For the second year in a row, one of the most interesting aspects of the Super Bowl was the commercials. Beyond the shop-a-holic inducing scenes there was a backlash of controversy. Coke featured an ad set to the song “America the Beautiful,” which featured a gay couple with their family. Certain portions of the American viewing public took exception to this and other parts viewed it as a victory for the gay rights movement. People also had an axe to grind about the different ethnicities and languages featured in the ad.
It is awesome we get to have these disagreements of viewpoints. I have to say I am confused by why people would be affronted. There are Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender Americans. They work. They pay taxes. They have helped shape the country, so of course they are part of America the Beautiful.
It turns out Katherine Lee Bates who wrote “America the Beautiful” in 1892 is believed by historians to have been a lesbian. She wrote a book of poetry in remembrance to the woman believed to have been her partner Katharine Coman entitled the “Yellow Clover.”
Years before her, this nation was fighting as the beleaguered and often defeated Continental Army headed by General George Washington. He was casting about for help and found Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben who styled himself the Baron. Steuben helped transform the rag-tag army into a cohesive fighting force that was able to rival and beat the Redcoats.
Steuben is also believed to have been gay and he was from Prussia and could barely speak English. If not for his help and the help of the French, there is a good chance an independent America would never have come to be.
Another interesting fact about the Revolutionary War was that there were black soldiers involved at Bunker Hill. Sadly even after World War II where soldiers went off to fight against fascism, when our troops returned home the segregation was still there.
In 1963 after walking his own long road of hope which was cut tragically short, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech” in front of the Lincoln Memorial. King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
He eloquently raged against injustice and despite his efforts, racial injustice still exists. He spoke in front of a statue of a man who tried to make sense of the great slaughter that was seen at Gettysburg. Instead of just reflecting on horror, Lincoln considered a prospect of freedom and respect. These notions are written into the Declaration of Independence. It’s the bedrock of logic which the Constitution draws upon and the Bill of Rights seeks to define.
Gradually our nation has sought to live up to the ideals and broaden the original narrow definitions. I want to see Dr. King’s vision for his children come true. I am tired of politically correct double-talk, but I am also sick of people with limited viewpoints speaking without deeper reflection. It is senseless to think a person’s sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity has any bearing on a person’s ability to do a job or be part of a country. Looking at our modern soldiers or Rosie the Riveter as well as our history should put that question to rest.
Our country is continually at a crossroad it seems and I hope we choose the right path. It will lead to more peace, stability and opportunity. There will be more beauty like Bruno Mars performance of “Just the Way You Are,” at Half Time.