The children’s author Theodore Seuss Geisel lived his entire life not just as a staunch progressive, but even as the rather grating variety. To Geisel, the Cold War clash with totalitarian communism was a dispute as flimsy as a debate over how to butter bread. Horton Hears A Who! may declare that ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small,’ but Seuss threatened to sue a pro-life group that took that statement to its logical conclusion. If Bartholomew Cubbins and his 500 hats were around today, at least one of the hats would be a Pussy Hat.
But Seuss’s books were still phenomenally popular. Thousands of schools celebrate March 2 as Read Across America Day. The date was chosen to mark Geisel’s birth date. But now President Biden has reportedly omitted Seuss from the official list after educational authorities in Loudoun County, Virginia decided the author is, er, problematic.
Seuss drew anti-Japanese caricatures during World War Two. His characters are mostly the color of the paper they are printed on. His later anti-racism works promote equality and color-blindness rather than equity and ‘reckoning.’ So of course, he probably should be canceled or at least denounced.
Loudoun County was once the great redoubt of conservatism in Northern Virginia, populated by the refugees of Fairfax, Arlington and DC itself. But the Big Blue Blob fully consumed Loudoun in 2016, and now parents get to enjoy the consequences, like denunciations of beloved children’s authors.
And so, out went a statement from Loudoun’s educators: ‘As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing racial undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr Seuss.’
Research? Did they look at Yertle the Turtle in a lab? No. Instead, in 2019 two critical race theoreticians needing books that matched their reading level wrote a painful rant about Seuss’s works. Seuss himself famously churned through more than 20 publishers before his first book was accepted, but these two got their effort published in Research on Diversity in Youth Literature. What would once have been a winceable LiveJournal post is now peer-reviewed research, worthy of Loudoun’s perspicacious pedagogues.Here is how the pair summarized Horton Hears A Who!:
‘Regardless of the intention of the book, the impact is that it reinforces themes of White supremacy, Orientalism, and White saviorism. It positions the Whos in a deficit-based framework as the dominant, paternalistic Horton enacts the White Savior Industrial Complex… Not only does a White savior narrative play out within Horton Hears a Who!, Seuss himself is positioned as a White savior for writing it.’
To be clear, they are analyzing a book about a talking elephant trying to protect a speck of dust from a kangaroo. As backlash spread, Loudoun’s superintendent released a follow-up statement, saying they hadn’t banned Dr Seuss, just told everyone that he was racist, and that they should not read him in a box, and should not listen in to Fox.
Okay, but let us be serious: even if this was a false alarm, Dr Seuss is screwed. The only reason the patron saint of elementary school read-a-thons hasn’t been canceled completely is that he’s dead. The Woke Faction prefers its victims alive, to watch them squirm. Canceling the dead, when there aren’t even any nice statues to tear down, is like eating political roadkill.
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