Un-American. It’s not a word I’d usually use in association with Coca-Cola — yet it was the word I heard whispered earlier this week in regards to their ad featured during the Superbowl.
When I saw the ad, I wasn’t particularly moved either way. But the negative reaction the ad garnered from some people made me revisit my stance on what it means to be an American.
As a supporter of globalization, immigration, individualism and the free market — I didn’t see the big deal. They sang “America the Beautiful” in different languages, showing a range of ethnicities (and even sexual orientations) and portraying them all as Americans.
Reactions that the people in the commercial should only sing the song in English reek of collectivism.
As an individualist, it doesn’t bother me when someone holds on to a particular language or culture. And singing “America the Beautiful” in multiple languages should be the LEAST of our worries.
Because in the big scheme of things, all that matters to me is that a person doesn’t violate the rights of another person. Whether they can speak English or show their “patriotism” by reciting the pledge is all superficial.
I find the differences in our country refreshing. And before I continue, I am aware that ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘diversity’ have certain connotations — such as the idea of forcing diversity upon people — but that’s not what I mean.
Just as people have the right to associate with people of the same background, and I don’t agree with forcing people to associate — it’s OK if others take the opposite approach. I know I do. And I benefit from it a lot.
I am exposed to a many different types of foods for example. I can go down the street to this store that sells a myriad of food products from Asian countries. I can have Caribbean or German food too. I’m exposed to different languages as well. I’m a bit more confident when saying “Anyeonghaseyo,” or “hello” to the ladies that work at my favorite Korean restaurant.
Most of the people I know whose native language is not English know a good bit of English or are completely fluent. It’s the best of both worlds to understand the language most spoken in another country, and thus be able to live productively in that country, while also sharing a bit of what you have to offer.
What makes us American to me is our ability to embrace individuality and pursue liberty for all even if we don’t always agree and as long as no one is being coerced.