LESLIE CRISS: America is still melting pot of people, languages

“America is a tune. It must be sung together.”

Gerald Stanley Lee

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”

Rita Mae Brown



I turned my television off last Sunday night just after listening to Bruno Mars sing. I’d already seen the Clydesdale-befriends-puppy ad online in the days prior to the Superbowl.

If admit I must, I will freely tell you I cared not one whit about the big football game this year or in years past. Except perhaps when the Saints were in the mix.

In addition to the Budweiser commercial, I loved Volkswagen’s ad showing a father telling his daughter what happens every time a Volkswagen goes another 100,000 miles: A German engineer for the company gets his or her wings. Watch the rest online. It’s worth a few moments of your time.

My other favorite of the evening was the Coca-Cola ad in which all manner of humanity – and in different languages – sang “America the Beautiful.”

Almost instantly, on Facebook and Twitter, ignorance reared its ugly head in messages from folks who were offended by the ad. Most of the messages cannot be printed in a family newspaper, but here’s an example .

“That coke commercial where they have national anthem sung in different languages is disrespectful.” – A.R.

Not that it would make any difference, but “America the Beautiful” is not our national anthem. My sweet mama, however, always thought it ought to be. “It’s much prettier than “The Star Spangled Banner,” she’d say.

Here’s another:

“I’m sorry but you can’t sing about America in other languages. That’s unAmerican.” – J.Y.

There are hundreds more like these, peppered with foul language and huge hunks of hate. There were even calls for a Coca-Cola boycott and some who claimed they’d never drink another Coke.

The good news is the posts and tweets in support of Coca-Cola’s beautiful ad depicting the diverse America I learned about in elementary school were more abundant.

I can’t help wondering where these obtuse people were when childhood history lessons were shared about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty’s engraved invitation by poet Emma Lazarus to, “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” There’s no mention of “only English spoken here.”

The same time-tested company that through the decades has brought us ads with Santa Claus and polar bears touting the “real thing,” has also encouraged the world to sing in perfect harmony.

And the way I see it, they’ve hit it out of the park again with their Super Bowl ad.

Pass me a Coke.

“America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!”


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