Kate Smith should be allowed to keep blessing America
The most casual patriot melts when hearing Kate Smith sing "God Bless America," which she introduced in 1943 (watch @ 4:20 for Ronald Reagan cameo). Subsequent renditions have prompted then and modern stars to appreciate how, per President Reagan when he presented her the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 1982: "Kate always sang from her heart, and we all listened with our hearts."
Philadelphia Flyers hockey team fans reveled when Kate Smith appeared center-ice to spark winning their first Stanley Cup in 1974 and thereafter (2009, 2010, 2012); the anguish of many who had lived through World War II and the relief of others who had learned of the banality of evil yielded a collective cheer-through-tears reaction.
That's why expunging her from Flyers history (statue and song) triggers a different type of lachrymose response: ire that petty culture wars have led to destruction of the cherished history of an icon.
Notwithstanding the usual historical-revisionist suspects, her energizing rendition is akin to the near universal patriotism exuded through George Cohan's "Over There" (during World War I) and at the 2001 (post 9-11) World Series, when Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA."
Her channeling of a military-moral victory mirrored the self-image of the famed "Broad St. Bullies"–era teams (that won the franchise's only two Stanley Cups), particularly when they subsequently defeated the USSR-team by amalgamating trenchant fear of their toughness, earned appreciation of their skill, and grudging acceptance of their commitment to each other.
Mike Smerconish chose to interview N.Y. Times columnist Charles Blow, who supported banning Kate Smith by the Flyers and by the Yankees. This was predictable, for, when Blow spoke at the University of Pennsylvania's Kelly Writers House last year and I confronted him during his book-signing, he unambiguously claimed that the entire American justice system is "racist."
The only negative reaction in Philly's local press was to allege that the Flyers were biased against Russian players, despite widely acclaimed recognition that Coach Fred Shero adhered to the Russian system. This is all the more ironic to those who recall the personalities involved to recognize that then-owner Ed Snider founded the Ayn Rand Institute and subsequently financed the Atlas Shrugged film trilogy based upon Objectivism rather than any hint of racism.
Interviewer/interviewee provided a background of how this erupted, concurring that this represented a sign of the times and that Kate Smith's voice wasn't pivotal. This inane suggestion is disproven simply by listening to the song while reading the naked lyrics.
Social media commenters locally attacked Philly's "moronic idiots," who were warned that the Rocky statue is next once they recall that Rocky beat up a black man. On Breitbart, it was exclaimed, "Based on this logic, because George Washington owned slaves we need to remove all trace of his legacy. While we're at it, let's just rewrite all of America's history, a history that shaped this great nation. The line must be drawn here."
Never has it been so obvious that "the best remedy for speech" felt to be upsetting (justified or not) is "more speech."
If there is a compulsion to achieve balance, play Gladys Knight's gorgeous rendition of the National Anthem at the NFL's Super Bowl LIII NFL pregame (that, believe it or not, she felt compelled to defend).
Unwrap Kate Smith from her hoodie!
Image: QuotationMotivation via YouTube.