Essay / Culture

The Rev. Dale Owens on Pepsi

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for reporting (via Power Line) what the President of PepsiCO thinks of the USA. In a speech to the Columbia Business School she said:Power Line: The Raspberry Statement: “This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, The United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I.However, if used inappropriately -just like the U.S. itself- the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I suspect you’re hoping that I’ll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me; I’m not looking for volunteers to model.Discretion being the better part of valor…I think I’ll pass.What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents is that each of us in the U.S. – the long middle finger- must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand…not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S. -the middle finger- sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand -giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers- but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.”I asked my favorite parody activist the Rev. Dale Owens to respond:Now you might anticipate that I would think this speech inappropriate. Some dull, red state voters (you know who you are) might find this offensive. A few narrow minded members of the religious right (you too know who you are) might find it offensive. There might even be a few million Pepsi drinkers who might stop drinking this soda until this woman finds a new line of work. In fact, I suspect tens of millions of flag saluting, Bush voting, pick up driving rubes will select a new soda. I have been told another is available.You might be one of those thinking of boycotting PepsiCo until they do something about this outrage.This would be sad.First, don’t you realize that this President has a right to speak her mind? What CEO would dare to tell such a powerful President to be quiet?Is this America or a dictatorship? Some conservatives may be thinking, “Well, she has a right to speak her mind, but I don’t have to buy her product!” Don’t you see how chilling this is to free speech? Speech is only free when all of us are willing to pay someone to make it. This woman has bravely attacked the US policies at a university. Where else will university students hear hatred of George Bush’s policies if not from the head of PepsiCo? Do you believe college professors, a conservative lot, will do so? The more the President of PepsiCo offends people the greater the duty Pepsi has to pay her. In fact, as an act of free speech solidarity, they should increase her salary.Some would suggest that if this business leader had compared a minority group to the middle finger she would and should be fired. And of course all good Americans agree. For you see, some speech educes freedom in the audience and some destroys it. Conservative hate speech destroys my happiness, while this sort of speech increases it. The pursuit of happiness is basic to the welfare of our nation. So PepsiCo does not just have a duty to let their President offend millions of customers and attack this nation . . . they have a duty to do so.If conservatives really believed in our nation, they would ask PepsiCo to let this woman loose to say even more liberating things. What does she think of apple pie? Is motherhood slavery? Is the Roman Catholic Church un-American?Telling the truth about the troubling nature of apple pie (oppressive to farm workers who pick apples), motherhood (need I say), and Rome (Benedict XVI) may drive away customers, but I am confident from this action that PepsiCO does not care. They are brave and not centered in profit! PepsiCo stock holders should rejoice as they place politics over profit!Second, think how subtle this analogy of the hand really is. One thinks of Plato’s analogy of the three fingers in Republic. Who knows if this classical reference may not have informed her speech? Giving the finger to the system is the authentic voice of the people. It is the modern equivalent to the Sistine Chapel. Clueless right-wingers may not see it, but in giving American the finger she salutes real America. True America knows Bush and his polices are a mess. They know that to be juvenile in response to his crimes is real maturity.Can’t the rightwing radio critics understand? Not Hugh Hewitt. He believes in the unsubtle and non-academic thesis that one loves a nation best by loving it. Not Frank Pastore who goes on quoting, reasoning, and arguing as if that was the best way to think. Instead the President of PepsiCo has shown that she is not thinking at all, but following her heart. What better person is there to run a company?What better place than at a commencement to give the nation the finger? What better time than wartime? Does no right wing reader recognize the tragic irony of the “discretion is the better part of valor” quotation? Does nobody see the hours that must have been spent; the PepsiCo products consumed while this leader thought of how to give the nation the finger and decided to do so by literally giving it the finger?It is Shakespearian and so much more.Isn’t true patriotism found in the person who is willing to admit that she loathes the nation making her rich?Whatever, the President of PepsiCo said George W. Bush has said worse. You must realize that any behavior must be justified in the light of the times in which we live. Newsweek lied and people died, but George Bush is president! Americans should not bother with Newsweek and must continue to be critical of the President! He is after all, God/Nature/Myself help us a Republican! Terrorists are killing are people in Iraq, but George Bush is President. He is doing Republican things EVERY DAY! He must remain our focus! The economy is booming, but the George Bush is President so we must not let prosperity and “winning” a war to distract us. George Bush must be removed, because he is George Bush!Finally, Pepsi does not need Red State, patriotic soda drinkers. Pepsi can be confident that there exists a large pool of latte sipping Blue Staters waiting to make a statement by switching to Pepsi. No more Starbucks for these folk. In their hundreds they will clog man/woman/person/fully to the grocery/whole foods/farmers market and purchase PepsiCo products.PepsiCo would be wise to ignore the so-called New Media. Watch ABC tonight. Will the story make the major networks? Will Dan Rather report it? If he does not, then it must be news. I myself have been shocked at how little news there is . . . since Dan Rather has reported so little of late, but there you have it. PepsiCo must play by the rules of media engagement that wise men have followed since the 1950’s.END OF REV. OWENS.Points to any readers who can send me email from some Old Media figures using a form of the Rev. Dale’s arguments.

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