America(ns) the not-so-beautiful

America the beautiful. The land of the free and the home of the brave. Where freedom of speech reigns supreme, and social commentary is becoming a welcomed norm.

This past Sunday marked the 48th annual Super Bowl, one of America’s favorite sporting events. What is perhaps even more anticipated than the actual game is the array of commercials that are worth more money than some will ever see in their lifetime.

This year, Coca-Cola was fortunate enough to land a one-minute spot during one of the most widely viewed televised events in the country. The ad featured the song “America the Beautiful” played behind various video clips featuring people of all different cultures and races.

Sounds patriotic enough, right? What made this ad different was that, besides English, the song was sung in multiple languages. Clearly keeping the theme of America the Beautiful in mind, some Americans took to the Internet to express their freedom of speech in the worst way — semi-anonymous ignorance.

Much of the backlash was posted on Twitter, as users like @ItsShelbyGould stated,“Anybody else hate that they just sang the song of America, half in Spanish and there were about 2 Americans in the commercial? #coke” and user @Stphniwvr stated, “Well … I won’t be drinking #coke anymore. We speak English in the #USA. Get over it. ” Even the hashtag “#speakamerican” was trending, which in itself is so absurd that it’s almost funny. Almost.

Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that these impassioned, enraged citizens were vehemently protesting an ad thinking they were correct in believing the United States’ national language is English (or “American”), and that “America the Beautiful” is our national anthem.

A quick search on usa.gov will tell you that there is no “official” U.S. language, so why the uproar? Chances are that many of our relatives who emigrated here generations back did not speak English, and the English that was originally spoken has most certainly changed with time.

Have you ever tried to read early American literature? That is definitely not the same English these angry tweeters are speaking. And “America the Beautiful” is not the national anthem.

While I cannot say that all of the history taught in American schools is as in-depth and cultured as it should be, I can say that the ideology of America as a melting pot was branded into our minds from a very early age. This was before obesity became an issue in our country, so I know the melting pot reference was not referring to any sort of food dish.

Instead, the melting pot promoted the idea of the U.S. as a place where people of all cultures could come together and live among each other harmoniously. That’s the image of America that gives you the warm fuzzies inside. After the Super Bowl, this image has been replaced by a much darker, less welcoming image.

One of the nice things about social media is that it is readily available for just about anyone to see. This means that level-headed people can see the ignorant nonsense that is posted and give their commentary on it, like a sort of social media inception. It gave me a bit of hope to see many more tweets defending the commercial and trying to separate themselves from the angry commenters.

We learned from the recent U of I snow day incident that people can be idiotic critics. The feedback that followed the airing of Coca-Cola’s  commercial proved to us once again that people will loudly criticize just about anything they disagree with even in the slightest.

As Americans, but more importantly as humans, it is crucial for us to keep in mind the kind of things we’re saying in a public forum. And for the love of all that is good, make sure the things you say are factual or else you’ll end up looking as idiotic as some of these tweeters did this weekend.