Coca-Cola bought more than a Super Bowl ad when it aired a commercial featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in various languages – it also got a lot of controversy for its $8 million.
“If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing ‘America the Beautiful’ in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition,” wrote former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., on his website.
West called the 60-second ad “truly disturbing” and included a lengthy quote by former President Teddy Roosevelt, which ended, “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare
Story continues below video.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, liked the ad, tweeting:
Twitter lit up with people on both sides of the debate, some praising the ad for inclusiveness and others saying a patriotic American song should not be sung in other languages.
One Twitter photo showed someone pouring a can of Coke down the toilet.
“Apparently singing a song about America in any language other than English is totally unacceptable to a whole lot of TV viewers out there,” read a post on SuperBowlCommercials.org. “And for the record, people… this is not the National Anthem, so stop calling it that.”
President Goodluck Jonathan today mourned two Nigerians connected with the music industry, praising them for their accomplishments and reassuring their families of their important legacies.
He said of Pa Benedict Odiase, the composer of the National Anthem who died yesterday, that he will always be remembered and honoured whenever the anthem which captures the vision of Nigeria as a great nation is played; and Fatai Rolling Dollar, whose career lasted over 64 years, that he will remain an enduring influence on African music.
“President Jonathan shares the grief of all lovers of music over the death of the illustrious entertainer, master singer, guitarist and exponent of the native thumb piano who continued to perform and exhibit his unqualified love for the music profession at an age when most of his contemporaries had long retired,” an official statement said.
Mourning Pa Odiase, he urged his family, former colleagues in the police and friends across the country to be consoled by the knowledge that the late police officer lived an exemplary life, and bequeaths an indelible legacy which will continue to inspire present and future generations of Nigerians to greater heights of accomplishment.
The fourth line of Nigeria’s National Pledge reads thus: To defend her unity. The last line of the first stanza of the current National Anthem says: One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity. Since 1978, Nigeria’s official motto has been: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. Even though the former National Anthem in its three stanzas did not specifically mention ‘unity,’ the wordings of the third and fourth lines of the first stanza: Though tribe and tongue may differ, In brotherhood we stand, could not have alluded to anything other than unity.
Unity was the hope and desire of Nigeria’s founding fathers and has remained the critical missing link in our 53-year convoluted search for national cohesion. To state that unity is sine qua non for progress is to risk tautology. On this point, I am certain all nations agree.
In 53 years of independence, we have little to show for all our vaunted efforts at nation-building except we consider brigandage and infamy as tokens of progress. We have neither grown richer nor wiser. In the statistics of the comity of nations, the kind of company we keep is embarrassing. Except for those who earn a living from fabricating falsehood, the prognosis is not too encouraging. Seeing the pedigree (or lack thereof) of those strutting around the nation’s power corridors and making out as leaders is enough incentive to abandon hope. Not even during the 30-month Biafra war was the outlook as grim as it currently is. The tiny cracks have since become manholes.
If men and women of goodwill are concerned, if friends and lovers of Nigeria are desperate to steer her away from the precipice, it is only a rational reaction. Yet our desperation must never compel us to adopt measures that are counterproductive.
Lately, I have observed spirited attempts at subtly suggesting that citizens downplay aspects of their identities in a bid to forge national unity and cohesion. It is like asserting that someone like me has to be less Igbo and Christian to be properly Nigerian. The other day, a friend who lives in London was miffed by the fact that Isokos in Delta State were presenting themselves as distinct from Urhobos. In his judgement, such tendencies can only weaken our drive towards achieving national unity. So the Ijebu must be less Ijebu to be Yoruba and Ohafia must be less so to be Igbo.
I beg to differ. What is being peddled here is conformity and that should never be confused for unity. In regimented and esoteric matters, conformity can find its highest expression but in the delicate matter of nation-building, it can only be adopted on ad-hoc bases and for brief and specific applications. In the long term, conformity kills innovativeness and industry thereby compromising the foundation for progress and peace.
We can remain all that we are and still be the best of Nigerians. Since we tout our diversity as an asset – and that is as it should be, weakening that quality by whatever means can only diminish us. Ecumenism is a beautiful thing because there is no attempt to wean the Roman Catholic from the Pope’s influence in order to achieve genuine Christian unity. Nor is the Anglican required to renounce allegiance to Canterbury.
My wife of over two decades is of Igala extraction and I am always amused when people are trying to gauge how “Igbo” she has become. It is like suggesting that matrimony succeeds to the extent that the woman conforms to the man’s idiosyncrasies. Just like in nation-building, marriage is not a crusade to convert people. If I craved an “Igbo” wife, I would have taken care of that over twenty years ago. I fell for a woman and married her and she just happens to be Igala. Even if she learns to speak Igbo better than I do, deep down I know what she will always be; and that is alright with me. She accepted my Igboness and I embraced her Igalaness and so we have been able to build an enduring relationship around mutually-held convictions.
On 12 December 2012, our union turned 20 and we had felt months before that day that it was time to re-negotiate. After reviewing the fact of being stuck with each other for nearly 240 months, we agreed the deal was ripe for renewal. So that fateful day, we called out friends and family to witness as we renewed vows with hope that in the next twenty years, there will be an encore.
The unity we deserve in Nigeria is one based on mutual respect built on commonality of convictions. The peoples must be free to remain who they have always been while fully subscribing to the union. We all have our opinions about what the British did in 1914 but we cannot continue to cower in the shadow of the Amalgamation. Many marriages that were ‘arranged’ by parents and matchmakers still turned out successful because the couple looked beyond the fact of the ‘arrangement’ to forge their relationship. The unity we desire must be comprehensively negotiated and freely entered into.
To suggest that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable is a cowardly way of instituting conformity which is akin to stringing us all together in a single file like slaves. Conformity will only perpetuate an already familiar and tiresome rigmarole; eventually killing everything good and noble in us.
Unity by its very enduring nature is always negotiated. If it is not negotiable, then it is undemocratic and whatever is undemocratic can never engender Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
Christianity and patriotism can be wedded in an unhealthy union. Worship of the state is nothing less than idolatry, the exaltation of a false god that leads only to emptiness (Jeremiah 2:5).
With that acknowledged, it’s equally important to note that an informed Christian patriotism, one that always subsumes loyalty to country or party to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and acknowledges the impermanence of every government and nation, is valid not only if the object of such loyalty is an honorable entity (unlike, say, the former Soviet Union) but also desirable as a means of preserving and advancing a just society.
Blind allegiance to one’s country can lead to a totalitarian state. Esteemed political leaders can thereby be imbued with near-godlike status, pioneering forebears characterized as wholly heroic, and the nation’s heritage portrayed as an unbroken succession of grandeur and beneficence.
This kind of loyalty is dishonest. It ignores the reality that every human institution, every nation, and every person is fallen and under judgment. To quote from Frank Capra‘s classic film “Meet John Doe,” there should be no debate about the fact that “the world’s been shaved by a drunken barber.” That means everyone, and every nation.
No country or people are exempted from the curse of Eden or its effects. However noble a nation’s heritage, any candid examination of its past will reveal obvious instances of failure, brokenness, hypocrisy, and wrongdoing. To write this is to indict no one other than all people at all times: We are all sons and daughters of Adam, driven from the Garden, only redeemed through Christ, not any political text or governing structure.
In some extreme cases, thoughtless patriotism can become worship of the state and even of its leaders, as today’s North Korea vividly illustrates.
Healthy patriotism is something very different: affection for and loyalty to the convictions upon which one’s nation was founded and those who fought for them; appreciation for the sacrifices and service of one’s fellow citizens; and enduring gratitude for the blessings of just laws and institutions. In the context one’s central and supreme commitment to the God of the Bible, such patriotism animates not only civic benevolence but personal virtue.
Like many Americans, my patriotism seems woven into my soul. The National Anthem often brings a clutch to my throat. My gratefulness for this amazing country grows with each passing year. It has been magnified by extensive travel in the impoverished and repressive developing world, by a mature reflection on the sacrifices of blood and treasure that have made America possible, and by the recognition that my own family – three of my grandparents were central European immigrants who arrived on our shores with virtually nothing – has been afforded astounding opportunities in this near-miraculous nation.
For Americans, informed patriotism that acknowledges the imperfections of the past and the inadequacies of every human institution while affirming the dignity, liberty, hope and opportunity inherent in our system of constitutional, representative, decentralized self-government, is a noble thing. At its root are a dedication to the biblical principles enshrined in our country’s founding, and founding documents, and thankfulness for those who have given us what we now, too often, take for granted.
The list of our national sins is painful even to consider: slavery, injustice to Native Americans, ethnic prejudice, widespread abortion-on-demand, and the denigration of personal and public morality are only some. But just as several ugly scars do not represent the entire body, neither do our national wrongs comprehensively characterize our national heritage.
We are a country whose capacity for self-correction is one of our most profound but usually unappreciated assets. For example, we have ended human enslavement and trampled laws codifying racial discrimination underfoot. Women, once severely limited in professional opportunity, are now in positions of business and political leadership of which the early suffragettes could only have dreamed. Our men and women in uniform twice in the last century saved the world from aggressive, brutal tyranny. Not to be thankful for, and humbled by, these achievements is churlish.
Completely realized justice? No. But impressive and substantial steps toward it, and a system that provides the means and opportunities for its own improvement? Indisputably, yes.
Patriotism informed by a Christian view of God, life and the world is an honorable thing. It is about love, loyalty, and thankfulness. These are Christian virtues that, held in the context of devotion to Jesus Christ and recognition of the reality of personal and national sin, inspire good citizenship and engagement in public affairs, appreciation of home, community, and nation, and a prayerful (but not uncritical) regard for one’s political leaders.
Today … as we celebrate the 228th birthday of our nation … join me in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles. And once there .. turn to chapter 7.
Years ago one of our American submarines sank off the eastern coast. Divers attempted to rescue them and when they went down .. they could hear the survivors tapping on the side of that submarine in Morse Code.
They were tapping a question: “Is there any hope? Is there any hope?” And that same question is being asked today across America: “Is there any hope for America?”
Well on this the 228th birthday of America … I want to show you from God’s Word that there is hope for America!
Regardless of what’s being written and taught today … we are the only nation on earth built upon the Christian faith!
Present John Adams said, “It would be impossible to govern without God and the Ten Commandments.”
The Pilgrim Charter of 1620 states that its purpose was “to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion to the glory of God Almighty.”
Before the Pilgrims arrived on our shores they gathered below the deck of the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact which revealed their intent: “for the glory of God.”
In 1632 …. when Maryland was chartered as a colony, they wrote, “We are motivated with the pious zeal for extending the Christian religion.”
Andrew Jackson ..the 7th President said, “The Bible is the rock upon which our Republic rest.”
The last sentence of the Declaration of Independence signed 228 years ago today says, “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance upon the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
Eight days after signing the Declaration of Independence … printed on the side of the Liberty Bell was a quote from Leviticus 25.10, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
Listen to the fourth verse of the “Star Spangled Banner” … our National anthem that Congress adopted in 1931, “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation, then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto, in God is our trust.”
It is a prayer of praise to almighty God! If you’re going to take prayer out of school .. you have to remove our national anthem because it is a prayer to God!
God has blessed America because she was founded upon the promises and principles of the Word of God! Don’t let some secularist tell you that America did not have a spiritual beginning! America was born out of a revival!
Patrick Henry .. that patriot and founding father of our country said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not o …