Perhaps you haven’t heard, but Coca Cola was recently accused of “racism” against Arabs for its new Super Bowl ad. It wasn’t just Arab groups that made the claim – here is CAIR, the Islamist group masquerading as a “civil rights” group, grouching about it too. Other Muslim groups also objected, asking the Coca Cola Company not to air it, or asking for it to be reshot.
The actual Coca Cola ad was as follows: In it, an Arab caravan wanders through the desert with their camels. The lead man, dressed in traditional Arab robes, sees a giant Coca Cola bottle sign in the distance. Looking thirsty, he begins to walk towards the sign, only to be surprised, and literally left in the dust, by successive groups of American Cowboys, Mad Max-like bikers, and a bus of Vegas showgirls, who all are racing to get to a Coke. All of these groups eventually get to the sign, with the exception of the Arabs, only to find out that the sign says that the Coke bottles are actually 50 miles away. The Coca Cola Company has asked viewers to vote on which group will be able to get the refreshing Coke; but they don’t include the Arab group in the contest. That was enough for the “racism” charge, and the implied “Islamophobia” charge. The only way to solve this problem, according to the Arab and Muslim critics – Coke needed to redo the ad, so at the very least, the Arabs had an opportunity to win.
Why were CAIR, an Islamist group, and the other Muslim groups, involved in this controversy? As we all should know by now, the Islamist lobby has worked overtime to develop the narrative that “Islamophobia” is equivalent to racism, so Nihad Awad of CAIR is able to use the Coke ad debate to get his organization, an unindicted coconspirator in a terrorism finance trial, on a national news program. He successfully did so this time, appearing on the O’Reilly Factor, where he made the case that the ad unfairly connects Arabs to camels, and thus makes them “camel jockeys.” No mention was made of CAIR’s questionable ties or affiliations.
The “Islamophobia=racism” argument is a flimsy one to be sure, but still enough to further the Islamist campaign to force the West to censor its speech regarding Islam. This charge exemplified just one of the three different methods Islamists often resort to, to censor Western speech. Here they applied some pressure based on political correctness, by threatening to smear Coca Cola’s reputation by alleging “racism” and “Islamophobia.” Alternative methods used by Islamists include: the initiation of legal proceedings, known as “lawfare” — i.e., frivolous or malicious lawsuits which often do not even hope to succeed in court and are reluctant to reach discovery to avoid disclosing information, but which therefore seem intended, using charges of hate speech or defamation, to harass and financially crush the defendant; and threats of violence, or actual violence.
This whole controversy may not seem like much, but it was actually sort of a big deal. The criticisms by these Arab/Muslim groups were patently ridiculous. These include the above whine about a connection between Arabs and camels, a complaint that “Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers,” and a whimper that the Arabs are not given a chance to win the race. The Coke ad is clearly not guilty of being “racist” or “Islamophobic” or any other type of prejudice. It may be just plain stupid, but it is an equal opportunity stupid. Only those who write commercials professionally should have been offended. CAIR, and the other professional Islamist scolds, were not even trying to put forth good arguments to back up their outrage. So, if Coke had caved, these Arab and Muslim pressure groups would have demonstrated great power to censor non-Muslims, using only the slightest of pretexts as a cover.
But Coca Cola – aside from its decision to express a tepid “regret” for the ad being “misunderstood” – generally stood firm, and the ad aired, unedited, during the Super Bowl. Much credit belongs to them for not bowing further to these groups. The company has a tremendous amount of sales in the Arab and Muslim world, so the economically smart thing for it to have done was just to apologize and tweak the ad. They didn’t.
As long as Coca Cola continues to stand strong on free speech, next time I am thirsty, I think I will select a Coke.