America the Beautiful
During the Super Bowl on Sunday, Coca-Cola ran an ad in which a succession of people (starting with a man wearing a cowboy hat and riding a horse and ending with two small children running in the country) sing “America the Beautiful” in eight different languages. Although the rendition opens and closes in English, some people have objected to use of other languages as well.
When I saw the ad, it never occurred to me that it would stir controversy, perhaps because I live in New York City, which was founded by a Dutch trading company and where Dutch was widely spoken for 150 years until well after the Revolution. The names of three of the city’s five boroughs–Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island–are derived from Dutch, and from the earliest days, many languages were heard on this city’s streets. Today, more than 100 languages are spoken in the city by immigrants and their children who are hard-working, tax-paying citizens and who fight and die for our liberty. As far as I know, all but a tiny fraction of them speak English or are on their way to speaking English as well (or maybe even better) than Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California.
So, everybody, let’s relax. Our diversity is one of the pillars of our strength, our dynamism, and our incredible creativity. We are truly a nation e pluribus unum, and many languages have always been a part of the mix. Thank you, Coca-Cola, for using your clout to make that point. Now, when Washington is so divided, would be a good time for us, the people, to embrace our differences and remind our leaders that America is about coming together. If we don’t do it, they won’t either.
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