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Cancelling Dr. Seuss

Southern Poverty Law Center says Sneetch cross-belly friendship is problematic

This is not funny anymore. These berserkers are like Maoist Red Guards:

I get it. You grew up on Dr. Seuss. I did too! It’s probably safe to assume that most people did and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But we have to recognize that two things can be true at the same time:

Dr. Seuss is a prolific children’s book author and global icon. And Dr. Seuss has a history of racial baggage that educators should understand when introducing his writing to their students.

If you’re thinking you need to burn your favorite copy of The Sneetches or The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, I’d really rather that you didn’t—we’re all about environmental safety here. If you’re thinking you need to have some important conversations with your students? You’re absolutely right.

Gosh, Social Justice Warrior, how bad is Dr. Seuss’s racism?

It’s actually pretty bad. The researchers behind this study set out to address “a gap in Seuss literature by revealing how racism spans across the entire Seuss collection.” Responding to the idea that Geisel was simply a product of his time, they disagree. “[N]ot all White people ‘of his time’ engaged in overt racism or used their platforms to disseminate racist narratives and images nationally and globally, as he did,” they argue. “There are White people throughout history, and of his generation, who actively resisted racism and risked their lives and careers to stand up against it.”

Their main focus, however, is pushing back against the idea that his children’s books are free from bigotry. The researchers surveyed 50 Dr. Seuss books and concluded that, “of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are forty-five characters of color representing 2% of the total number of human characters.” Of the 45 characters, 43 exhibited behaviors and appearances that align with harmful and stereotypical Orientalist tropes. The remaining two human characters “are identified in the text as ‘African’ and both align with the theme of anti-Blackness.” It’s also important to note that each of the non-white characters is male and that they are all “presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanized roles,” especially in their relation to white characters.

But what about the Sneetches? Turns out that they’re not human, but they’re still RACIST!

In light of this new information, you may wonder about Dr. Seuss books featuring non-human characters. At Teaching Tolerance, we’ve even featured anti-racist activities built around the Dr. Seuss book The Sneetches. But when we re-evaluated, we found that the story is actually not as “anti-racist” as we once thought. And it has some pretty intricate layers you and your students might consider, too.

The solution to the story’s conflict is that the Plain-Belly Sneetches and Star-Bellied Sneetches simply get confused as to who is oppressed. As a result, they accept one another. This message of “acceptance” does not acknowledge structural power imbalances. It doesn’t address the idea that historical narratives impact present-day power structures. And instead of encouraging young readers to recognize and take action against injustice, the story promotes a race-neutral approach.

This message of “acceptance” does not acknowledge structural power imbalances.

These people really are monsters, and I’m not kidding. The outfit is called “Learning For Justice” — it was “Teaching For Tolerance,” but tolerance, they explain, was too mushy. It is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and has some influential partners.

How do you know if your kids are getting this garbage taught to them in their schools? Shouldn’t you check? What kind of sicko ruins a kid’s childhood by teaching her that the Sneetches are racist? What kind of monster tells kids that acceptance of others is wicked because it might make people care for each other across social divides?

See, this is why I say it’s not funny. There’s a malicious Marxist message here. These progressives are preparing the country for class war and race war, and maybe even civil war.

UPDATE: You think I’m being hysterical here? Have you ever raised children? If not, you can’t imagine how important books are in filling the imaginations of children. These SPLC people are teaching teachers to judge children’s literature by left-wing political categories. When I talk about soft totalitarianism, this is a good example of it.

From Live Not By Lies:

Vladimir Grygorenko and Olga Rusanova, husband and wife, immigrated from Ukraine to the United States in the year 2000 and now live in Texas. They tell me that if you grow up in a culture of lies, as they did, you don’t know that life could be any other way.

“The general culture taught you doublethink,” says Vladimir. “That was normal life.”

“In high school and middle school, we had to write essays, like normal school kids do,” says Olga. “But you never could write what you think about the subject. Never, ever. The subject could be interesting, but you never can say what you really think. You have to find some way to relate it to the communist point of view.”

This part of our interview didn’t make the editorial cut for the book, but Olga elaborated that history was taught in such a way that every incident in world history had to be shoehorned into the communist mold. For example, all of history had to be taught as Marx said: as the history of class struggle. The SPLC and its supporters are promulgating the reading of story books as the history of a struggle for power, including between races. Children are taught that it is wrong to think that people can be friendly across identity-politics frontiers. Remember, what distinguishes totalitarianism from mere authoritarianism is that under the former, politics is not only monopolized by one party or ruler (as in authoritarianism), but is also forced into every nook and cranny of life. From Live Not By Liesagain:

One of contemporary progressivism’s commonly used phrases—the personal is political—captures the totalitarian spirit, which seeks to infuse all aspects of life with political consciousness. Indeed, the Left pushes its ideology ever deeper into the personal realm, leaving fewer and fewer areas of daily life uncontested. This, warned Arendt, is a sign that a society is ripening for totalitarianism, because that is what totalitarianism essentially is: the politicization of everything.

Infusing every aspect of life with ideology was a standard aspect of Soviet totalitarianism. Early in the Stalin era, N. V. Krylenko, a Soviet commissar (political officer), steamrolled over chess players who wanted to keep politics out of the game.

“We must finish once and for all with the neutrality of chess,” he said. “We must condemn once and for all the formula ‘chess for the sake of chess,’ like the formula ‘art for art’s sake.’ We must organize shockbrigades of chess-players, and begin immediate realization of a Five-Year Plan for chess.”

Along those lines, a reader writes this morning:

I ran into this Clubhouse discussion on Twitter and it crystalised for me the end point of CRT and Wokeism. Perhaps you have seen it already.
I didn’t listen to the whole thing because it is five hours long. But at 2 hours 3 minutes the moderation is taken over by a woman named “Brooklyn”.
Up to that moment it was moderated by and what appear to be mostly White woke liberals discussing and earnestly struggling with understanding what Wokeism is, the plight of blacks in America etc.
But then at 2:03 the reactionary Frankenstein monster they have created comes into play. During a “reset” moderation is taken over by “ Brooklyn” who announces “ White People to the back immediately” They are to remain silent, they can’t even discuss the topic because Whites have no standing, no qualification or credibility to even participate. She says “ white wokeism is a savior complex”.
It struck me, this is where wokesim leads, straight into a hell of what one twitter commentator called “a compassionless narcissism” and outright racism.
There is no understanding because understanding is not possible. Everything is reduced to a power struggle. (That is what Marxism is).
Wokeism denies the transcendent possibility of human beings, it offers no hope for improvement, no meeting in the middle. Try as you might you are destined to fail. It does not appeal as MLK did to ideal we should strive for and imperfectly achieve, or God’s law written in our hearts. Woekism does not even pose the question of what we are created for. It is a form of nihilism.
Wokeism/CRT does not give us hope or lead to forgiveness and reconciliation. It does not point to the eternal but to the earth, specifically the dirt humans have made, and then rubs all our faces in it forever.
It seems to me, in my simple understanding, that this is Nietzsche’s idea of will to power embodied, a means of forcing one’s conception of reality on everyone. It is what Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn and many others warn about ( I have been reading much Doestoevsky and Solzhenitsyn in the last year).
It is a dangerous path to go down because it really leads to hell.
First they came for the Sneetches…
UPDATE.3: In case you missed it, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the parent of Learning For Justice, recently decided as a formal matter not to care so much about black race hatred, saying it’s kind of justified. So now we have Good Race Hatred (that is, when propagated by black people) and Bad Race Hatred (when propagated by non-black people). Good to get that leared.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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