The Washington Post is making me do it.
I wasn’t going to write about the Budweiser ad that presents the story of company co-founder Adolphus Busch as the inspirational saga of an immigrant who overcame nativist bigotry to fulfill his dream of brewing a great beer.
I really didn’t want to write about the ad. My head and my desk have been jammed with the research on a complicated immigration project. I didn’t need to be distracted by my frustration with a 60-second spot that packages a warm-hearted message with cynical, politically correct calculation.
But now the Post has gone and named the ad as one of the five best of the Super Bowl broadcast. So as a former reporter, I feel obliged to rebut the Post and the claim of the Budweiser flak who, according to Rolling Stone, “said the company’s intent is to showcase Busch’s resolve and the company’s heritage.”
Well, as my German immigrant ancestors would have said, “Das ist aber Wurst!”
Now, I know from my travels to Mexico as a reporter that Budweiser is surprisingly popular in the land of Tecate, Corona, Pacifico, and Dos Equis. So I don’t doubt that the ad is a big hit south of the border, where American football has joined the list of popular imports from the USA.
North of the border, however, Budweiser is facing a backlash from Trump supporters. Some are pondering a boycott. But the brewmeisters can take comfort because their ad, while described as fictitious and “fanciful” by an Adolphus Busch biographer, has won acclaim from the Washington newspaper that prides itself on a commitment to separating fiction from fact. The Post normally pursues its watchdog vocation as it assigns long-nosed Pinocchios to manipulators of truth. But this time it needs to check the mirror for the state of its own protuberant schnozolla.
I don’t for a minute deny the reprehensible reality of anti-immigrant bigotry. But the Budweiser ad, though touted as biographical, is a phony concoction. It is a foul, frothy, fictitious brew for those whose ideological sensibilities prime them to imbibe it as if it had been crafted in holy conformance with the purity law with which they seek to regulate immigration speech.
The intolerance of the provincial right is well known. The intolerance of the cosmopolitan left should not be blindly overlooked by those who claim to be journalistic watchdogs and defenders of tolerance in a country that badly needs an immigration debate that is civil, rigorous, well informed, and honest.
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