Though I am coming out with this post a bit late in the game, this article is nonetheless worth a quick read. And a share if your timeline is filled with Dr. Seuss apologists. If only we cared as much about climate change and inequality within our human societies as much as we care about a set of fucking children’s books . . .
But I digress.
Though it may be impossible to change the mind of those willing to scapegoat the infamous and often ambiguous they (“They want to censor *placeholder*!”, “They want to ban *placeholder*!”. And my personal favourite, “They are snowflakes!!”), sharing the origin article can’t hurt.
A short excerpt:
“I didn’t realize Dr. Seuss made us all racists,” he quipped.
As usual, a flippant retort to a flippant remark moves the conversation nowhere. One has to dig a bit deeper.
The six newly delisted books (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, The Cat’s Quizzer, and The Cat’s Quizzer) were all created between 1935 and 1976, a time when racist imagery in cartoons was as common as giant noses. And while these six books have been (in today’s vernacular) “cancelled,” no one is suggesting that they are in the same league as the infamous Censored Eleven—a group of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons that were considered so offensive toward African Americans that they were pulled from syndication way back in 1968.
Nor is anyone—outside of a Klan meeting—suggesting that the blatantly offensive characterizations found in the Censored Eleven have a place on Saturday morning television.
But when it comes to more subtle racist imagery—such as the Siamese cats in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp or the black-face crows in Dumbo—well, here many conservatives draw the line. Why, this is not racism, they insist. Those cartoon characters aren’t even people; they’re cats and crows! On the contrary, this is “woke censorship” run amok by out-of-touch “Hollywood elites,” themes they’ve no doubt picked up from right-wing politicians and FOX News pundits who are busily fanning the flames of the Culture War.
I wanted to take a look for myself at the image that had made the suits at Dr. Suess Inc. ban one book in particular after nearly 85 years in print. I opened And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street—the only book on the list that I was even vaguely familiar with—and found the controversial image in question, a cartoon of a Chinese man. It is a fairly stereotypical image from the 1930s. The man is bright yellow, has slits for eyes, a long pigtail, a lampshade looking hat. He holds chopsticks and a bowl of rice. He is called a “Chinaman.” And, for some unknown reason, he wears traditional Japanese-style shoes.
According to Dr. Seuss Enterprises that image, and some of the images in the other five books, “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
And, for some unknown reason, he wears traditional Japanese-style shoes.
This one is apparent. When it comes to ignorant minds and Asian culture, they often times end up being one and the same. Japanese, Chinese, Philipino . . . close enough!
Either way, like the rest of us that are fed up with hearing about Dr. Seuss (or worse, having that material compared to Cardi B’s smash hit without context), hopefully, this is over before it began. And it likely will be.
When you are determined to be annoyed at everything without context, the world is filled with possibilities.