On Sunday, the Flyers 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 our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes."
The removal sparked reaction from around the region. Below, a selection of letters to the editor received by the Inquirer.
Kate Smith is but the latest casualty in the continuing battle with invisible forces who would destroy those who were once praised and admired, yet whose image does not fit a revised agenda. She joins the ranks of Joe Paterno, Frank Rizzo and countless Civil War generals whose fame had suddenly turned to shame. They are but victims of nameless people who prefer to destroy rather than honor the past.
No one is immune from these people and it takes only one generation, less with the internet, to rewrite history and quickly topple pedestals. Let us still enjoy Rocky and William Penn for the future remains fragile. Today’s heroes are ever vulnerable to those dark forces with a mob mentality as the next breaking news may mean another broken statue. — C. T. Howes, Havertown
The New York Yankees have played "God Bless America’ sung by Kate Smith since 2001. The Philadelphia Flyers started playing the song in 1969.
It seems that Kate Smith recorded racially insensitive songs in the late 1930s. It took the Yankees 18 years and the Flyers 50 years to find out about the songs.
Have the Yankees and Flyers delved into the past of their current team members ? They may discover the possibility that one or more or their players had a great-great great-grandfather that was a slave owner.
If they do make this discovery, will they fire the team member? —David M. Levin, Vineland
In his piece lamenting the ignominious dumping of patriotic icon Kate Smith by the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Flyers over two 80-year-old recordings, Lou Scheinfield does not go far enough. He is merely “disappointed” that the Flyers covered her statue with tarp. He calls it “heavy-handed” and “harsh."
I wonder what his reaction is since the Flyers removed Kate’s statue on the holiest weekend of the year. All over satirical lyrics her recording company forced on her as a young singer, who later raised over $600 million in war bonds to defeat the worst racist of the 20th Century, Adolf Hitler. She also traveled hundreds of miles to encourage our troops while the Yankees remained a segregated team.
Scheinfield’s reaction should be more than disappointment. It should be outrage! — Gloria C. Endres, Philadelphia
I compare the removal of the statue of Kate Smith from outside the Wells Fargo Center to the removal of Confederate generals from public property in the South with one difference. Those Southern statues were on public property while the statue of Ms. Smith is on private property. Both the Flyers and the Yankees are attempting to un-offend (if there is such a word) their patrons and that is their privilege. It would be interesting to know how many complaints Kate Smith’s statue garnered from responsible civil rights individuals.
One cannot rewrite history. Kate Smith was a product of her time and should not be judged by today’s mores. She has no history of prejudice other than singing lyrics written by others as part of her career and is much more associated with the patriotic “God Bless America.” The United States is trying, no matter how slowly, to right past evils but there is a difference between indiscretion and immorality. —Ralph D. Bloch, Jenkintown
I loved Lou Scheinfeld’s guest commentary in Monday’s Inquirer.
Flyers, beware! Kate Smith’s curse and wrath shall be upon you. Get ready for a losing streak! Do not abandon her loyalty. Racism, religion, sexism, nationality, and age discrimination were prevalent, although insensitive, topics of discussion of “the day.” Get over it!
Nothing worse than the wrath of a scorned woman! — Anita Oller, Bala Cynwyd
Does making a beloved cultural icon like Kate Smith persona non grata because two songs she sang early in her career reflect the sensibilities of society then instead of now move race relations forward or backward? Amity and understanding between the races is a bourgeois concept which does not suit the strategy of radicals whose only aim is the acquisition and wielding of power. Capitulating to the unreasonable demands of radicals of any color or ideological stripe is going to set us back as a society, perhaps to a place it will be very difficult to come back from. A place that radicals anticipate eagerly. — Anthony Galzarano, Philadelphia