Yankees’ Kate Smith ban could lead to the breakup of America itself

The New York Yankees’ bold decision to ban Kate Smith’s 1939 recording of “God Bless America” from the stadium over two racist songs she once performed surely calls for further brave steps by the team.

Stadium-goers in the seventh-inning stretch will no longer be forced to listen to the strains of Smith, who recorded the 1930s song “That’s Why the Darkies Were Born” — a number that was also performed by black entertainer Paul Robeson for satire’s sake.

But if the Bronx Bombers are serious about standing tall against racism, they must next ban the national anthem, which is sung before every game.

Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814, owned slaves — at least six of them, as a matter of historical record. Isn’t “ownership” of human beings a more grave offense than merely ridiculing black people in a song that a 24-year-old Smith had to perform at the behest of her record company?

Key even refers derisively to slaves in the anthem itself. The forgotten third verse includes the lines, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave” — a warning to blacks not to seek freedom (as some did) by escaping their white masters to fight with the British in the War of 1812.

Oh, say can you stomach it?

In their belated, absurd lust to appear “woke,” the Yankees might hope to atone for their own racist history that’s much more recent and reprehensible than anything Key wrote or Smith sang. The Yankees didn’t field a black player until 1955 — eight long years after the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson and after blacks had joined the rosters of 11 other teams.

Shouldn’t the campaign to exorcise objectionable behavior be consistently applied? By the same logic, the House That Ruth Built should be torn down and “Break Up the Yankees” given a whole new meaning.

The spirit to cleanse the United States of every vestige of its often imperfect, sometimes cruel history can only lead to our cultural dissolution. It’s not a slippery slope, but a parachute-free plunge from 40,000 feet, from judicious pruning of long-ago words and symbols that might truly offend people today to delegitimizing our entire past.

What’s next? Perhaps Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim should be banned over the original 1957 lyrics to “America” in “West Side Story.” Sondheim, who isn’t Puerto Rican, put words in the mouths of Puerto Rican-born New Yorkers bickering over their former homeland.

While we should be aware of our history and honest about it, erasing it is ridiculous — not to mention pointless.

Sondheim’s characters — mostly portrayed by non-Puerto Ricans with near-comic accents — ridiculed the “island of tropic diseases” with “bullets flying,” “hundreds of people in each room,” insufficient current to turn on a TV and too many relatives to fit inside a car “if there’s a road you can drive on.”

Sondheim changed the lyrics for the 1961 film version to be harsher about American life and less snarky about Puerto Rico (although they still refer to “the natives steaming.”)

But there’s no forgiving original sin in today’s “woke” world.

American history is replete with cruelty, carnage and conquest. Our explorers and generals brought ruin to native peoples. Our nation’s creators were slaveowners beginning with Christopher Columbus and including founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.

Should we therefore wipe George Washington from the one dollar bill? Tear down the Washington Monument? Drop the name “Washington” from our capital “Washington, DC?”

But whoa, DC stands for District of Columbia — as in Columbus.

While we should be aware of our history and honest about it, erasing it is ridiculous — not to mention pointless.

Because, for all our past evils, we have brought forth a nation that achieved glory in every field of endeavor and made the “pursuit of happiness” a legally endorsed human aspiration. People the world over — notably from south of the Rio Grande — use every legal and illegal means to come and settle here, despite the blemishes of our past.

Banning Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” won’t make them any more comfortable. But if this kind of stupidity takes firmer hold, then God help America.

Source: Read Full Article