I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the revisionist history, identity politics, double and triple standards and hypocritical thought police that dominate our society of late. What a person said, thought, or wore to a 1970s Halloween Party is seemingly more important than what they actually did yesterday. I find that problematical and unfair.
In our 21st century real-life remake of Destroy All Monsters, just about everyone is ripe to be exposed as a monster. And up for execution this week is none other than the late, no longer great Kate Smith.
Who could have imagined Kate “God Bless America” Smith mired in any posthumous controversy more consequential than a decibel derby against Ethyl Merman and Bette Midler? No one. But the big gal from Virginia, with the even bigger voice heard round the world in World War II, has been cast into the unforgiving glare of the politically correct spotlight.
Ms. Smith is being pilloried for songs she recorded not all that long after Mr. Edison first recorded songs. She is being banished from the American landscape for songs dating back 80-plus years. The lyrics caused not so much as a ripple in the 1930s, but would today be judged racist and offensive by any fair measure. Maybe it’s appropriate that we apply a 2019 yardstick to 1930s popular music. Or maybe it’s not.
I wonder when every politician who held a firm stance against same-sex marriage, say, 15 years ago, is going to be brought to justice in similar fashion. Which of today’s politicians would be in trouble if their public stances of 2004 were judged against 2019 social norms? Darn near all of them, including many who are all in on destroying Kate Smith’s legacy.
So, I guess I’m ok with Kate Smith being judged a racist, along with me and millions of others who are guilty of having racist birth dates. If we are going to self righteously judge our ancestors — not for their body of work but for cherry-picked actions taken out of context — let’s be consistent
Barack Obama and George W. Bush, along with Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, must be forever branded as homophobes … along with virtually all of their contemporaries. What’s fair for one should be fair for all.
On the other hand, we could try something revolutionary: Shutting our self-righteous yaps and allowing common sense to prevail over the thrill of the witch hunt. We believe, wrongly I am inclined to think, that we are better, smarter, and more righteous than our ancestors. And that’s fine. We ‘re entitled to our fantasies. But when we’re raked over the coals, picked apart and condemned by all-knowing 22nd century snobs — and mark my words, we will be — we will deserve every lash of the tongue.