Flyers Remove Kate Smith Statue Amid Controversy Around Singer
The Flyers yesterday "removed the bronze statue of the late singer Kate Smith from outside Xfinity Live!, citing songs she performed in the 1930s that contained 'lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values'" of the team, according to William Bender of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. This is the latest step the Flyers took in "distancing themselves from Smith," as the team late last week removed her version of "God Bless America" from rotation and covered up the statue. A report emerged last week that Smith sang several songs with racist lyrics. The Flyers erected the statue of Smith, who died in '86 at age 79, outside the Spectrum in '87. After the arena was demolished in '11, the statue was moved to the parking lot of Xfinity Live! The current location of the statue was not disclosed. The move "could have a backlash among die-hard Flyers fans" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/22). In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe noted the Flyers since '69 had "played Smith’s version of Irving Berlin’s 'God Bless America' before must-win games, where it proved to be a good-luck charm." The Flyers "went 101-31-5 in games where Smith’s version of the song aired." The Flyers’ initial move on Friday to cover up the statue came a day after the Yankees "pulled Smith’s 1939 version of 'God Bless America,' which the team had played at Yankee Stadium in the seventh inning for 18 years" (PHILLY.com, 4/19).
VOICING DISAPPOINTMENT: Former Flyers VP Lou Scheinfeld in a special to the Inquirer wrote the "PC police have struck again." Scheinfeld wrote, "Being the man responsible for first playing the wonderfully patriotic song at a Flyers game instead of the national anthem 50 years ago ... I’m disappointed, especially in the heavy-handed way she was dumped. Yanking the song and clumsily covering the statue was harsh" (PHILLY.com, 4/20).
TWITTER REAX: Philadelphia-based WIP-FM's Glen Macnow: "Flyers clearly need to dump Kate Smith. What’s most surprising is none of this came out for all these years." WPEN-FM's Natalie Egenolf: "The Kate Smith songs are terrible. ... There is and has never been a place for this in society. You will survive without the statue and the duet. I promise." Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen: "There’s a danger here in going around identifying THIS person was racist and THIS person was racist, that we see this as an isolated problem, addressed by excising certain individuals from our history. Who bought those records? Might be one in YOUR great-grandma’s attic today." Mediaite's John Ziegler: "This Kate Smith story is total insanity. We have all lost our damn minds. Where does it all end? Probably with Trump’s re-election." WIP's Howard Eskin: "On another note hearing Kate Smith rendition of God Bless America before #Flyers Games is old and tired and should have been gone years ago." Author Dani Bostick: "The lyrics of the Kate Smith song are not 'racially-charged.' They are overtly racist. The @APStylebook gave us all permission to identify racism as, well, racism instead of a euphemized word jumble that normalizes the abhorrent."