OK, I guess I’ll weigh in on this. My two cents are worth about the same as anyone else’s, I reckon.
What we have here is an intersectionality. Where cancel culture meets book burning and freedom of speech meets banned books. Now, for the record I am against burning books and it seems like everyone has a match these days. And I have always enjoyed Dr. Seuss and even read these books to my kids when they were growing up….
But! There is no book burning going on here, no cancelling of Dr. Seuss, just a recalibration. His own estate has made the decision to not publish six books that contained overtly racist images. Six out of hundreds. And these books are still available. As a matter of fact, they are flying off the shelves!
We are living in strange times. The culture has evolved in many good ways in some bad ways. There is no question we come from a white supremacist patriarchal past. But that is not what we look like today. We are a multicultural, multiracial society and everyone deserves a seat at the table and everyone deserves to be included. It is important what books are put in front of children as they are the most impressionable among us. Reinforcement of white stereotypes and racial tropes is inappropriate. White children don’t need the reinforcing of white supremacy and children of color don’t need to be exposed to the hurtful images that remind them of their second-class citizenship.
This is a publishing decision, just like any other, but this one reflects the willingness of the estate of Dr. Seuss to learn and try to do better. It is not part of the so-called cancel culture, which I question really exists anyhow.
5 thoughts on “Dr. Seuss: “And to Think I saw it on Mulberry Street.””
Cancel culture works both ways. Racist depictions cancelled the culture of those demeaned, but some only take offense at the fact that the offense is being called out which makes them uncomfortable with their acceptance of racism. I like Seuss’ stories but his estate made the right decision. Those anxious to get the books no longer being published aren’t helping themselves or their kids.
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I believe in reading as widely as possible and in making my own decisions about what to think. I happen to like knowing how the enemy thinks, from time to time, if only to learn what not to do. Dr. Seuss’ estate has the right to do anything it wants, but its decision will probably make the banned books more valuable.
Awhile back, I read that some ivory tower elitist has edited and revised Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” to eliminate the racial slurs, specifically that hated “N word.” I contend Twain (aka Samuel Clemens) was a product of his time and place in history and his writing is valid from that standpoint.
“Fahrenheit 451,”author Ray Bradbury had a lot to say about the editing or revising of books, and I agree that even novels provide a sense of the time and place where they are written, something about the author’s personality and character, and evolvement over time.
I have a library full of vintage, inherited, books, and as time goes on, these books will probably become more valuable for those who appreciate the authenticity of unadulterated writing.
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Thanks for weighting in! Totally agree wit you on Huckleberry Fiinn and Fahrenheit 451.
It’s ridiculous- Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” what’s next? It’s a good thing that we’re now forming a parallel economy and coming up with our own free speech publishing companies- Dan Bongino is an investor in one of those publishing companies, I’m told. Also, we’re developing our own free speech platforms (Parler, Rumble, and ChatDit, to name a few), our own educational institutions, mfg companies, you name it! We will end up burying the Leftist economy! Just watch!
Quentin from WeTheCommoners Blog here. I think your take an analysis of cancel culture and free speech in terms of Dr. Seuss is spot on. While the history points toward dated drawings, it was ultimately the company that made the decision and not the mob or the politicians like many on the right make it out to seem.