The New York Yankees are an already unlikable bunch.
Few, if any, professional sports franchises have so masterfully melded arrogance and privilege quite like the Yankees.
Lately, though, the team has added a new element to its pompousness — virtue signaling.
First, the Yankees announced they had become the first North American sports team to join the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework.
Today, the Yankees became the 1st major North American sports team to sign on to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, the aim of which is to to bring greenhouse emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement & inspire others to take ambitious climate action. pic.twitter.com/KRFIwaQ31T
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 3, 2019
But as obnoxious as it is to have a sports team, with its team buses, private jets and energy-guzzling stadiums, lecture its fans on the perils of climate change, it reaches another level to have a team lecture its fans on racism.
And yet that is where Yankees fans are these days. The team announced it has decided to stop using singer Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” over asinine allegations of racism.
“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. 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,” the team said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
It obviously should go without saying, but racism is bad. To clarify, actual racism is bad.
Judging past sins by today’s standards is a fruitless and pointless endeavor. Few actions better capture the absurdity of virtue signaling than just that.
There are a number of reasons the Yankees’ posthumous judgment of Kate Smith, who died in 1986, is so pathetic.
First, if they’re going to be judging the past based on today’s standards, shouldn’t the Yankees just fold altogether? For crying out loud, shouldn’t all of MLB be folded if we’re going to start using those standards?
Baseball has a history rife with racism and segregation. There’s even an annual reminder of it with Jackie Robinson Day.
Second, the allegations of racism against Smith are centered around a satirical song she released in 1939. It’s worth mentioning that the Yankees and the rest of MLB still hadn’t had their first black player in 1939.
The controversy centers around the song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” according to the New York Daily News.
The song was part of the satirical “George White’s Scandals” Broadway revue, and it was also performed by groundbreaking black performer Paul Robeson. This is not exactly Smith hanging effigies of black people, or even refusing to work with black people.
Third, there’s something really unpleasant about the fact that Smith has no way to defend herself, given she’s dead.
The worst part of it all is that there’s still no solid basis to label Smith as a hateful racist, or certainly not enough to merit her being posthumously smeared like this. Even the Daily News described the allegations as “potential racism.”
If potential, but unconfirmed, racism is all it takes to be denigrated in 2019, baseball as a whole has a lot of explaining to do.
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