The long arm of the PC police has reached back to the ’30s and arrested, prosecuted and sentenced the late singer Kate Smith. Smith, who popularized Irving Berlin’s song “God Bless America” and was a female pioneer in early television, recorded songs that today in hindsight are viewed as racist.
An old friend, Harry Covert, writes to recall the early days of black-and-white TV when he – and I – watched Kate Smith’s television program. Covert remembers one show interrupted by a news bulletin announcing the attempted assassination of Harry S. Truman by militant Puerto Rican activists. He notes that today’s Puerto Ricans are not smeared by that incident, so why is Smith being figuratively tarred and feathered?
In 1940, Irving Berlin, the Russian-born composer, established the God Bless America Fund “for the benefit of the youth of America,” donating the proceeds from the song’s royalties to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Yankees baseball great Joe DiMaggio was a trustee on the GBA Fund.
Smith, along with many other celebrities, donated her time to entertain troops during World War II. The PC crowd gives her no credit for that. The New York Yankees, an organization that should be proud of such history and DiMaggio’s association with it, stopped playing “God Bless America” at their games. The Philadelphia Flyers, which at one time asked Smith to sing the song live at their hockey games because when she did the team usually won, has also banned her voice.