Coke aired a commercial during the Super Bowl featuring "America the Beautiful" sung in multiple languages. The racist, ignorant backlash was startling, and evidence of how far we've got to go as a nation — to get back to what this nation was supposed to be in the first place.

I would like to speak for a few moments to the people out there in good ol' 'Merica losing their minds because Coke used languages other than English to sing "America the Beautiful" during its super controversial (not controversial at all) Super Bowl commercial. If you haven't seen it, here it is. For some examples of the freak-out, click here.

Now, judging from your [genius] tweets, Facebook comments and blog posts, I gather you believe it inappropriate that Spanish, Arabic or any other language be associated with American patriotism. Because, "This is America, damn it, and in this country we speak American!"

OK first of all "American" is not a language. It's a nationality. English is a common language in America, and it's the one our government is conducted in, but unless you're sure you come from purely English-speaking roots, you might want to rethink your disdain for non-English speaking Americans.

Why? Because we're all immigrants here. Unless you're a Native American, your ancestors were once foreigners here, and there's a good chance they were non-English speaking foreigners.

There's a good chance the people that made your precious American nationality possible arrived one day in San Francisco or New York chattering away in their native language, struggling to navigate the signs and schools and hoping like heck to find work somewhere. And there's a good chance they scrubbed proverbial toilets and lived in shacks and faced people like you a la 1840 or 1920 who looked at them and said, "Hey this is America! We speak English here! Figure it out or go back to where you came from!"

The fabric of this country has been woven through floods of immigrants from all over the world who came here to live freely.

Amnesia, anyone?

Oh, but how quickly we forget. How quickly we forget where we've come from: That historical amnesia, the ability to erase that which no longer confronts us. And how quickly a person cashes in on their racial privilege — I assimilated in one generation! Why don't you?

Yeah. You know why you were able to "assimilate" perfectly into this nation? Because you were the right color. Your ancestors were the right color (if they were white), so as soon as they learned English, they were able to "fit into America" perfectly. They were able to join the insiders and enjoy the privileges therein.

But I digress.

You talk about American patriotism. You talk about our "forefathers." You talk about national identity. But here's the thing: The founding fathers came here to escape persecution. They came here to escape monarchy, power concentrated in one human (the king). They came here for equality and freedom. (How that translated into chattel slavery is of course another question, but one thing at a time.)

And yet, you invoke their names to defend your interest in eliminating linguistic freedom? You invoke their names in your twisted quest for linguistic "purity?"

(Do you think at all before making these assertions?)

Freedom and immigration

My favorites are some of the bigoted veterans: "I didn't fight for this country's freedom to see it overrun by a bunch of _______." OK. So let me get this straight: You say you've risked your life to defend American liberties, but when you see those liberties applied in real life, you're outraged? What?

You fight for "American freedom" but then lose your mind when you see that freedom?

The only way this makes sense is that you think those liberties only apply to a select group of people.

Is that right? Wow.

That sounds oddly similar to the mentality our forefathers came here to escape.

So who's un-American now?

The foundation of our country

From its beginning, this country has been founded on immigration. Literally. The fabric of this country has been woven through floods of immigrants from all over the world who came here to live freely (and if you're able to forget that, you are white). Immigration is all we are. It's how and why this country exists.

The fact that you perhaps got here earlier than other people does not make you more important, relevant or "American." You do not own this place. You do not get to diminish the value of those who came later.


Do you understand that?

Why don't you ask yourself what you're so afraid of anyway? What do you fear from the idea of a patriotic song being sung in different languages?

Why don't you ask yourself what you're so afraid of anyway? What do you fear from the idea of a patriotic song being sung in different languages?

I imagine what you're afraid of is that someday the tables will turn and you'll find yourself in the minority, and language will be used as a weapon against you. In other words, you're afraid somebody will do to you what we've been doing to non-English speaking immigrants for a very, very long time (particularly if they aren't white).

Can you imagine it? Ouch.

You send your kid to school and the teacher says, "Hey! Speak Hindi! We speak Hindi here. If you can't figure it out get back on the boat you rode in on!"

"But what about freedom?" You'd yell. What about equality and liberty? What about equal opportunity? Isn't this America? I thought this was the land of immigrants?

And in response you'd hear the echo of a few hundred thousand ignorant voices, "Nah, that doesn't apply to you. We were here first, so we get those rights. You get whatever's leftover, and it ain't much."

That's not my country. That's not the United States of America. That's something else. That's some twisted, amnesiatic, bigoted version that cares only about protecting the power and status of the privileged.

I want something else.

As a parent, I have a choice in how we approach these topics with my children. I don't know about you, but I'm going to make it really, really clear that English-speaking white Americans don't have any more "right to be here" than anybody else who's ever made their way onto American soil.

We all started as foreigners. I hope we never forget that.

This is my power as a parent. This is my responsibility as a decent human in the face of such rampant xenophobia, ignorance, hate and racism.

And really, it's the "American way." The only "American way."

More on civil liberties

What's wrong with being a girl?
When will homophobic Americans realize the country has abandoned them?
How to talk to your kids about white privilege

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