During the Super Bowl on Sunday, soda giant Coca Cola aired its newest commercial.
The ad, which featured groups of people singing the song “America the Beautiful” in a number of different languages,” looked at first to be yet another forgettable ad in what turned out to be a pretty forgettable Super Bowl for ads.
Here’s a clip of the commercial if you need a refresher.
Pretty innocuous, right? Well, not for many conservatives.
They are outraged, and I mean outraged that Coca Cola would dare “tarnish” a patriotic American anthem with foreign languages.
Former Florida GOP Congressman Allen West said on his blog that he found the ad frightening. After a few rambling sentences about the dangers of multiculturalism – he wrote,
“If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful” in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl… doggone we are on the road to perdition. This was a truly disturbing commercial for me, what say you?”
Conservative columnist Michael Patrick Leahy, meanwhile, went even further in a post on Breitbart.com, arguing that the ad showed that,
“As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned, however, the United States of America is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution and American traditions in which English is the language of government. It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty.”
That’s right, a group of children singing “America the Beautiful” in Arabic or Spanish on a Coke commercial is a sign that “constitutional government” is dead.
As usual – the worst conservative reactions came on Twitter where people like Fox News contributor Todd Starnes wrote things like “Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful” and people like this guy – whose Twitter handle is “Gareth” – wrote genius things like “#boycottcoke thanks for desecrating our national anthem.”
I don’t know, but I think you might want to check your facts out before you tweet, “Gareth.”
All jokes aside, though, the fiasco that was the conservative reaction to Coke’s Super Bowl ad is symbolic of a bigger issue: the Republican Party has become the last refuge of bigots.
Jimmy LaSalvia, the founder of the gay conservative advocacy group GOProud who quit the Republican Party in January, talked about this phenomenon on a recent episode of my TV show. He said,
“I thought that the anti-gay forces and frankly the forces of intolerance in the party would diminish, and honestly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Republican Party is the only place in America where they’re left.”
Jimmy is right.
There are obviously intolerant jerks who call themselves Democrats but the Democratic Party doesn’t depend on or celebrate bigotry quite like the Republican Party does.
I mean, just last week at the State of the Union address Republican lawmakers like Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham went out of their way to pose with Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson like he was some sort of conquering hero.
Sure, you could argue that Paul Ryan was just excited to see a TV star, but let’s be honest, this was really about making a dog-whistle to all those people on the far-right who thought Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson was the victim of a “liberal media” conspiracy after he made homophobic and racist remarks in an interview with GQ.
This shouldn’t be all that surprising.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that once a week a Republican congressman like Louie Gohmert or Steve Stockman will say something ridiculously intolerant about women or minorities.
Sensible conservatives try to say that people like Gohmert and Stockman are just a few bad apples, but those conservatives are ignoring their party’s own history.
The real agenda of the Republican Party is to serve billionaires and transnational corporations, but because that group represents such a small number of voters – they need to expand the tent.
They have done this by aggressively courting bigots and racists, along with the religious fringe, misogynistic men, and people who fetishize guns.
It started when Richard Nixon manipulated white people angry about the Civil Rights Movement in his 1968 presidential campaign, the so-called “Southern Strategy.”
It was perfected when Ronald Reagan gave the first speech of his 1980 campaign for President of the United States in Philadelphia, Mississippi – the place where three civil rights activists were killed in the 1960s – and told people at a county fair that he “believed in states’ rights.”
Last March, RNC chairman Reince Preibus promised that his party would try to make itself more appealing to women and minorities, but a year of scandals and politically incorrect freakouts – the most recent over a Coca Cola ad of all things – shows that the Republican Party still embracing their Southern Strategy.
It’s won them elections for decades, and unless racism suddenly disappears, it will continue to win them elections for years to come.
The GOP remains the last refuge of bigots, and however much people like Reince Preibus try to whitewash that (pun intended), it’s not going to change anytime soon.