National review

Dr. Seuss becomes blind from a moral minority

When the editorial offices of the major newspapers learned in 1987 that a fanatical cult of furious moral scolding, representing a small segment of the population, successfully advocated the removal of books from the public, with the not-so-subtle encouragement of the President and his political allies, them would have been outraged. Indeed, liberal experts were outraged – by far less disturbing developments than this – and were enraged again in the 1990s by proposals that even the most deliberately offensive art should not receive a public subsidy or a scarce space among museum exhibits. So what has changed? The left used to oppose banning books, banning books, burning books. Barely a week now goes by without some breathtaking new progress in his campaign to bury this or that book lest the public be infected with his ideas. Six years ago, when Barack Obama called Dr. Seuss publicly praised, Read Across America Day – a day specially chosen by the National Education Association in honor of Theodor Geisel’s birthday – you would have called me a paranoid wingnut if I had told you that books like On Beyond Zebra ! would soon be ripped off bookshelves across America at the behest of the Southern Poverty Law Center. That is exactly what happened yesterday. The memory of (perhaps) the most popular single author in America was offended when that title and five others were pulled as an anti-birthday present and the traditional mention of Dr. Seuss was absent from the president on a day devoted to his work. It was like removing all mentions of George Washington from the official Presidential Day celebration. (That will never happen, however. Not until at least 2022.) Geisel’s illustrations sometimes strayed into nasty racist stereotypes, but it is a long stretch to describe them as “racist”. “Racist” implies racial hatred. As Geisel’s stepdaughter put it, “There was no racist bone in this man’s body.” The body of his work identifies him as a progressive humanist, undoubtedly a man of the left who mocked various kinds of prejudice. Some of his stories, particularly The Sneetches, are brilliant allegories of the stupidity and meanness of racism. Dan McLaughlin points out in his excellent essay that most of the six Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ drawn books aim at trivial details that only the most hypersensitive hysterics would consider “hurtful and wrong,” as the Seuss outfit now calls them. refuses to state exactly what it feels is offensive. McElligot’s pool appears to have been destroyed simply because of a harmless drawing of an Eskimo; Beyond the zebra! for portraying a proud-looking Arab camel rider named Nazzim by Bazzim. The books by Dr. Seuss is accused of both portraying too many whites and including non-whites in their comical sensibilities. Our friends on the left make fun of conservatives for putting Dr. Defended Seuss’ work. This tendency is not censorship, they emphasize. (No, but they were censored college roommates, and they played hacky sack a lot together.) It’s a private company decision, they say. Yes, but it’s a private company whose strings are being pulled by an alarming cultural regime that wields immense power despite opposition from most of the people. You racists like Dr. Seuss only after it turned out to be racist, racists. But Geisel was clearly not a racist, and ordinary, sane people dislike having huge amounts of images and language retrospectively classified as racist, just as we find it ridiculous that it becomes difficult to have a mature discussion of anything from math to Muppets lead the sources of discourse with a claim of racism without hysterical poisoning. This isn’t a cancellation culture, it’s a company that is taking its legal property out of circulation, and there are 50 Seuss books still in print anyway. Although the word “cancel” becomes so banal like “snowflake” that it is on the verge of uselessness, what better word to use to force books out of print for allegedly offending someone rather than for lack of sales? This is simply good cultural hygiene, and slippery slopes are a myth, according to critics, as the mountain turns to mud and slides into the ocean. The Los Angeles Times reports: “The Cat in the Hat, one of Seuss’ most popular books, has also been criticized but will continue to be published for the time being.” For now. Note that the six withdrawn Seuss books are less of a title. The Woke Brigades for Cultural Sanitation have not yet come for the truly loved ones. But they’re warming up right now, aren’t they? Nobody who gains immense power ever says, “I have enough control now.” Babar the Elephant, Curious George, Little House on the Prairie, et al. are now in the crosshairs. The progressive left has greater control over the educational institution than any other institution and sees the opportunity to revise the canon of youth literature so that every title in it advances today’s propaganda imperatives. The Sneetches, for example, sound with civil rights-era idealism by saying it is stupid to watch out for race when we are all equal under the skin. Today that is a right vision of the breed. The left today obsessively concentrates on races with the aim of dividing good things according to the accident of skin color rather than the content of the character of the people. Once the educational institution has its guns fully aimed at Laura Ingalls Wilder, it’s a quick step to remove them from the libraries and then ricochet off Amazon. As the American children’s shelf is emptied of the classics and boring apolitical things, it is replenished with books that openly advance the activist left’s agenda on illegal immigration, “white privilege,” capitalism, and everything else. I am old enough to remember when liberals viewed the looming Christian theocracy as the most damaging threat to liberal values, and when the prohibition of books was the most terrifying manifestation of that tendency they could imagine. Now that we are in the early stages of establishing a lively theocracy, they are eagerly searching for more books to throw on the cultural campfire. Watch out, the cat in the hat. There is a fable promoting Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax that wants to take your place.