Desperately Seeking Racists: Kate Smith Never Had A Sporting Chance
Q: How many Woke progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two. One to screw in the bulb and another to say how screwed we were by racists 75 years ago.
In the pantheon of limp virtue-seeking missles, this past week’s purging of old timey singer Kate Smith from the public square has to be a ranker. In case you were passed out on Easter chocolate, the details are as follows:
A robust interpreter of the popular musical oeuvre from the 1930s till her death in 1986, Smith became synonymous for her interpretation of God Bless America. A number of sports teams— the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Flyers prominent among them— either had her perform it live or, now, on tape before or during their games.
Such was Smith’s magic during the era of the Broad Street Bullies that the Flyers put a frickin’ statue of her on the mezzanine next to their arena. The Yankees, team of Babe Ruth (above), considered her their seventh-inning good luck charm. Think Sweet Caroline sung by a woman in your grandmother’s party dress and you get the impression.
Then some clever dick in the bowels of Think Progress or the Southern Poverty Law Cretins got the notion to examine the repertoire of Miss Smith when she wasn’t singing God Bless America. After what must’ve been an exhaustive sweep of the archives, this vigilant servant of the public discovered an appearance in a movie called Hello Everybody.
In this Depression era gem Smith sang a song called Pickaninny Heaven to a group of black children. It’s a promise of what waits for black children in the heavens. It includes all the clichés of Tin Pan Alley: watermelons, cotton, pork chops etc. She also sang a song called That’s Why Darkies Are Born, which is no less replete with stereotypes of American culture in the 30s.
Smith sang these songs, as did almost all performers of the day, with a misplaced affection for black people that looks awful today. Smith, known as the Queen of Radio, clearly loves the children she’s singing to. Next to the racist embrace for blacks of Democrat president Woodrow Wilson it’s downright benign.
But to today’s eager purveyors of racial Armageddon-- who spend their lives driving while looking in the rearview mirror— Smith’s affront could not be allowed to stand. The usual engines of social media outrage were cranked up and, faster than you can say Martin Luther King hated gays, Smith was purged by the Yankees and Flyers.
To make sure they got their Boy Scout badge for cultural cleansing, the Flyers removed her statue from the mezzanine at the Wells Fargo Center. Capitalist roaders did not disappear this fast in Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
The bottom line here is not the Yankees or Flyers think Smith’s stupid song is commensurate with lynching. They don’t. But in the NYC of mayor Bill de Blasio such cultural artifacts are now considered apostasy against the great vulnerable soul of liberal jello. And if you don’t bend a knee to Chairman Bill’s dictates you will be crushed under the wheel of social media boycott.
Forget that Smith contributed to selling the equivalent of $10.2 billion in war bonds during a series of marathon WW II radio broadcasts. Or that she didn’t take her self image too seriously “I'm big, and I sing, and boy, when I sing, I sing all over!" This woman must be purged.
Smith never advocated killing anyone or robbing poor people or even hating anyone. Her crime? Hurt speech. The newly minted crime of the century proposes that people are entitled to bubbles of self security that extend to never hearing anything that contradicts their worldview. Schools call them “safe spaces” but they’re now extended to just about anywhere you can blame white culture for the collapse of western civilization.
Like Yankee Stadium.
The progressive left has been skillful in elevating their hate speech campaign to a point where governments, schools, corporations and, now, sports teams will punish things called micro-aggressions— defined as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group”.
It’s that easy. Here’s how businesses like the Yankees or Gillette or Enterprise Rental Car look at such things in today’s market: Who wants extinction by denunciation when all you have to not be criticized is to stop playing a singer who’s been dead for 33 years? Making it even more of a slam dunk, a white woman. You’ll get props for weeks on MSNBC. Ka-ching! Ring up another bullet avoided.
You can try all sorts of counter arguments about why they aren’t purging any famous liberal actors for playing Shylock in Merchant of Venice or Planned Parenthood founders who were raging eugenicists. The Left doesn’t care about your cleverness, because this isn’t about consistency. It’s about power.
Back in the 1960s John Lennon used to sing “You say you want a revolution, we’d all love to see the plans.” Well, the plans are on full display, John. Just check out the empty mezzanine at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of his website Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available.