Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the business that preserves the author’s legacy said.The titles are:
- “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”
- “If I Ran the Zoo”
- “McElligot’s Pool”
- “On Beyond Zebra!”
- “Scrambled Eggs Super!”
- “The Cat’s Quizzer”
. . . .
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” it said.The announcement was made Tuesday, the birthday of the famed children’s book author.
. . . .
Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, is one of the best-known authors in the world, the man behind beloved classics like “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” among others. Over 650 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide, the Washington Post reported in 2015.
But Dr. Seuss had a long history of publishing racist and anti-Semitic work, spanning back to the 1920s when he was a student at Dartmouth College. There, Dr. Seuss once drew Black boxers as gorillas and perpetuated Jewish stereotypes by portraying Jewish characters as financially stingy, according to a study published in the journal “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature.”
That study, published in 2019, examined 50 books by Dr. Seuss and found 43 out of the 45 characters of color have “characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism,” or the stereotypical, offensive portrayal of Asia. The two “African” characters, the study says, both have anti-Black characteristics.
. . . .
Two specific examples, according to the study, are found in the books “The Cat’s Quizzer: Are YOU Smarter Than the Cat in the Hat?” and “If I Ran the Zoo.”
“In (“The Cat’s Quizzer”), the Japanese character is referred to as ‘a Japanese,’ has a bright yellow face, and is standing on what appears to be Mt. Fuji,” the authors wrote.
Regarding “If I Ran the Zoo,” the study points out another example of Orientalism and White supremacy.
“The three (and only three) Asian characters who are not wearing conical hats are carrying a White male on their heads in ‘If I Ran the Zoo.’ The White male is not only on top of, and being carried by, these Asian characters, but he is also holding a gun, illustrating dominance. The text beneath the Asian characters describes them as ‘helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant’ from ‘countries no one can spell,'” the study authors wrote.
Link to the rest at CNN
PG doesn’t question the commercial decision that lead to this action and other similar cessations of publication, but he is annoyed by the accompanying school-marmish lecture that is appears to be designed to educate the unwashed masses concerning the right way of looking at and thinking about nearly everything.
PG would have preferred something like, “Although these books were not deemed offensive by most Americans when they were published, times and community standards have changed and they are regarded as offensive by some people today. So, we’ve made the decision to cease publication of these books. We think that Dr. Seuss would agree with this decision if he were alive today.”
PG will note that the OP describes now-offensive behavior of Seuss/Geisel when he was a student at Dartmouth one hundred years ago.
For those visitors to TPV from outside the United States, Dartmouth is a prestigious academic institution and a member of the Ivy League, which includes some of the most respected and highly-ranked colleges and universities in the country.
Presumably, we know of the Dartmouth creations of Seuss/Geisel because they were published at the time. PG is not an expert concerning Seuss/Geisel or Dartmouth, but he is not aware that Seuss/Geisel was expelled from Dartmouth or was condemned by the faculty or his fellow students for his behavior and creative output at that time.
One of the now-condemned Dr. Seuss books, If I Ran the Zoo, was published by Random House, a major New York publisher, and an undoubted “curator of the literary culture” in the United States.
Random House was co-founded by Bennett Cerf (Columbia, 1919, 1920), who became a well-known and respected public figure and television celebrity in this country.
Cerf was instrumental in obtaining publishing contracts with a large number of highly-successful and respected authors, including William Faulkner (Nobel Prize, 1949), John O’Hara, Eugene O’Neill, James Michener and Truman Capote.
In 1933, Cerf won United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, a landmark court case against government censorship, and thereafter Cerf and Random House were the first in the United States to publish James Joyce’s unabridged Ulysses, which had been previously declared as pornographic and banned from publication. Pornography was a previous generation’s version of what is sometimes described as political incorrectness today.
Here is the Random House’ s description of If I Ran the Zoo from the Amazon listing for the book:
Animals abound in Dr. Seuss’s Caldecott Honor–winning picture book If I Ran the Zoo. Gerald McGrew imagines the myriad of animals he’d have in his very own zoo, and the adventures he’ll have to go on in order to gather them all. Featuring everything from a lion with ten feet to a Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dill, this is a classic Seussian crowd-pleaser. In fact, one of Gerald’s creatures has even become a part of the language: the Nerd!
Here is the Amazon.com Review of If I Ran the Zoo:
“It’s a pretty good zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew, “and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too.” But if Gerald ran the zoo, the New Zoo, McGrew Zoo, he’d see to making a change or two: “So I’d open each cage. I’d unlock every pen, let the animals go, and start over again.” And that’s just what Gerald imagines, as he travels the world in this playfully illustrated Dr. Seuss classic (first published back in 1950), collecting all sorts of beasts “that you don’t see every day.” From the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant to the blistering sands of the Desert of Zind, Gerald hunts down every animal imaginable (“I’ll catch ’em in countries no one can spell, like the country of Motta-fa-Potta-fa-Pell”). Whether it’s a scraggle-foot Mulligatawny or a wild-haired Iota (from “the far western part of south-east North Dakota”), Gerald amazes the world with his new and improved zoo: “This Zoo Keeper, New Keeper’s simply astounding! He travels so far that you think he would drop! When do you suppose this young fellow will stop?”
But Gerald’s weird and wonderful globe-trotting safari doesn’t end a moment too soon: “young McGrew’s made his mark. He’s built a zoo better than Noah’s whole Ark!” Some of the text and illustrations–imaginative as they are–are obviously dated, such as the following passage: “I’ll hunt in the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant/ With helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant,/ And capture a fine fluffy bird called the Bustard/ Who only eats custard with sauce made of mustard.” And your children may be the first to recognize that attitudes have changed since the xenophobic ’50s. But that doesn’t mean this tale need be discarded; instead, it should be discussed. Ironically, Seuss was trying here–in his wild, explosive, and sometimes careless manner–to celebrate the joys of unconventionality and the bliss of liberation! (Ages 4 to 8)
PG has gone on for too long, but he predicts that, in the long-standing tradition of human nature, one hundred years in the future, someone, somewhere will be loudly condemning the unforgiveable insensitivity and primitive stupidity of the clods and Neanderthals of 2021.