If You want to Hate, Start with Me

Here is the Coca Cola Super Bowl Commercial “It’s Beautiful.”

What’s the problem? Why are some many people offended?

From Breitbart:

“Executives at Coca Cola thought it was a good idea to run a 60 second Super Bowl ad featuring children singing “America the Beautiful” – a deeply Christian patriotic anthem whose theme is unity – in several foreign languages. The ad also prominently features a gay couple.”

“When the company used such an iconic song, one often sung in churches on the 4th of July that represents the old “E Pluribus Unum” view of how American society is integrated, to push multiculturalism down our throats, it’s no wonder conservatives were outraged.”

Perhaps individuals with the same feelings as that above should conduct a little research about the life of Katharine Lee Bates who wrote the words to this song. I’m not a scholar of Bates and have read only a few of her poems over the course of my lifetime. As an academic I knew that she served as chair of the English Department at Wellesley which she had previously attended as a student. While I know little about the individual either professionally or personally, apart from her teaching and administrative position, I did know that she maintained a committed partnership for 25 or so years in what is often referred to as a “romantic friendship” with another Wellesley faculty member, Katharine Coman, an economist.

During that time in US History, it is true that professional single women often lived together. I do not know the nature of their relationship, but many sources do maintain that the women were a couple.

To me details of their relationship makes no difference as I simply like the words to that song, but given the attitude about featuring “a gay couple” in the commercial it may now determine one’s opinion of the song.

Allen West took the time to blog during the Super Bowl.

“If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful” in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition. This was a truly disturbing commercial for me, what say you?”

With the exception of fishing and shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico, I have not been outside the continental borders of the United States in my lifetime. My maternal Grandmother was born in Hungary, but I think that I have gone further offshore than my maternal Grandfather even though his parents and eldest siblings had been born on the European continent.

Is the English spoken in the United States the same as that language spoken elsewhere? Does everyone in the United States speak the same version of English?

The vast majority of people here in the Maryland/Washington DC region have these strange accents in my opinion which makes verbal and at time written communication a bit of a challenge in terms of word usage and pronunciation. Folks back in Georgia were the same. Actually, the only place that I have ever lived where people spoke the same English as I was back in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, and surrounding communities. Simply, driving up to the North and McComb, Mississippi, found some English language variations. At least I think we all spoke English…

NOTE: Everywhere I have lived at a latitude North of Alexandria, Louisiana, at least one, often practically everyone informs me with the statement/question that I ain’t from here am I. I reckon that reaction is because buzz cut hair isn’t as common.

Just typing, I tell you what, I get that same tingling feeling as running up against one of dem electrified fences thinking that Coca Cola is as American as apple pie and boiled crawfish or mudbugs if you prefer. Shucks, I’ve seen Coke machines in almost all the movies I saw at the picture show on the big screen no matter in what country those actors were supposed to be.

Mr. West even advised to remember words spoken by Theodore Roosevelt.

Now with the Theodore Roosevelt advice, I can speak more than I could about Katherine Lee Bates.

Theodore Roosevelt did say what Mr. West quoted. He said the words at different times and in different places and not at one event, but those quotes are from the mouth of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt made most of the statements long after his time as President

When the individual speeches are read in their entirety and not as independent snippets joined together, one sees a broader context. It’s true that Roosevelt disliked the concept of hyphenated Americans. It’s true that he thought immigrants needed to learn the English language, and Roosevelt wanted all foreign language newspapers in the United States to publish a word for word English translation beside the original language to assist immigrants in learning English. In 1916, Roosevelt remarked:

We must in every way possible encourage the immigrant to rise, help him up, give him a chance to help himself….We must in turn insist upon his showing the same standard of fealty to this country and to join with us in raising the level of our common American citizenship.”

In many ways, Roosevelt equated the necessity of learning English to being able to protect an immigrant worker from becoming merely an “industrial asset” to an employer.

The same can be argued with Roosevelt and his Progressive Square Deal ideology where government in Roosevelt’s opinion should intervene or regulate states and the economy in the best public interest. He pushed executive powers to new limits. With the increasing power of the industrial statesman, he believed that the concept of limited government had become obsolete as the ordinary individual no longer had the resources to protect himself from the will of the industrial capitalism complex. 

For those wanting more information about Theodore Roosevelt, instead of listing various biographies I’m linking two online sources which will lead to you to an abundance of material:

The Miller Center at the University of Virginia

The Theodore Roosevelt Collection at the Houghton Library at Harvard University

Just Hate Me…

For the people who know me, if you want to start listing out what is American and what is not and be offended, disturbed, or hate what is becoming of this country as these “conservative” pundits are promoting, please start with me.  I’m not asking out of disrespect for you or from any desire for martyrdom, but I am that person they are offended by and hate. I’m not Hungarian, but I am damn proud of my ancestry. It was well before my birth, but overseas distant relatives in 1956 questioned the Soviet Union, did not try to break free but merely questioned, and were crushed by Soviet tanks. Back home in my lifetime, those men who established the businesses, operated the Farmers Association, and worked from well before sunup to sundown influenced me in ways I cannot explain.

Admittedly, I never got too excited about the Harvest Dance although David A. (RIP) wanted to get me out there.

All Saints Day is another story. St. Margaret’s in the afternoon or Hungarian Presbyterian after sunset is among the most revered blessings for me. In the shadows caused by the flickering candlelight, I see the past. I hear the voices in the breeze and rustling of the leaves and pine straw. I feel the presence of those we once knew. That tradition is not everywhere. It is home, and in the eyes of many is not American. It does not matter that those remembered joined the military. They served in combat. They sacrificed, and without them many of us would not be today. Still would St. Margaret’s be the same if you removed the carving?  Would the Hungarian Presbyterian be the same if someone said that all the markers needed to be replaced with ones written in English?

Head up North toward Independence and remove all the reminders from those early residents from Italy.

Stop writing Geaux. Heaven help you if you happened to work out on the lake crabbing or maybe dragging a trawl. You weren’t hearing too much English.

Build separate entrances to all the structures so that only light skinned individuals pass through one and dark skinned through the other.

Back in high school conveniently forget Mr. Orin and Mr. Perkins discussing matters as two educators and as vice principal and principal. Forget the fact that Mr. Perkins and Mr. Arnold often stepped out of the same vehicle and walked onto campus together and the good natured ribbing one received as a student if they decided that they wanted another upon which to bounce their jokes.

I wonder if the Nisei in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who fought while their families were in internment camps would be American heroes today with “conservative” pundits.

How about code talkers? Would those with Navajo ancestry in WWII be thought of a “real” Americans?

What about the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, and others who performed the same duties? Our friend over at sachemspeaks could probably confirm or correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe that Choctaw originated the modern code talking in the First World War.

When English is English 

If you think about it, it is sort of comical that the English colonies declared independence from England which had the first English King who actually spoke the English language in generations. Noah Webster wrote a dictionary for the American usage of the English language. Read some of the works of James Fenimore Cooper and compare the vocabulary to that of say Robert Frost, Mark Twain, or Katherine Lee Bates. It looks and sounds somewhat different.

Melting Pot?

Personally, I never liked the melting pot imagery for this country. If we melted, I would think that once out of the pot we would look the same. I usually imagine a big black cast iron jambalaya pot, especially at a benefit sponsored by a volunteer fire department, or a mega crawfish boil. All those different things go into the pot, soak and absorb for hours, and are then removed. You can tell the difference amongst the mudbugs, corn, potatoes, sausage, and whatever else went into that boiling water, but they sure taste better when cooked in that same water with the peppers, shallots, garlic, and whatever else you can find. The jambalaya tends to combine a little more and the plates look similar.  One may have more andouille, tasso, shrimp, chicken, turtle, gator, roadkill, or other meat than another, but again it is all good.

Seriously, many of the people with whom I went to school saw their parents or grandparents as the first in their family to read, write, and speak English. Many of our teachers actually taught their parents the English language. Pastors conducted back-to-back church services in different languages to the same congregation. Advertisements and other communications were written in a foreign language on one side with an English version on the other in our little community.

My entire lifetime I have been among individuals for whom English was a second, third, fourth, fifth, and higher language. I once had a student translate a 500 + page book on United States Southern History into Mandarin so that she would have an easier time writing her study notes for exams and papers which had to be written in English. She did not feel the need to translate the other 2 books for that course in their entirety like she did the first. Like others I have known, she had no intention to not learn to communicate in English. It simply takes time, and if one wants to invoke Teddy Roosevelt, it is we as speakers of this American English who need to assist others to learn. We will receive greater in return.

Let’s Learn Math…

I wonder how many offended by this commercial would feel if they were expected to understand the same level of mathematics. Regardless of spoken language we all use numbers and various forms of math. Would buying enough barbed wire to fence in a field differ any if you didn’t know the difference between perimeter and area? 

By the way, I do not drink Coke or Pepsi.  Actually now I only drink water for a variety of reasons.  As a kid, however, if I had a choice in a carbonated drink it would be a Barq’s Root Beer.  Most of the Barq’s I drank was before 1995 when Coca Cola purchased the company. 

If you are offended by the commercial, hate Me because I could be a part of that video just as most of your ancestors not many generations removed.