I was in the supermarket the other day, scanning the most pretentious foreign lagers section, when to my horror I caught sight of a crate of Heineken, on the side of which was the message: “Here’s to an open world. To a world without borders or barriers. To the belief that there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Heineken is not my favourite ale – I usually only drink beer from countries with harsh immigration policies like Asahi or Tsingtao, though I’m sure that’s just coincidence – but it’s an odd thing to place on a lager bottle.
A similar theme could be found if you went down to Oxford Circus Tube station this autumn, where you would have seen a huge advertisement that proclaimed: “British Style is not 100% British. In fact, there’s no such thing as ‘100% British’. Or 100% Dutch, French, American, Asian or European. Whatever your opinion, at some point in your ancestry someone moved in and unsettled the neighbours.”
The advert was on behalf of the clothing brand Jigsaw, echoing Daniel Defoe’s famous poem “The True-Born Englishman”. It was put up to great fanfare.
If beer and diversity isn’t your thing, how about Smirnoff vodka, now recognisable from its rainbow-coloured bottles? Ditto with its rival, Absolut, which has now signed up to a promotion with the gay-rights charity Stonewall. Its website says: “For 35 years, we have been proud to stand behind the LGBTQ community, championing equal love for all.” It also claims that “Absolut have championed equal love since 1879.” Really? So Absolut supported same-sex marriage in the 1870s, when homosexuality was classed as a mental illness in Sweden, and was until the late 1970s?
Most people don’t drink vodka – and I’m sure those who do can find some Russian brands with pretty antediluvian views if they wish. But the truth is that it is very difficult to spend money anywhere without funding fashionable causes most Catholics are opposed to.
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