When I was going to Pitt, I would occasionally walk by a group of older gentlemen who would gather in the bowels of Posvar Hall near the old Forbes Field home plate on weekends. They would chatter away in some foreign language, maybe Italian or Czech. I thought it was a quaint tradition, these old salts gathering to wile away the hours together. Doubtless they knew Englige but were probably more comfortable in their mother tongue.
Last night, during the Superbowl, Coke aired an advertisement of America the Beautiful being sung in different languages. It was a cute, sugary attempt to celebrate America’s diversity – the melting pot that has contributed to this country’s rise. No big deal, right?
Predictably, the Ignoranti of Twitter went ballistic! Here are a couple of my favorites of the ones as compiled by Deadspin:
— Josh Scarborough (@Jscarborough96) February 3, 2014
It’s God Bless America not Mexico so sing in English. #FuckCoke
— Allison Cruts (@allison_cruts31) February 3, 2014
Considering out constitution is in English I would appreciate out patriotic songs be the same. #fuckcoke
— Train (@col_train48) February 3, 2014
(Please excuse the expletives not deleted).
We don’t have an official national language. Never have. Maybe never will. This country has never been a bastion of English fluency. Consider places like Germantown, Little Italy and Polish Hill (an enclave in Pgh). European immigrants, for generations, clustered in these groups so as to make the transition from their homelands all the easier. Sounds of people chattering in their native language rang forth in these neighborhoods.
It’s unlikely that any immigrant would deny that learning/mastering English is key to getting ahead in this country. But mastering English is tough! It wasn’t uncommon for the parents’ generation to be much less fluent than their children who grew up in the USA. Watch the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding – some version of that is being repeated within every ethnicity that comes to this country.
Today we have added in places like Chinatown, Koreatown or Little Havana, Little India or Little Bangladesh. And it’s easy to see the same story being repeated.
By the way, the CEO of PepsiCo, the alternative to Coca-Cola whom these nitwits will now turn, is an Indian woman.
Later in the evening, Chrysler aired a commercial featuring Bob Dylan. It was definitively, almost defiantly American – “So let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone. WE will build your car.”
I think it’s likely that the same self-styled ENGLISH patriots who hated the multi-culti Coke ad probably loved the Chrysler ad. Because ‘murrica. Let’s just gloss over the fact that Chrysler is owned by Fiat, an Italian company. And before that it was owned by Daimler, a German company.
I liked both commercials and there is, in my opinion, no contradiction between the two ads. We can celebrate the contributions of immigrants in one breath.because this is a nation of immigrants (except for that part about massacring our aborigines with Guns, Germs, and Steel). And also recognize that some of the things we do here become uniquely ours… ours as Americans, encompassing our immigrants and ‘natives’. It’s a pretty big country. There’s room for a whole lotta people.