An iconic commercial that aired more than 40 years ago offered a catchy jingle:
“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect har-mo-ny.
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”
Judging from recent commentary, those darn foreigners for whom we bought a Coke better stay where they are and leave America to its homogenous, white society.
In case you aren’t familiar with the latest uproar, Coke released a commercial during the Super Bowl that had Americans of various ethnicity singing “America the Beautiful” in the language of their foreign ancestors. This apparently offended the delicate sensibilities of those who can only understand English.
Diversity was fine wherever Coke was headed around the world, but diversity in the so-called “Melting Pot” of the world is a big no-no.
By that logic, only Native Americans should be able to enjoy American glory. Unfortunately, we robbed them of that right when we took over most of their land, forced them onto reservations and left them with fewer rights than non-native Americans. Equal rights were extended in modern times, but the damage had been done.
In ‘Merica, we can eat at Buca di Beppo and Pei Wei, drive away in a Hyundai, and buy thousands of things made in China, but if somebody tries to sing a verse of a patriotic song in Farsi, we go ballistic.
My ancestors came over from Italy, derided as “wops” and shared a ship with Europeans referred to by a number of nasty slurs meant to demean and dehuamize. They formed their own communities and many never learned English. But they made something of themselves in the Land of the Free.
Now we want to decide exactly who is worthy of being here?
I’d hazard a guess that many of us are such a brutal combination of lazy and arrogant that we could settle in Spain for the rest of our lives and never even attempt to learn Spanish. I always thought part of “America the Beautiful” was freedom and acceptance of others. We were only able to travel from sea to shining sea after the aforementioned grab of Native American land and by enslaving thousands of others to build a railway.
To me, “America the Beautiful” is about democracy and self-empowerment. It is about religious freedom and not worrying about persecution, but perhaps I just cling to this line in the famous song: “America, America, God shed his grace on thee. Til nobler men keep once again, Thy whiter jubilee.”
By the way, there is one last kick in the groin to those looking to quash diversity. Katharine Lee Bates, the woman who wrote the lyrics, was – gasp! – a lesbian.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to complain about purple mountains.