REVISIONISTS PICK ON DR. SEUSS

The power of social networking can reach out to the most unlikely places. If President Trump’s wife tries to do a good deed that offends a critic, the public is flooded with conflicting news.

Who would think that Dr. Seuss children’s books should be removed from a public library because children should be protected from reading fables that reflect racism?

Did you know that “The Cat in the Hat” is a cover for a racist statement? Well, just look at the caricature of the cat. He is black and his costume is reminiscent of a blackface minstrel performer. Ergo: the cat represents racism and our dear children can’t be taught such politically-incorrect lessons.

So who was this person who ignited so much opposition to what most people think as a fun learning tool for young readers? An elementary school librarian in Cambridge, Mass. named Liz Phipps. Her refusal to accept Melania Trump’s donation of ten Dr. Seuss books for the children’s library was attacked by critics as being rude and ungrateful.

The issue became even more political when the National Education Association reported that a study of Dr. Seuss literary content depicted characters that are 98% white. There does not seem to be any recognition that nearly all the Seuss characters are of various forms of animals or imaginary creatures. Can we distinguish these racial stereotypes?

No doubt this tempest would never gone national except that the Trump name was involved. However, I hope that those history revisionists do not join in the vicious attack on the author. There is an issue about Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) that they can use to prove he was a racist.

During World War II, Geisel worked for a New York newspaper as the cartoonist that demonized the Japanese as part of the national propaganda effort against the enemy. That was how the public would be encouraged to support the war against Japan after Pearl Harbor. The cartoons were extremely racist showing the grinning, slant-eyed bad guys doing bad things.

That was Geisel’s job for the war effort, Should he be condemned 75 years later for doing his duty that was politically correct then? The history revisionists won’t agree as they see evidence of racism in Dr. Seuss’ later children’s cartoons. “The Cat in the Hat” is not only one on their hit list. An early book “And to Think What I Saw on Mulberry Street,” published 80 years ago, shows a slant-eyed Chinaman among the pedestrians carrying chopsticks. Critics said a mural based on that scene at the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Mass. was “hurtful,” causing its removal.

All of this nonsense is part of a movement to correct a lack of diversity in children’s literature. It is estimated that the four dozen Seuss books have sold 650 million copies worldwide, meaning for 80 years children have been taught to accept racial stereotypes that critics consider inappropriate.

I really don’t think millions of five-year-olds learning to read simple fables that are funny have been brain-washed by a racist. Only the latter-day revisionists see that. They should get a life and stop interpreting history to suit their beliefs.

A published letter to the editor referring to the U-T report suggested that anyone digging through decades of old literature looking for hurtful material should get over it. It’s done, it’s the past. We can’t whitewash history.

 

Most of the references in this commentary are quoted from a report in The San Diego Union-Tribune written by John Wilkens.