Our church’s Super Bowl party is one of my favorite nights of the year. The younger kids run amok in the gym while the adults watch the game on a giant projection screen, eating barbecue, enjoying the inevitable southern church-gathering casserole, and offering spontaneous judgments on the commercials. This year, there were more groans than usual.
Like when Airbnb decided to lecture us on diversity:
I could go on. The Washington Post’s James Hohmann counted at least eight political ads, including one that took a direct shot at Donald Trump’s hair, and left-wing Twitter loved it. Corporate free speech is fashionable when it’s not conservative, and this year multiple corporations went peak progressive.
Or did they? Some argued that the ads weren’t about politics at all but rather simple decency and kindness. For example, look at these viral tweets:
The biggest political statement of the Super Bowl ads is that it's now "political" for a brand to say "We support being minimally decent"
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) February 6, 2017
It's not that any ads are attacking Trump. It's that Trump is so outside all norms of decency that basic, bland sentiments feel anti-Trump.
— Bilge Ebiri (@BilgeEbiri) February 6, 2017
But conservatives watching those ads feel something different entirely. As they watch these odes to tolerance, compassion, and diversity, they know they’re watching a lie. Progressive bastions of intolerance, cruelty toward dissenters, and ideological uniformity are selling the nation a false bill of goods.
After all, conservatives go to college, and we know what “tolerance” looks like. We know of the systematic efforts to exclude Christians from campus, of the constant assaults on free speech, and of the increasing violence expressed as #resistance (seen on Facebook: “Love trumping hate involves a lot more assault and arson than I thought it would”). We know how Hollywood’s creative class feels about social conservatives. And we know exactly how welcoming progressive corporations are to dissenting views.
The ads above are like college brochures, full of smiling, happy faces from every nation, tribe, and culture.
The ads above are like college brochures, full of smiling, happy faces from every nation, tribe, and culture. But behind the smiles is all too often an icy, heartless resolve. The diversity that matters is only skin deep. The “diversity” they celebrate is one where communities of different colors, genders, and sexual practices come together around a uniform ideology — and there is zero hesitation to be as intolerant as necessary in the name of tolerance. (I once sued a major public university that actually declared that “acts of intolerance will not be tolerated.”) My fellow believers look at those ads, understand the worldview they express, and rightly know there’s no room for them in the Left’s utopia.
And the immigration ads? Sheer propaganda. Any sentient person knows that not every immigrant is a beer entrepreneur or a super-awesome single mom bringing with her a heartbreakingly cute kid. Sentient people know that illegal immigration brings with it strains on social services and problems in labor markets. Sentient people know that even legal immigration can sometimes be dangerous: Witness the spate of deadly violence from Muslim immigrants. We also know that a nation can be compassionate and brave without also rendering itself vulnerable and gullible. So, please, don’t insult us with the notion that there’s just one virtuous position on immigration — that either you’ve got your arms wide open or you’re an evil jerk.
Strangely enough — and against all odds — there was an answer to this propaganda, and it came from, yes, Lady Gaga. Wittingly or unwittingly, she demonstrated what inclusion actually looks like. At the opening of her halftime performance, she stood atop the stadium and sang (unironically) a few words from “God Bless America,” one of conservative America’s favorite patriotic hymns. She immediately followed it with a few lines from a progressive answer to the song, “This Land Is Your Land.” She concluded with the core declaration from the Pledge of Allegiance, “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
The message, at least to me, went to the essence of the American miracle. We will wrestle with deep differences so long as this nation lives. There is no utopia, and there never will be complete unity. Yet, by God’s grace and through His mercy, at least we can remain free.