Refusing to Print Dr. Seuss Books Has Nothing to Do With Combating Racism

March 4, 2021 Updated: March 5, 2021

Commentary

From book burning, to book banning, to now refusing to print classic books, censorship is a divisive battle. Children’s literature is especially under attack. Instead of laughing at well-intentioned themes meant to engage young readers and instill a love of learning through reading, or updating illustrations to better suit modern sensitivities, woke culture has deemed six specific Dr. Seuss titles “racist.”

On the trail for social justice, schools, libraries, and even the Dr. Seuss Museum itself has removed specific content linked to the infamous children’s book author and illustrator. Because of growing sentiment that we must repress anything that could even remotely be somewhat considered “racist,” a decision was recently made to no longer print six Dr. Seuss titles.

These titles include his first title, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” a book where his depictions of everyone in the story are caricatures. They’re meant to be seen from a small boy’s imagination. They’re not supposed to be realistic. They’re meant to be silly.

Some people will argue that there’s nothing funny about drawing someone a certain way. These are the same people who include “McElligot’s Pool” on the list of books no longer to be printed.

In this story, the main character, Marco, sits at a small pool that holds nothing but garbage and imagines all the fish that could live there. It’s a rare gem that encourages children to look past pollution, skepticism, and see what could be if only we dreamed of it.

This book has two human characters: A farmer who laughs at Marco, and Marco himself. Neither are “racist,” but I guess the issue that some people take with this particular work is that that fish themselves “look” racist? That’s quite a stretch. They’re fish, not people. They are, again, meant to be a silly caricature, because these are creatures living in a little boy’s imagination, not the actual pool.

It’s quite an intuitive story that encourages readers to look for positivity even in sad, shallow places. That is a profound message being ripped out of many stories nowadays.

Like “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “McElligot’s Pool” is now a casualty of ignorance. Many of those decrying Dr. Seuss books don’t even have children. Nor do they understand simile, metaphor, or wishful thinking. These are all elements needed for proper critical thinking (which is being pushed out of school curriculums).

Dr. Seuss Enterprises says it is “committed to listening and learning” and will keep reviewing their portfolio.

This all started a few years ago when a Twitter mob started complaining about an illustration in “If I ran the Zoo.” It depicts an African person in another imaginative caricature, but context doesn’t matter when mob rule destroys literature. They don’t care why, they don’t care how, they just want those books destroyed, “Now! Now! Now!”

If we truly wished to combat racism, and even possibly eradicate it, we would use these books to talk about our cultures, how and why they differ, and focus on our similarities. The continuous tirades in cancel culture do the opposite. Attacking innocent people, books, and businesses has not destroyed the “racism.” If anything it has spread it.

Instead of working through our issues together, as psychologists would suggest, movements of online activists continuously harass individuals and industries until they cave. The problem with that is it doesn’t resolve the underlying issue, nor does it change anyone’s mind.

The six Dr. Seuss books in question are sold out everywhere. People are buying them online for hundreds of dollars because they’re now a commodity.

These books weren’t written to perpetuate “racism,” and if the illustrations depicted within some of the pages are offensive, why not just revise them? Why remove the stories entirely?

Because removal allows ignorance. Ignorance is a weakness that can be controlled and manipulated. Once again, the people who are unable to fully understand the meaning of an aged work beyond their modern preconceived notions are allowing their own ignorance to be manipulated by movements and political figures who have a lot to gain by pitting us against each other.

Just as burning books and banning books divided people, so too does refusing to print books. Instead of destroying already printed books or refusing to allow them in public, we’re now aborting them before they have a chance to grow in the minds of readers. It’s the same divide and conquer tactic that humanity has experienced for ages, it’s just been re-branded.

The Dr. Seuss books in question may now be out of print, but the ideas remain. We can’t forget the power of our own imaginations. That’s something Dr. Seuss emphasized in every one of his works.

Jessica Marie Baumgartner is a homeschooling mother of four and the author of two award-winning children’s books.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.