The Coca-Cola commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl wasn't supposed to be controversial; it was supposed to be a celebration of diversity, with several cultures represented to sing a multilingual version of "America the Beautiful."
The bigots didn't see it that way, so they took to the 21st-century bigot platform, aka Twitter, to type out bigoted pro-America nonsense.
"Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist's language," one disgruntled viewer tweeted. "Way to go coke. You can leave America."
Is that really all it took for true, patriotic Americans to turn their backs on the iconic American brand? Coke is so American that it was invented after Col. John Pemberton was wounded in the Civil War. If there were a time-travel machine that could take us back 100 years, we could still buy a Coke.
If an alien came to America now, it would want a Coke. That's how American Coca-Cola is. If America could choose only one brand to represent its legacy, the more-than-100-year-old imprint would be hard to beat for the No. 1 slot.
But some Americans aren’t comfortable with an the iconic American brand toying with their fantasy of an all-white, English-speaking America. For them the Coca-Cola brand is white faces and dusty blue jeans and a pickup truck near grazing cattle.
Put that America in a headscarf or have it speak a language that doesn't sound familiar and, well, Coke can pack up its American flag, its adorable Christmas polar bears and penguins, its “Mean Joe” Greene sentimentality, and sing about how it would like to buy the world a Coke as it crosses the border into Canada.
But since standing up for what one believes in is also as American as expressing one's hate, Coca-Cola isn't backing down: The Americana soft drink company is set to air an even longer version of the same commercial during the Olympics.
A statement released this week by a representative for the Coca-Cola Co. said this:
"It's Beautiful" provides a snapshot of the real lives of Americans representing diverse ethnicities, religions, races and families, all found in the United States. All those featured in the ad are Americans and "America the Beautiful" was sung by bilingual American young women.
But they weren't the kind of Americans that some Americans are comfortable with, which in turn makes Coca-Cola by default un-American. Got that?
Real, patriotic Americans prefer their kind of America to be just one monolithic note of whiteness and English, and since this commercial carried none of that, it was called everything from anti-American to a divisive tool that causes separation.
On second thought, maybe we have come some distance, because the same ad that caused all the uproar also featured two gay dads. But they barely registered on the bigots' radar.
Stephen A. Crockett Jr. is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.