When asked to name the Major League Baseball team they consider to be “America’s Team,” nearly half (42.6%) said the Yankees, according to a 2009 poll.
But America’s Team no longer love “God Bless America.”
The Yankees have banned the rendition by famed singer Kate Smith of Irving Berlin’s classic “God Bless America.” The song has been played since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks during the 7th-inning stretch, but the PC warriors have decided that Smith should be snubbed because she once sang a couple songs now deemed racist.
One of the songs, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” contains the lyrics: “Someone’s got to pick the cotton/Someone had to plant the corn.” But as the New York Post writes, the song “can also be seen as an ironic and satirical comment on racism. That’s why noted African American singer and civil-rights activist Paul Robeson also recorded the song.”
The other song, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which was featured in the 1933 film Hello, Everybody! starring Smith, is less questionably racist. The word “pickaninny,” which means “a small black child,” is considered racist and offensive, and some of the lyrics are, too.
Great big watermelons roll around and get in your way/In the pickaninny heaven
Luscious pork chop bushes growin’ right outside your doorway/In the pickaninnies’ heaven
So on Thursday, the 7th inning stretch came and went with no “God Bless America” by Smith, known as “The Songbird of the South.” The next day, the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team went one step further, doing away with the song and covering a statue of Smith that stands near the arena. As the Washington Post reported, the Flyers “had a decades-long stretch of remarkable success in games preceded by her version. She performed it at the team’s former arena, the Spectrum, before the Flyers won the first of their two Stanley Cup titles in 1974.”
But all that has changed. “We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization,” the Flyers said in a statement, according to Philly.com. “As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith’s recording of ‘God Bless America’ from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside of our arena.”
The Kate Smith statue near the Wells Fargo Center is covered, amid reports the @NHLFlyers have cut ties with Smith over racist song lyrics. pic.twitter.com/I6eCsT5oRl
— Mike DeNardo (@_MikeDeNardo) April 19, 2019
The Yankees said they were “erring on the side of sensitivity.”
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman told the Daily News. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
Said the Post of the songs: “[T]hey were also a product of their time and place. And if the nation bans everyone who ever sang such songs and pretends they never existed, it would have to wipe out pretty much the entire history of American film and music. In pulling the Smith recording, the Yankees claimed to be ‘erring on the side of sensitivity.’ They certainly erred — by caving to hysterical excess.”