“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” – Dr. Seuss
Sometimes a person has to draw a line—a red line, a line in the sand, a line over which others must not cross. The Hanging Shad’s line is in front of Dr. Seuss. I read him as a kid, so did my brother and sister and my nieces and nephews. And guess what? Not one of us is a racist, a bigot or in any way would ever disparage a Chinese person. Get rid of the name “Redskins,” banish that stupid Cleveland Chief Wahoo, put all confederate statues in a museum for education. But keep your hands off my Dr. Seuss.
This particular episode of political correctness run amok started in Cambridge, Mass. (known in these parts as the People’s Republic). A librarian in the Cambridge public school system rejected some 10 Dr. Seuss books donated by First Lady Melania Trump.
Cambridge Library Media Specialist Liz Phipps Soeiro seems to think Theodor Geisel is cross between David Duke and Thing One. She rejected the books saying Dr. Seuss is a “tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature” and his work is “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”
What am I missing? Was it Horton Hears a Slur? How the Grinch Stole Christmas Because He Was on Welfare? Yertle the Jewish Turtle? Green Eggs and Beer? One Fish, Two Fish, Red State, Blue State?
The Cambridge Public Schools system quickly distanced itself from Soeiro. “[There] was not a formal acceptance or rejection of donated books, but a statement of opinion on the meaning of the donation.” Crisis averted, right? Horton lives to hear another who, another day.
Guess again. A swelling consensus of “educators” has decided that one Seuss story had racially insensitive illustrations. The Springfield, Mass. museum, “The Amazing World of Dr, Seuss,” had a mural depicting characters from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. A Chinese man is shown as holding chopsticks, wearing a pointy hat and having slanted slit eyes. The educators called it “a jarring racial stereotype.” The museum has agreed to remove the mural even spurning an offer from a local businessman to buy it.
Sure, absent context, the Chinese guy is a stereotype. Dr. Seuss was nothing if not a man of his times. The book was written in 1937, before consumer televisions and before the Internet was even an idea, when the average American would probably draw something similar if asked to create picture of a Chinese man. Unenlightened? Sure. Racist? Perhaps. But it was a caricature common for the times.
I have my own theory for why “educators” and celebrated “authors” are so quick to call for censoring Dr. Seuss: When it comes right down to it, these teachers might actually have to teach and explain to kids that the picture of the Chinese guy was from long ago and we don’t show people like that anymore. But that would require a skilled teacher who cares enough to explain things rather than take the easy way out and call for censorship.
In the words of the great Dr. Seuss, “Adults are obsolete children.” Indeed.