g-man posted:winetarelli posted:
I had to double check that it wasn’t The Onion.
Dr seuss certainly had a change of heart later on in his career, (as all intelligent folks i hope would) from my understanding of his still fascinating story of how he came about writing and drawing. Horton hear's a who though was most certainly satirical representation of racism, as you can see his later political newsprint sketches showing what he really felt.
However there is no question how he originally felt about foreignors earlier on in his career and i can certainly see being caught up in a real war, the pull of nationalism is quite strong.
Personally, i don't think it's fair to either dr. seuss nor many of history's most famous authors by viewing them with a modern 20/20 hindsight without understanding the context in which the story was being told. The stories are there to be told, but on the flip side, there's nothing wrong with requesting current teachers to explain about stereotyping and /or prejudices that went on during the period the story was written.
Most Dr. Seuss books are about inclusion and tolerance or other liberal values. I’m thinking of The Lorax (environmentalism), The Butter Battle Book (world peace and non-demonization of other cultures, as well as being opposed to nuclear weapons), Green Eggs and Ham (experimentation), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (love and inclusion over consumerism), The Cat in the Hat (an ode to mischief). And, of course, you point out that Horton Hears a Who is broadly understood and intended as anti-racist. (His wartime work is obviously an issue and I am very thankful he had a change of heart. But, of course, it is easy enough not to show children books with gross representations of Asians. I’m not certain anything he did in that regard is in the canon.)
Of his canonical work, I do question whether whatever people think they see in some of his most beloved books is there; or even if it is (narrator: it isn’t), if it would ever be picked up by a 6 year old, especially in light of all the positive and overt messages of his books.
Some literature is genuinely racist. But anyone can find anything “problematic” if looking. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t terrible racism still in the country. Just today, for example, the U.S. Justice Department is declining to persue civil rights charges against the Tulsa cop who shot and killed an unarmed Black man with his hands up — and it is caught on video. Racism and xenophobia, generally, but specifically anti-Black racism is the greatest challenge/threat/problem in this country, imo. Well, that and this President and his enablers. (Hasn’t directly caused a catastrophe yet, but his assaults on decency, tolerance and inclusion, truth, the free press, coherent thought, civil rights, and hisobvious desire for dictatorial rule are... problematic.) But spending energy dissecting these children’s books, at least most of which have overt messages of love, experimentation, and inclusion, to me says a lot more about the person writing the article than about Dr. Seuss.