Outrage! Dr. Seuss Banned!
There is a brilliant piece of manufactured outrage burning through America this week. The company that manages the Dr. Seuss estate is removing six of his books from print; And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Certain media outlets are screaming at the top of their lungs that this is an attack of freedom of speech by “Biden and the woke police.” What a pile of flat-out bullshit. I hope that people will see through this for what it is, an artificially spun up tornado of righteous indignation over censorship and a whole lot of nothing. A private company decided to stop printing some books. No one is piling the books and burning them, no one is banning them from schools, they just decided to stop printing them. Let’s get angry, as your childhood is destroyed! Don’t buy into this. This is not censorship, this is not an attack on freedom of speech, this is people deciding to stop printing a few cartoons that have some outdated images.
I am not going to link to the images in the books that are being pulled, but the images in question are pretty damn racist. I am going to cut Dr. Suess some slack in this regard. And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry St. was published in 1937, which is 83 years ago. That is a long, long time ago. 83 years before 1937 would have been 1854, so before the Civil War. By 1854 standards, these books would be shockingly progressive. Time moves on. Books are a product of their time. Hopefully things are better now than they were in the 1930’s. These aren’t the only books aimed at children that have fallen out of print. Try to find a copy of Tintin In The Congo these days.
Ted Geisel was a great artist and author and has created an amazing body of work even excluding these six books. My son just read me Green Eggs and Ham for the first time, and it was amazing. I am a huge fan of his work. He apparently led a complicated life, and I am not quite sure if he belongs on my list of monster artists but he was no saint, and that is OK. He has an inarguable legacy of helping children to read. That is truly an amazing thing, and we should not let this distract us from the good he has done for the world.
I am going to continue to read his books with my kids. We definitely have some of the books that have been pulled from print, and I’ll probably just skip over the sketchy parts if we read them again. No big deal. He has over 50 other books still in print that don’t have these questionable images, too. Most are pretty good.
Please, don’t buy into this controversy. If you want to get angry about something, there are plenty of real problems to get upset about.
Thanks for reading. If you are looking for something else to read, check out some banned books.