for all. Now with that said, I’m repulsed by the bigots who equate multi-lingualism and multi-culturalism with evil. In this magnificent land you are free to proclaim your love for it (or your disdain for it) in the language of your choice. That’s what freedom means, and anybody who considers themselves a true conservative needs to understand the intent and purpose of the first amendment.

    It doesn’t mean I have to speak your language, respect your religion or pay for your particular boondoggle, but you have the absolute and unequivocal right to express your opinions in the manner of your choosing (insofar as it’s done peacefully, of course).

    America is a beautiful place and I’m proud to call it my adopted home–in any language.

  32. Susan, let me make this clear too, because I don’t think I did in my responding comment: I in no way mean to imply that YOU are judging people by looks either.

    I totally agree with this:To me it was one of the better ads of the night, because it just showed…people. People of all kinds, living ordinary lives, in a situation where they might drink Coke, and it didn’t MATTER what their skin color or facial features were.

    Love, LOVE that facet of the commercial!!!

  33. Those of us living in the future were deeply offended by the Doritos time-travel ad. Don’t ask why; you’ll find out eventually.

  34. Ms. Bates would almost undoubtedly be happy at the idea of singing her song in a plethora of languages. She would be substantially less thrilled to have it used to shill flavored sugar-water, I’m certain.

    I used to live in Bates Hall at Wellesley. A great fan and defender of mega-capitalism she was definitely not.

  35. Seahawks full back Derrick Coleman is deaf (and did a brilliant Duracell ad about it) and yet there was no use of Sign Language in the Coke ad. Also, my wife noted that there was no Irish Gaelic used. She’s understandably upset.

    I’m going to go gin up some outrage about it.

  36. I agree with those who have said these asshats aren’t conservative, whatever their delusional self-labeling. They are reactionary bigots, and we should call them that. But then I also think the Democrats are the conservative party in the US, and the Republicans are divided between VERY conservative and reactionary bigots, the latter being divided into the ones who are reasonable (or capable of sounding reasonable, like the Pauls), and the ones who are so gaudily deranged that it shows even in photographs, like Bachmann.

    I have a dream that the reactionary bigots who stopped eating Cheerios™ and had their serum cholesterol skyrocket as a result…you can fill in the rest.

    Finally. it took me two tries to even FIND the gay couple in this ad.

    Rob Port, you’re not on Twitter, then?

    Jesse, indeed, and Faux News and Breitbart are definitely both in my ‘gaudily deranged reactionary bigots’ category. Conservative only by self-labeling, because it’s a brand they can use to sell their evil nonsense.

    Peter, you’re exactly why I don’t want to call the GDRBs “conservative.” You and I would not agree on most things, but you’re sane and reasonable. If only you were the furthest-right philosophy in America!

  37. Commercial time during the Superbowl is expensive. Companies buy time to increase / maintain their market share. Will this spot have that effect for Coke? Does increase / maintain market share even have a meaning for Coke? Was this money well spent?

  38. Um – watched a Bollywood movie rather than the Super Bowl last night? CHENNAI EXPRESS, if you’re interested – it was silly and cute and had some great musical numbers and was a romantic comedy/drama…which lots of cars blowing up real good! :)

    OTOH, I hear “Mr. Anti-Obamacare” “Papa John” Schnatter’s pet team, The Denver Broncos? Got their asses kicked…. :)

  39. Language log posted about the languages used in the ad earlier.

    some of the videos that Coca-Cola made about the commercial. There’s a behind-the-scenes video about the young female singers, as well as standalone renditions in each of the languages featured (and a couple that apparently didn’t make the cut): Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French, Hebrew, Mandarin, Keres Pueblo, and Arabic. Oh, and English.

    Not as many different ones as I’d thought from the reaction.

  40. Most Americans only have to go back four or five generations in their own families to realize Americanized english wasn’t their family’s language. Bet that pops a few radical conservative blood vessels, but the fact is, we’re all from somewhere else, even the Native Americans.

  41. Guy Medley:

    “Most Americans only have to go back four or five generations in their own families to realize Americanized english wasn’t their family’s language.”

    I only have to go back two. My grandfather, who was born in the US, didn’t start speaking English until he went to school. Before then, he spoke Italian, because that’s what was spoken in his home.

  42. I heard about this ad on the radio this morning … can’t see why it’s offensive.

    My first thought was, this could have been my mom’s parents who arrived here from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century – they might have sung this on the ship, crossing the Atlantic, amid others singing in who knows how many languages and dialects.

    A beautiful picture of this nation of immigrants.

    Because no one’s people are “from” here, if you go back far enough. And those who arrived the earliest faced unimaginable hardships to get here – the Mayflower might have seemed a luxury yacht, compared to what they went through on their journey. Everyone should take pride in their heritage.

    Also, thanks John for the 1910 quote! My own little segment of the spinsterly “fringe” has lots of sequins & shiny beads. :-)

  43. Out of curiosity: how many First Nations languages has “America the Beautiful” been translated into thus far?

    That might be something for Coca-Cola to play with for next time.

  44. I wasn’t even watching Men Play Game With Oblong last night and saw teh intertubes blow up about it. Pretty cool! And yeah, while the sentiment of the ad/song/presentation is agreeable to me, still not going to go back to Coke (not even the good glass bottled Mexican coke they sell here in New Mexico). Still, it’s better to be talked about than not talked about so guess ad was success.

  45. My great-grandparents spoke Pennsylvania German, which is decidedly not English. And no, they were not Amish. Just PA Dutch. :) Many people in my region still speak the language just to keep it alive. The idea that English is any kind of official is ridiculous.

  46. Well said, John. America is ideally about diversity and creativity. Dogmatism and fundamentalism are why this country was formed in the first place. To offer a place to escape such absolute systems.

  47. For languages, my mom was hit with ruler every time she didn’t use English in school. Kindergarten was rough! Still, it’s not like the locals were happy to see my family show up 500 years ago and start forcing Spanish in them.

  48. I only have to go back three generations. My great grandmother on my father’s side never spoke English, just Italian, and my father had a heavy accent as a young child because all of his aunts and uncles spoke Italian as their first language, English as a second. On my mothers side it’s four generations until you hit German and Tsalagi Gawonihisdi, the Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people. I never got to hear Tsalagi Gawonihisdi spoken by my great grandmother, though. Even if she hadn’t died before I was born, she’d been subjected to Christianization as a young woman and was so afraid of being considered a ‘heathen’ that she refused to ever speak her birth language, or wear her hair any style but pulled up in the going fashions of the times.

  49. Oops, that would be four generations back until you hit the German speakers, only three before you get to the Tsalagi Gawonihisdi. Typing faster than I was proofing…

  50. Well, the “war on christmas” has been put on hold till November, so they’re either going to get upset about “Obama was born on Venus” or “people who don’t look like me also exist on planet earth”, both of which can be boiled down to xenophobia of one sort or another.

  51. Well, if you want to get technical about it, nobody in Europe was from Europe either, because everyone is originally from Africa. But people don’t tend to point this out as often as they want to mention that the Native Americans aren’t from America. I think 10,000+ years of having been in the Americas qualifies them for being from America.

    Does anyone have a link to the second Cheerios commercial? I bought a box of Cheerios after the first ad even though I never (didn’t used to) eat cereal (now I bring some to work as a dry snack).

  52. Maximum Bob writes:

    It was amazing to see an American company profess the view that we are an amazing nation due to our inclusiveness and welcoming people to our shores, and then have thousands of “Mercans” stand up and prove them wrong.

    I can see the ad as an anthem for inclusion and welcome. I can also see how, with the particular choice of song that it may see immigration more in terms of fruit salad than melting pot.

  53. I suspect that the folks who hated the Coke ad are also strongly represented in the group that didn’t like E Pluribus Unum as our national motto. (It never was the official motto, just the more typical one until 1956.) Personally, I like the idea that from our diversity comes our strength (IDIC, anyone?) and “From many, one” and the Coke ad both present that idea very well indeed.

  54. I kept having to repeat text to my brother (Bless his heart, as we say in the south)
    “Dude, ‘America the Beautiful’ is not the National Anthem, you dumb cracker”

    He calls me ‘Ignorant communist,’ so it’s all very Jane Curtin/ Dan Akroyd.

  55. Am I the only one who heard the ad and thought “Great, now I will need to press 1 to heard it in English”?

  56. I only go back two generations, but 2 generations ago, my family wasn’t in the US. My grandparents were speaking Gaelic in Nova Scotia, Canada, and learned English (and probably French) in school.

  57. As someone who considers himself a conservative (albeit old school with a libertarian bent) and evangelical, I’d like to point out that not all such people are bothered by things like this commercial. I do not find a need to agree with people or approve of everything they do or say in order to treat them with dignity and respect or to wish them happiness.

    On the other side, I’d much rather that conservatives and everybody else treat others with dignity and respect. I would suggest that such treatment comes out of who we are as people, and says more about us than the other person. If that is true, then calling conservatives names (even when it’s deserved, and it often enough is deserved) isn’t the best approach either, at least if one assumes that the goal is to be respectful, dignity promoting people ourselves. I don’t particularly care if the people I treat respectfully deserve it or will change as a result, I care that I am the kind of person who treats everybody with dignity.

    And I find that treating people with dignity regardless of whether or not I think that they deserve it removes the question of whether they actually deserve it from my thinking, and helps me to actually see others as deserving of dignity.

    In the end, the kind of people we are is a choice that each of us makes daily throughout our lives.

  58. My maternal grandmother’s birth certificate is in Finnish, which was apparently the done thing in parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the ’20s and ’30s. I’d have to go back another generation (and consult a medium, heh) before finding a relative who could speak a word of it, though.

  59. I really think libs go looking for something to bitch, whine and cry about. I have not heard one person may a negative comment about the commercial, not one. But I am sure if you go looking for it you will find it.

  60. Oh and yes I am aware of the link to the liberal site that talks about a couple of conservatives who were upset, exactly my point.

  61. As a gay man whose formative years were the 1970s and 1980s, I sometimes just have to stop and marvel at the fact that gay people are now at the point where they’re being represented in advertisements from the biggest companies on Earth. Not that there isn’t a very long way to go, but the progress so far is astounding.

  62. They recognize that diversity is not the pancea that occasionally has been sometimes promised.

    I realize that dpmaine has been ejected from the conversation here, so I’m not really trying to have a direct argument. I’m just asking people to look at this quote because it is an interesting example of a fallacy that so many seem to have. Diversity is not, of course, a panacea. Diversity is who we are. We have always been culturally diverse, in the U.S. and in most parts of the world. Human beings have endlessly blended and co-habitated cultures and languages since we started forming cultures and languages. (Hint: that’s what “trading” is.) We can’t not be diverse.

    There are many folks who confuse policies that enforce or encourage respect for diversity, primarily in the protection of equal civil rights for all, with those being policies to create diversity. And they believe if we just reverse those “policies,” that they can keep diversity out, physically in terms of people and cultural influences as well. They confuse diversity essentially with immigration. But multi-culturalism is reality. Mono-culturalism is a rare beasty, usually only found on isolated islands or in deep jungle, that lasts about five seconds after contact with another population.

    Rodeos, BQ ribs and cowboy hats aren’t from British or English speaking cultures. The U.S. South’s culture historically was a mix of everything from German and French to Nigeria to Cuba to China. No matter where you live, you are multi-cultural and so are your neighbors. And we all still shop at the same stores, work for the same companies, till the same land, and have our kids go to school together. You can’t keep multi-culturalism out — it is part of you, especially in North America. Genetically, even. Being multi-lingual within that multi-culturalism is an asset for countries, especially for greater trade. The coaching staff and players on the two teams in the Super Bowl are multi-cultural. They speak more than one language. They in that game represented America to the world. One of them is deaf.

    Coca-Cola, whether liked or not, is part of culture as well as a product. It is known and recognized globally, from deserts to highest mountains. That ad was aimed not mainly at America but at the world watching our cultural event of the Super Bowl, brought to us by sponsor Coca-Cola, beverage cultural symbol of America, to approach them, as they did with their 1970′s ads. It was also deliberately set to spark controversy and thus go viral on the global Internet. Because their advertisers know many people believe that culture is something separate, contained and somehow pristine, whereas many other people understand that culture is a flowing river.

    The conservatives have gotten a lot of fund-raising out of claiming that English — the global language — is under threat and that the brown people are going to try to destroy it in the U.S. unless we force them to never ever speak of their culture and language again. (While at the same time insisting on cutting the funding for helping them to learn how to speak English.) This is a time honored tactic that goes back to the 1600′s in the U.S. (Annie Proulx wrote a really fascinating novel called Accordion Crimes, which traces these waves of cultural development as an accordion passes hands and music through groups of immigrant and ethnic Americans.)

    Once we pound it out, at least partly, in one area (no Irish, no Italians, no Jews various signs used to read,) it pops up in another. Because the people who promote it, profit off of it. Language is an easy stick to grab on this, which is why Coca-Cola used it. And everyone makes their money off of snarling about it. That’s culture too, though a less pleasant part.

  63. WhoReallyCares:

    Yes, those dastardly libs, putting guns to the heads of conservative columnists and forcing them to write about that Coke ad! HOW COULD THEY, THEY DON’T EVEN LIKE GUNS.

    Seeing your second post now: So you are aware of at least one person being negative about the piece. Which actually rather invalidates your point rather than making it, I would say.

    Kat Goodwin:

    Actually dpmaine has not been ejected from the thread; I merely deleted one of his comment and told him to recast it in a way that wasn’t racebaiting, if he wanted. Responding to his first comment, which was not deleted, is perfectly fine, and dpmaine is of course able to respond if he would like, although I will be watching his response with the mallet raised.

  64. Artemis Grey – There are a few reports that one of the languages in the commercial was Keres Pueblo (An isolated language group from New Mexico).

  65. People have been pointed them out, A Different Daniel. Thank you for doing so as well! I think part of my problem was that I started looking the moment the commercial aired (not to find something to gripe about, but because I liked the commercial and was interested in discovering the languages used) and it was too soon for there to be a complete break down of available. Then this morning discussions were underway and I got involved with them, rather than waiting until I’d identified all the languages.

  66. Oh and yes I am aware of the link to the liberal site that talks about a couple of conservatives who were upset, exactly my point.

    Did I miss something? When did Twitter become a liberal site? And did Breibart’s site go over to the left all of a sudden?

  67. WhoReallyCares, if a tree falls right in the middle of a group of people, and they all say “wow that sure was a loud crashing noise,” but you have your hands over your ears, did it make a sound?

    I’m asking since you obviously didn’t read the comment thread, or maybe you discounted everyone else’s observances and avoided clicking the links. Or maybe you’re being cagey and using ‘heard’ literally—I havn’t heard anyone say it either, but there’s certainly a BUTTLOAD of it on Twitter and (as cited upthread) in the YouTube comments.

    So are you making a completely vacuous “I haven’t experienced this, therefore it isn’t happening” statement? If so, do you apply this standard to everything, or just things you’d rather not believe? For example, do you doubt that the Gettysburg Address was ever uttered? After all, you didn’t hear it.

  68. It was interesting to read more about Katharine Lee Bates. I’d not read about her before and she sounds like she was an interesting person. Thanks for posting this and the Wikipedia link. I learned something.

    And nice point about the song being hijacked back.

  69. JS — I thought you’d told him to sit out for the thread. Just didn’t want to seem to be arguing with someone who can’t argue back. But dpmaine can respond as wishes under the Mallet, as do we all. :)

  70. too funny, nope, I never said it did not happen because I did not experience it. Read more carefully please. My point is that a few people react poorly and libs go looking for it so they can get their panties in a wad then bitch, cry and moan. Anyone who determines public opinion or the opinion of a large group of people based upon twitter needs their head examined.

  71. Actually, what you said was “I have not heard one person may a negative comment about the commercial, not one.” Then you admitted to being aware of “a couple of conservatives who were upset,” which means that you were either lying or using the word ‘heard’ so literally that it’s meaningless.

    Anyone who determines public opinion or the opinion of a large group of people based upon what s/he has personally heard is being disingenuous. Or stupid, of course, but I’m betting on disingenuous.

    No, you didn’t say it didn’t happen because you didn’t personally experience it. But you sure as shit did imply it.

  72. Apoyar la libertad de expresión!

    It’s also worth noting that Ms. Bates was an active Republican … until she broke from the party because it opposed US participation in the League of Nations.

  73. WhoReallyCares:

    “I never said it did not happen because I did not experience it.”

    Nor did I say that was what you said. You did say that you hadn’t heard of anyone making a negative comment about the commercial, but then immediately said that you were aware that the the article I pointed to cited a couple of conservatives complaining about it. Which means you did, in fact, hear of people complaining about it. Nor were the conservatives cited just some dudes on Twitter; one of them was a columnist for Breitbart, and another was a former conservative congressman.

    That said, I am delighted to hear you note that no one you know seems to have been worked up about it; if most conservatives didn’t get worked up about it one way or another, I see that as a positive.

  74. Geoff Whisler inquired whether Coke concluded that its advertisement was money well spent; I cannot speak for others, but it does seem to me that, if I were in the market for cold caffeinated beverages, I would think more favourably of Coke as a result of the ad.

    I also think less favourably of anyone idiotic enough to be offended by what seems to me to be a somewhat rosy portrait of the US; what it aspires to be rather than what it is, perhaps, but from this side of the pond it looks like a good advertisement for your country.

  75. Geoff Whistler: I’m Australian. I’ve heard of the damn commercial. I’ve heard about the “controversy” it caused, and enjoyed watching as the US bigot fringe (who are your country’s least likeable and most readily mockable subgroup) exploded in a tirade of outrage and indignation about a flippin’ TV commercial. I know which company paid for the commercial to be made and which company bought the airtime to show it.

    I think it’s succeeded sight out of mind. We’re talking about it now, aren’t we? And forriners from far distant lands can follow along without problems. Am I more likely to buy the product being advertised? Well, given my taste for lolly water isn’t that great at the best of times, probably not (I prefer tonic water if I have to have something carbonated – I like the bitterness).

    (Also, as an Australian, I’d love it if the Coca-Cola corporation decided to perform a similar stunt here at Grand Final time. Okay, they’d need to buy at least two advertising slots, because Australians have a schism over the nature of the One True Code of football, but that’s a minor point. But I’d love to see such an ad, particularly if they used “Advance Australia Fair” and rendered the whole thing in various languages of multicultural groups who’ve moved here, except for the two lines “For those who’ve come from ‘cross the seas/We’ve boundless plains to share” which would be left in English. One in the eye for the fools in this country who want to pretend that bigotry and racism are part of our national heritage. *grumpgrumpgrump*)

  76. Conservative reactions on the ad aren’t universally negative, but it’s worth pointing out that Rush Limbaugh — one of the major definers of what’s politically correct on the right — has criticized Coke for the ad.

  77. RE Bearpaw “”Rush Limbaugh — one of the major definers of what’s politically correct on the right “”

    In his own mind, maybe.

  78. I’m not sure, but I suspect that the baiting of the US (Always) Right during the Superbowl half-time entertainment is fast becoming something of a spectator sport in and of itself. Who’s going to have the ad that causes Fox News to explode this year? What’s it going to involve? Is it going to be multiculturalism; multi-racialism; a viewpoint vaguely to the left of Mussolini; the suggestion that maybe there exist on this planet people who are not actually white, English speaking Americans; or are we going to drop back on the old standby, nekkid boobies on Prime Time TV?

  79. dlc1119: I’ll gladly grant you that Rush perceives himself as more significant than most other will allow but, whether he’s an opinion-maker himself or successful enough to keynote events such as CPAC due to an ability to see where right-wing winds are blowing, Rush is definitely a valid indicator a not insignificant mass of conservatives are not happy with Coke today.

    In general the argument (put forth by others, not dlc1119) that paying attention to the lunatic fringe who’d be offended by an innocuous or clever commercial is just liberals looking for something to be angry over is a little too precious, if not outright ironic.

  80. A couple of upfront things…I didn’t watch the Superbowl…and I am a politically non-Euclidian.

    When I first saw this, on youtube, I got tears in my eyes. This, despite it being a commercial, is everything I love about the USA.

    All those people pulling up the straw-man of “but they don’t learn English” should know that a large percentage of the English language itself is made up of words from >other< languages.

  81. JS–

    How is this. I think the problem with the ad is that separate from what it says to conservatives and liberals it is a corporate lie.

    There is no ethnically integrated America, as a single unit. The Coke ad portrays Americans united in their love of a product. But the truth is that not Coke and not anything unites Americans anymore.

    The people who are going to be moved and touched by the ad are the people who think that America is a united single place, beautiful and soulful and strong. But that is not the real America. The real America continues the next 15 seconds after each little bit, where the enjoyer of Coke (or presumed enjoyer, since not all of the people were drinking a Coke) is having the drink on a lunch break cut illegally short by a hostile employer, or being ‘enjoyed’ as a chap sugary substitute for healthy calories, or stopped and frisked for loitering.

    That is the America that most of us live in, and we saw the ad while doing the dishes or performing some other service for the very people that the ad was targeted to – the largely affluent, largely powerful, largely separate America that enjoys sports and unbridled commercialism at the direct expense of the working poor.

    As a POC that’s as toned down as I can make it. Otherwise not sure it’s compatible with this thread.

  82. I didn’t give it much thought at the time other than thinking it was worth an Emmy nod for cinematography. When I saw your blog I too thought “John is setting up a strawman” but after checking your refs I see the loonies are out there trashing a beautiful song about my country. I served my country all over the world and I think it’s beautiful in EVERY language.

  83. dlc1119, when was the last time a member of the Republican and/or Tea Party leadership publicly disagreed with Rush and *didn’t* apologize and/or walk back their comments within 24 hours? If Rush isn’t one of the people who define what’s politically correct on the right, maybe the leadership on the right should stop behaving like he is.

  84. Thanks for that, Farrell.

    The thing that gets me is the assumption that if you learn English you will never again speak your native language or any other. I mean oy, Jesusmaria, bozhemoi, what kind of dupayash mangiacake believes that?

    It’s particularly coprocephalic when you’re talking about songs. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t know at least one song in a language they don’t speak (or at least aren’t fluent in).

  85. Oh for FFS. Conservatives finding yet another thing to bitch about. And as usual, they know absolutely nothing about the history of the cultural icon they think is just for them.

    Seriously, though, Coke made this ad because they know that they’ll sell more carbonated sugar water if they appeal to people of all cultures, races, religions and orientations. If they thought a Superbowl ad that appealed to right wing sensibilities would do a better job of expanding their market share, they’d have gone with that instead.

    Maybe that’s what’s really getting some peoples’ knickers in a twist.

  86. dpmaine, I don’t usually expect to agree with you on much, but I do (mostly) here.

    I qualify that for two reasons:

    1. I believe there is value in aspirational depictions of the America we wish we lived in, as long as we don’t mistake it for the America we do live in, or use it to cover up the reality. This ad can be seen either way, of course.

    2. There is GREAT value in including POC in depictions of America, so that people who live in all-white environments won’t think of POC as some kind of anomaly or interloper. I didn’t see that ad as saying “look how beautifully we all get along” so much as “look how many kinds of Americans there are, the many ways they have fun, the many languages they speak.” I think that’s a message that much of white America hasn’t heard enough.

    Randy Lott, thank you. I was hoping someone would bring that perspective to bear here.

    wagnerel, funny how the whole “free market” thing collapses when it doesn’t privilege them, isn’t it?

  87. wagnerel, that last is a good point, IMO. The advertising industry (not to mention large corporations that make and mass-market consumer goods) is not generally at the cutting edge of social change. If there are ads like that one and ads in which possibly gay couples and their families appear, that suggests a certain normalization of the concept that this country already is very ethnically and socially diverse and that gay families are now part of the mainstream, even if only on the edges of the stream. That may be a deeply problematic and upsetting thing for extreme right-wingers and social reactionaries to have to face.

  88. I also have to say I liked the ad because it’s one of the few that fell all over the economic spectrum as well. In celebrating ethnic, religious, and gender diversity they didn’t skew strictly to the top of the economic ladder like some of the other commercials did.

  89. And now Glenn “Snake Oil” Beck is claiming that Coke was intentionally being divisive with that ad.

    You know what? I don’t really mind being divided from people who think an appreciation of multiculturalism is divisive. I’m *fine* with that.

  90. If one clicks through and reads the article at Brietbart and the blog post by Rep. Allen West one will discover that the original article by TPM’s Tom Kludt is a textbook example of Yellow Journalism. Brietbart’s Leahy focused mostly on REPORTING what conservatives were upset about and concluded that the change in emphasis from liberty, the rule of law and the integration of welcome immigrants into society (meaning speaking English for one) is being changed to a naive and shallow celebration of “diversity” (while, I note, hating on and wishing to limit true diversity: intellectual diversity). Rep. West expands on this theme and quotes one of the first Progressives (and certainly the first Progressive president), Teddy Roosevelt, to focus on what was once a noble ideal: welcoming immigrants from all countries but demanding of them to integrate into our society.

    Klundt should be ashamed of his thoughtless, Yellow Journalism. And you John should be ashamed of your uncritical acceptance of what he wrote.

  91. WhoReallyCares:

    My point is that a few people react poorly and libs go looking for it so they can get their panties in a wad then bitch, cry and moan. Anyone who determines public opinion or the opinion of a large group of people based upon twitter needs their head examined.

    Well Twitter itself is a large group of people, and when you get thousands and potentially millions of people on Twitter and elsewhere on the Web doing this, much as you would like to dismiss it, we’re talking about a large group of people. Specifically, we’re talking about 18% of the U.S. population, which is in the neighborhood of nearly 60 million people. These are the folks who have routinely complained on this issue in polls. They aren’t all the conservatives — conservatives make up about 30% of the U.S. population and are not a monolith. But they are a lot.

    And the reasons “libs” get upset are simple: these people are catered to in their xenophobia in the U.S. in a way that harms other people. Pundits like Limbaugh cater to them to make money and ratings, and copy what they say and spread it wide by global media. These people elect politicians who copy what they say, and further, work to enact laws to harm multi-lingual and non-English citizens, to effect their livelihoods and the education of their children. There is a very large political movement to “put English first” and eliminate English as a Second Language programs, non-white, Christian history from school textbooks, etc. And they’ve been very effective at the state level, even though what they are doing is unconstitutional. So yes, we protest vigorously. Because the more people they can gather to their gripe fest — and they’ve got a lot — the more harm they will cause American citizens, the more civil rights they take. So we stand up and scream too, so people will know that a much larger group doesn’t feel that way and strongly disagrees with it.

    And because if we don’t, people like you will try to minimize it, saying it’s no big deal, it’s just a tiny fringe and who cares except those over worked up libs, which provides cover for the xenophobes to go about quietly getting pols to change laws harming Americans without general alarm. So if you don’t want these people representing the conservative movement in the public’s eyes, maybe you want to consider protesting them too. Because otherwise, they’re going to keep running things and they aren’t going to take any more kindly to you than they are to the libs. In fact, they’ll call you a lib, and a not real American, if it suits them. That’s okay, maybe, if they don’t have legal power — but they’ve got legal power.

  92. what was once a noble ideal: welcoming immigrants from all countries but demanding of them to integrate into ‘our society.

    I’ll just say that your definition of ‘a noble ideal’ is far, far from mine.

  93. Scorpius:

    “Brietbart’s Leahy focused mostly on REPORTING what conservatives were upset about”

    Uh-huh, because Leahy writing “As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned, however, the United States of America is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution and American traditions in which English is the language of government. It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty” is not editorializing in the least. Tell me another one, there.

    “And you John should be ashamed of your uncritical acceptance of what he wrote.”

    That would mean so much more if I had any inkling that you actually comprehended what Lehey, for one, actually wrote, Scorpius.

  94. [Deleted for overly simplistic and inflammatory reduction of what another commenter said. Calm yourself, Scorpius, or you'll have to sit out the rest of the thread - JS]

  95. No problem, Xopher. I’ll give you a minute to copy the text you wrote before deleting it. That way if Scorpius finds a more temperate way to make his point, you’ll have it on hand to respond. 6:05 now; I’ll delete at 6:08.

  96. ” to focus on what was once a noble ideal: welcoming immigrants from all countries but demanding of them to integrate into our society.”

    That is patently ridiculous. We have *never* “demanded them to integrate into our society.” That’s why we have places like “Little Italy” and why they still speak French down on the bayou.

    Like most bigots, you think American society is yours, and not theirs, and that you have some power to force people to behave in a way that you think is right. You don’t.

    Your anti-American positions aside, people here have a right to speak whatever language they care to.

  97. Ah, the problem is with “integrate into our society.” See, there’s a problem when you say “they” have to integrate into “our” society. That phrasing implies that you think they have to assimilate, to become as much like the Americans who were already here as possible, and blend in.

    As you point out, that makes the assumption that the immigrant group has nothing to contribute to America (not even food).

    I’ll go further and say that this sentiment runs counter to the free market place of ideas that this country is supposedly founded on (or forms a portion of). If a new immigrant group has a good, new idea or custom or way of doing things, why SHOULDN’T it be adopted by everyone else? Run it through the testing grounds of America society and if it’s good, it’ll get adapted to improve society as a whole.

  98. Jerome O’Neil:

    You’re responding to an undeleted comment, so it’s fine.

    HOWEVER, I would appreciate it if you would walk back calling Scorpius a bigot, please. Aside from being inflammatory and impolite, Scorpius has not actively been bigoted toward any particular group I can see; rather, to this point he’s merely expressed a point of view of what we expect from immigrants. We can disagree on that point without suggesting without other evidence that people are bigots.

  99. Scorpius,

    Just once I would like to see you comment on something you disagree with without impugning the honor and/or telling someone to be ashamed.

  100. I have my text now. I do think that I misunderstood what Scorpius was saying, and tried to respond to what he really meant, after his now-deleted comment made it clear we weren’t communicating.

  101. I favor the idea that every immigrant group changes America, contributing their culture and language and genes to the melting pot or glorious mosaic to whatever extent seems good to them.

    I think this is a good thing. Racists and xenophobes will be very upset by it, but I think it keeps America dynamic and adaptable. All things change: growth, adaptation, and decay are the options.

  102. Xopher:

    It’s entirely possible there was miscommunication.

    This will be a lovely moment to remind people that it’s nice to be polite to each other, especially on threads involving politics. Make an effort, please.

  103. dpmaine:

    But the truth is that not Coke and not anything unites Americans anymore.

    We weren’t united in the past, either. And the fact that we are diverse, and that this diversity needed better representation, was relentlessly fought as an idea in the past. It’s also being fought as an idea now. The very idea that we even need to bother to advance the idea any more is being vigorously fought. Yet, that idea that we are diverse and that is our nature is getting through — enough that Coca-Cola decided to use it to push their sugar water.

    That is the America that most of us live in, and we saw the ad while doing the dishes or performing some other service for the very people that the ad was targeted to – the largely affluent, largely powerful, largely separate America that enjoys sports and unbridled commercialism at the direct expense of the working poor.

    Agree, for the most part. There’s a lot to be criticized in what Coca-Cola was doing. But the reaction of conservatives of the “speak English only or you’re not a real American” persuasion has got nothing to do with income inequality.

    Basically, the first argument these people make is that the only non-white, non-English speaking Americans are immigrants, rather than American citizens who have been here for generations, but still speak a mix of English and other languages as part of their culture. Again, they confuse diversity with immigration and pretend the Native Americans don’t count, as always.

    The second argument they make is that these only-immigrant folks are only integrated into American culture if they speak English and only English, and if they throw away any ethnicity, religion, clothing, etc. that is part of their heritage and lives and adopt an authoritarian, artificially contrived and codified “American” culture — or get out altogether. That the many diverse cultures of American citizens effect every pore of American cultures, that multiple cultures are American, is an idea they reject categorically, because acknowledging this basic truth means to them giving up political power and control. “Integration” is just for them another term for cowing, controlling and keeping from representative power groups that might, say, try to improve income equality.

    And as you know, a lot of the working poor hold these beliefs. I have relatives who hold these beliefs. And they’re ridiculous beliefs. Because actual integration occurs without any kind of force at all. And it would happen a lot faster if force was not used to beat up and try to control and disadvantage people who have non-English speaking cultures as part of who they are. Because we basically all have non-English speaking cultures as part of who we are. And because not having English as your first language or having other languages as part of your languages is very common among American citizens whose families have been in the country for centuries. And the more folk accept reality, the better cooperation, representation and “integration” they have. Integration doesn’t mean no diversity. It means not shafting your neighbors, fighting their civil rights and trying to block them from jobs, money and political and legal power, because they have larger cultural differences from you than your other neighbors. While they were trying to shill their sugar water, Coca-Cola got it correct — the people in the ad are all Americans, even if they don’t speak English 24/7. If there’s any hope of improving income inequality, that statement has to be made over and over. Coca-Cola is a poor spokesperson, but at least it is what they are speaking too.

  104. Conservatives appear to have a big problem with diversity, so I’m not surprised by their reaction to this ad. Kind of sad given how demographically diverse the US is now and will continue to become.

  105. @ John,

    My comment was inflammatory but Jerome calling me a “bigot” and “anti-American” (I notice that’s the new term used by self-righteous leftists bigots like him even though they obviously mean “unAmerican”)?

  106. Scorpius:

    You’ll note I’ve asked Jerome to walk back the “bigot” comment. For your part, if you’d walk back the “bigot” comment you just made, I would appreciate that as well.

  107. Yes and no, Jerome O’Neill. French was nearly stamped out down on the bayou because of the demand that the Acadian immigrants assimilate. There has been pushback since the 1960s, but many Acadians whose parents spoke French grew up speaking only English or English and a smattering of French. But I think there is no denying that the Acadians have added value to American culture, particularly in the areas of music and food.

    So I would amend your reply to say that there have been some demands to assimilate, and they have been, in my opinion, shameful and narrow-minded and fortunately have not prevented immigrant groups from both giving to and taking from the culture that they found when they arrived.

  108. Went out to have a delicious Persian meal instead of watching the superb owl.

    (Full disclosure: Never watch football, almost never watch TV, make use of the occasion to shop for major appliances and eat in restaurants that usually need reservations.)

  109. Walked back. We disagree whether we should expect immigrants to fit in; but no one should be called a bigot for taking one side in that debate. In fact, many immigrants are extra-eager to fit in and are the harshest critics of those who do not.

  110. If Coke had done this with The Star-spangled Banner, I would argue that those who see this as the Balkanized vision of American diversity would probably be mostly correct. If Coke had done this with I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, then I’d say that those who see this this as a welcoming and inclusive are right.

    The song they chose is America the Beautiful. Every now and then, someone suggests that this song become the new national anthem. I guess I generally had the impression that conservatives usually opposed this idea, though I admit I’ve never looked into it. I know that I’m not in favor of the notion. It feels a bit forced to me to get into a tizzy about how a song is sung if one doesn’t think the song has special status.

    Xopher correctly points out that learning English doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that you never speak your native language again. On the other hand if we were to start singing The Star-spangled Banner in multiple languages at sporting events I’d say we probably had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

    Overall, I’d say that that I understand the complaints, but it isn’t worth blowing a gasket, and the controversy feels a bit artificial.

  111. A fun family game is to play “Spot the Controversy.” You show your kids the ads, and have them guess what is controversial. In my family, the Coke ad baffled them, and they guessed completely wrong on the Cheerios ad (obviously the problem is that the dad agreed to get a dog without consulting the mom).

  112. Conservatives here: “No conservative >>I<< know is protesting this…."

    So what? You're fortunate to not know the loud-mouthed idiots of your side? Good on you. But don't deny that your representatives are shooting their fool mouths off. Again. As usual. (And be ashamed of your regressive stance– when has 'conservatism' EVER been right?)

    Also: I may HAVE to buy some Cheerios when they so obviously give the finger to the whack-jobs of Ahmurika. Well done, Cheerios, well done.

  113. The problem with the Cheerios ad is that the MSNBC staffer implied that conservatives would have a problem with it because it showed a biracial family. The conservative community responded with hundreds of pictures showing that, like the rest of America, conservatives have a significant percentage of biracial families in their community. Examples are: The Palin’s, the Romney’s, the Robertson’s (though the last two are from adoption); but the examples of conservatives with mixed marriages are legion.

    I don’t think the MSNBC staffer should have been fired for being a leftist bigot. I, just like Palin did for Martin Bashir, overlooked and forgave the ignorant bigotry which pours sometimes uncriticized from the left about the Right, Libertarians, Christians, Red Necks, Moderates, pretty much anyone who doesn’t strictly buy into their ideology.

  114. I only watched the first half of the game last night. When it became clear that Seattle was going to prance to victory, I watched the back end of a Bollywood movie instead. Some dude called Tiger blew up a bunch of cities and left a trail of destruction across six continents while losing his shirt, saving his boss’s daughter (ie love interest), and killing random baddies.

    It was surprisingly fun, in a mindless sort of way. Both leads were hot, if not particularly emotional. And the explosions were good.

    Then I watched Sherlock, and [spoilers - dude, we've talked about this - JS]. And hoo BOY, that baddie was loathsome.

    Somehow, in all of the above, I completely missed the reaction to this ad. I must say, though, that it is entirely unsurprising and really hits me right in my faith in humanity.

    I find mildly amusing, though, that the reactionary nuts are going nuts over the perceived unpatriotic usage of a song that was written by a lesbian about multiculturalism.

    I am now going to ignore this manufactroversy entirely and read my shiny new sedimentology book, which will no doubt be both more fun and more educational (given that it is written by the world’s greatest Cenozooic paleontologist) than continuing to dwell on right-wing butthurt. Because seriously, I’m really underwhelmed by the quality of the idiocy in this little mess.

  115. The conservative community responded with hundreds of pictures showing that, like the rest of America, conservatives have a significant percentage of biracial families in their community

    I’m sure Karl Rove showed pictures of John McCain’s South Carolina child, right?

  116. Would anybody mind if I ask, why the assumption is that someone who is speaking a language other than English must mean that they do not speak English at all? I have many relatives who speak English as well as the language from the mother country. To my knowledge, assimilating into the United States does not demand that they can’t speak any language other than English again, ever.

  117. My lady friend and I were watching this ad last night, and I remarked to her, “Conservative heads are exploding right now.” When the *gasp* Muslims started singing, I said, “The rest of them just exploded.” I think it’s a great rendition. Good work, Coke.

  118. @Scorpius – They had to turn off comments on Youtube for that Cheerios ad for a reason, and it wasn’t people from my side. The right isn’t all racists, or even majority racist, but you have a sizeable block who absolutely are, and they seem to get a free pass from the Republican establishment.

  119. @NathanD: Of course, in the world of the internet no one could pretend to be a racist troll to make a point. Never happen; racist comments only come from true racists. Racism hoaxes never happen. Oh, wait…

  120. The problem with the Cheerios ad is that the MSNBC staffer implied that conservatives would have a problem with it because it showed a biracial family.

    Given the comments on the previous Cheerios ad, the MSNBC staffer was most certainly correct. And that’s not a problem with the ad.

    I’m not sure how David’s comment proves your point; however. You need to expand, because as far as I can tell, it pretty much demolishes it.

  121. @NathanD: Of course, in the world of the internet no one could pretend to be a racist troll to make a point. Never happen; racist comments only come from true racists. Racism hoaxes never happen. Oh, wait…

    Scorpius,

    Of course that can happen, but I generally assume that most racist remarks I find online, particularly on YouTube, are either from racists or kids who think it’s funny, not false flag operations by hoaxers. If every racist comment on YouTube came from a hoaxer, it would be an industry of considerable size.

  122. While they were trying to shill their sugar water, Coca-Cola got it correct — the people in the ad are all Americans, even if they don’t speak English 24/7. If there’s any hope of improving income inequality, that statement has to be made over and over. Coca-Cola is a poor spokesperson, but at least it is what they are speaking too.

    I disagree. Global international corporations don’t care about your skin color or whether you say you’re an American or not. They will screw you whether immigrant or not, whether American or not, whether diverse or not.

    The ad to me showed it’s always a lie, it’s always been a lie. There was no integration, there was no assimilation. It just showed a lot of individual groups of homogenous Americans, living separately, united under corporate rule of, by and for Coke and their ilk.

    And that squares with what is seen in America. Yes, you go to a big city and you will see some lovely integration. Yet, what is the reality? What is the vast, vast, vast reality?

    It’s 50-to-1 that a white husband marries a white wife. It’s 10-to-1 that a black husband marries a black wife. It’s 12-to-1 that an asian husband marries an asian wife. That’s recent. That’s happening now. That’s not the 50′s, the 60′s or the 70′s. This is present tense.

    And that’s what the ad shows. It’s all a big lie.

  123. @NathanD: And you think a few (even a few thousand) racist remarks is representative of a community with over 100 million people? Don’t judge a group by a minority of its members or should I bring in the violent left-wing terrorists from the 1960s on?

    And @DAVID, that’s called dirty politics, btw, both sides do it. In fact, Hilary Clinton was the one who started the “Prove that you weren’t born in Africa, show us your birth certificate!” campaign against Obama.

  124. Floored, I for one would appreciate your not posting spoilers for the first week after something is broadcast. Many people still haven’t watched their recordings. I’ve watched mine, but if I hadn’t I’d be royally pissed at you right now.

    Scorpius, you’re trying to be as offensive as possible in order to cover your straw-man argument. No one here has said no one has ever pretended to be racist to rile others. What IS true is that it’s implausible that so many people are pretending (as Mike pointed out).

    But I would go further: If someone makes racist comments on YouTube or Twitter, that ipso facto makes them a racist; therefore it is actually impossible to pretend to be a racist. (So note that I’m not making the argument that no one would fake racism, but that when they do they become racists.)

    As for Clinton starting the birth challenge, I don’t remember that, but I do remember that it was Republicans (and assholes too right-wing even for the GOP) who refused to accept all the evidence and kept demanding proof long after it was given.

  125. dpmaine:

    It’s nice to know my family is living a lie, then, as several members of my family are in interracial marriages — with children and everything. Please note that I do not live in a big city, nor do the relatives of which I speak.

    “Rare” does not mean “lie,” dpmaine. It means “rare.” However, even if we grant the stats you mentioned were accurate (you do have a penchant for offering data without documentation), what would be more interesting would be to see the trend line — as in, are interracial marriages happening more often. And here’s an actual, verified data point for you, dpmaine, courtesy of the Pew Research Center: One in seven new marriages were interracial. (pdf link.) That’s a rate that doubled between 1980 and 2008. So what you’re stating as a “lie” isn’t a lie at all: It’s an upward trend. And not really actually even all that rare. And that’s a reality.

    But it’s possible that I’m misunderstanding you, because I don’t think you’re being a 100% clear here. What is it you are complaining about, exactly? That the ads shows variations of the American experience, with a number of different ethnic groups? Because that’s not a lie either; there are lots of different ways to be an American, since at the end of the day all it really takes to be an American is citizenship, which can be gained any number of ways. That Coke shows them all in a hazy, aspirational manner is axiomatic: It’s an ad. But aspirational doesn’t equate directly to a “lie.”

    The best that I can come up with here is that you’re upset that the ad doesn’t show you an American experience that conforms to your expectations, but, well, life is like that sometimes. It doesn’t mean it’s a lie; it’s just not what you want out of the ad.

  126. I don’t know where I am in reading comments in the other tab, but? Multinational Corporation, they are.
    Putting two seconds of each language that their customers speak into a SB advert is not doable.

  127. Xopher, It’s a fact: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53563.html

    “The answer lies in Democratic, not Republican politics, and in the bitter, exhausting spring of 2008. At the time, the Democratic presidential primary was slipping away from Hillary Clinton and some of her most passionate supporters grasped for something, anything that would deal a final reversal to Barack Obama. (See: Bachmann: Birther issue settled)

    The theory’s proponents are a mix of hucksters and earnest conspiracy theorists, including prominently a lawyer who previously devoted himself to ‘proving’ that the Sept. 11 attacks were an inside job

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53563.html#ixzz2sJk6qyCg

    So the same people who gave you “Bush knew about 9/11!” which over half of registered Democrats believed during the Bush years gave us “Obama is not an American!”. So again, you want me to judge all leftists by these twits? No, so don’t judge conservatives and Tea Party members by a infinitesimally small minority of people.

  128. Scorpius, Xopher, et al:

    Let’s go ahead and take as read that there are people with problematic social issues in every political hut, and that they are not necessarily representative of the political hut as a whole. You will note, for example, that I put such a caveat in my first comment. The policies of each group as they are represented in Washington politics are of course open for argument.

    But I think this conversation as you’re having it is going round and round without much use.

  129. @JS. When I write that much it is time for B. to get all in my face and shout “NO!” but I’m not an author.

    What I have in Notepad follows.

    Rush Limbo (sp) Last I heard the guy was deaf, something to do with side affects of a drug that IIRC he was prescribed, but continued to use when his script ran out. -Aside, Dentists know how much pain meds a person will need. Heart surgeons Do Not. Especially the sureons who are so behind the times that they don’t use the laparoscopic method which is so much better in all ways. /aside = Mr limbaugh has only heard his own thoughts.
    -
    song in a second language: Eithne Ní Bhraonáin (Enya) ‘Silent Night.’
    -
    >>“Coprocephalic”. Xopher, I love you.
    >Thank you, Robin, but I didn’t invent that one. I expect I got it on Making Light.

    I first encountered that word in something somebody wrote. An alien who learned the language by reading a dictionary swore that way.

  130. Xopher: Um…whoops.

    Damn.

    On a completely unrelated note, I am really sadly underwhelmed by the trolling quality on this thread.

  131. Out of four weddings in my very-white family, only one was to another white person. Just as another data point.

  132. Seconded, Floored. Poking at people for no good reason than to poke at them is not a good idea. Also, daring people to be more trollish invites actual trolls, which is more work for me. Please don’t.

    Also agreed that you should stop posting spoilers. That’s at least twice now.

  133. I was mildly disappointed that German was not one of the languages in the commercial, insofar as German was at one point was considered for our national language, and it’s one of the few languages that has been spoken for generations in various enclaves throughout the country, mostly by Christian sects like the Amish, Hutterites and Mennonites. Perhaps those who eschew the modern world are not likely to drink Coke or watch the Superbowl, though. I’m not sure why their choice to not assimilate is OK, but the 2-3 generation assimilation rates of other immigrant groups (and comparable to historical rates) is considered too long.

    @dpmaine: Where are you getting your odds? I find it hard to believe that only 1 out of 50 white men are marrying white women, only 1 in 10 black men are marrying black women, 1 in 12 asian males are marrying asian women.

  134. A note to folks that as this is the sort of thread that sprouts trolls overnight, I’ll be closing it down when I go to sleep (probably before midnight Eastern) and turning it back on in the morning.

  135. Bruce, I think dpmaine meant 50 to 1 in favor, etc. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I think dpmaine meant something like “a white man is 50 times as likely to marry a white woman as not.”

  136. To go at a small, but very related, tangent (and avoid pouring more oil on the fire), the comments on the Language Log article (which someone else mentioned earlier) reveals that many (most?) of the non-English parts were done in a thick (to the point of being difficult to understand) American accent. Which probably reflects the available talent pool, but if it was done deliberately, it adds some interesting depth to the whole thing. That isn’t just Hebrew or Chinese they’re singing “America the Beautiful” in, but American Hebrew and American Chinese!

  137. The Native American signer was from here in New Mexico. On the local news tonight, she talked about the difficulty they had in translating the song into her native language. It is a language that traditionally is purely oral, not written. The tribal elders had to assist in the translation. She felt that it was a celebration of the diversity of peoples who today make up America.

  138. @dpmaine

    I share our esteemed host’s appreciation. Until now I had not known that my interracial partnership is a lie. I’m especially glad you’ve opened my eyes prior to my partner and I having children. It’s reassuring to know that there are people such as yourself who will let them know they are a lie when they grow up. Fe+H2SO4

    Pro-tip: When criticizing racist bigots, try not to be a racist bigot. If you don’t like the America you see, try to express that without taking a self-righteous dump on the people living here.

    Note: this reply is considerably less acerbic than its first draft. Your welcome.

  139. JS–

    The source for the data is here.

    http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/755-marrying-out.pdf

    The Pew Charitable Trust does excellent work.

    There is no distinction between “rare” that’s worth making. There are rare cases of interracial, ethnic, and all sorts of other oddities in marriage going back almost as far as recorded history. The fact that the Imperial Romans sometimes (1 in 50 times, 1 in 100 times, 1 in 1000 times) married someone not like themselves is uninteresting. It’s exceedingly rare. It is just about as likely for you to see a pair of twins as it is to to see a white man married to a non-white woman.

    Also, re:trendline. A 50% increase from nothing is still almost nothing. If your family that are interracially married believe in a common American belief, where we are all fundamentally similiar, they are in my opinion living a lie. This is not about citizenship. The song is not about citizenship. It is about the American social and cultural experience.

    And so that that is what is offensive to me about the Coke ad. It is telling a deceitful American story. What is the “aspirational” story that the Coke ad is telling? What is it they are selling?

    The lie that there are a hundred little America’s, all happily floating along in parallel to each other, united in American glow by it’s corporate overlords, and here we are, all watching the same thing on TV, it’s an American tale made from Hollywood, not reality.

    The story is, as it has been since the beginning of this country, that you should keep singing your songs, buying your fizzy drinks, reading your tabloids and ignore the injustice that is ground into the grist mill of people’s daily lives. All the while the wealth continues to flow to crony’s, the air continues to be fouled, and America becomes less beautiful everyday.

    The truth in my view is that the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of American evil and violence and exploitation is built on a lie. It is not a common cultural experience. For everyone person who watched it there were two who did not. For everyone person who watched it, someone else was involved in serving those who watched it. For everyone buying a Coke, someone was cutting cane, driving a truck, pumping water, scavenging plastic from landfills in Dar es Salem, fighting each other for control of a distribution contract, or otherwise miserably scraping by.

  140. the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of American evil and violence and exploitation

    Yeah, sure beats the prison system, police brutality, and drone strikes on wedding parties all hollow.

    Not a fan of the Super Bowl by any means, but your hyperbole is way out of hand here.

  141. Gulliver–

    If Coke did a Doublemint ad, that showed everyone with an identical twin, drinking a Coke, and set it up as an emotional ploy to suggest a twin majority country, I would also call that a lie.

    The incidence of interracial marriage in the US is close to that of multiple births in the US. They are equally uncommon.

    America is not a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, integrated society. It has pockets of metropolitan demographic mixing. But it is in fact largely ghettoized, segregated, and separate. Interracial crime is serious, and tensions between ethnic groups runs at a simmer and sometimes boils over. I suppose in a way the Coke ad *does* portray something real. The scenes are largely showing different Americans, but all separate.

    You are, quite literally, a statistical outlier, and the America that Coke ad seeks to portray does not really exist. Sorry to point out reality.

  142. Yeah, sure beats the prison system, police brutality, and drone strikes on wedding parties all hollow.

    I sure thing it’s far far worse. It is, for one, far more crass. It is also far more brazen. The prison system, the police system, and the industrial military state all serve a nominal purpose. And, they are narrow.

    The Super Bowl is the absolute height of what is wrong with America. And I say that as someone who served in armed forces in combat overseas and has a purple heart. It is a disgrace.

  143. If you could fix everything wrong with the prison system OR eliminate the Super Bowl, are you really seriously saying you’d eliminate the Super Bowl? Come on, you can’t be seriously saying that.

  144. The Super Bowl is the symptom – the pinnacle of an evil culture. Eliminating the Super Bowl doesn’t solve the problem. However, solving the cultural problem so that the Super Bowl extincts itself would be a far larger benefit than anything you can bring up with the prison system.

    It’s just numbers. The cultural problems behind football are grotesque and affect almost all aspects of ordinary American life. And there not’s a little bit of crossover with the criminal justice system (and it’s subset, the prison system).

  145. But to fix the prison system by that same token, you’d have to get rid of racism, because racism causes most of the problems with the prison system…and get rid of rapacious capitalism, which causes the rest. That would probably also eliminate the things that make football so horrendous.

  146. dpmaine:

    “A 50% increase from nothing is still almost nothing.”

    Ah, but it wasn’t nothing before, and it’s certainly not nothing now. One in seven current marriages being interracial is, in fact, a very significant percentage of marriages. One in seven, in fact, doesn’t really qualify as “rare.” “Rare” is better understood as something like one in a hundred. There are roughly 2 million marriages in the US annually, which means roughly 300,000 couples are in interracial marriages. That’s not rare; that’s Milwaukee. That’s a Milwaukee every year.

    So, no, dpmaine. Your definition of “rare” here doesn’t hold up to even casual scrutiny. So we’re going to toss that out as a valid argument.

    Incidentally, in 2011, there were about 4 million live births in the US, of which roughly 131,000 were twin births. Which makes twin births significantly less common than interracial marriages at this point. So your assertion that “the incidence of interracial marriage in the US is close to that of multiple births in the US. They are equally uncommon” is, simply, wrong.

    “This is not about citizenship.”

    Why? Because you say so? And why should I or anyone else grant that ground rule assumption? To repeat: all that is required for an “American experience” is for one to be American. All that is required to be American is to be an American citizen. If you are an American citizen, then by definition your experience is an American experience. It needs no further validation, nor can anyone say that your experience is not an American experience. Given that fundamental fact of what it means to be an American, to say that Coca-Cola is expressing a “lie” by showing several varieties of the American experience is, at best, inexact. Indeed, if there are literally millions of valid “American experiences,” you can’t even say that Coke is lying to us by showing us the happy examples they do show us, as it seems statistically likely that at least some American experiences are basically happy ones, or, at least, are happy for the no more than five seconds each which Coke chooses to show us in the ad.

    The overall optimistic and happy gastalt of the ad isn’t a lie — but it is highly selective. As of course it would be: It’s an ad.

    If I may say so, what you really seem to be objecting to is the overall optimistic tenor of the ad, which you feel is at odds with the actual reality of the world we live in and its overarching corporate and capitalistic nature. Which is fine, but you are muddying that argument with an inessential argument about racial integration and how rare or not rare it is. That you keep want to pull back toward the racial argument probably means something, but not what I suspect you want it to mean and very possibly not even anything you’re aware of.

    The shorter version: You keep shooting your supportable argument in the foot with an unsupportable argument. You should really stop doing that.

    “The truth in my view is that the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of American evil and violence and exploitation is built on a lie. It is not a common cultural experience.”

    Well, no, that’s wrong. An estimated 111 million people in the United States watched it this year, making it indeed a very common cultural experience. Your appear to be conflating “common” with “universal.” The two words mean different things.

  147. Xopher– it’s an interesting concept but one I disagree with. Racism in my view is the predictable result of injustice and cultural sickness. For over 40 years there has been legal impediment to interracial marriage. Random chance distribution would indicate a 4x-5x greater degree of interracial marriage. This is for people newly born and newly raised in the current toxic culture. The criminal justice and prison system disproportionately affect minorities but it is axiomatically true that they are also disproportionately responsible for crime. That is the case not because of racism but because of a vast cultural sickness which seperates, divides, and pits groups against each other for profit. That is not based on racism, that is based on evil, violence and greed.

  148. The link dpmaine provided paints a much more complex (and frankly, encouraging) picture of interethnic marriages, and attitudes towards them, than do his comments.

  149. @dpmaine: The Pew report you mention indicates that the percentage of interracial or ethnic marriage ranges from 11% to 22% depending on region of the country, and rate of multiple births according to the CDC is about 3.3%. I don’t think 1 in 7 marriages (overall) and nearly 1 in 4 marriages in the west makes it as rare as you think.

  150. @dpmaine: Don’t you mean it’s been 47 years since laws forbidding interracial marriage were decided to be unconstitutional?

  151. Closing up for the night. See you all tomorrow.

    However, when we all come back, here’s the thing: As we have established that dpmaine is both incorrect in the facts about interracial marriage and it is clear to me that any discussion of race is in fact aside the reason that he’s clearly got a wart on his fanny about the Coke ad, to the extent you all choose to continue this avenue of discussion, the topic of interracial marriage is now off limits as being aside the point, as is the nifty trick of talking about race by asserting that what we’re really talking about is a symptom of some larger issue.

    This will be to dpmaine’s advantage, because I don’t suspect he realizes how embarrassingly racist his “interracial marriage is hardly a thing” argument is, nor do I think he’s being quite honest, either to himself or two the rest of us, about how uncomfortable he is with the portrayal of non-white American experiences as authentic (or as authentic as they can be in a Coca Cola ad, anyway).

    So: If these portrayals are indeed a symptom of something else larger, then, dpmaine, you should talk about that large thing. Because otherwise you’re coming across as, well, entirely racist. I’ve given you a lot of leeway here because I think you made a good faith effort to reframe your argument earlier, and I appreciate that. But at the end of the day (literally), what it really seems like is that you are not able to avoid making fundamentally racist arguments here.

    Please note that I am not saying that you are racist. I honestly don’t believe you are. But you should be aware that the more you continue these lines of argument, the more the word appears to suit you.

    So find another way to make your points about what you see as the problems of the culture (and the ads) or bow out of the thread and try again on some other topic, some other day.

    Update: Thread is open again.

  152. Mr. Scalzi: Yes, sir. My apologies, sir.

    It’s been a long couple of weeks and I have noticed a distressingly low level of stupid on the interwebs. Even FSTDT’s offerings are rather tame.

    I’ll stop asking for better trolls and get my kicks rereading “Redshirts” and obsessing over Words of Radiance.

  153. Quoth scorpius: Of course, in the world of the internet no one could pretend to be a racist troll to make a point.

    Being a troll, racist or otherwise, is phenomenological. If you do a pitch-perfect rendition of how a troll acts, you are a troll, whether you “really” are one or not.

    Also, who are these people who pretend to be trolls to make their points? Aside from the unpleasantness of people coming down on you for being an ass, it seems unlikely that such would be an effective strategy. More flies with honey, etc. Is the idea just to make the other side, whatever it might be, look bad? Because I find it hard to believe that *every single instance* of trollish behavior is meant for such a purpose…

  154. It should be obvious that Balkanized states are generally dis-functional. The strength of the US has been the melting pot characteristic. The conservative opposition concerns the acceptance of the loss of the melting process that the ad seemed to convey.

  155. So why isn’t anyone freaking out because they included only foreign languages? Not a word of it was in Cherokee (which is what was spoken in Atlanta before all those damned immigrants forced it out). And not a single polygamous family, either. My great^16th grandfather and his two dozen wives would be greatly annoyed.

  156. The conservative opposition concerns the acceptance of the loss of the melting process that the ad seemed to convey.

    The conservative opposition has their heads up their ass, since, even under the melting pot metaphor, people always retained their own language. THEY HAVE ALWAYS RETAINED THEIR OWN LANGUAGES, as it is traditional for such languages as Germans and Dutch to be spoken into two or three generations, when it is naturally lost.

  157. Rod Rubert:

    Meh. Again, showing glimpses of various sorts of the American experience does not imply that they are in the rest of their lives living cloistered existences, never leaving their enclaves. That’s a narrative that’s imposed from the outside, by these particular conservatives.

    Likewise, the implication that a “melting process” means WE ALL SPEAK ENGLISH FOR CHRIST is, well, a little weird, as the American experience has always featured groups who spoke languages other than English. This article about how more than 800 American newspapers were written in German, for example, suggests the concept of polyglot America is not new. Fun fact: Ben Franklin founded a German language newspaper! And he was a founding father!

  158. “And that squares with what is seen in America. Yes, you go to a big city and you will see some lovely integration. Yet, what is the reality? What is the vast, vast, vast reality?

    It’s 50-to-1 that a white husband marries a white wife. It’s 10-to-1 that a black husband marries a black wife. It’s 12-to-1 that an asian husband marries an asian wife. That’s recent. That’s happening now. That’s not the 50′s, the 60′s or the 70′s. This is present tense.

    And that’s what the ad shows. It’s all a big lie”

    Hmmm, dpmaine, big city? That’s funny… I live in what most would consider a pretty small city, and yet interracial couples are an everyday occurrence. So are gay couples. Around here it doesn’t even warrant a raised brow. It’s commonplace.

    And, as Mr. Scalzi, put it “It’s nice to know my family is living a lie, then, as several members of my family are in interracial marriages — with children and everything. Please note that I do not live in a big city, nor do the relatives of which I speak.” Well said, Mr. Scalzi. This applies to my family and friends as well.

    On a personal note, I resent you dragging twins into the matter, as I happen to BE an identical twin. But Mr. Scalzi has already responded admirably (and with documentable facts) so besides voicing my resentment, I have nothing to say about that.

    On another personal note, however, I WILL say something about this:

    “That is the America that most of us live in, and we saw the ad while doing the dishes or performing some other service for the very people that the ad was targeted to – the largely affluent, largely powerful, largely separate America that enjoys sports and unbridled commercialism at the direct expense of the working poor.”

    It vexes my soul, dpmaine, that you – who are, by your very argument – explicitly insisting that a commercial showing ‘integrated’ classes and nationalities’ is a blatant lie, are also creating those lines you say are there. Your argument is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are part of the problem. By choosing to watch that commercial and stand back screeching about how it is a lie because you KNOW there is a ‘them’ and then there is a ‘most of us’ you are redefining and reconfirming those two groups, rather than trying to erase them.

    For the last thirteen years of my life I worked a manual labor job, in an industry that someone like yourself would consider a ‘most of us’ job market, but my coworkers didn’t see it as a ‘most of us’ job. They saw it a A JOB. Race, sex, income was not something anyone paid attention to. I loved that job. I would never have left if it I’d had a choice. I’ve spent my entire life in what you so narrow-mindly seek to define as ‘most of us’ but none of the people I’ve shared this life with see a ‘most of us’. We see no difference between us and anyone else. Yes, we are all different humans, but we are all humans.

    We did not always live in a world where lines between class and race and any other feature that humans could decide mattered, could be erased. But now that has changed, and IS changing. Everyone posting on this blog is proof of that. Not all of us agree, but we are all human, we are different, but we are the same.

    Among all of these comments, and arguments and apologies and politely worded attacks, I have not seen one person besides you, dpmaine, who has repeatedly announced and insisted that America consists of ‘them’ and ‘most of us’. It is people like you who both create, and maintain ideas like ‘them’ and ‘most of us’ and you have only yourselves to blame for choosing to see lines, rather than humanity.

  159. @Scot: you weren’t paying attention, one of the singers sang in Keres, a Native American language spoken in the mostly in New Mexico. Sorry they didn’t pick your ancestor’s language, they didn’t pick mine either (German).

  160. You know, it’s a sign of how successful the melting pot is that the only thing certain conservatives could find to complain about was the different languages. If that’s the only way to tell people apart, then we’ve been a big success.

  161. Reminder to everyone to read my note here about further discussion of interracial marriage on this thread. Basically: I’ve decided it’s off point, so we don’t need to continue that discussion. I will likely mallet further incidences of it.

  162. Mike:

    On the other hand if we were to start singing The Star-spangled Banner in multiple languages at sporting events I’d say we probably had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

    Why would that be a wrong turn? Canada does its anthem in English and French, and wow, nothing explodes. The Latino population of America is nearing thirty percent and that population has a long tradition of being citizens whose ancestors were here or came here from many other countries. What’s wrong with those citizens singing a version of the anthem in Spanish and celebrating that part of American culture? It’s their anthem too. As another poster pointed out, there was a huge German presence in America that underwrites a lot of DNA and culture; what’s wrong with doing a version in German? Or Navaho? Or French, another critical culture that is strongly part of the American fabric? What’s wrong with doing a version in the language of any American citizen? It doesn’t do anything to the anthem’s English version. America is everybody, not just one group declaring themselves the sacred keepers of how we should celebrate with the song.

    Jimmi Hendrix played the anthem at Woodstock on electric guitar; people freaked out about that too. Now it’s considered an iconic rendition of the song. The lyrics for the song were written as a poem by a man born barely after the U.S. was formed, and his family were British immigrants. The music for the song comes from a British song (as does My Country, Tis of Thee.) The Star Spangled Banner was not declared the U.S.’s national anthem until 1931. America is not threatened by the song being embraced and performed by all its cultures in different versions.

    And that’s the point — the conservative anger came from some Americans who believe differences of cultures and language in America are a threat and negate being an American, which they don’t. And which is basically a big old power grab for political advantage.

  163. John and others have pointed out that the 50-to-1 interracial marriage figure is wrong, but I’ll go further and say that even if it were correct, that’s still not rare. If I lived in a big city, even at 50-to-1, there would be a handful of people in interracial relationships on the train with me every morning.

  164. @Rod Rubert: actually, the opposition conveys fundamental logical error that the “melting pot” means complete assimilation with erasure of all originating cultural differences, and anything else is “Balkanization” which will destroy the larger culture.

    Interestingly, one rarely hears pearl-clutching about Balkanization extend to St. Patrick’s Day parades, complaints that the Amish need to stop speaking their German dialect, or worries that there are still Hasidic communities where children’s first language is Yiddish.

  165. dpmaine: I say that as someone who served in armed forces in combat overseas and has a purple heart.

    John Kerry, is that you?!?!? DUDE! I voted for you in 2004! This is so cooll.

    Scorpius: Teddy Roosevelt, to focus on what was once a noble ideal: welcoming immigrants from all countries but demanding of them to integrate into our society.

    I think this just indicates how piss poor the american public education system really is. Every single one of my public school history class teachers failed to mention that “English” was the official, legally mandated, legally enforced, legally demanded, language of the United States back in the day, and that some liberals, no doubt, ruined everything by removing that demand.

    This entire reaction to this coke ad and the larger nonsense about the “official” language of the US is nothing but xenophobia, people afraid that the country might end up not looking like THEM or talking like THEM. But that xenophobia is based on the myth that the country does look like them now or did look like them in the past, when in fact, we’ve been a nation of people of many different races, from many different foreign countries, speaking different languages, coming from many different cultures.

  166. @ Floored by… – Thanks for the word “manufactroversy”! It’s new to me & will be very useful. :-)

    @ David (yesterday at 2:33) – I totally agree that respect – not just “tolerance” (who wants to be tolerated??) – is the key. Thanks for your thoughts!

    @ artemisgrey – Your comment reminds me of something I wrote a while back: I want to make my “us” as big as I possibly can, & to work in actions & attitude to continually shrink my “them.” Over time, inclusiveness has gotten easier for me – I hope that practice will help me keep developing this skill.

    Life is far from perfect, & we’re all fallible people with a long way to go, but there’s nowhere to start but here & now, with who we are & what we’ve got. I try to support the good where I find it, & encourage more of it to grow. Here’s a (far from perfect) metaphor: In a big, dark room, if someone lights a single candle, I don’t want to blow out the flame, but do whatever I can to help light more candles.

    So many commenters here are so thoughtful & encouraging … seems like there are more “candles” than we might have thought.

    Thanks John for this forum!

  167. dpmaine:

    I don’t object to your anger to the consumerism issues regarding Coco-Cola and the ad, which many people share. I do object to many of your statements regarding that anger that are not statistically true, but Scalzi has asked us to move on. And the point of Scalzi’s post was not the anger over the consummerism held by some people, but the anger of some other people, an anger that makes up a big part but not all of the conservative movement, towards the depiction of what makes and defines an American.

    The people who run corporations do actually often care about this because there can be profitable and political advantages to exploiting it and controlling it, including keeping unions weak through unconstitutional laws and those who don’t tend to vote for conservative/corporate interests from voting (such as sending blacks to prison for the same offenses that whites tend to get probation for and profiting off of that with private prisons, nearly free prison labor, and non-white ex-cons being unable to vote, get jobs, etc., strengthening the conservative side.) A lot of those global corporations are also run by wealthy white guys who do actually care about punishing diversity in the U.S., like the Koch brothers. Defining Americans as one thing means it’s a lot easier to block opportunities from those who don’t fit the profile set up, which can cause profit for some.

    Integration doesn’t mean unity and it doesn’t mean the blending of races or cultures into one mono-culture. It means people of different cultures and affiliations co-exist, interact and trade as citizens and residents, which we do. Cultural transference (some of it exploitive,) happens daily. The vision of a separated America with little cultural interaction and a desire to kill each other doesn’t fit the statistics, even in the economic downturn.

    We are not united, nor ever have been. (And certainly not under Coco-Cola.) We do not have a unified culture of the left, nor a unified culture of the right, either. We’re not supposed to be unified. We’re supposed to be whoever we are, free to disagree and dissent, with a government that ideally protects those civil rights for all, not for some, and doesn’t force laws that prevent dissent and equal access, for corporate motives or otherwise. Whether we all agree with one another or hang out with each other or speak the same language at home doesn’t change the fact that we’re all American citizens.

    That’s the principle that Coco-Cola exploited in their ad. The main conservative anger over the commercial was that a very narrow band of Americans weren’t being defined in it as the only Americans. And what they are claiming simply isn’t true. United or not, downtrodden or not, English as our first or main language or not, we all are Americans.

    You may not feel that concern over and disputing that anger is very important. But it has a lot of legal, political and economic ramifications in U.S. society, and it is connected to a lot of the corporate issues and the ways workers are treated and hired and fired.

  168. dpmaine: not bad people. They recognize that diversity is not the pancea

    they may not be “bad”, but they’re doing something indistinguishable from racism.

    But the truth is that not Coke and not anything unites Americans anymore.

    Hm…. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

    Seems like there’s something that unites us right there. Funny thing though, is it doesn’t say we will unite to form a single language, a single culture, a single set of religious beliefs, a single diet, a single way of dressing, or anything else.

    What you’re arguing is nothing more than “there is no such thing as society”. But there is. You’ve just defined it in a way that turns the idea of “society” on its head.

    There is no ethnically integrated America, as a single unit.

    How would America look like a “single unit” to you??? Everyone of the same race?

    The people who are going to be moved and touched by the ad are the people who think that America is a united single place, beautiful and soulful and strong.

    America IS beautiful, soulful, and strong. We started as a nation of farmers in a preindustrial world, and we’ve survived the industrial revolution, civil war, started fixing some of our systemic racism, saved the world from fascism, and put people on the fricken moon. We are soulful when we look inward and see the problems of discrimination in our systems and fix them, and bring us a little closer to equality. And that inward looking, self correcting, process is a beautiful thing. And it takes strength to admit “slavery is wrong and we allowed it”, it takes strength to admit “sexism is wrong and we allowed it”. We are united in our stand that we the people form the government, that we the people, flaws and all, will do what we can to improve ourselves and our country.

    We are united in a single place: our committment as laid out in the constitution, that we are defined not by the color of our skin, or the language we speak, but by character of our soul. We are united by how we honor our promises that all are created equal.

    The reason you don’t see a “single united america’ is because you’re defining it by how we look, how we talk, how we walk, what we wear.

  169. Kat Goodwin writes:

    Why would that be a wrong turn? Canada does its anthem in English and French, and wow, nothing explodes.

    In the referendum of 1995 60% of francophones voted for Quebec sovereignty (I’m trusting Wkipedia numbers). I’m not sure that is the example that I would lead with.

    Immigration and diversity is a big part of America. But should the model be a melting pot or a fruit salad?

    I think Xopher’s vision is pretty much a good one, though I’m not so sure what “to whatever extent” is meant to mean.

    I favor the idea that every immigrant group changes America, contributing their culture and language and genes to the melting pot or glorious mosaic to whatever extent seems good to them.

    I’m fine with people speaking other languages or bringing their cuisine or other aspects of their culture to the party, but there should also be unifying elements. In my opinion, the signing of the national anthem at a sporting event is one of those unifying elements. If we are going to regard ourselves as Americans from sea to shining sea without hyphenated qualifiers then I think it is important that whatever other languages we might speak, it is important that we speak English.

    If this article is correct, the Swiss are able to pull it off because most Swiss speak at least two of the national languages, though it notes that many of them are now putting English ahead of a second national language. That may be a practical decision, but I do wonder if that will eventually impede national identity.

    http://livingbilingual.com/2013/06/25/bilingual-countries-switzerland-in-the-spotlight/

    I’ve never investigated whether My Country, Tis of Thee was folk musicians reusing a tune or a deliberate poke at the British.

    Quite a few people interpret he Hendrix Star-spangled Banner as a protest, though a quick Google says that Hendrix maintained that he just liked the sound. I don’t know, but it always seemed to me like Queen’s rendition of God Save the Queen is more anthemish.

  170. I would be glad to get rid of singing the national anthem at sporting events if it weren’t such an entrenched tradition. We don’t sing the national anthem before a movie or before a play or a music concert. Why sing it before a football game? Sporting events are just entertainment events, and wrapping them in the flag seems weird to me. But a lot of people seem to like it. Takes all kinds, I suppose.

  171. “If we are going to regard ourselves as Americans from sea to shining sea without hyphenated qualifiers then I think it is important that whatever other languages we might speak, it is important that we speak English.”

    It seems the main point you’re trying to make here is that everyone ought to speak one common language, because that would be unifying and allow everyone the same underlying basis to understand each other. But why English in particular? Given current trends of which sub-populations are increasing fastest, why not Spanish?

    Purely from a future job prospects standpoint, I think every kid should start being required to learn Spanish in schools now. The businesses that do the best are going to be the ones that maximize their potential customer base. That means being able to speak to as many different subgroups as possible, in whatever way works best for them.

  172. Integration doesn’t mean unity and it doesn’t mean the blending of races or cultures into one mono-culture. It means people of different cultures and affiliations co-exist, interact and trade as citizens and residents, which we do.

    Exactly what I was thinking when Scorpius tried to frame the disagreement in terms of “whether we should expect immigrants to fit in.”

    My mental response was, “No, you disagree in terms of what “fitting in” (integration) means.

    And really, this idea of “English or GTFO” is nothing more than privileging one origin of immigration over every other. I’m kind of baffled as to how immigration from England got its Most Favored Immigrant status.

  173. If we are going to regard ourselves as Americans from sea to shining sea without hyphenated qualifiers then I think it is important that whatever other languages we might speak, it is important that we speak English.

    The American people have *never* really spoken English universally. Rather, it’s always tended to be a polyglot of other languages. English may have predominated, but Spanish, Russian, German, Dutch, and so on and so on have always had large communities of speakers.

    So, historically, the evidence is not particularly there for the idea that English has been a unifying force.

  174. If we are going to regard ourselves as Americans from sea to shining sea without hyphenated qualifiers

    Let’s stop there. Why is that a good thing? Why do you think hyphenated Americans precludes a unified country? The “African” is “African American” is an adjective, not a noun. Let’s clarify your assumptions here.

  175. There are only a few ways to arrive at some kind of monoculture. One is to only have a small number of people in an isolated place. This does not apply to the US. The other is through heavy repression of all the unwanted cultures. We’ve tried that, admittedly. It’s pretty ugly. Let’s not do that again.

  176. Purely from a future job prospects standpoint, I think every kid should start being required to learn Spanish in schools now.

    I tagree that children should study a second language in school. I think we should start them in elementary school. Spanish is a very good choice. In my job, Spanish would be helpful, but Mandarin Chinese would be more helpful. I’ve seen a claim that learning a non-Indo-Eurpopean language helps children learn other languages later in life, though I don’t know if that study has been corroborated.

  177. “I’m fine with people speaking other languages or bringing their cuisine or other aspects of their culture to the party, but there should also be unifying elements. In my opinion, the signing of the national anthem at a sporting event is one of those unifying elements.” True, but the importance should be an acceptance of the meaning behind the words, not a strict adherence to the way those words are presented. If the Anthem is for everyone, then translating it opens its meaning to everyone, including those who may have a more emotional connection with them if presented in the language they spoke as children, or dream in. The Anthem may have more meaning if it’s not only available in a language they work in but don’t always “live” in. The insistence it must be in English only (whether the Anthem or America the Beautiful) feels like it’s been bagged and sealed in a sterile environment, that the song’s “integrity” is more important than it’s meaning.

  178. Mike: In my opinion, the signing of the national anthem at a sporting event is one of those unifying elements.

    I think having a country that respects life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is our unifying element, along with freedom of speech, freedom of dissent, freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure by the state. These things are, in fact, something that we as a people actually AGREED on when we formed this nation, it is something we are actually COMMITTED to, it is actually a function of our integrety to honor these promises.

    These are the things we declared as important in order to form a more perfect union as a nation.

    And you think a SONG is anywhere near on par with all these other things?

  179. Personally, I think America should not strive to be either the crucible-melting pot, with no traces of ethnic heritage left, nor the fruit salad where there may be lots of different cultures, but none of it intermixing. I’d prefer we be a stew – lots of ingrediants, but all of them affect all the other ingrediants. Here in just the tip of southern Jersey, there are gift stores catering to Swedish heritage, Irish heritage, Scotch heritage, Irish heritage, and German heritage. Probably others I am not aware of. No one boycotts those stores for encouraging folks in celebrating their non-American heritage. Also, none of the stores says to someone not of that particular heritage “Oh, you’re a German, we sell Swedish stuff, go away!” When one of the towns here have their annual Irish festival, no one complains if some of the folks wearing green and drinking green beer are Asian in origin. I can remember memorizing songs in other languages as a Girl Scout (Frere Jacques, anyone?)

    Like most of us here, my ancestors came here from other places. (I supposedly have an American Indian about 16 generations back, but it’s not proved…and if you look at it right, even the Indians were probably immigrants if you go back far enough.) The first generation or so kept using their native languages at home, even if they mostly spoke English outside their ethnic enclaves. They may have had native language newspapers and magazines to read, and perhaps had to have the kids read the English language newspapers to them. I know some folks who have Latino origins; Grandma still speaks mostly Spanish, but the grandkids speak mostly English, wear green on St Patrick’s day, sing along with Bruno Mars… The Latinos are gradually fitting into American society. In fact, some of the blatherating about immigrants today reminds me a lot of the anti-German and later anti-Irish sentiments that existed a century and more ago. And those immigrants of years gone past assimilated mostly, and assimilated because they choose to – they WANTED to become ‘more American.’ They learned English because they knew they could get along better in our society if they did so, not because there were any laws requiring them to learn the language.

    I just don’t see where the hysteria comes from. (And I must point out that there are a LOT of conservatives who are as puzzled by it as I am; it’s the far far right ideologues who seem to be most put out by it.) I just can’t see how a commercial celebrating the fact we have so many ethnic and cultural threads in the fabric of American society can be viewed with such spewing of poison. (Whether or not our society actually reflects that view is a separate question. I think we’re not there yet, myself, but we’re slowly getting there.) In my opinion, the haters opinions are far more un-American than the commercial is…

  180. There’s a line in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion where Eliza Doolittle, the flowergirl that Henry Higgins raises from the gutter and turns into a lady, tells Higgins off by saying that the difference between HH and his friend the Colonel (a true gentleman) is that HH treats duchesses like flowergirls and the Colonel treats flowergirls like duchesses.

    So I would suggest to Scorpius, dpmaine et al that if they treated everyone like Americans instead of assuming that they’re “something else”, Scorpius, dpmaine et al might be surprised to find how many Americans there really are.

  181. Mike:

    In the referendum of 1995 60% of francophones voted for Quebec sovereignty (I’m trusting Wkipedia numbers).

    Nope, incorrect. Quebec arranged that they only needed 51% of the vote to get sovereignty. They didn’t get it. (And in the process, they completely trashed the provincial economy.) Quebec is embroiled in much the same debates as these, because French nationalism is profitable for politicians with, you can guess it, conservative, white, older, rural Quebequoi. Demographically, though, things are a lot different now than in 1995. But whatever the relationship between Quebec politicians and the rest of Canada, Canada acknowledges that it has two main languages, plus many other ethnicities of importance — Portugese, Hebrew, Italian, African Canadian, Sengalese, etc. — and has their anthem in the two main languages. And there’s no reason you couldn’t sing a Portugese version at a sporting event — and have that be unifying simply because they accept Portugese Canadians as a vital part of Canada and as citizens.

    Immigration and diversity is a big part of America. But should the model be a melting pot or a fruit salad?

    Your problem here is that you are assuming that diversity is a “model” that somebody gets to control, which is exactly what the angry conservatives think too. It’s not. Whether a citizen or an immigrant decides to “melt” in various cultural directions or hold on to various cultural traditions is entirely up to them, especially as citizens who have legally protected equal rights. To claim that some citizens for whom English is their first language get an extra civil right to decide how their fellow citizens get to live doesn’t work as a democracy. Any American has the free speech right to sing the national anthem in any language that he or she pleases. It’s an American singing the American anthem, full stop.

    but there should also be unifying elements. In my opinion, the signing of the national anthem at a sporting event is one of those unifying elements.

    So you agree with Xopher that the citizens and immigrants should melt or not to whatever extent culturally seems good to them, and in the next second, you totally disagree and feel that you should tell them what to do at sporting events, no matter what seems good to them. You see the problem here? You think it’s your party, that you own it and people can come to it and bring their culture, but on the really important, unifying things, your rules and whatever you feel is your culture becomes “American” culture that they are somehow infringing on. But they are equal citizens to you. Their families may have been in America as citizens longer than your own. It’s not your party or mine. It’s all of ours.

    If we are going to regard ourselves as Americans from sea to shining sea without hyphenate qualifiers then I think it is important that whatever other languages we might speak, it is important that we speak English.

    The hyphenates are fine if people want to use them and if they aren’t used by others to block people’s rights and discriminate against them. It doesn’t make them less of an American. It’s just part of their heritage. I’m a Celtic-American, woo hoo. You might want to look at why you think unity only comes from one language and that it’s important that language be English. English isn’t the only language of America; it’s just a useful one that a large number speak. That’s why it’s also become the common global language of trade. Why do you feel that say a Portugese American can only be unified with you as Americans if he sings the anthem in English, when you refuse to feel any unity with him if he sings it in Portugese? He’s still American when he sings it in Portugese and the anthem is still the anthem when it’s sung in Portugese. But you feel that he should scrap his part of the culture as a Portugese American, rather than celebrate it with him. Hey, even say learn how to sing it in Portugese for fun or at least just listen to it. His rights as a citizen should give way to your preferences. This is actually kind of what dpmaine was partly talking about.

    It’s very useful for all citizens to speak English as one of their languages because it is our main language. It can be easier for immigrants to pick up some English, especially if they want to become citizens. Our schooling, government, etc. is based mostly around English. But knowing English is not necessary to be an American citizen. The English language is not our national identity — the polygut of immigrants is. And every citizen has equal rights. Accommodating citizens with less or little English, or immigrants for that matter, where possible to help them in a language they are more comfortable speaking in, makes good sense and increases functionality. Helping people who want to learn English makes good sense and increases functionality.

    But the conservatives who are freaking out about the ad don’t want the government teaching kids English for whom English is not first language and have worked against it. They don’t want the government to help non-English speakers in any way and have worked against it. They don’t want Americans knowing about the multiple cultural experiences and history that make up America. They don’t feel that citizens whose first language isn’t English, or is, but they are multi-lingual, are actual Americans, never mind what the Constitution says. They feel that singing the anthem in Portugese or Spanish or Hebrew — which many of us would consider a cool version — is an affront and a threat, rather than a celebration of the cultures of America, because they’ve decided that certain heritages aren’t American and only certain people count. And unless we all do what they say and live the way they say, unless they don’t have to push an extra button on their phone, then America is ruined! (Never mind that pesky Constitution and democracy ideals.) It’s simple bullying and disenfranchisement and most of it is for political and economic gain. It’s rule by mob.

    And it’s crap. I have Latino American friends, South Asian American friends — they are no less a citizen than I am with the same rights, including expression. They have many of the same experiences; they live on the same land. It’s not impossible for us to live together, interact and be part of a country together. Our family histories all together make up American history, not just mine. So yeah, I do think it’s incredibly unifying and totally in the American spirit to have our anthem sung in the different languages of America, at a sporting event even. Come on, tell me that this isn’t cool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4gP_pSOCz4

    Nicole:

    And really, this idea of “English or GTFO” is nothing more than privileging one origin of immigration over every other. I’m kind of baffled as to how immigration from England got its Most Favored Immigrant status.

    British colonies controlled much of the East Coast, developing into a territory which became the first form of the U.S. That means British folk ran the power structure when it was a colony, and after the Revolution and the expansion of territory, they held on to that power much as they could. By the time they really got going on the western part, the Spanish Empire had fallen apart, and Latinos in the U.S. were vilianized to support land grabs, same with Native Americans. Nonetheless, the U.S. was settled by a combination of Latinos from Europe, the Caribbean and the southern Americas, Native Americans of all kinds (who were shafted,) northern Europeans including a lot of French, German and Swedes, English/Irish/Scottish, Italians and Corsicans, Portugese, Africans, Jews of many countries, Chinese and other Asians, a smattering of Arabs and South Asians, etc., all of whom, except a lot of the Africans because slavery, became American citizens and their descendants after them.

  182. I work in a Midwestern city which has a college that was founded in the 1800s. Until 1917, all courses, including English, were taught in German, and the course catalog was only published in German. After 1917, SOME courses were taught in English. I’ve been unable to find out when the majority of college courses started to be taught in English. Today, they all are, but for a couple of generations, it was a German-only institution. Right here in the heartland.

    One set of grandparents were sent as children, and sent their own children, to Bohemian School on weekends to learn to speak Czech. (I can say three phrases in Czech, probably unintelligibly. But I still have decided opinions on kolaches, and think that pączki are fine, fine things. Especially the no doubt deeply inauthentic Bavarian Cream variety.)

    My former boss didn’t learn English until kindergarten; they spoke Lithuanian at home. The same thing held true for his kids.

    America is not, and never has been, a “melting pot” if you understand that to mean that everyone gets mixed together until they’re completely homogeneous. I think it’s more like a stew pot: chunks of this here, and that there, all contributing their varied tastes and textures to the whole, and gaining depth and richness from each other, while often remaining identifiably different from each other. Me, I prefer a nice chunky stew to one that’s been blended into oblivion.

  183. Most Republicans aren’t bigots.

    But… if you’ve voted Republican in the last thirty years, you’ve voted for a party whose leaders have been repeatedly caught discussing a race-based strategy when they thought only other Republican leaders were around:

    “I’m not a bigot of course, but the only way we can win this national election is by capturing the bigot vote, and by disenfranchising non-whites. We have to be careful, because we don’t want to scare off the non-bigots that form the majority of our party. So when we’re focusing on creating legislation that disproportionately harms and disenfranchises blacks, legislation designed specifically to appeal to those who hate and fear non-whites, we have to use code words about why we’re doing it. And don’t worry, in a few elections we’ll start winning purely based on economics, not on the racism and systematic disenfranchisement we’re going to use to put us over the top in THIS election!”

    Most Republican voters probably believe this claim (if they’re aware of the strategy at all), despite the fact that Republican leaders have been saying the same thing since the famous Atwater conversation in 1981. That’s why pointing out the bigoted tweetstorm after this Coke ad is important. Republican strategists do not want most of their voters to remember that the Republican party leadership believes it must continue to appeal to racists and strategically disenfranchise minorities in order to win.

    They want their voters to do exactly what Rob Port did at the beginning of this thread. They trust moderate Republicans to think “Oh, none of the Republicans I know personally are racist, so the idea that the Republican party leadership has incorporated bigotry into every national election strategy since at least 1980 is a liberal exaggeration that can be safely forgotten or ignored. ”

    But kids today think of people on the internet as real people. When they see thousands of racist tweets and comments, and those comments come primarily from people who the Republicans are actively courting with their strategy and punditry… they’re less likely to tune it out.

    If you’re a non-bigot Republican, I think underestimating how carefully the Republican Party courts that demo is kind of a requirement. That’s why it’s important to point out both negative reactions to this ad, and criticisms of it by strategists and pundits on the right that are meant to validate those negative reactions.

    Every time there’s outcry against an ad like this, it makes it a little harder for swing voter to ignore the Republican party’s reliance on the bigot vote to provide those last few percentage points. It makes it a little harder for lifelong Republicans to ignore the party’s continued use of modified versions of the Southern Strategy.

    So all that said, I think Ms. Banks might get a kick out of knowing her music is being used to expose a political party’s reliance on coddling bigots to win elections.

  184. Nope, incorrect. Quebec arranged that they only needed 51% of the vote to get sovereignty. They didn’t get it.

    Actually, he’s right: the overall vote was ~50/50, but that included the anglophone population (esp in Montreal). The francophone population (which is what he cited) seems to have gone around 60-40 for independence.

    There’s an analysis here:

    http://www.academia.edu/3894086/Quebec_Confronts_Canada_Two_Competing_Societal_Projects_Searching_for_Legitimacy

  185. Not to send more business Coca-Cola’s way, but I thought some of the people involved in the discussion might be interested to see “American the Beautiful” sung in full in the different languages. The videos also introduce the young women who sang. It sounds like at least some of them did their own translations.

    Tagalog: http://youtu.be/yFkKtCank1w
    Keres: http://youtu.be/Lhcl0pfznoc
    Hindi: http://youtu.be/89y3lOVNVOk
    Arabic: http://youtu.be/jn8fK6r9ayc
    Hebrew: http://youtu.be/IHVYp3lt378
    English: http://youtu.be/TASniuDNKZw
    Mandarin: http://youtu.be/3gwEh4rMqs4
    Spanish: http://youtu.be/QjDvvd0GHCk
    Senegalese-French: http://youtu.be/Ee1qBIaEZp4

    Yes, it’s manipulative and I teared up. But I loved all the videos. And the sentiments expressed by the young women. Way to go, next generation.

    (Also, note that Coca-Cola disabled comments on the videos. Which in my mind, speaks truth about certain people getting their knickers in a twist over the ad and revealing the depths of their stupidity on the internet. I certainly found people to block on Twitter, after looking at the discussion that resulted from Coca-Cola tweeting links to these videos.)

  186. David:

    Actually, he’s right: the overall vote was ~50/50, but that included the anglophone population (esp in Montreal). The francophone population (which is what he cited) seems to have gone around 60-40 for independence.

    Thank you for the clarification; I missed it. The anglophone and allophone populations of Quebec are just as much citizens of Quebec as the francophones, however. So the population of all citizens of Quebec said no. Which is kind of my point re the U.S. — they all count, not just one group, despite those who insist that. And that was nearly twenty years ago. Young francophones are way less interested in “sovereignty” and identity disenfranchisement. They are more bilingual and multi-lingual. They play a lot of language and identity politics in Quebec — and it’s hurting them. More immigrants are coming in and it isn’t going to improve their cause. In the federal government where bilingualism is required, they’ve gotten nearly everything they’ve gone after. That’s not to say their grievances are all bogus either, but identity politics along the we rule everybody line seldom produce anything good. And the francophone population is spread out as a minority in the rest of Canada. Should they be real citizens only if they are in Quebec?

    Human beings have been entirely too mobile, inclined to inter-marry or inter-procreate, switch religions, traffic in slaves, constantly adjust their languages with words from other languages, redefine their cultures, and change national borders of countries over time to have ethnic or linguistic nationalism make any sense whatsoever. But it’s a game of scaring that many authoritarian minded folks and pols play globally.

  187. Thank you for the clarification; I missed it. The anglophone and allophone populations of Quebec are just as much citizens of Quebec as the francophones, however. So the population of all citizens of Quebec said no. Which is kind of my point re the U.S.

    The anglophones were 90% opposed.

    Which suggests to me that language is a fairly fundamental to identity.

    To everyone who favors a stew metaphor over a melting pot, yes, I agree, it’s a better metaphor. If everything were completely, and indistinguishably mixed, you would that grey green color that you get when you mix all of the Easter egg dyes.

    @greg

    And you think a SONG is anywhere near on par with all these other things?

    No, of course not, but attending a sporting event together is a thing people can do. People don’t gather round on a Saturday to not get unreasonably seized by the government.

    @Kat

    Accommodating citizens with less or little English, or immigrants for that matter, where possible to help them in a language they are more comfortable speaking in, makes good sense and increases functionality. Helping people who want to learn English makes good sense and increases functionality.

    I think that helping people learn English is probably a good idea, though I would want to know what program we are talking about and who doesn’t want to support it and why. The degree of useful accommodation is an area of legitimate dispute. The EU’s massive translation enterprise is a pretty massive operation; but it’s possible.

    To claim that some citizens for whom English is their first language get an extra civil right to decide how their fellow citizens get to live doesn’t work as a democracy. Any American has the free speech right to sing the national anthem in any language that he or she pleases. It’s an American singing the American anthem, full stop.

    What exactly do you mean? Are you referring to individuals, or the government? The government can legislate what government services are offered in what language. It probably ought to legislate that if a regulation or statute is translated, that the original supersedes the translation or we could end up with unresolvable court disputes.

    I hope that if it were to try to legislate in what language the national anthem is sung by private entities, that the law gets struck down on first amendment grounds.

  188. Which suggests to me that language is a fairly fundamental to identity

    Of course it is. That’s not the same thing as it being the definitive declaration of nationality.

  189. I am reminded that when Roger Williams first reached the shore of Narragansett Bay, he was greeted with “What cheer, netop?”

    I find that quintessentially American.

  190. Mike: I’m fine with people speaking other languages or bringing their cuisine or other aspects of their culture to the party, but there should also be unifying elements.

    The point is, we’re already unified in that we’re Americans.

    There is something of a “I don’t mind diversity, as long as it doesn’t go too far” in your mandate that “there should also be unifying elements”.

  191. And my office is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, depending on what language each person has strengths in. We all go home to our birth tongues (assumed) but where we mix, we communicate determinedly, patiently and frankly, cheerfully. We’re a family of sorts and it works — because we want it to work. Pay’s not bad either which in and of itself can serve as a motivator to those who may be thinking uniformity is a good idea.

    I get that the Coca Cola advert is simplistic but isn’t that the nature of advertising? It is always about sales first but they put a tremendous amount of thought and work into this piece and it shows. Kudos to them.

  192. The anglophones were 90% opposed. Which suggests to me that language is a fairly fundamental to identity.

    Actually, the sovereignty issue was a lot more complicated than just what language one got to speak, since French was already the main language of Quebec and the anglophone opposition was about much more than language issues. In any case, anglophones in Quebec were full citizens, entitled to vote and with all rights therein — just as much of the complicated culture of Quebec. And in Quebec, the Canadian anthem is sung in French and English, as in the rest of Canada. Which was my point. I’m not sure what point you are making now. Language is a part of personal culture and identity, but it is not what defines an American. If you’re making the argument that English is the fundamental identity of America, there’s been amble arguments made here that it isn’t. The U.S. has no official language, and even if English is our primary language currently, singing the anthem in other languages that are also part of American culture and citizenship doesn’t do anything to English in America nor does it eliminate unity. In fact, it tends to improve unity because it’s inclusive of all Americans, rather than exclusive with an English only policy.

    I would want to know what program we are talking about and who doesn’t want to support it and why.

    As has already been mentioned, there is a huge movement to make English the official language of the U.S., to legally force people only to talk English, to only offer government services and assistance in English, to legally force businesses to only communicate with customers in English, to force non-English speaking students not only to learn only in English in schools but to cut funding for English as a Second Language instruction in schools, and to give no government funding to helping adults learn English either, and to keep non-English speaking immigrants out of the country. And that movement is run by authoritarian conservatives, who believe this movement gives them more political power and represses voters who won’t support them. In some states through legislation and political policy, they’ve been very successful, especially in schools.

    The degree of useful accommodation is an area of legitimate dispute.

    It’s really not a legitimate dispute. It’s a political dispute about enforcing discrimination and forcing a definition of Americans as only English speakers, which is not the case. There are logistical limitations to accommodating people whose main language isn’t English in some areas of the country. But that’s not what these people are complaining about. Saying the anthem should only be sung in English at sporting events is saying that only English speaking Americans are Americans and part of the anthem, and those citizens with other heritages are not Americans and not part of the anthem — that the anthem belongs to only English speakers. And that’s not the case.

    Are you referring to individuals, or the government?

    I’m referring to individuals, including yourself. You are saying that it should not be allowed that the anthem be sung in other languages at sporting events. That position appoints yourself the real American who has the right to tell other citizens what language they can and cannot sing the anthem of their country in. And many people who have that view also want to turn it into government legislation.

    So there’s confusion here. You say that singing the anthem in other languages at sporting events is bad, the wrong track, but at the same time, you don’t want the government to ban it now. So you’re okay with the anthem being sung in say Spanish at a sporting event now?

  193. Just for the record: not all francophones in Canada live in Quebec, and provinces like New Brunswick and Ontario provide French-language services to them. Even in western Canada there are pockets of francophones.

  194. Kat Goodwin: “Saying the anthem should only be sung in English at sporting events is saying that only English speaking Americans are Americans and part of the anthem, and those citizens with other heritages are not Americans and not part of the anthem — that the anthem belongs to only English speakers. And that’s not the case.”

    It’s also saying that there is something inherently American about attending sporting events, which is also not the case.

  195. It’s also saying that there is something inherently American about attending sporting events, which is also not the case.

    Particularly the Superbowl, which is priced out of reach for any but the wealthy (who occasionally bestow grace on those below, like the Harkonnens throwing the soggy towels out their back door). The rest of us underpeople can watch whatever the TV network decides to show.

  196. Kat Goodwin writes:

    So there’s confusion here. You say that singing the anthem in other languages at sporting events is bad, the wrong track, but at the same time, you don’t want the government to ban it now. So you’re okay with the anthem being sung in say Spanish at a sporting event now?

    I think that if the government were to tell a sports franchise what languages they are allowed to use at a football game that this is a violation of the first amendment. Yes I would prefer that sports franchises not play the anthem in a multitude of languages but this is their choice. The phrase I used was “I’d say we probably had taken a wrong turn somewhere.” I was referring to the culture, not bemoaning that we hadn’t used the power of the state to ban the practice.

    BW writes:

    It’s also saying that there is something inherently American about attending sporting events, which is also not the case.

    I don’t know if the Brits sing God Save the Queen at Association Football matches. If they do, we could be have this same discussion about British culture, and it wouldn’t be American at all, uniquely or otherwise.

  197. What does it matter what is sung at a football game or in what language? Sports franchises are elements of the entertainment industry, and games of football and whatnot are not a part of what it means to be an American. They’re just sports events. Do you think the national anthem should be played before a Miley Cyrus concert or a Broadway play? If it were, would you care what language it was sung in?

    I can sort of see wanting English to be the language of the anthem when, say, the President is inaugurated (though I can see arguments on the other side as well). I can’t see any reason for English-onlyl when it comes to sports events or other forms of entertainment. If it’s going to be sung at all at football games and other entertainment events, I think it would be far more interesting to use various languages, which would perhaps make people take notice more than they do now and remind them that this country is diverse.

  198. Mike:

    Yes I would prefer that sports franchises not play the anthem in a multitude of languages but this is their choice. The phrase I used was “I’d say we probably had taken a wrong turn somewhere.” I was referring to the culture, not bemoaning that we hadn’t used the power of the state to ban the practice.

    Why do you prefer that? Why is it a wrong turn if a sporting event decides to play the anthem in other languages, celebrating all of American culture, rather than just one part of it? (Not that there’s anything wrong with just doing it in English either.) How does that position you’re holding tell the many citizens in America with multiple heritages that you regard them as American too and just as much a part of the culture? To set the English version as the good one again for others makes the distinction that “real Americans” are English first speakers and everyone else is a second class citizen, even if their families have been part of America for hundreds of years.

    Understand, I’m not trying to play gotcha, you suck here. I’m not equating you with the far right response to the ad (though I appreciate the legislative clarification.) But I am trying to point out a cultural bias, an innate belief that America is the English language and that real Americans speak English. That’s not really American culture. It’s a subset of American culture trying to argue for superiority. Let’s all unite under the English language banner is not unity; it’s pretty much the usual colonialism that legitimizes one group and delegitimizes others as belonging to the culture and being representative of it. It’s conformity for the empowerment of one group, not joining together.

    And that attitude that is so common — English first to be American — becomes legislation, and even when it doesn’t, it becomes social pressure and intimidation. So even though you believe that the government banning the anthem played in another language would be legislatively wrong, your disapproval of the idea, of acknowledging the full extent of American culture, has the effect of helping to suppress and delegitimize large swathes of American culture and citizens. And the cumulative effect of lots of people holding that position causes an enormous amount of pain and conflict in the society. It makes it harder for non-English first citizens to serve in the government, be taken seriously as U.S. athletes, etc., to be treated with any respect.

    Because they’re nice maybe, but they are declared not as American as those of us for whom English is our first and perhaps only language. And you have American citizens who were born here and raised here and whose parents and grandparents were too — Latino, Arab, Asian, and for that matter, Russian, Jewish, Armenian, etc., and you have other Americans telling them that they should go home to their country, that they couldn’t possibly be American, that America is not theirs — it happens to them all the time. And that singing the anthem of their U.S. country in a language of their heritage is disrespectful, divisive, rather than celebratory of all of America. That it doesn’t hammer home the message that America is English only, that they aren’t really a part of anything. That they should sit through the English version and be glad they are allowed here, rather than any English first Americans having to sit through the anthem in any other language of America.

    That’s not unity. That’s not a country. It’s just good old prejudicial oppression from people who happen to be in a group that has been mostly in power and can make demands. And it happens to Americans constantly. A bilingual 3rd gen American of Puerto Rican descent who has spoken English all his life, he drops his keys and curses in Spanish and gets to hear the woman behind him mutter that “These Mexicans should learn English to be in this country.” Because in her mind and the minds of millions of others, real Americans only speak English. And that’s what the Coco-Cola ad was getting at and that’s why it pissed millions of Americans who believe that off, because they really don’t care if millions of other Americans are made to feel like unwelcome invaders every day — they don’t see them as legitimate anyway.

    So if they did regularly play both English and Spanish versions of the anthem at some sporting events (which actually does happen occasionally,) or Italian or Mandarin, or other languages because some of the players, that’s their heritage and it’s being celebrated along with their performance as part of America, millions of Americans would scream about it. But they’d get used to it. And they might start seeing America as it actually is — a tapestry of many threads, rather than assuming that English first is absolutely essential to American identity. Which it’s not. So that’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

  199. Let’s all unite under the English language banner is not unity; it’s pretty much the usual colonialism that legitimizes one group and delegitimizes others as belonging to the culture and being representative of it. It’s conformity for the empowerment of one group, not joining together.

    So in the case of the United States, who would be this one group? The mixture of all who came before?

    Language is a big part of identity, and I think it’s much harder to think of of people as “those people” if they share a common language, even if they also all speak other languages. If Spanish were to supplant English throughout the American Southwest I do think it would be much easier to think of people living in those states as “those people”, and we might be back to referring to “these United States” rather than “the United States”.

    I certainly don’t want to make it harder to learn English. I want to encourage it. I realize that it can be very difficult for adults to learn a new language.

    I note that the US relaxes the requirement that the citizenship examination be taken in English for long time residents of the United States older than 50.

    http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/exceptions-accommodations

    Because in her mind and the minds of millions of others, real Americans only speak English. And that’s what the Coco-Cola ad was getting at and that’s why it pissed millions of Americans who believe that off,

    I think that’s an odd perspective on what the Coke ad was getting at. I don’t think they were saying “You jerks! These people aren’t speaking English and they’re still Americans!”. They were saying, “Cool! Look at all of these neat people who are Americans!”. Or perhaps they were saying that what you have to do to be a real American is drink Coke. :-)

    So that’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

    I wasn’t really expecting to persuade you otherwise. How about you?

  200. Even with the preview function, I still managed to screw up the html for the last couple of lines. Oops.

  201. I am a lurker and very occasional commenter, and I thought I would drop in two cents. One is: Kat Goodwin, whenever I read a discussion here I always look for your consistently excellent comments.

    The other is: Mike, on reading the discussion of the National Anthem, I was reminded of a girl I knew when I was a tween, who was from Puerto Rico via NYC. One day I was in a group of kids talking about the National Anthem and she roughly translated the first verse into Spanish and sang it for the rest of us. I don’t remember her translation at all, but I still remember her smile; that fun incident has always been an example of what I like about living in the US, not least in big NorthEastern cities. Now, reading this discussion, all I can picture is you disapprovingly listening to the girl and deeming her an example of how the US had “taken a wrong turn somewhere.”

    Or, maybe it was okay that this kid translated The Star Spangled Banner in a chat with friends. But where’s the line that makes her action wrong and UnAmerican? When she sings her version before a school softball game? If she grows up to be a performer and sings it before a MLB game?

    And what makes you as an English speaker the judge of that Latina girl’s Americanness? Because that is at base what we’re debating. What makes English more ‘American’ than Spanish, which has been spoken in North America for longer (to say nothing of the Native American languages which were spoken here far longer than either)?

  202. N. Martin,

    If you are asking if I think there is something in the nature of English itself that is particularly American, the answer is no. I’m sure the British are breathing easier. I suppose there is a version of history where we all could have ended up speaking Spanish, though it’s not clear to me if that would have happened while at the same time our founders were interested in the philosophical writings of English and Scottish writers, but if that had happened, I would be advocating for Spanish. I’m not suggesting that English has some woo-woo power.

    No, I don’t think the girl in your story is of diminished Americanness, nor would she be if she sang her translation at an MLB game.

    My interest in the national anthem is that it is a thing that many people experience together, and being the national anthem is one of the few things we do together that is actually about America, and affirming America. I have no idea why this is done at athletic events and not at plays, movies etc. There was a time when we played it on TV at the end of the broadcast day, back when there was an end to the broadcast day. I don’t argue that there is something particularly American about athletic competition. Again, I’m sure sport fans around the world are breathing easier.

    To me, singing the anthem in multiple languages or perhaps some other language instead of English suggests a situation in which we have given up on sharing a common language. It seems to me like it would be an indicator of Balkanization.

    PS

    If I were going to claim a language grants woo-woo powers of Americannenss, English isn’t a bad choice.

    To quote James Nicoll:
    “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle (sic) their pockets for new vocabulary.”

  203. Mike: My interest in the national anthem is that it is a thing that many people experience together, and being the national anthem is one of the few things we do together that is actually about America, and affirming America.

    and it affirms America even when sang in multiple languages.

    To me, singing the anthem in multiple languages or perhaps some other language instead of English suggests a situation in which we have given up on sharing a common language.

    Well, the thing is the “we” you are talking about, isn’t actually “we”, it’s you and some group of people who think the same as you. You’re choice of pronoun is kind of the equivalent of “the lurkers support me in email”. Some of us never had that as a mandate, so we can’t give it up.

    it would be an indicator of Balkanization.

    Balkanization: division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or non-cooperative with one another.

    Dude. Check your assumptions.

    The only reason people speakign different languages would automatically become hostile towards one another would be if they come with the very assumptions you’ve prepacked into your arguments here.

    In short, what you’re arguing is true in the sense that what you’re looking at is a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Back in the day, people used to argue that we shouldn’t let gays in the military because they could be blackmailed by someone who found out they were gay. Well, the only way you could blackmail a gay person for being in the military is if you and a large chunk of the culture at large thought being gay and being in the military was wrong. And therefore, self fulfilling prophecy.

  204. Mike:

    So in the case of the United States, who would be this one group? The mixture of all who came before?

    Nope, the one group would be English speaking, monolingual citizens who are considered white skinned, predominantly male, and, for the right end of ideology, predominantly fundamentalist and conservative Christians. They’ve been in charge of most of the government, American businesses, schools, etc., but they are not the American identity, only part of it. But millions of people accept them as the default, as the people who are the true first class Americans (the real Americans in the small white rural towns, as Sarah Palin liked to put it.) Multilingual Americans are considered second-class citizens who should try to conform to be as much like those first class citizens, and stop being multilingual. And it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in the country. So it seems perfectly reasonable to them to insist that in public events, the white, monolingual English (and quite often Christian,) culture be the one that everybody is forced to adhere to. Basically, the position is that white monolingual Americans from mostly European stock won and so they get to dictate the terms of what an American is in society. Which is not democracy. It’s mob rule. Which I’m trying to point out to you that you are advocating.

    Language is a big part of identity,

    It is, which is why asking American citizens to strip that part of their identity away and declare it not part of the American identity, when it is, is a problem. The American language identity is and always has been multilingual. So the insistence that it would be best if it were only English is very much a form of social repression and power grabbing. Which is why the Constitution has the prohibition about the government doing that, a prohibition you agree with, but you still feel the society itself should enforce it and create two tiers of citizens. The reason you think that would be okay, as opposed to the conservatives who think it’s okay and so protested the ad, is this:

    I think it’s much harder to think of of people as “those people” if they share a common language, even if they also all speak other languages.

    You are under the mistaken impression that it will make things easier for everybody. You are arguing that if we socially pressure people to only speak English in the public square — to be repressed by the demands of the ruling group of monolingual English speakers, to limit and erase their American identity, to declare only English American — then we’ll have unity. That’s already going on, however, and we don’t have unity at all. Repression doesn’t build unity — it just builds repression, as when we forced Native American children to abandon their languages and cultures. Far from seeing people who speak English and other languages as not “those people,” they are seen as “those people” because they aren’t monolingual (and often because they are not white) by millions of Americans.

    That’s what the people complaining about the ad were objecting to — they want only English because they feel only monolingual English speakers are real Americans. Multilingual citizens are second tier and should be constrained from talking in their other languages or expressing it in the public culture as much as possible. They should not want any services given to them in anything other than English and monolingual English speakers should not have to press an extra button on their phones for English. And the less those other languages are allowed by social pressure and people in charge of events like sporting events to be in the public sphere, the less they seem American and the more second tier multilingual citizens become, whose American-ness is questioned. Often they become that way by law, by government, as when schools are ordered to drop English as a Second Language programs and drop the teaching of Latino American, Native American, African American, etc. history in school curriculum, because they are supposedly “divisive.” Whereas they argue that white, European American history — one part of America — is just peachy and should unify everybody.

    To give you an example, the always charming Laura Ingraham claimed recently that bilingual Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had more allegiance to her “immigrant family background” than upholding the Constitution. First off, Sotomayer isn’t an immigrant. She’s a natural born citizen, as are her parents. Second, Ingraham is for political purposes portraying Sotomayer as a not real American because she is multilingual with a “not white” heritage — one who therefore can’t have real loyalty and belonging to the country and its ideals. She is making the connection that multilingual means “immigrant,” not real American. Yet, Sotomayer is fully fluent in English and has been her whole life. But like my hypothetical Latino American, the speaking of Spanish too causes some to decide that person is not of America, no matter their English speaking skills. And that’s politically useful, because if you declare English only as the standard of American identity, as Ingraham does, then you can better keep multilingual Americans like Sotomayer (who tend to not vote conservative,) out of the courts, the Congress, etc. Erase the use of the other languages on the grounds that they aren’t as American as English and the voice and control of the country is comfortably in the hands of those designated real English speakers and real Americans.

    So no, social pressure to stick to English always and at all times at sporting events and so forth doesn’t promote unity. It simply tells multilingual Americans that they don’t belong here and are not really as much a part of the country as monolingual English speaking Americans. Their multiple cultures are alien, unwanted, invading from the “outside” no matter how long their family has lived here, and they should shut up and allow the presentation of Americans to be English speaking only.

    I think that’s an odd perspective on what the Coke ad was getting at. I don’t think they were saying “You jerks! These people aren’t speaking English and they’re still Americans!”. They were saying, “Cool! Look at all of these neat people who are Americans!”.

    The Coke ad was saying, “Cool! Look at all of these neat people who are Americans!,” but it was saying it as a reminder — they know full well that millions of Americans don’t think multilingual or non-English speaking citizens are real Americans, but they know that the majority are not opposed to that reality, and that the upset of those who think English only makes Americans would give a controversial boost to the ad and make it go viral. The ad was also a shout-back to their famous 1970′s multicultural ad, an ad which also freaked people out — Coke is familiar with this from before. And the conservatives who objected to the ad did indeed do so on the grounds that all songs about America (with some mistaking this song for the anthem,) should only be in English, because America is only English speaking, blah, blah, blah. Multilingualism to them is a threat and makes you not a first class American.

    I wasn’t really expecting to persuade you otherwise. How about you?

    Yeah, I’m kind of hoping to get you and others to think about it, as I would suspect was Scalzi. Because you don’t have the same mindset as the people who freaked out over the ad. But you do have a privilege mindset of demanding that English be the American public identity and those other languages be considered not American. Many people who have controlled the government or resources had that same view and so stamped out the use of other languages, often by physical force and intimidation and humiliation. They declared only English was good and American and kept multilingual Americans mostly to the sidelines on those grounds.

    That’s one of the main reasons, besides political purposes, that Quebec is pretty vigorous on the language front. The English Canadians tried in the past to squash them using French in public, in the government, schools, businesses, etc., because hey, unity as Canadians under the British crown. If French Canadians talked in French in a shopping mall, for instance, they would be told to stop. It didn’t unify anything. It stripped them of their identity and made them highly ambivalent about being part of Canada, because after all, they weren’t considered real Canadians. And it made paranoia about a new English takeover happening pretty ingrained once reforms allowing a more multicultural society occurred. Unfortunately, in my opinion, what Quebec nationalists learned was that it’s better to be the squasher than the squashee, instead of, you know, to stop squashing, and they aren’t exactly multicultural advocates.

    It would be nice if we could start learning the lesson from all these many historical examples that attempting to squash multiple and immigrant cultures and insisting they leave them by the door for some monocultural public identity doesn’t work and is in fact just repression that leaves those being squashed targets and excludes them from representation. It is ironic that a global corporation with a bad record peddling sugar water at a sporting event that, as dpmaine did accurately note, is mainly for the affluent, is the one reminding us of the lesson, but there you go.

  205. The folks who are saying multilingualists are not real Americans are also the ones who, in large part, who try to quash requirements thar school children learn a second language. because they don’t need to learn any language other than English. (and thus also cut said kids out from getting the jobs where speaking more than one language is a requirement.

    And for white, English speaking, European descent folks like myself, who have gone out and taken classes in, and studied on my own, languages, well, we’re looked on as wierdo, eccentric intellectuals. And the ‘English only’ crowd are also, in large part, the ones who consider anyone who is an intellectual as somehow not quite True Americans, if not out and out anti-American.

    Meh.

  206. My standard snarky response to the “If you’re going to come to this country, learn to speak our language” schtick is to tell the person I never realized they were Native American.

  207. As someone who spent years learning a second language to fluency (Mandarin Chinese), that ad made me ridiculously happy. It’s frustrating to have American’s first reactions to any foreign language be fear instead of joy. Languages are beautiful and complex and poetic in ways wholly different from each other. I wish there was so much more of this kind of thing, not less. Do not fear the new words, people. They are full of warm fuzzies.

  208. This op-ed piece by Michael Gerson appeared in the Washington Post a couple of days ago:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-a-coke-and-a-hearty-welcome/2014/02/06/c5423584-8e98-11e3-b46a-5a3d0d2130da_story.html?tid=pm_pop

    It uses the Coke ad as a jumping-off point to discuss immigration reform and how difficult it will be for the Republicans to embrace it as House Speaker John Boehner said they will need to do. I found the following paragraph of interest, because it seems to summarize the different reactions seen on this thread:

    “This is already making too much of a Twitter tempest. But it does illustrate a vivid difference in disposition. Some looked at those images and saw an affirmation of the universality of American ideals; others saw a violation of the particularities of American culture, such as the use of English. Some saw exceptionalism and strength; others adulteration and threat. It doesn’t take the application of electrodes in a psych lab experiment to understand that these are deep, preconscious responses.”

    I don’t think Mike could possibly persuade me that singing in other languages means Balkanization, because in my experiences, and those of most people I know, the country is not Balkanized and we can’t see how a song could make it so. For just one example, I spent time last weekend in the suburb where I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, when the population was largely white with an area where most of the black people lived. It wasn’t segregated in the sense of “white only” and “colored” facilities, but there was a de facto residential segregation, and the two groups were “other” to each other. There were no noticeable numbers of people of other ethnic groups. Last weekend, as always when I spend time there now, I noticed how many people of different ethic groups and religions live and work there. The residents of my mother’s neighborhood are ethnically mixed. There are small markets and middle-sized grocery stores run by Latinos and Asians and East Indians and people from the Middle East, and their customers are not just people of those ethnic groups. Some of the checkout clerks at the Safeway supermarket near my mother’s house wear hijabs, and nobody seems to think anything of it. There are numerous Afghan, Lebanese, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, Burmese and other restaurants owned and run by people who immigrated from their respective countries. Different languages can be heard all around, but people are not huddled together in ethnic enclaves.

    For those who see the ad as a sign of Balkanization, perhaps that is because of their own experiences, quite different from mine. That concern must come from somewhere, and I don’t think anyone in this thread has explained where. I can’t persuade them to see the idea of singing the national anthem in another language or multiple other languages as a sign of inclusion and hope (as I do) if their experience has been separation and suspicion between ethnic groups. I don’t disbelieve that there are instances of that in the United States, as there are instances of what I see in cities and suburbs I have visited or lived in. It’s a big country, and the experiences of its citizens are no more homogenous than the population is. So we’re not likely to have the same reactions to the idea of singing the national anthem in multiple languages. It makes me sad, though, to see the fear and the impulse to erect defenses against perceived threat where I see none.

  209. This was a remarkable ad. Another was the Cadillac ad, to which I noted, “That is the most nationalistic ad I’ve ever seen.” It seemed to be throwing a middle finger at Russia with the moon race.

    For any of you who think that Liberals Hate America… have you seen any outrage about it?

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