Coke’s Multilingual “America the Beautiful” Ad Sparks Conservative Outrage

February 2, 2014


A Super Bowl commercial featuring a polyglot America outraged right-wingers—some of whom thought “America the Beautiful” was the national anthem.

Coca-Cola is by no means a progressive company.  The soda maker has long been targeted for boycotts by some labor rights groups for undermining workers’ rights at bottling plants in Colombia–and being complicit in the deaths of the labor organizations.  There’s also the environmental waste their plastic bottles generate.

But on Sunday night, during the Super Bowl, they became a target of a much different kind of boycott lead by conservatives.  A Coca-Cola ad featured the song “America the Beautiful” in multiple languages.  Images of a Muslim woman, a Jewish man, and more flashed on the screen.

Right-wingers were none too pleased.  On Twitter, the hashtag #boycottcoke picked up steam, though some of that was progressives’ making fun of their outrage.

Outside of Twitter, the outrage was just as ridiculous.  Former Congressman and Tea Party star Allen West wrote that it was “a truly disturbing commercial,” as Talking Points Memo notes.

Coke used “a deeply Christian patriotic anthem whose theme is unity – in several foreign languages,” wrote Michael Patrick Leahy on, who added that it featured gay people–the horror!

Perhaps the funniest part of the whole affair was some Twitter xenophobes saying the ad desecrated the “national anthem.”  In case they’re reading this: it’s not the national anthem.
Link to Video:

Ailing Midwestern Cities Extend a Welcoming Hand to Immigrants

DAYTON, Ohio — Fighting back from the ravages of industrial decline, this city adopted a novel plan two years ago to revive its economy and its spirits: become a magnet for immigrants.

The Dayton City Commission voted to make the city “immigrant friendly,” with programs to attract newcomers and encourage those already here, as a way to help stem job losses and a drop in population.

In north Dayton — until recently a post-apocalyptic landscape of vacant, gutted houses — 400 Turkish families have moved in, many coming from other American cities. Now white picket fences, new roofs and freshly painted porches are signs of a brisk urban renewal led by the immigrants, one clapboard house at a time.

The momentum for change in Dayton came from the immigrants. In 2010, Mr. Shakhbandarov told the newly elected mayor, Gary Leitzell, that he was thinking of asking Turkish immigrants across the United States to settle here. Most of the Turks in Dayton are refugees who fled persecution in Russia and other former Soviet bloc countries.

Officials quickly realized that this city of 141,000 already had a small but fast-growing foreign-born population: more than 10,000 Muslims from different countries; refugees from Burundi and Somalia; college students from China, India and Saudi Arabia; Filipinos in health care jobs; and laborers from Latin America, many here illegally.

Turks chose Dayton, Mr. Shakhbandarov said, because the cost of living was low and there were universities nearby for their children. The newcomers have started restaurants and shops, as well as trucking companies to ferry equipment for a nearby Air Force base. And they have used their savings to refurbish houses in north Dayton, where Turkish leaders estimated that they had invested $30 million so far, including real estate, materials purchases and the value of their labor.

Mr. Shakhbandarov stood proudly at the entrance of the Turkish community center that recently opened downtown, gesturing to the lobby’s beige floor tiles, imported from Turkey to make visitors “feel warm” when they arrive. Turks bought the center, empty and dilapidated, from the city with a favorable loan. Now it houses a neighborhood preschool and martial arts classes, joined enthusiastically by girls in head scarves.


A Muslim organization, the Islamic Center of Peace, bought a blocklong shopping center, not far from downtown, that was so decayed the city had started to demolish it. The center’s president, Ismail Gula, envisions a bustling international shopping, recreational and religious center that will serve anyone in the city.

“I want my community to prove we are part of the community at large,” said Mr. Gula, a longtime Dayton resident who was born in Libya.

Recent research suggests that Dayton’s experience is not accidental. In a national study published last month, Jacob L. Vigdor, an economics professor at Duke University, found that over the last four decades, immigrants helped preserve and in some cases add manufacturing jobs in cities where they settled, sustaining employment for Americans. They also added to local housing values. For every thousand immigrants who moved into a county, 270 Americans moved in after them, Mr. Vigdor found.

Dayton’s immigrant experiment is particularly close to home for one lawmaker who will most likely have a major impact on the debate in Washington: the Republican speaker of the House, John A. Boehner. His district wraps around the city on three sides.

French mayor revokes suspension of fasting Muslims

News Agencies  – August 1, 2012


A French mayor has revoked the suspension of four Muslim camp counselors following an uproar after he said they could not work properly because they might be weakened by their all-day fasting for Ramadan. Muslim groups threatened to sue the Paris suburb of Gennevilliers for discrimination for recalling the four after an inspector found on July 20 – the first day of the Muslim holy month – that they were not eating or drinking during the day.

Lawyers for the counselors, who had accompanied children from the suburb on a town-sponsored stay at a summer camp in southwestern France, said they might also take the issue to a labor court. Muslim leaders presented the case as an issue of religious liberty, while the town’s Communist mayor Jacques Bourgoin insisted his concern was only for the safety of the campers.

Bourgoin said the town required that because two children were injured in a traffic accident two years ago when a fasting Muslim counselor fainted at the wheel of the minibus in which she was transporting them. This requirement applied only to monitors on long trips with round-the-clock responsibility for children, he added. The clause in the counselors’ contracts requiring regular meals does not mention Muslims, but it clearly applies to them because they are presumably the only ones who would fast now.

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said exceptions to the Ramadan fast would normally be made only for pregnant women and ailing persons. “French Muslims would resent any infringement of this religious liberty,” he said in a communiqué.

Report Suggests New Law Needed As French firms face religious demands from employees

Reuters – September 16, 2011

French companies are increasingly facing religious demands from their employees and need a change in the labor code to be able to reject requests they find unreasonable, according to a report from the High Council for Integration (HCI). Most cases concern Muslims seeking time off for prayers or halal food in company cafeterias, but demands have also come from other faith groups as well as workers resentful of colleagues who get special treatment, officials said while presenting the report in Paris. In recent years, France has banned religious dress such as Muslim headscarves in state schools and full facial veils in public, but it has no laws covering religious issues that may arise in private companies.

Alain Seksig, author of the report, said the proposal would go to Prime Minister Francois Fillon and any change in the labor code would need to be approved by parliament.

Muslim Shelf Stockers Can Refuse to Handle Alcohol, Court Decides

25 February 2011

A Muslim supermarket employee in Germany was sacked when he refused on religious grounds to stock shelves with bottles of alcohol. Now the country’s highest labor court has ruled that the man’s objection was justified.

It’s not the first time a Muslim worker in Germany has gone to court over the right to practice his or her religion in the workplace. A number of high-profile cases in recent years have involved Muslim women who wanted the right to wear a headscarf while doing their jobs.

But the particulars of this case are unusual — and controversial: Germany’s highest labor court has ruled that a Muslim supermarket employee can refuse to handle alcohol on religious grounds.

The case in question involved a Muslim man who was employed in a supermarket in the northern German city of Kiel. He refused to stock shelves with alcoholic drinks, saying that his religion forbade him from any contact with alcohol, and was dismissed as a result in March 2008.

In a ruling Thursday, Germany’s Federal Labor Court confirmed that employees may refuse to perform a specific task on religious grounds. If there is an alternative task they can do which is acceptable to their religion and practical for the company, then the employer is obliged to let them do it. The firm can only dismiss the worker if there is no realistic alternative.

“There Have Been Many Mistakes in our Integration Policy”

6 February 2011

In a recent interview, the Swiss Minister of Justice Simonetta Sommaruga has stated that the debate on immigration and integration in Switzerland needs to move beyond slogans such as “Foreigners Out!” or “Foreigners In!” Swiss citizens need to have a more engaged interest in politics, and not simply resort to “symbolic” initiatives, such as the minaret ban. Citizens have understandable reasons to feel uncomfortable, given globalization and a degree of criminality linked to foreigners, however the problem is especially when there is no contact between the two groups.

In general, Sommaruga states that there have been many mistakes made in past integration policies. In order to begin to correct these problems, Switzerland must not only attract more high-qualified workers, but also help less-qualified workers be more “fit” for the labor market, by encouraging integration and language-learning.

Report on Discrimination against Muslim citizens in the workplace in France

This study by the French-American Foundation (New York) and France’s “Sciences-Po” (Institut d’études politiques de Paris) offers conclusive evidence that there is religious discrimination in the French labor market. Researchers led by David Laitin (Stanford University) concluded that the study is “unambiguous in finding significant religious discrimination against Muslims in at least one job sector in France.” The research was conducted by Stanford Professor, David D. Laitin, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with French research firm, ISM-CORUM.

The study surveyed more than 500 second-generation Senegalese Muslims and Christians. The survey showed that the Muslims suffer a significant economic disadvantage. After controlling for other factors, such as education, the researchers concluded that the disadvantage could not be explained by any factor other than religious heritage.

The researchers next conducted a “correspondence test,” creating employment CVs for three fictional job-seekers with differing religious and national signals, one an apparently French-indigenous individual, one a French-Senegalese with a Christian given name and one a French-Senegalese with a Muslim given name. The CVs were then sent in pairs, one from the “French” applicant and the other from either the “Christian” or “Muslim” applicant, in response to advertised positions at 300 French companies. The results showed clearly that the “Christian” job applicant was more than twice as likely to receive a call back as the “Muslim” applicant.

Study Gives Conclusive Evidence of Anti-Muslim Discrimination in French Labor Market | IslamToday – English

David D. Laitin, Invited Professor in 2009-2010 | French American Foundation

Norwegian women in hijabs experience discrimination and social control

Ambreen Pervez, former leader of the Norwegian Pakistani Student Organization, responds to last week’s debate on moral control in the neighborhood of Grønland, Oslo.

She recognizes problems, but wants mostly to draw attention to the social control experienced daily by Norwegian Muslims, especially Muslim women wearing the hijab, as they are being marginalized in labor markets and have become targets of condescending remarks.

Op-Ed by Robert Leiken: European radicals and jihadists are still different from American radicals

Nixon Center Director for Immigration and National Security and author of the forthcoming “Europe’s Angry Muslims” says European plotters are more connected to each other and to jihadist movements and training camps abroad than would-be American Muslim terrorists.

He cites the greater number of radicals in Europe, their ties to one another, their organic ties to training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as major differences. He also says the “clash of civilizations” that happens to offspring of labor migrants from rural villages doesn’t happen to Muslims in America, who mostly hail from business and professional families and who typically make more money than the average American.

He says what both groups share, however, is the narrative of Muslims being oppressed all over the world, usually by the United States.

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe

Caldwell frames the issue of Muslim immigration to Europe as a question of whether you can have the same Europe with different people. The author, a columnist for the Financial Times and a senior editor at the Weekly Standard, answers this question unequivocally in the negative. He offers a brief demographic analysis of the potential impact of Muslim immigration—estimating that between 20% and 32% of the populations of most European countries will be foreign-born by the middle of the century—and traces the origins of this mass immigration to a postwar labor crisis. He considers the social, political and cultural implications of this sea change, from the banlieue riots and the ban on the veil in French public schools to terrorism across Europe and the question of Turkey’s accession to the E.U. Caldwell sees immigration as a particular problem for Europe because he believes Muslim immigrants retain a Muslim identity, which he defines monolithically and unsympathetically, rather than assimilating to their new homelands. This thorough, big-thinking book, which tackles its controversial subject with a conviction that is alternately powerful and narrow-minded, will likely challenge some readers while alienating others. (July) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review by the National Post

Review by The Guardian

Review by Financial Times