By Contributor on February 04, 2014

By Fred McKissack

Conservatives shouldn't be having a fit over Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad.

Conservative commentators and bloggers would have you believe that the Coca-Cola Co. is spitting on the graves of our forefathers and plotting to burn down American civilization.

The ad is called "It's beautiful," and it features "America the Beautiful" being sung in different languages, as images of modern America flicker by.

The Coca-Cola Co. and its creative partner, Weiden+Kennedy, have managed to unhinge conservatives who see a plot.

"It's in your face, and if you don't like it, if you're offended by it, you're a racist," says Glenn Beck, who claims the commercial is an attempt to "divide people."

Beck sounds mild compared to some people on Twitter.

"Nice to see that Coke likes to sing an American song in the terrorist's language," one concerned citizen tweeted. Others were even uglier, slurring minorities.

What exactly did this commercial do to offend conservatives?

Coke didn't imply that this country's immigration strategy is flawed, and Congress should fling open the borders to ragtag masses yearning to be free.

Coke didn't suggest that English should be a secondary language in the United States.

No, it exalted America, saying it's for everyone. Just like Coca-Cola, we're supposed to conclude. Coca-Cola wants everyone to buy its products. It doesn't care about your political philosophy.

That's another reason why the conservatives who are clamoring for a boycott of Coca-Cola are so off-base. This wasn't an ideological ad. It, like other Coke ads in the past, was a sell job.

Coca-Cola's brand achieved universal status with aspirational campaigns. Its ads from World War II suggest the drink brought a taste of home to the troops and united potential allies. Post-Vietnam, Coke was the real thing that healed rather than divided. Coke can be seen in films ranging from "King Kong" and "It's A Wonderful Life" to "E.T." and "The Road."

Even as conservatives froth at the mouth condemning the ad, liberals shouldn't applaud it.

Last year, Coca-Cola, despite noting that it had profit growth during "uncertainty in the global economy," announced it was cutting 1 percent of its work force -- 750 jobs. I'm sure those who lost their jobs are reassured that their former employer believes in America's diversity.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, a bottler that sold its North American operations to Coca-Cola, pulled jobs out of its Tampa, Fla., and Dallas offices to a third-party center in Guatemala. It's called "nearshoring" and it's a benefit Coca-Cola continues to reap, but what does nomenclature and financial strategy matter to an employee who is given a pink slip?

And no amount of cheerleading for America can hide the fact that Coca-Cola, along with other soft drink companies, has played a big role in our obesity epidemic.

We should be upset about the duping of America, not the diversity of America.

Fred McKissack lives in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he hopes spring will eventually come. He isn't hopeful. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

Copyright Fred McKissack.

Photo: "Angry man shouting," via Shutterstock.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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