why ban Dr. Seuss?

May 4, 2021

~ Disclaimer: There is nudity and talk about racism in this post. Adult content.

I know I’m a little behind in posting this, I have been working on this for a while. Not constantly, when ever I had a few minutes here or there. I really didn’t want to rush it, give myself time to digest the information. I also wanted to let the dust settle on the issue, so to speak. It is what it is…

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

(pinterest)

I get it, not all of Dr. Seuss’ books have been “banned”, so to speak. It was actually the publishing company that pulled certain books off the shelf – or stopped printing them. I guess enough people complained about them, to pull them off the shelves.

All images are from Pinterest.

Scrambled Eggs Super!

by Dr. Seuss

List of Dr. Seuss books that have been “banned”…

  • And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937)
  • McElligot’s Pool (1947)
  • If I Ran the Zoo (1950)
  • Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953)
  • On Beyond Zebra! (1955)
  • The Cat’s Quizzer (1976)
    (Dr Seuss: Which Books of the Writer Have Been Banned and Why? (ibtimes.sg))
The Cat's Quizzer by Dr. Seuss (1976)

The Cat’s Quizzer

Are YOU smarter than the
Cat in the Hat?

by Dr. Seuss

(pinterest)

The books in the list above have been taken off the shelves because they are deemed racist or insensitive. Joe Biden even pulled these books off the reading list for “Read Across America” day, which is March 2 (annually) and is a day to celebrate reading and Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The company that publishes Dr. Seuss’ books states that they pulled the books because those books were “hurtful and wrong”. (Why canceling Dr. Seuss is a threat to all evangelicals – The Christian Post)

  • The New York Times claims that images portray a Chinaman with lines for eyes, wearing a pointed hat and carrying chopsticks in its hands (And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street)
  • another book depicts the African island of “Yerka” as shirtless, shoeless, and resembling monkeys (?)
  • National Review notes that another book was targeted for depicting an Eskimo
  • National Review also notes that another book was targeted for depicting an Arab-looking man

In all honesty, how do you depict a “China-person”, an Eskimo, or an Arab-looking man – without using some characterizations? Is it insensitive to do that? If you were writing a story and were trying to describe a person from Russia, Alaska, or Mexico, how would you describe them? Is it racist to do such a thing?

On Beyond Zebra

by Dr. Seuss

All of Dr. Seuss’ books that have been banned or discontinued have been put on the list for perceived racism/insensitive imagery. The key word is “perceived”… In all the years I’ve been reading Dr. Seuss – yes, I still read his books to this day – I never thought any of them depicted racism, or that the author was racist. Quite the opposite, I always thought the books were imaginative, silly, and often times teaching some sort of lesson. Take the Lorax for example – it teaches us to think about our world, and how our actions – or our inactions – may affect it. Or The Sneetches, which teaches not to discriminate.

““During the same decade The Cat in the Hat was published,
Dr. Seuss was both speaking out against racism and recycling racist caricature in his books,”
Nell told The Post. “
(Why These 6 Books Were Cancelled By the Dr. Seuss Estate | Fatherly)

Not my words, obviously, but I found the quote interesting to say the least. I don’t believe what I quoted to be true either, just someone’s opinion. A few people screamed loud enough to cause a stir. That’s all, because, if a book wasn’t any good or really was racist it wouldn’t sell. And the author, any author, wants copies to sell. If a parent thought the book wasn’t a good choice for their child they wouldn’t buy it. Money speaks…but in this case, the few got away with pulling books that didn’t necessarily need to be pulled. In my opinion.

The Cat’s Quizzer: There are some images that could be considered “sensitive”, but it’s art and should be considered as such. In my opinion. There is a depiction of a man that could resemble Hitler, another of a Japanese person, The Cat in the Hat eating with chopsticks. Could these images be considered racist? Or insensitive? Maybe. Art is in the eye of the beholder, what I might find offensive may not be to another. Or the other way around. If someone is offended by art, I really hope they never step foot in any museum…around every corner might be something offensive.

I’ll tell you a story, this happened to me a few years ago, when my son was in elementary school. I was going to school at Shepherd University in West Virginia and had to go to an art museum in D.C. and write a report on one of the pieces/artists. I had to do this several times, but on this occasion, my friend and her son – who was in kindergarten – wanted to tag along. I can’t remember exactly which art museum we visited, but they were displaying classical art – a lot of nudity. Around the corner was a naked man statue, the artwork on the wall was of a naked woman and a baby. Around the corner, a statue of a man and a woman – naked – embracing each other. Everywhere – nakedness. My friend wasn’t too happy, or very comfortable. It didn’t take long for them to leave the building. She didn’t like that her son had been exposed to nakedness and if she had known she wouldn’t have tagged along with her son. She asked me why I had chosen that art museum, I didn’t have much of a choice as I had to write my report on a piece from that museum. (The teachers let the students know that they knew what artists/pieces were on display, we also had to produce a pamphlet from the museum.)

Classical Greek paintings
classical Greek art

My son, on the other hand, was totally comfortable with the art… sometimes totally mesmerized by a certain piece. He was older, I get that, but at the same time I was comfortable exposing him to “controversial” ideas, art, whatever. With an artist mom, he was exposed to things many others might have a problem with. When he saw two animals mating, I didn’t tell him they were playing – I told him they were mating, making babies.
The point of the story is, if it were up to people like my friend, classical artwork or anything “controversial” wouldn’t be on display at any museum, or be available for the general public to look at. I could be offended by “Crucifix in Urine” because I’m a Christian, but do I have the right to make a fuss about it? Just because you may be offended, doesn’t give you the right to ban it for everyone else.
I’m just glad she didn’t go with me to the museum where Andy Warhol – pop art – was on display. There were videos and art pieces that would’ve really made her squirm.

Anyway…

Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.

~ Stephen Chbosky
Author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I honestly don’t believe we should ban books – for the most part. Where will it stop? Is it up to me to decide what is good for you or your children? While these books, and many others, have been deleted from the bookstores and online sales (EBay), pornography, Mein Kampf, and Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book are still available for purchase. Today’s music industry is riddled with nudity, vulgar language, violence, and hate – which in my opinion is more offensive than a children’s book. But as I’ve stated before, it’s not up to me to decide what is right for you, or your children. That is your decision, and your decision alone.

great libraries contain something to offend -- mine contains a lot of 'banned' books, never understood why schools would ban books...

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.

(pinterest)

Well, that’s my opinion on the matter. And I’m sticking to it!

Hope you have a great day!
Thanks for stopping by!!

7 Comments on “why ban Dr. Seuss?

  1. We are such a completely soft society headed for a very hard destination… swallowing camels and straining on gnats.

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