Flowers column: Erasing Kate Smith won’t cover America’s hypocrisy
We have become a society that demands the utmost purity from our members. No flaws, no past errors, no gaffes in the distant past. We must all be like Caesar’s wife, completely beyond reproach.
Well, not all of us, actually. Liberals are now the ones who make the social rules, and so the only ones who have to have a pristine resume are their philosophical enemies. This past week gave us the perfect example of that new normal, which very much resembles the old hypocrisy.
Singer Kate Smith has been banished to the land of newly discovered racists by both the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Flyers, because someone dug up some songs she sang nearly 75 years ago that were — to hear some say it — racially insensitive.
I’m not even going to go into what she sang, because it’s actually irrelevant. What is important is that Kate was a conservative Christian woman who is beloved in this area for her rendering of the song “God Bless America,” which once made her heroic and which now subjects her to ridicule.
No one is taking responsibility for removing her statue from outside the stadium in Philadelphia, and no one is taking responsibility for erasing her “God Bless America” from the playlist. Some Philadelphians whom you would suspect are quite happy about the shunning of Kate, including Philadelphia City Council hopeful and all around annoyed black man, Asa Khalif. Others are a bit surprising, like one well-known sports personality, who tweeted: “Flyers clearly need to dump Kate Smith. What’s most surprising is none of this came out for all these years. Kate Smith was born in 1908 in a Jim Crow South. Sad to say, racism was part of fabric of this country from Founding Fathers on. We must still stand against it every day.”
If I actually knew this gentleman, which I don’t, I’d tell him the story about my father Teddy who went down South to Mississippi in 1967 and had a run-in with the Klan during his summer of registering black voters and “standing against racism.” I would also tell him that my father loved Kate Smith and would find it ridiculous that somehow, throwing a blanket over her statue is considered a brave blow for civil rights. I guess that’s because he dealt with people who were wearing other types of bedding over their heads on a dark country road in Hattiesburg.
So as I was saying, we demand absolute purity from our heroes. Kate sang some songs that people didn’t like at a time when most of us weren’t even born, and she’s gone. It doesn’t matter that she was truly heroic during World War II. My friend Dan Cirucci reminded me of just how heroic: “Some things to remember. During WW II, Kate Smith traveled nearly 520,000 miles and sold a record $600,000,000 in war bonds in a series of round the clock radio appeals. This prompted FDR to declare “Kate Smith IS America.”
You know who else had the right credentials, or rather, the “left” credentials? Paul Robeson. The guy with the beautiful booming baritone just got a plaza named after him by Rutgers University. They called him a “pioneering scholar, athlete, renowned international entertainer and (excuse me while I try not to choke here) a visionary human rights advocate.”
You know what else Paul Robeson was? A communist, a traitor to the United States and a big, big fan of Stalin. I wonder how the “visionary human rights advocate” who was so blinded by his hatred of America squared his buddy Joe with the gulags, the exiles and the executions. Oh yeah, and that little incident where he starved the Ukrainians. I guess they were too busy talking about racism in the U.S. to worry about the genocide occurring in the Soviet Union. Maybe we should ring up the folks at Rutgers and ask if they have any plans of throwing a tarp on Paulie’s head.
Yes, my friends, the hypocrisy is appalling. I’d call on God to bless America and heal our wounds, but I’m thinking He’s pretty pissed off at what we did to his songbird this week. I’ll touch base with him later.
Copyright 2019 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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