“Oh, no! Not Dr. Seuss!”

“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!” and “Scrambled Eggs Super!”

Apparently, according to conservative-minded friends and cousins on Facebook, evil liberal Democrats are out to cancel and get rid of Dr. Seuss. They are taking seriously the warnings of the good-hearted, common-sense broadcasters at OAN and Fox News and rushing out to buy copies of Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go before the communist-leaning book-burning enemies of the people get ahold of them.

I say to this dire warning, “Okay! Great! Buy every wonderful Dr. Seuss book you can get your hands on! That’s the right thing to do!”

But I would be remiss in my duty not to also say, “Don’t spend a thousand dollars on e-Bay to get a copy of And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

Let me say this, as a teacher who taught reading skills in all of my thirty-one years as a public school teacher, I always made use of Dr. Seuss books whenever and wherever possible, even reading Fox in Sox aloud to gifted students (and reading those tongue-tying tongue-twizzlers as fast as it is possible to read aloud without wrapping my tongue around my eye teeth and crashing into my molars because I couldn’t see what I was saying.) (Which the kids always found profoundly entertaining.) And I celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday every March since that became a thing in 1988.

But I also think that we have to recognize that Theodore Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss, is a man from a different time. Some of the tropes and techniques he learned and employed in the 1940s as a political cartoonist and ad illustrator are no longer appropriate in the time of George Floyd and Asians being attacked over the “Wuhan Kung Flu.”

Remember, his cartoon skills were developed back when America was fighting propaganda wars with the Axis powers.

So, in some of his works, he may have been guilty of some outdated thinking and is unintentionally racist in some of the things he cartooned and thought were funny.

And of the books that will no longer be published, I admit that I read and enjoyed If I Ran the Zoo while I was learning to read in the first grade. And I think I read McElligot’s Pool in school in 1965, but I don’t really remember what was down there at the bottom under the protagonist’s fishhook. I looked up a hard-to-find copy of And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street in 2009, and saw that it was not really right for my ESL class at that time. The other three controversial books I haven’t even heard of before this whole thing first outraged Fox News reporters. These six books were not available for purchase from either Barnes and Noble or the Dr. Seuss website before the controversy.

So, I love Dr. Seuss. But I am not worried. Democrats and liberals like me are not trying to do away with Dr. Seuss. In fact, Random House publishers are not even the ones who decided. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy, announced it would cease sales of these books. So, this is purely editorial in nature and certainly within the rights of Dr. Seuss’s family, friends, and promoters to do.

But by all means, buy up more Dr. Seuss books! Give them to kids you care about! I can’t think of anything I would rather have conservatives, Republicans, and Fox News viewers doing than reading about Horton, the Grinch, Sam-I-Am. and Daisy-head Maisy.


Filed under angry rant, art criticism, book review, commentary, Dr. Seuss, politics

7 responses to ““Oh, no! Not Dr. Seuss!”

  1. As long as they don’t go after “The Seven Lady Godivas,” I’ll stay cool.

    But understand, this IS a kind of historical revisionism. Not a lot different than pulling Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn off the library shelves because somebody somewhere finds it offensive.

    He was a man of his times. Pretending he wasn’t is Orwellian.

    • The books they pulled off the market weren’t his best sellers by far. The decision was not entirely about the racist images, which are not that terrible in context. But Seuss was himself embarrassed about his wartime racism. Horton Hears a Who was written in response to the backlash he heard in his lifetime. “A person’s a person, no matter how small…” but he did hear them. I love Dr. Seuss. All of it. But this controversy is not that big of a deal. And I’m sure that the Godivas are safe. That book sells well since it came back into print a few years back.

  2. Sometimes you take a step in the right direction

  3. I really loved your article and appreciate seeing a different point of view! As a teacher myself-I LOVE ALL DR. SUESS too!! Although these books aren’t his best sellers-I still find it a little worrisome just because he is such a legend. In fact, in some places throughout America-schools have gotten rid of Dr. Seuss day altogether which is just so so sad.

    Anyway, I read all of these discontinued books because I was curious to see this racisum. I personal didn’t find these stories racist-if anything they promoted imagination and creative thought.
    Please feel free to check out my blog and article of the subject matter-would love to hear your opinions from an opposing view


  4. dolphinwrite

    Just listen to your God-given common sense and never allow propaganda and rhetoric, no matter the peer pressure.

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