May 18, 2019


The song is a kind of prayer, asking for God’s blessing and guidance, while giving thanks for the beauty and sweetness of this our continental home. Those surrounding oceans were not wide enough to prevent world war from finding America again. And through World War II, as it had through the Great Depression, Kate Smith’s voice “cheered her countrymen through the darkest days,” to quote the Los Angeles Times’s obituary of her. She traveled more than 500,000 miles to entertain troops and sold more War Bonds than any other show-business figure—$600 million worth in the course of the war.

But in the 21st Century gratitude has gone out of style, along with all sense of proportion. Of the almost 3,000 songs she recorded, and the 1,000 or so she herself introduced, the P.C. detectives have found two that must be condemned for indulging racial stereotypes. Fine. Yet somehow as a result, the New York Yankees have tossed her classic version of “God Bless America,” which they used to play in the seventh-inning stretch. They believe in “erring on the side of sensitivity,” they explained.

The Philadelphia Flyers have banned the patriotic tune from the beginning of their hockey games, where they put it (supplanting “The Star-Spangled Banner,” incidentally) decades ago in a desperate quest for victory. When they played it, they tended to win. After Miss Smith sang it in person, they won the Stanley Cup in 1974, and repeated in 1975. The grateful Flyers erected a statue to her outside their arena. The ungrateful Flyers have now removed her statue.

It’s not as though she ever donned blackface or a Klan robe, offenses which we know would shame even the most hardened Democratic politicians into instantly resigning their office.

Heh — Ralph Northam could not be reached for comment.

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