Foolishly Ending A Tradition

One of my favorite baseball traditions is the seventh-inning stretch and the singing of “God Bless America.” The tradition of singing “God Bless America”
began after 9/11. The Washington Times reported yesterday that the New York Yankees will no longer play the recording of Kate Smith singing the song. Now I will admit that having lived in Massachusetts for thirty-five years, I really don’t care what the Yankees do, but this is just political correctness run amok.

The article reports:

The New York Yankees‘ anti-racism efforts have extended to pulling from their seventh-inning stretch a famous recording of the legendary Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.”

Not because anyone has complained that the song is racist, but because Smith recorded other racially insensitive standards from and during the Jim Crow era.

The Yankees pulled Smith’s “God Bless America” from the rotation at the start of the season, but the New York Daily News reported the reason Thursday — “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.”

So can’t they get anyone else to record the song?

The article states:

“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 said. “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.”

This is another example of judging history by the standards of today. There were a lot of things that have happened in the past that were not noteworthy at the time that are being taken out of context in hindsight. In order to truly evaluate history, you need to immerse yourself in the culture of the time you are studying. Insensitivity is not a crime–insensitivity in the past was not even considered insensitivity because there weren’t so many people running around being professional victims.

Keep the song. Let someone else sing it if you have to. Don’t end an American tradition because of political correctness.


Denying America’s Heritage

The Metro West Daily News reported on Saturday that the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) (on behalf of a local parent) has lodged a complaint against Wayland High School because their band played “God Bless America” on Pearl Harbor Day and Memorial Day.

The article reports:

In a letter to Stein (Superintendent Paul Stein), the Freedom from Religion Foundation, on behalf of a local parent, argued that playing and singing the song at school functions violated the U.S. Constitution’s provision of separation of church and state.

The story also pointed out that when the song was played only the music was played–the words were not sung.

Superintendent Stein is handling this with common sense. The article reports:

At a School Committee meeting this week, Stein said the district’s lawyer said the foundation’s letter does not merit a reply now.

“Certainly if they pursue this in court, they should be writing directly” to the committee’s attorney, Stein told the School Committee.

He added, “I don’t dismiss these concerns, I respect these concerns. … Where I would draw the line is obviously different from where this organization would draw the line.”

The whole idea that “God Bless America,” one of our great patriotic anthems, can be banned because one person thinks it endorses religion is ridiculous. If this does wind up in court, I would like to see the FFRF have to pay all court costs as well as a hefty settlement in apology to the school district.

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When Patriotic Songs Become Offensive We Need To Pay Attention

This is the YouTube video of the Lee Greenwood song “God Bless The USA.”


Why am I posting it? Because a school not too many miles from where I live has banned its message. Today’s Washington Post is reporting that students at Stall Brook Elementary in Bellingham, Massachusetts, were taught the song with the words “we love the USA.” Some parents objected to the change of lyrics and the school has cancelled plans for the children to sing songs at an upcoming school presentation.

Songs such as “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” have been sung in American schools since the fifties and sixties (and probably before that, but I wasn’t around before that!). The message in those songs is no different than the message in the Lee Greenwood song. Have we forgotten who we are?


The Washington Post is reporting tonight (Thursday night) that the school has changed its mind and the students will be able to sing the song with the correct words.

The article reports:

After parents protested, the school said students wouldn’t sing anything during the April 12 assembly. But Superintendent Edward Fleury said Thursday that students could sing “God Bless the USA” with its original chorus.

Fleury says the school believes the word “God” is acceptable in patriotic songs and no disrespect was intended.

I’m glad God is acceptable in patriotic songs since He is mentioned so frequently in the founding documents of America. Thank you to all the parents who cared enough to get involved. We need more of you.  

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