Actually, Diversity is Very American

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So I’ve had immigration and cultural diversity on my mind a lot recently. Maybe it’s because of the international spirit of sportsmanship that’s oozing out of the Olympics. Or maybe it’s because of the recent “controversy” over Coca-Cola’s multilingual rendition of America the Beautiful. Considering that I just read something on that today, the Coca Cola thing is probably what got my mind going on it.

I read Matt Walsh’s piece on the supposed controversy and thought he made some valid points, per usual. But then I actually saw some of the ridiculous backlash against the ad for myself from so-called conservatives. And what stuck out to me was this: people seemed to be mad about the ad because the song wasn’t entirely in English, and that it’s somehow un-American and anti-freedom. The main message behind these sentiments is a message to immigrants: learn English and American culture or get out. While learning English and American culture are both virtuous pursuits for immigrants, the emphasis all too often seems to be on the “get out” part.

Now, I’m not going to discuss illegal immigration vs. legal immigration because for the purpose of this blog, I frankly don’t care. I just want to talk about immigrants in general. I thought the Coca-Cola commercial was really cool because it showed that America doesn’t just belong to you if you speak English (again, put the legal vs. illegal issue out of your mind for just a little bit). And you know what? I was watching the Superbowl with a group of Russian immigrants. One of them commented, “I love it when they do ads that show diversity.” As an immigrant herself, my friend really appreciated Coca-Cola’s effort to demonstrate the beauty of diversity in American culture.

Most of us will never know what it’s like to be an immigrant. We will have no idea what it means to leave the country we were born into and have to assimilate to an entirely different culture and language. That’s got to be really difficult. But all too often, people look at it as just a political debate in which you throw bullet points back and forth. “I’m tired of pressing 1 for English!” or “We need to pass a law to make English the official language of the US.” It gets kind of ridiculous.

But I have a challenge for everyone who wants to reduce immigrants [read: human beings] made in the image of God to a political debate. If you’re going to scream and shout about how English is the only thing that should ever be spoken in America, do me a favor. Go learn a foreign language. Not just study one, but learn to fluently speak another language, if only so you can experience how difficult it is. But also, so you can experience the richness that comes with being able to communicate with an entirely different culture. Hopefully, that exercise will bring a little more appreciation for immigrants and the culture they bring with them.

Our culture was founded on immigration and the contributions they brought to our nation. Yes, assimilation is a good thing and almost every immigrant wants to be able to communicate with the people that they are surrounded by. But they’re people; they do not deserve to be trashed and scorned because they don’t speak your language. After all, you don’t speak theirs either. Just give it time.

Diversity is not a bad thing; it can be beautiful. Unity is also beautiful, but there’s  exists a balance between Unity and Diversity. And sometimes, maybe that balance is achieved by simply sharing a Coke. And that, I believe, is what the commercial is really about.

4 Reactions to Miley Cyrus Worth Reading

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By now, every one and their mother has heard about the Miley Cyrus debacle that went down at the VMA’s this week. I haven’t seen the performance, I have no desire to, and I don’t recommend you watch it. But because the Internet is so helpfully insistent on telling me things I don’t want to know about, I know all about what happened. It’s sad, it’s gross, and it’s worth asking ourselves what kind of culture is OK with it. Here are four of the best reactions to the whole thing that are actually worth reading.

#4 I Weep for Miley

Who: Trevin Wax at The Gospel Coalition

Money Quote:  “I weep for the broken, messed-up world we live in. But then I weep at the power of grace.”

Takeaway:  Trevin sums up what every Christian should have felt: sorrow. Sorrow not for Miley, necessarily, but for the state of our culture where we treat people like objects and then ridicule them for acting like objects. But he ends his post with an excellent turn around wherein he reminds us all that we are all messed up broken people and there is a grace that is bigger than all our flaws.

Concluding Quote: “Weeping is no longer enough. Now, I pray.”

#3 Dear Miley Cyrus…

Who: The Velvet Brick

Money Quote: “You are so much more than being the product of society that uses young women like you in images of sex and vulgarity for boosts in ratings and marketing. You may not know this but you are precious in the sight of God.”

Takeaway: I like this post because it’s succinct in framing the issue. It takes it from a different perspective and is addressed to Miley herself. It’s a call for respect for women and for self-respect; a recognition that human beings are created in the image of God and that brings with it certain responsibilities in how we view ourselves and others. At it’s heart, it’s a cry for Miley to know Christ. Which would be amazing, and like Trevin says in the above post, we should pray for that.

Concluding Quote: “You were created by a God who loves you and I wish you could understand that is what gives you self-respect.”

#2 Miley Cyrus and the Culture of Nothing

Who: The Perpetual Shave

Money Quote: “It was a great, big, glittery explosion of nothing.  It was bursting at the seams with a total, soul-deadening emptiness.”

Takeaway: This is a home run! This article simply says the stark truth: Miley’s performance meant nothing. Not in the sense that it didn’t make headlines (if it hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here) but in the sense that there was no lasting value or significance attached to it. It was the ultimate “well, why not?” moment. Caught in the cross hairs were real people with real significance losing themselves to nothingness. That’s what sin does.

Concluding Quote: “Miley and her generation are being duped into believing that what they are doing has some kind of edgy substance.  But it doesn’t.  Miley made a fool of herself last night and managed to say nothing about anything in the process and came out a star because of it.”

#1 Dear Son, Don’t Let Robin Thicke Be a Lesson to You

Who: The Matt Walsh Blog

Money Quote: “In any case, this gives you an idea of the full scene: A 36 year old married man and father, grinding against an intoxicated 20 year old while singing about how she’s an “animal” and the “hottest b*tch in this place.” And what happens the next day? We’re all boycotting the 20 year old. The grown man gets a pass.”

Takeaway: YES! Finally, someone talks about the fact that there were two people on the stage! Is Miley reckless and foolish? Yes! Is Robin Thicke totally perverted? Absolutely. The fact that we automatically criticize Miley immediately shows how blind we are to masculine responsibility. We are SO used to expecting men to be moral puppets with no responsibility of their own that we criticize the female in the picture TWICE over because she didn’t do the properly feminine thing by acting proper. It’s a phenomena that goes all the way back to the Industrial Revolution: women are expected to be the soft, gentle moral ones and men are expected to be animals. Give me a break.

You really do have to wonder how this all would have been different if every news article about Miley instead rightly criticized Robin for his part. He’s the man; he’s the older one, and he’s the failure.

Concluding Quote: “Oh, and by the way [son], if I ever catch you disrespecting women, I will sit you down and talk to you about it. But first I’ll kick your butt up and down the street. That’s a promise.”

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Sorry to put more Miley Madness in front of you but there you have it! Who do you think is more to blame? Robin or Miley?

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