The Cancelling of Dr. Seuss

When I was about nine years old I liked to read the Hardy Boys mystery books. The first in the series was published in the late 1920s, and the publisher continued putting out titles until long after I was grown up.

In the late 1950s, as the cultural trend now known as political correctness was just getting started, the publishers ordered a rewrite of the older Hardy Boys books. To be fair, it was only partially for PC reasons. Yes, it’s true that the books’ depictions of negroes in the ’20s and ’30s tended towards the “sho nuff” and “dat sure am good” sort of stereotypes. But there were also rumble seats and roadsters and other dated cultural artifacts that had to be revised in order to make sense to the boomer generation. Needless to say, the new versions were less interesting than the originals. Boys like me held onto their ragged old copies rather than buy the new ones, and fortunately my school library had a lot of the old ones — that was in the days before libraries purged their collections for politically correct reasons.

My favorite books, however, were those by the immortal Dr. Seuss. His early works — before about 1957 — were (and are) timelessly superb. My mother thoughtfully preserved my Dr. Seuss collection, so that when the future Baron came along, I only had to acquire the newer books (some of them — a lot of the later ones are not at all interesting). Reading the old books to him when he was little reminded me of how wonderful they were.

About two-thirds of our combined Dr. Seuss collection here in Schloss Bodissey consists of my old books, most of them worn and tattered and taped together after being well-loved by two generations of kids. Some of the titles from the mid to late ’50s came from the first printing.

Considering what can be found in those old books, it was obvious that Dr. Seuss would someday have to be cancelled. When I saw the list of six titles that were withdrawn from publication a few days ago, I realized that I had four of them on the bookshelf right here in the Eyrie — McElligot’s Pool, If I Ran the Zoo, Scrambled Eggs Super, and On Beyond Zebra. According to various news stories, they are now available on Amazon only as “used” or “collectible”, with prices ranging from about $100 to as much as $2,500. If I wanted to cash out, I could make a fair amount of money on them. But it’s not worth it — I’d rather have the books.

Out of curiosity, I went through those four titles to see what racial heresies they contained to earn the ire of the Woke mob. If I Ran the Zoo was the most obvious — the image at the top of this post is taken from it. Those native bearers are undeniably sambos, and we can’t have that, now, can we?

In addition there was this one:

Yep, they’re definitely slants. Now, maybe if he had dressed them in business suits like real Chinese he could have skated by. Better yet, to make it realistic, he could have had the Chinese businessmen riding on top of the cage while the American boy carried it.

And then there’s the sheikh from the Desert of Zind. I’m not sure if he counts as a racial stereotype, but he kind of looks like an Arab, and he’s riding something that looks vaguely like a camel.

The sheikh clearly needs to be cancelled, too.

I couldn’t remember anything racist from McElligot’s Pool, so I paged through it trying to find the offending image. Sure enough, there was this:

Not only does the fellow at the top live in an igloo (with a stovepipe, no less), but the fish with the little furry parkas are Eskimo fish. Oh, the humanity!

It was much harder to discern why On Beyond Zebra had roused the wrath of the Wokistas. The only possible candidate I could see was the Nazzim of Bazzim:

He doesn’t seem to be a particular stereotype. But he represents the imaginary letter “spazz”, which is so close to a derogatory epithet that it may have been enough to warrant his cancellation.

And Scrambled Eggs Super was even harder to figure out. The fellow at the right appears twice in the book. His name is Ali — is that enough to get him cancelled?

He’s not a stereotypical Arab, but more like a Turk or a Persian. Coupled with his name, that may be sufficient to merit the censure of the Grand Inquisitor.

I can’t find anything else in the book that could be remotely considered WAYCIST.

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In an attempt to appease the Woke Brigades, Dr. Seuss Enterprises — which owns the rights to the late author’s books — has withdrawn six books from publication. But that’s not enough to satisfy Wokedom, which will settle for nothing less than the complete cancellation of Dr. Seuss and the removal of his entire oeuvre from the public space. The 20th century must be cleansed of his stain.

And this is only because of the “racist” images. What about sexism, the patriarchy, ableism, and all the rest of the PC shibboleths? I’m certain that there are “sexist” items amidst all the bric-à-brac depicted in The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

Then there’s the cruelty to animals depicted in If I Ran the Circus. And what about the ending in Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose? The freeloading animals that Thidwick discards when he sheds his antlers wind up as stuffed trophies on the walls of the big game hunters! How could we possibly allow children to read such an abomination?

In The King’s Stilts the evil Lord Droon falsely accuses Eric the pageboy of having the measles, and forces him into involuntary quarantine. But Eric escapes from quarantine — what kind of example is that for the impressionable minds of children during this, the Great Pandemic?

And what about the environmental damage caused by the oobleck in Bartholomew and the Oobleck?

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Dr. Seuss had a long career drawing illustrations and cartoons long before he started doing children’s books. I recommend a collection entitled The Tough Coughs As He Ploughs the Dough, which contains works published in various periodicals during the 1920s and ’30s. It’s a little bit racy here and there, and quite politically incorrect. You might want to acquire a copy, if any are still available.

For all I know, Dr. Seuss may have lived long enough to have peopled his later books with exquisitely PC brown characters; I’m not familiar with most of his work from the ’70s and ’80s. We know by The Lorax (which I do not own a copy of) that he became environmentally correct in the ’70s. If he had survived until the dismal Third Millennium, he might well have written about children with two mommies, or featured a trans heroine (heroinx?) in his writings.

But we’ll always have King Birtram and Thidwick and Bartholomew Cubbins. Even if none of those classics is ever published again, the extant copies will be treasured and taped together and passed around discreetly as samizdat in this our latter-day dystopia.

And children will love them.

15 thoughts on “The Cancelling of Dr. Seuss

  1. We still have some Babar books around, which would probably be canceled as well. The books reflect a genteel, colonialist time, which cannot stand in the present day.

    Owners of such books will see skyrocketing values, but, like you, I wouldn’t part with them.

    You got me thinking about old books, so I pulled out a 1957 Nancy Drew, and I’m going to read it. I hope there’s nothing within to offend my senses!

    • Don’t think you need to worry, PGiddy. As I recall, Ms. Drew would shake hands when bidding good night to her boyfriend.

  2. I have a bit of personal history with Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. He moved out here to California to a sleepy artist’s colony north of San Diego named La Jolla, (the Jewel in Spanish) and purchased a house with a second story ‘tower’. His “Green Eggs and Ham” is his take on an attempt to have breakfast at a local greasy spoon. The owner of the dive was a bit cheap and would cook up the scrambles eggs in advance and leave them in the steam table to be served when the customer ordered breakfast. Scrambled eggs only last about 30 minutes max in a steam table before they start to turn green. There isn’t anything wrong with the eggs except for their color. I had the same thing happen to me when I was serving in my church’s kitchen ministry and we were making breakfast burritos. Yes, we did serve a green eggs and ham burrito, with a bit of guacamole on the side to the enjoyment of all who shared in the joke. He wrote to us school kids and for that I will always fondly remember him. Here is one of my own creations that follows in his genre that my wife used to help teach children vowel sounds and sentence context;
    I like to leave dishes unwashed in the sink,
    and leave them three days until they stink.
    If you don’t mind tell me what you think,
    about leaving dishes dirty in the sink.

    I can tell you the dishes are better off trash,
    I can say this without being brash.
    I prefer dishes I know that are clean,
    and scrubbed and washed if you know what I mean.

      • It may have been. As a joke I would like to open a restaurant named Sam I Am and serve guacamole omelets (green with the eggs and puerco chorizo).

  3. I am learning Hebrew by reading Enid Blyton Famous 5 in Heb.

    Blyton ran foul of the (Marxist) authorities in UK some 45 years ago and maybe more.

    The children she wrote about were upper middle class, went to boarding school and had a family car.

    Was ‘George’ an early ‘trans’ – no she was just a tomboy, a girl who liked to do ‘boy’ things with the boys (and dress appropriately) – more a rebellion against the simpering stereotype of the Victorian/Edwardian woman chained to church, kitchen and children. The children she depicted, , tomboys or not, were totally non-sexualised, they were kids that one could identify with and meet at school or in the community.

    I knew some ‘Georges’, they accepted their biology, they were female, but were happy to engage with life from a ‘boy’ perspective; they might have worn shorts rather than skirts, but they still wore knickers underneath. Me. I used to skip with the girls next door, because it was someone to play with. Somehow we were just more liberated then. We could do things without being psychoanalysed every few moments.

    • Reminds me of the rather masculine young woman, “Anybody’s”, who wanted to be in the “Jets” gang in “West Side Story”, and was told to act like a girl.

      A bit of trivia: at one stage it was to be “East Side Story”, with Jews rather than Puerto Ricans.

  4. Thank you Baron, reading about Dr Seuss brought back memories of reading the books to my children. Immediately there came to mind of me sitting in my big armchair with the youngest on my lap and the other two sitting on the arms as we read the text and admired the wonderful pictures. We all loved these times, only a few days ago my elder daughter (now 50) mentioned them when she read that another favorite author had died.
    I often used Dr Seuss at Sunday School and when preaching at church.
    God bless you.

  5. Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism as is also its latest apparition of cancel culture. So also is Critical Race Theory from the Cultural Marxist Frankfurt school. All of it was concocted as artificial social constructs to destroy a society from within. Therefore I would say to you all that everyone who promotes such destructive artificial social constructs are the enemies of humanity in their carrying out crimes against humanity with their own disgusting weaponized forms of racism.

    Evan Sayet gave a good synopsis of this destructive ideology in a 56:44 minute video entitled “Evan Sayet – Regurgitating the Apple How Modern Liberals “Think” that everyone should watch to better understand the twisted, self-loathing mentality that infects the minds of people today. It truly is a very destructive cult these people belong to. They’ll even feed on their own because it’s so destructive. A spectacle of schadenfreude at its’ most toxic levels.

    Dr. Seuss represents an artifact of history. This is how people in his time saw the world. Dr. Seuss hasn’t been cancelled no more then the actual real history of the world has been cancelled. The human haters can cover their eyes, ears, and mouths all they want as far as I’m concerned. Ignorance is bliss as Cypher said in the Matrix. They want to create something that doesn’t exist; that will never exist while the rest of us know where we’ve come from and also know the real reality we will all inevitably go to. The good thing about that is those pathetic backward cancel culture cultural marxists won’t even be remembered then. That’s something to think about and look forward to in my book.

    • “They want to create something that doesn’t exist; that will never exist while the rest of us know where we’ve come from and also know the real reality we will all inevitably go to.”

      Not so fast, Sir. The commies in my birth country in Europe did make their insane vision of reality, and for long 40 years. They did damage Russia after 70 years of their perverted ideology – almost beyond repair. Their toxic dream did exist for generations.

      The threat of cultural Marxists is as real nowadays as the “naive” communism was in the XX. century – I’d say the danger of all this is even bigger as the Woke enemy of traditional society is within and well established. We are in for hard times.

  6. I have the radio on in the background and the radio guys (basically NY types who supported Guiliani) keep referring to “they” who are woke and are cancelling this and that. I’d just like to know exactly who the “they” are. I know some of them are Obama people. But aside from all these generalizations, I wish we could all know who “they” are.
    I repeat, exactly who are the “they.”

    In my worst moments I start to think that the table is being sent for a new reich. At this moment I spell it with a small “r”, hopefully it won’t move up to the capital “R.”

    I’m hoping for a real good 2022. And then a Ron de Santis, nothing against Uncle Donald I just don’t know if he can win ….on the other hand if the best the dems have is Harris…………..

    Mike from Brooklyn

    • The idea of ‘racism’ only exists in the minds of divisive political ‘intellectuals’ in particularly in the Western ‘anglosphere’. Nobody else worries too much about it. or else they use it as a weapon to extort payouts and privilege from guilt-brainwashed white ‘Liberals’.

      When the ‘workers’ of the world united, it was around western conservative values not Marxist socialist values, which left the Marxists with nothing to exploit and disrupt and nowhere to go.

      Enter ‘skin colour’ to replace ‘class’ in the struggle against western civilization, and ‘racism’ to replace ‘oppression’ and hey presto, the left re-invents itself, with the names changed to protect the guilty.

  7. Now they are going after Pepe Le Pew because he inspired rapists (which has never been claimed by any one since he was introduced in 1945.

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