Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday are celebrated every March 2nd. The day’s purpose is to encourage kids to read and the two events used to coincide with one another (I’ve commemorated the occasion by making a Green Eggs and Ham pizza; recipe is listed below for your reference. I swear I will open a book today for some additional celebration). Recent years have seen a diversion from Dr. Seuss as people have seen some questionable things in his books.
Dr. Seuss has been a large part of people’s childhoods if you’ve grown up in the last 80 years. Now, six of his books are ceasing to be published due to what the publisher is calling racially insensitive imagery, which are the following: “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”, “If I Ran the Zoo”, “McElligot’s Pool”, “On Beyond Zebra!”, “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer”. Is Dr. Seuss posthumously becoming a victim of cancel culture? Is the publisher justified in stopping the printing of books that seem problematic?
I understand the imagery by today’s standards is problematic. Most of us are civilized enough now to treat each other with respect, despite one’s race, creed, color, etc. Diversity and inclusion are common themes that we strive for in our current society. However, we must understand that society was different back when these books were first published. It’s not only a history lesson, but a teachable moment. It’s a reminder to us and our children that we’ve come this far and that we shouldn’t repeat the indiscretions of the past. They shouldn’t be removed as part of revisionist history.
In addition, those that push the buttons in this cancel culture fail to comprehend that we still have free will in this country. If one chooses not to read these books to their children because they think that it is racially insensitive, that is their choice. If someone else chooses to use these books as a learning tool, they should be allowed to do so. We are still a free country the last time I checked.
This “cancelling” is just another example of changes that no one really cared about, but the overly sensitive kicked and screamed for to get their way. Another example of this is that several school districts around the country that want to change the name of their schools from Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. These are the fathers of our country. Yes, it seems like by today’s standards, their lives were reprehensible. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important parts of American history.
The societies described in the books Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 are fictitious. When we were kids, we would tell someone “it’s a free country” when someone asked if they could do something. Remember this and the fact that freedom of speech and choice remain bedrocks of our democracy. History is something to learn from, not to cancel. Remember this. Oh and read a book and enjoy green eggs and ham pizza. That’s the whole point of today.