Nary a Horton nor a Who among Seuss’s ‘cancelled’ books

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2021

“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who are in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you are lucky you are not.”—Dr. Seuss

ROLLING FORK—Like most such things, this tempest in a teapot is a devil’s brew.

The foundation that preserves and oversees the estate of Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, the most famous contemporary author of childrens’ books, last Tuesday announced that six of his works will no longer be published, due to its determination that they contain racist images.

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And in so doing, thereby let the games begin.

No, the government did not do that. Wild-eyed politically correct liberals did not do that. The new conservative boogeyman “cancel culture,” did not do that. The author’s estate overseer did that, and the fact that said decision was announced on both Read Across America Day and Geisel’s birthday, can and should be described as, at best, unfortunate.

And even though the only one of the six works that I or most folks have ever heard of is his first one—“And to Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street”—I wish that the folks in charge had simply carried out their decision quietly and absent fanfare, because the uproar that followed it—one born largely out of either ignorance or mischief—has been considerably more than unfortunate.

Remember, now, we are not talking about “The Cat in the Hat,” or “Green Eggs and Ham” or everyone’s favorite Grinch, here. We are not talking about society or government banning books, or cancel culture or any of the other things being thrown around everywhere from the floor of the House to Internet chat rooms to folks’ Facebook pages about this.

How about a little test? In addition to the aforementioned “Mulberry Street,” how many among us are familiar with “If I Ran the Zoo?” How about “McElligot’s Pool?” How many of you read your children “On Beyond Zebra?” or “Scrambled Eggs Super!?” How many of the kiddies will now rue the demise of “The Cat’s Quizzer?”

Those are the six books in question and there’s nary a Horton nor a Who among them, and all of them, published from the 1930s through the 1970s, “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the estate overseers/book publishers said in their official announcement that they would no longer be published.

I’ll not venture an opinion about that for the same reason I will not venture into the nearest mine field, having long ago embraced the notion that not putting myself needlessly in harm’s way is a good thing whenever possible.

But I will have a thing or two to say about the absolutely ridiculous and dishonest reaction to the otherwise routine publishing decision at hand.

First let me say that I find it deliciously ironic that based on the breathless headlines and pontifications on conservative cable channels and complaints to the heavens from virtually every platform imaginable, most of the people either genuinely expressing or conveniently feigning righteous indignation about this great injustice being foisted upon Dr. Seuss obviously don’t know that his real life alter ego was a very liberal Democrat, nigh unto socialist, who was a huge supporter of FDR and his New Deal.

And even after some of them were educated both about that and the truth behind the misleading headlines and false claims, they continued to perpetuate the same lies about the action’s being the work of the politically correct and their cancel culture—because it fit into their narrative.

The estate took and announced its action last Tuesday. As late as last Saturday and Sunday, my Facebook feed was still full of attempts to wrongly assign blame to those who had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

And that, too, is more than unfortunate, because even if not all, a great many of those people knew better. They knew the truth, but the lie was conveniently fitting for their politics, so they just kept right on spreading it.

And if you are among those seeking an answer to the question of what is wrong with American politics today, you need look no further than that.

Why are our politics so rotten and rancid now? Well, my mother would have said that it is because too many people would insist on telling lies when the truth would do them better. What Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Suess, actually said was, “Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”


Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.