This past Sunday night, despite not having any desire to do so, I watched the second half of the Super Bowl. Typically, I love watching it, for the football, the commercials, and the time spent with my Dad. As he is no longer with us, I was heavy-hearted about the event, but chose, in the end to watch it and think of all the fond memories of Super Bowls p+ast. I missed many of the commercials but was able to see a few, which made me laugh, made me cry and some that just bored me.
I saw this one. Budweiser’s “Puppy Love”. Oh the cuteness brought tears to my eyes. A puppy and a Clydesdale become pals, which evokes happy thoughts of friendship, America and, of course, beer.
I did not see this one, although I can guarantee that had I seen it, I would have been teary-eyed, moved and, sick with love of country and the product being pitched, a product I do not usually purchase. What commercial was it? Watch it here.
“America the Beautiful” sung in multiple languages, including English. When I heard about it, I thought, “Wow is that cool!” Yet, from everything I am reading, it is by far the most controversial commercial of this year’s Super Bowl commercial offerings. A conversation with a friend at work about this created a perfect storm of Farheen rage. It is not directed at my friend, because I value her opinions and she has every right to her views. In a respectful way, she stated her view and why she feels the way she does, and I am able to accept it, while I may not agree. So why am I mad? It is because this commercial reveals the ignorance and hatred that is running rampant in the US.
Before continuing, please read the sentence below very carefully. We will revisit this sentence after my diatribe.
I believe that people who move to the United States SHOULD learn how to speak English.
As I mentioned before, we will return to this sentence. For now, let me tell you about some of the things expressed about this commercial. People have said the following things:
- Terrorists, gay people and other anti-American groups drink Coke!
- Coke is clearly trying to sell their product to illegal aliens who don’t want to learn how to speak English because they have foreigners singing in different languages. They need to learn English!
- If you buy Coke, you are supporting a company that is anti-America. Boycott Coke!
- How dare Coke defile our national anthem by having it sung in any language other than English?
- Glen Beck said, “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”(Reported by NYDailyNews.com).
Here is what I think:
- People drink Coke. All kinds of people. Believe it or not, it is not just an American drink.
- The people in the commercial did not seem to be crossing any borders illegally (unless you count the border between ignorance and enlightenment). People from many different ethnic and racial backgrounds make up a good portion of the American population. And they can sing in whatever language they want because it’s a song and this is the “Land of the Free,” right? I, myself, like to sing in Latin.
- I prefer Diet Pepsi because it tastes better to me than Diet Coke. However, I guess I should start buying more Fresca to support Coke. Because I saw this commercial as a compliment to the rich cultural diversity of our proud nation. I don’t think that Coke will suffer too much, in truth. Most of these people who are boycotting Coke will most likely forget that they are boycotting next week when they go to Walmart and see that Coke is on sale.
- “America the Beautiful” is not the national anthem of the United States. “The Star Spangled Banner” is the national anthem. Idiots. Your patriotic zeal would be more believable if you actually knew anything about America and were able to spell correctly.
- As for Glen Beck’s comment, all I can say is that assimilation is a crime. Forcing someone to change their language, values, traditions, and other such aspects of their identity is wrong. It has been seen time and time again. As an example, if one was to look at what was done to Native American children historically in this country itself, in the 1800s, the attempts to force a different cultural identity on a new generation only led to a generation of lost traditions, self loathing and a lack of cultural identity. I wish Glen would just keep his ridiculous ideas to himself.
This whole issue is particularly disturbing to me because I had a similar conversation a few years ago at a different place of employment. It was a voting day and my friend had voted in a different county than me and her “Thank you for voting” sticker was better than mine, to which I said, “That’s okay. My ‘Thank you for voting’ slip say thanks in five different languages.” A different co-worker piped up with “Actually her’s is better because it only says it in English which is the official language of America,” which is untrue. I replied with the fact that there is no official language legally, and how could there be one since this country is made up of some many different ethnicities and thus having many different languages. An innocent conversation between friends turned into a political issue in the office, culminating in the uninvited co-worker telling me that if I didn’t like America, I should go back to where I came from. After a stunned moment, I replied with, “You want to deport me back to Chicago, where I was born?” That is an orange peel for you. I was told by HR that I was causing trouble, when all I was doing was joking around with a friend.
I have very strong thoughts about language. Another fun Farheen fact is that I did not speak much English until I was in first grade. I lived a very insulated life before I went to school and the result was that I didn’t speak much to the other children and when I did, I was teased for not being able to speak correctly. This had some interesting effects on my growth and perhaps even the direction of my life. I speak Urdu, the primary language of Pakistan, fluently. I speak English without an accent (people actually do say that to me when they learn that English is not my native tongue). I take a great deal of pride in knowing that my grasp of the English language is better than most people who have spoken only English in their lives. All that time spent reading the dictionary has really paid off. 😛
Returning to the sentence near the beginning of this post, I do believe that people who move to this country should speak English. It isn’t because I think that this is “Murica” and it is a requirement to be American. It just makes sense, since most of the communication here is in English. The ancestors of most people I know learned how to speak English. My parents learned. Heck, I learned it but I was lucky because I was so young. I don’t remember much of how I learned it. I do know, however, that it is hard to learn another language for most people, especially the older you get, so I can understand why some people have a hard time with it. What some people get bent out of shape about is that some other people have the option to not speak English. And to those individuals, I say get over it. So there is an option to press 2 for a different language when you call the phone company or the credit card company. It’s no skin off of my back as long as someone can talk to me in a language I speak. I would like to leave you with a quotation by Noah Webster, author of of The American Dictionary of the English Language, who said:
“America sees the absurdities—she sees the kingdoms of Europe, disturbed by wrangling sectaries, or their commerce, population and improvements of every kind cramped and retarded, because the human mind like the body is fettered ‘and bound fast by the chords of policy and superstition’: She laughs at their folly and shuns their errors: She founds her empire upon the idea of universal toleration: She admits all religions into her bosom; She secures the sacred rights of every individual; and (astonishing absurdity to Europeans!) she sees a thousand discordant opinions live in the strictest harmony … it will finally raise her to a pitch of greatness and lustre, before which the glory of ancient Greece and Rome shall dwindle to a point, and the splendor of modern Empires fade into obscurity”
Oh Noah. We are far from universal toleration. Yep. Puppies and horses are better than people. They don’t care what language you speak or even what species you are. They just love each other and get along.