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Dr. Seuss Has Not Been 'Canceled'

Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

No, Dr. Seuss hasn’t been “canceled.”

Granted, you’d never know it from the ruckus that erupted after Theodor Seuss Geisel’s estate decided to stop publishing six lesser-known titles by the celebrated children’s book author because they contained offensive racial stereotypes. We’re talking Asians with “their eyes at a slant,” and ape-like Africans in grass skirts. In a statement, Dr. Seuss Enterprises called such portrayals “hurtful and wrong.”

Meantime, in his proclamation last week recognizing the National Education Association’s annual Read Across America Day, President Biden didn’t mention Seuss by name, as some of his predecessors did. This was actually in line with a 2017 NEA decision to reduce its focus on Seuss in favor of including a larger variety of children’s authors.

That’s it. Those are the facts underlying the uproar. It ought not shock you that those facts — prosaic and even a little bit boring — are starkly at odds with the howl — “Cancel culture run amok!” — now rising from the conservative outrage complex. “Progressives seek to cancel beloved author,” wailed an online headline from Fox “News.”

The cry was echoed by Donald Trump Jr. – he appeared at CPAC shortly after it gave the boot to an anti-Semitic speaker.

And by Michigan congressional candidate Tom Norton — he is pushing for a boycott of Target stores.

 

And by Sen. Ted Cruz — he swore two years ago to stop buying Nike.

Not that their hypocrisy is surprising. After a while, you come to expect it.

For the record, the books in question, including “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” date back as far as 1937. Unless you’ve spent quality time immersed in it, it’s hard to appreciate how deeply, openly and unapologetically racist the pop and consumer cultures of that era could be.

Will Fox also condemn Disney for censoring from its classic “Fantasia” the little pickaninny polishing the hooves of a blonde centaur?

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