Kate Smith controversy reveals double standard

People grow, mature as times change


Henry Brettingen

An 80-year-old recording resurfaced of beloved singer Kate Smith singing the racist song “That’s Why The Darkies Were Born,” according to the New York Post. In an unwarranted reaction to this, the Philadelphia Flyers removed a Kate Smith statue from their stadium and the New York Yankees banned her 1939 recording of “God Bless America” from playing in their stadium, according to the New York Post.

According to The Enquirer, just 15 years after singing the bigoted song, Smith would go on to deliver a nationwide address calling racial hatred, social prejudices and religious bigotry “the diseases that eat away the fibers of peace.” Her address ended with a call to action, imploring Americans to fight racism in their homes and communities.

The reaction of the Yankees and the Flyers is overkill. Decades ago such songs were commonplace. America has changed drastically over the years, and songs and activities that were once completely permissible are now forbidden. That is not to say we should accept the racism of the past, but perhaps instead energy should be directed to the racism of the present.

The amount of outrage this controversy generated is ridiculous when you look at the apparent indifference to the anti-Semitic comments and attitude expressed by St. Louis Park’s own representative, Ilhan Omar. How can it be that years of Smith’s work as an advocate for racial equality be ignored, but an anti-Semitic representative be welcomed with open arms.

To tarnish the good Smith achieved because of a recording of a racist song would be to deny that people and countries can change. All we can do is to continue to improve ourselves and our country.