One-term congressman turned Palinesque bomb-thrower Allen West agrees with the bigoted reaction to Coke's multicultural Super Bowl ad. West makes his point with a George Washington quote that's happens to argue against states' rights.
If you missed the furor, it's because you follow the right people on Twitter. After the ad at right aired during the Super Bowl, a number of people used the on-the-nose hashtag #CokeSucks to express their outrage. The anger was focused on Coke's decision to have "America the Beautiful" sung in a variety of languages, representing a number of the languages spoken in the United States. Therefore, Coke sucks. Some examples of the response:
- "Why did #Coke need to ruin their name by signing #godblessamerica I multiple foreign languages. It's America ding it in English. #Cokesucks" – @BigDaddy88Fan
- "Wtf!!! That song is not to be sang in foreign languages!!! #Cokesucks" – @JacobWGrinstead
- "Coke sucks. What a tasteless Super Bowl ad. #Cokesucks" – @rickb0824
And so on. West contributed this:
That link goes to a blog post with a lengthy block quote from FDR. "This was a truly disturbing commercial for me," it concludes, "what say you?"
The debate (such as it is) is right in West's wheelhouse. The last time we checked in with him, he was joining forces with Ted Nugent to make the argument that liberals — including President Obama — are the real racists. West's schtick is to embrace conservative patriotism in a Lennie-strength grip, using his experience on Capitol Hill and in the military to certify his authority.
Sometimes, he lets the words of the founding fathers speak for him. On Monday morning, West followed up on the Coke issue. "I’m not advocating any boycott of Coca Cola," he wrote, "after all I was born and raised in Atlanta. What I do want you all to think about is this quote from George Washington:"
We are either a united people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.
Good quote! You can see it in its full context here; it's from a letter Washington wrote to James Madison in 1785. This was several years before the colonies — only recently independent from Britain — met to develop the Constitution. The founding fathers were beginning the process of transitioning from the Articles of Confederation to a more robust guiding document.
The broader context of Washington's argument is not that he's advocating for everyone in America to speak English. (Most people did at that point, with some notable exceptions in Pennsylvania.) Instead, Washington's advocating that states be subjugated to the national government. You can see the argument more clearly in a letter he wrote to James McHenry that August: "We are either a united people under one head, and for federal purposes; or we are thirteen independant sovereignties, eternally counteracting each other…" Washington was advocating for the former.
Allen West advocates for the latter, as he did in January on Fox News. West proposed a strategy of nullification, allowing states to reject Obamacare on a case-by-case basis. Asked if the states can actually do that, West said they could, pointing for some reason to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. They can't), as made clear in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison. Yes, that Madison.
West isn't advocating a boycott of Coke (speaking of hypocrisies), he just asks that we keep that quote from Washington in mind. West would probably prefer that you only apply it to arguments that reinforce his political worldview. But unfortunately, that's not how it works.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.