When Dr. Seuss was Cancelled

dr seussBeloved children’s author Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel died in La Jolla, California on September 24, 1991. If he were still alive, he would have turned 117 this past March 2nd. I’m glad he didn’t live to see the day when the people representing Dr. Seuss Enterprises betrayed him.

On his birthday, or close enough to it to matter, the “Enterprises” made the decision to discontinue from publication six of his books because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

I don’t doubt that they mean well, but I also don’t doubt that this is just another example of the hateful and equally harming cancel culture which many on the left side of the political aisle deny exists. They deny it because they don’t want to admit they are complicit in deliberately destroying reputations or denying, in the case of living creators, people the ability to earn a living all because they “may” have said or done something that goes against the opinions and narrative of 21st century progressives.

Oh, the horror.

So let’s look at these “offending” books of Dr. Seuss and how our youth are now magically protected from their evil influence.

I was going to do the research myself but, of course, with a five day head start, someone beat me to it. I found this on Facebook a little while ago:

Michael A. Rothman

Lots of people are excusing the Seuss cancellation of six books and treating it like it’s proper. The six titles were selected after consultation with a “panel of experts,” according to Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The books will no longer be printed or licensed, meaning that the titles will also not be available for sale as e-books.

So, let’s examine what the problem was.

In the first image from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The 1937 work by Dr. Seuss will no longer be published due in part to this page featuring an illustration of a “Chinese man who eats with sticks.”

Yes, showing someone with chopsticks… uh huh.

If I Ran the Zoo features a young boy imagining a hunting expedition to the fictional land of Zomba-ma-tant where locals “wear their eyes at a slant.” Other pages also show the “African island of Yerka,” featuring squat African tribesmen with large hoops through their noses.

McElligot’s Pool follows a boy imagining the far-out things he’ll catch while fishing in a stagnant pond, including “Eskimo Fish from beyond Hudson Bay.”

Scrambled Eggs Super! has its young protagonist boasting about the increasingly rare eggs he would source for breakfast, including that of the Mt. Strookoo Cuckoo, for which he would enlist the help of a beturbaned helper named Ali. The people of the fictional Arctic nation of Fa-Zoal are also shown clad in furs and paddling skin boats in order to harvest eggs from a “Grice.”

The Cat’s Quizzer, the most recent (and least popular) of the six books appears to have gotten pulled because of a page 11 illustration of a yellow figure in a coolie hat with the caption, “how old do you have to be to be a Japanese?”

Of the six, the problematic imagery in On Beyond Zebra! is probably the least obvious. The book catalogues a whimsical set of new letters in the alphabet, and briefly features the “Nazzim of Bazzim,” a figure of unspecified nationality riding a camel-like creature called a “Spazzim.” If these are worthy of cancellation, what isn’t?

Naturally, publications such as The New York Times say this is a good thing. But it gets worse. President Joe Biden has also removed Dr. Seuss’s name from his 2021 Read Across America proclamation. That’s not just six books, that’s all of them.

Of the six books, I’ve only read “Mulberry Street” and I don’t own any of the “offending” texts. If the so-called “Dr. Seuss Foundation” had done this quietly, without social justice fanfare, chances are no one would have noticed and almost no one would have been affected.

But they, as well as news and social media, had to make a big thing out of it because (and I know a lot of people don’t like this term but it’s accurate) virtue signalling.

Geisel’s step-daughter confirms that he wasn’t a racist and we can also see that the result of this “cancellation” six of Seuss’s books has “boomeranged.” At least in the short term, people are buying Seuss books in droves.

But it’s not just about six books.

Anyone, living or dead, can be targeted for this sort of behavior in order to create the impression that a few who have control of the information we consume represent all of us and have the right to control what we read and learn and think.

I’m surprised they haven’t banned George Orwell’s novel 1984.

You may have heard of or seen the 1996 movie Space Jam which was a mixed live action-animated movie. It featured a cartoon character Lola Bunny. Back in 1996, for a cartoon rabbit, she was pretty sexy.


Screenshot from twitter

However, for the remake, she’s been toned down quite a bit because she wasn’t “feminist” enough as an “attractive” rabbit.

Speaking of Warner Bros. characters Pepe Le Pew is being cancelled because of “rape culture” and Speedy Gonzalez is all but gone due to racial stereotypes.

What’s next?

This actually isn’t the first attack on Dr. Seuss. I wrote a short piece of fiction back in 2017 based on some elementary school librarian’s objection to Melania Trump giving the school Dr. Seuss books.

At the time, I thought it was just because the librarian, Liz Phipps Soerio, objected to Trump, but now I see there’s a bigger problem.

No, it’s not just six books, and they’ve already gone after all of Geisel’s works.

The reason we have to object isn’t because the left doesn’t sometimes have a point. Occasionally, what they call out actually is a problem. However, when you let one perspective dictate what can be accessed by the population as a whole, you end up with a dictatorship. Of course these folks don’t see themselves that way. No villain sees themselves as bad in their own story.


7 thoughts on “When Dr. Seuss was Cancelled

  1. The books were cancelled because of imagery not words; one would think that all they need to do was change the imagery and not let it look so offensive; or remove it and leave the imagery to the reader’s imagination…..
    I wonder if Popeye is going to be cancelled, given that Brutus is always attempting to kidnap Olive Oil…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It might come to that. I agree, the drawings could have been changed to be less stereotypical, but the books are also history we can learn from. A number of libraries, including the New York Public Library have said they intend to continue making their copies available for check out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This isn’t going to end well. They will never stop canceling *wrongthink*. So either everything will be canceled or the tipping point will be reached and they themselves will be canceled.

    I doubt they are going to like being on the receiving end if it ever gets to that point.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One really ought to wonder how it is that so many are now doing and applauding actions which were recognized not so long ago as atrocities. The Nazis were infamous for their book-burnings, though they were not the only ones to do so. It was done also in the USA, sometimes with people voluntarily consigning books to the flames, sometimes not so voluntarily. I can’t recall if the Bolsheviks or the Stalinists did anything quite so theatrical, because when they canceled someone they were out of sight or out of existence altogether — a bit more like what Orwell described. Such behavior never ends well. I wonder about other kinds of oppression that have become so commonplace during the pandemic, and for how long they will be prolonged. The suppression of ideas and viewpoints inhibits the popular ability to challenge and overthrow such tyrannies. May they only be overthrown soon, before a worse and more widespread version of them arises in the apocalyptic pattern described by a Jewish visionary on Patmos isle around the turn of the second century CE.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was just reminded of what really bothers me about this whole thing. It wasn’t the readers who came out of the woodwork and demanded that these six books stop being published. It was a tiny handful of activist educators who made the decision for us: https://reason.com/2021/03/08/dr-seuss-defend-cancel-culture-toronto-books-censorship/

    One example is Prof Philip Nel who is not only a strong critic of many of Seuss’s works, but who makes money writing books criticizing Seuss (so not exactly an objective source).

    The Seuss books or anything else will go out of style (if they ever do) as a result of the free market system. When people stop buying his books, they’ll go out of print. Chances are that some of them will be around for a long, long time because they’re classics, but except for “Mulberry,” I’d never heard of most of them. Chances are, they would have faded away at some point anyway without all of this fanfare, and certainly without a few ivory tower intellects deciding that we, the common folk, need to have them as our nannies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The delusion has worked so well that the would-be tyrants from 1984 read the book thinking they were the victim heroes. It was a top seller in 2016/2017 because the losing party thought they were the ones living under Big Brother. They can’t understand jokes nor can they infer context properly, as it appears.

      Liked by 1 person

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