Many people complained of “cancel culture” when it was announced that six of Dr. Seuss’ books would no longer be published because “hurtful and wrong” character portrayals. However, as actor and social critic James Morrison (Lt.. Col. T.C. McQueen in Space: Above and Beyond) pointed out on Facebook, “it’s the owner of the copyrights that are making this decision.” It’s not being forced on them by anyone else.
“Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles: 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. These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
There have been complaints for years that in his younger days, Dr. Seuss drew illustrations of Asian and African-American characters that are insulting, hateful stereotypes. During WWII, Dr. Seuss drew many anti-fascist cartoons. He also drew many vartoons during WWII which were explicitly, offensively anti-Japanese. That does not change the fact that his early works contained material that Seuss wouldn’t have considered including in his later works,
March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, which is why for the last 23 years the school day closest to the Second of March has been honored as Read Across America Day.
The past is not being erased or rewritten. No one is going to go out to collect and burn all existing copies of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and the other five books. Some libraries may choose to remove them from their shelves, but copies will still be available for scholars. It may take a bit of work to find them, but they will still exist. No one is organizing a book bonfire.
Senator Ted Cruz blamed President Joe Biden for removing Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day. Read Across America Day has been de-emphasizing its connection with Dr, Seuss for the past two or three years. There have been complaints about Dr. Seuss’ use of racial stereotypes for years. Some readers think he made up for his earlier errors with the 1961 book The Sneetches andOther Stories, which points out the idiocy of racism and how other people can take advantage of racists. It was made into an animated TV special in 1973.
Ted Geisel to friends and family, Dr. Seuss to millions of children worldwide, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born September 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He died September 24, 1991 in La Jolla, California, after a long and honorable life, Naturally, being born in 1904, the attitudes that were taken for granted in his youth were very different from the attitudes now.
Dr. Seuss, like any artist, should be judged on his entire body of work,, not just what he drew in 1937.
What is your opinion on banishing six Dr. Seuss books, as Disney would say, to “the Vault”? Is it censorship? Have you read these six books? Which are your favorite Dr. Seuss books? Do Seuss’ later books and the moral lessons they taught (The Lorax, 1971, on environmentalism; The Butter Battle Book, 1984, on the arms race; Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, 1970, onomatopoeia, etc.) cancel out his earlier mistakes?
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.
Onomatopeia is not a moral lesson.