Our VoiceNews & Politics

For the Far-Right, Promoting America’s Diversity is Divisive

April Callen • Feb 07, 2014

Aside from the Denver Broncos devastating loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, the most talked about moment from Super Bowl XLVIII was a Coca-Cola commercial, titled, “America is Beautiful.” The 60 second spot featured a multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful,” made complete by an array of multiracial and multiethnic faces. And while many of us were moved by the commercial, too many others found it “divisive.”

Glenn Beck, despite having just recently apologized for his role in “helping tear the country apart” with his divisive language and conspiracy theories during his stint at Fox News, asked of the Atlanta-based company:

“Why did you need that to divide us politically? Because that’s all this ad is. It’s in your face, and if you don’t like it, if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: to divide people.”

He added: “Every leader of the European union that tried multiculturalism is now warning America and the rest of the world that tried multiculturalism doesn’t work, you have to assimilate.”

Former Congressman Allen West pondered, “If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful”  [sic] in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition.” Michael Patrick Leahy of Breitbart.com goes so far as to call the add “offensive.” He admonished Coca-Cola by stating:

“As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned […] 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.”

The anti-immigrant group ProEnglish used the commercial as an opportunity to mobilize its base, sending out an action alert to supporters, calling on them to “Fight back against Coca-Cola’s multilingual agenda!”

A member of the Tanton Network, ProEnglish has been pushing legislation and policies that favor English as the United States’ official language since 1994. Like Beck and other members of the far-Right, ProEnglish views Coca-Cola as the one who is divisive. The group contends:

“We believe that this Coca-Cola commercial directly undermined the spirit of national unity “America, the Beautiful” was intended to foster.  Instead, the divisive ad wrongly depicts Americans as separate linguistic groups and rejects the historical American ideal of one nation unified under a common language – English. [emphasis theirs]

Perhaps only rivaled by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola is an American brand with a global reach. And though its globalization should be viewed through a critical lens, the company has, for years, been progressive in its willingness to connect with all people – not simply those of the “Anglo-American tradition.”

The far-Right and anti-immigrant groups like ProEnglish attempt to dress up their bigotry as patriotism. When they lose all senses because an advertisement supports America’s diverse makeup, their bigotry reveals itself for what it actually is -nationalism. As this country moves towards greater acceptance of all people, including immigrants and the languages they speak, folks on the fringes will rightfully be pushed further to the margins of society. In a progressive society, there’s no room for those who are actually attempting to divide the country with their racism and ignorance.

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