By Arlie Martin
Senior Opinion Writer
This week we celebrated the quintessential American event of the year: the Superbowl.
Whether you were pulling for the Broncos or the Seahawks or you were watching for the ads, chances are you caught at least a snippet of the televised event.
As usual, there was an ad that caused outrage across the social media spectrum. Surprisingly, the award for this year’s most controversial ad isn’t going to GoDaddy.com for another misogynistic scenario — it’s going to Coca Cola.
The ad began with a woman singing the opening lines of the song “America the Beautiful” and a cowboy riding through the open country. Unarguably American, right? But then it cuts to “non-white” Americans singing in other languages. Apparently, including other cultures and languages is unarguably un-American.
I beg to disagree. In case we have forgotten the few history classes we had growing up, America was founded on principles of freedom as a reaction against the intolerant society found in the British Empire and other Western European countries.
First, I would like to point out that the United States of America has no official language.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the US has not listed an official language for the nation as a whole.
The majority of Americans speak only one language, and that one language is English. It’s easy to see how most people would mistake that for making it the official language. So what makes Spanish un-American? What makes French, German, Hindi or even Arabic an un-American language? There is no requirement that immigrants learn English and there is no reason that we should be offended at the idea of people being proud of their native country, even though they have come to live in ours.
Our nation, the one that people seem to feel is being threatened by a multicultural ad campaign, is a melting pot. We want to believe that we are a refuge of capitalism and opportunity. Yet the citizens of our nation react with outrage at anything new.
If you can’t conform, get out.
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, President Obama stated, “When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place.” I like how he mentioned the “contributions to our culture,” and I think Coca Cola captured that idea with its ad as well. The ever-changing American “culture” is strengthened by the incoporation of other cultures. Whether by cuisine or economics, there is no section of our society that has not been influenced by another culture somewhere along the way.
As a conglomeration of cultures, it’s hard to identify the American culture as one simple list of things. We divide ourselves into states and make this distinction even harder. My home in Georgia, where we drink sweet tea and drive big trucks, is vastly different from New York where they are trying to limit sweet drinks and lean toward public transportation. The idea that America is one culture that can be neatly bullet pointed and understood is both impossible and against the values that do unite us.
We are united by our dedication to freedom: the freedoms of religion and speech, to name our favorites. We are united in our belief that no one is defined by where they came from and that everyone has a right to pursue their dreams. We are united in our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This includes the people that come to our country and want to join in these dreams. Their language does not negate their love of what makes America beautiful, and it does not detract from American values or principles.
America is not, and was not meant to be, a white supremacist nation where all the people are the same. So instead of bashing multiculturalism, we should welcome it. It is the embodiment of everything we were founded upon and a realization of the American dream.