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Assault on America, Day 112: What kind of team bans ‘God Bless America’ due to 1930s satire?

God Bless America
When do you know political correctness has gone too far?

There are virtually endless good answers, but arguably one of the best -- if not the best -- example was reported last week when the most celebrated team in American baseball history pulled the playing of Kate Smith’s timeless performance of “God Bless America” from their traditional seventh inning stretch commemorations.

Sometimes you just have to sigh and shake your head.

Victor Morton reported at The Washington Times, “The New York Yankees’ anti-racism efforts have extended to pulling from their seventh-inning stretch a famous recording of the legendary Kate Smith singing ‘God Bless America.’ Not because anyone has complained that the song is racist, but because Smith recorded other racially insensitive standards from and during the Jim Crow era.

“The Yankees pulled Smith’s ‘God Bless America’ from the rotation at the start of the season, but the New York Daily News reported the reason Thursday — ‘the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.’

“According to the Daily News, the ‘potential racism’ of which the Yankees were made aware included that she recorded ‘Pickaninny Heaven,’ a jingle about black children where, among other things, they fantasize about ‘great big watermelons.’ She recorded a film clip to promote the song at a black orphanage and, the Daily News reported, ‘much of the imagery is startlingly racist.’”

(Note: To be fair, the Philadelphia Flyers are banning Smith too, and even removed her statue.)

Sure enough, as Morton’s article further explains, Smith is linked to several additional recordings or performances that wouldn’t go over well in today’s extinguish-everything-funny-or-meaningful politically correct universe, including one satirical ditty called “That’s Why Darkies Were Born”. The songs date to the late 1930’s when times and traditions were quite different than today, yet the long-dead Smith (she died in 1986 at age 79) isn’t being granted any license for her unknowing insensitivity while plying her craft to make a living eighty years ago.

If this is the standard all works of art are measured by today, we might as well toss anything produced before 2008 (the date is fungible, but that’s when Obama was elected) onto the trash heap. If you peer hard enough through a politically correct lens you’ll detect “racism” in just about everything from the old days. They didn’t even think about it. Some of it is overt -- like the aforementioned Kate Smith refrains, but there are other, far more subtle references that wouldn’t pass muster under the hyper-delicate motion detectors of contemporary thought policemen (or more appropriately, policewomen).

A few examples will demonstrate. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s classic “I Love Lucy” situation-comedy wouldn’t pass an initial screening today. Not necessarily because the legendary comic duo was openly antagonistic to African-Americans, but the show regularly and mercilessly poked fun at “Ricky Ricardo’s” Cuban heritage, Spanish language and quirky Hispanic mannerisms. The 1950’s humor reflects all the backwards notions of the time, like people dressing with cloth covering their goodies, speaking in complete sentences and certain topics were taboo -- like pregnancy.

Speaking of, in the 1953 episode where Lucy gives birth to “Little Ricky,” Arnaz appears at the hospital dressed as a tribesman/Witch Doctor, which was the costume for his nightclub act that night (Ricky didn’t have time to change before heading over to see his wife and newborn son). Arnaz donned blackface (tribesman can’t be white, right?) for additional comic effect -- no matter, it’s insensitive today. Just wait, some anti-American leftist culture group might soon call for pulling “I Love Lucy” from the airwaves too.

Let’s not forget, the film classic “Gone With The Wind” glorifies the antebellum cotton-growing, slaveholding south and then depicts happy former bondsmen and servile black characters long after the Emancipation Proclamation and conclusion of the Civil War ended and they were free. Mindlessly devoted “Mammy” continues to serve the spoiled whiter-than-white Scarlett O’Hara until the end. How ridiculous in today’s “woke” belief system -- get rid of it.

Fast-forward to the 1970’s with the release of Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” a movie so chock full of stereotypes and insults that no race, gender, sexual orientation or political sensibility escapes the writer’s snarky pen. There’ve been TV versions where much of the dialogue was edited and diluted to try and make the treatment fit today’s unattainable sensibilities -- but it’s like sapping the color from a vivid Baroque painting. If Blazing Saddles’ racist rube cowboys don’t use the most patently offensive terminology (to demonstrate how stupid and ignorant they are), then why bother? Could they have been less moronic and still made the point? Hardly.

Brooks (who is Jewish) must’ve realized what he was doing, which was laying down cultural markers, entertaining folks and presenting semi-serious commentary all at the same time. That’s what classics do -- and why people still enjoy watching the movie to this day.

The list goes on and on, with the lesson being art doesn’t always conform to the shifting notions of taste and ethos in the twenty-first century. Today’s censors don’t appear at all bothered by Hip-Hop music’s unashamed race references, misogyny, homophobia and human exploitation. The double-standard is shocking. To them, as long as you’re black, can rhythmically string lyrics together, throw in large quantities of the n-word, “b--ches” and “ho’s” and you’re okay. And if you’re famous enough, you might even have received an Obama White House invitation.

But Kate Smith’s irreplaceable rendition of “God Bless America” is no longer welcome at Yankee Stadium because the singer also crooned about “darkies” in her other songs? Pathetic.

The song “God Bless America” itself was written by Irving (real name Israel) Berlin, a Russian Jewish immigrant who went on to become one of this country’s most popular composers. The lyrics contain zero references to anything racial or inflammatory. It’s a simple tribute to the land of the free by someone who truly realized its promise and potential. If there’s a more shining example of what America once was and probably never will be again, it’s Irving Berlin (who also gave us “White Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby, another blackface-wearing WW II era dinosaur).

(Note: The list of stars who’ve appeared in blackface is truly staggering, including many of today’s notable liberals -- and of course, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam too!)

Not to mention several black entertainers have individually fashioned versions of “The Star Spangled Banner” that were patriotic, non-traditional and excellent. Motown legend Marvin Gaye presented his own take on the national anthem before the 1983 NBA All-Star game, for instance, which drew cheers and jeers for its keen deviance from the norm. And there’s the late Whitney Houston’s rendition of the tune before the 1991 Super Bowl, which is still heard quite a lot now.

My personal anthem favorite was Smokey Robinson’s stirring rendering before Game 5 of the 1986 World Series in Boston, which added words from “America the Beautiful” in addition. Even the players looked moved by Robinson’s improvisation.

Ah, how wonderful it was before all-racism-all-the-time mind-controlled leftist fascists dominated the culture and snuffed out individualism with a stifling wet blanket. Black artists can alter classic sacred songs and it’s not considered a travesty, but if a long-dead white lady once intoned about non-politically correct stuff, she’s history!

It should be emphasized that according to reports no one actually complained to the Yankees about Kate Smith or her purported ties to a racist past. Not even Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson made it an issue. It was the Yankee front office, therefore, trying to get a jump on the expected complaints from the leftist sensitivity enforcers. Now they’re likely hearing grumbles from all circles. Bring it on!

It’s more than a little ironic that black culture itself used to honor traditions and devotion to institutions like country and family because as enslaved people, they were deprived of rights and privileges the white population took for granted. Because slaves could not legally marry, bear free children or live and work as they pleased -- they took commitment seriously and with great deference. How things have changed.

It’s sad that few probably noticed the New York Yankees’ removal of Kate Smith’s classic “God Bless America” from the seventh inning stretch. It’s even worse the team felt a need to do it based on events from a different time and mindset. Such is the way of the politically correct.

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Kate Smith and the Yankees

In the 1930's EVERYONE was startlingly racist. That's why the Nazis came along during this era. You cannot judge everyone from a modern perspective; times change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Kate Smith was a singer, not a politician or philosopher. I would like to point out that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is still honored to this day despite her being a huge racist and in fact founding PP to promote the euthanasia of the entire African American population. That was her stated goal, and she tried to implement that.

Kate Smith just sang some parody songs and tried to scrounge a living during the Great Depression as a singer. She did what she had to do.