Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! You’re Cancelled, You Racist.

Suess birthday

Today is Dr. Theodore Geisel’s birthday. Better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such classic children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Horton Hears A Who,” and my personal favorite, “Fox in Socks” because it drives my wife crazy, was born this day in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904. Geisel, who used his middle name and his mother’s maiden name as his nom de plume, wrote 48 books (even some for adults). His work has now sold over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. His style of verse and illustrating have been imitated and parodied countless times. Jesse Jackson even read “Green Eggs and Ham” on Saturday Night Live.

Nobody ever thought of Dr. Seuss books as “racist” until recent fads, events , cancel culture and The Great Stupid washed over the land. Well, OK, not “nobody.” Ethics Alarms had a post about the Seuss Museum in Springfield cutting a piece out of a Dr. Seuss mural because three prominent children’s authors who had been invited to attend the Children’s Literature Festival at the Museum threatened to boycott the event on the theory that the mural, painted to replicate a scene from Dr. Seuss’s first book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,”  was, they claimed, offensive. It had, said one of the grandstanding hysterics, a “jarring image” of a man with slanted eyes and a coolie’s hat using chopsticks to eat rice, because, apparently, Chinese people never wore such hats, don’t use chopsticks and hate rice. I wrote, while awarding the museum an Ethics Dunce designation (I’m thinking about adding a “Weenie of the Week”…what do you think?):

There is nothing racially jarring about Geisel’s painting of a “Chinaman” except to someone already looking for offense. Dr. Seuss’ drawings can be fairly termed cartoons. The definition of a cartoon is “a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way.”  What are these juvenile children book authors asserting…that all cartoons are racially insensitive? That only cartoon of non-whites are offensive?…Normal Americans, meanwhile, understand the cartoon art form, recognize that features are exaggerated, and thus do not take drawings like those by Dr. Seuss (or Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons) as literal or malicious.

Well, silly me. I thought this was just a one-off moment of woke insanity: I have since learned that the Woke never sleep. In the post, I referenced “The Simpsons” and the fact that nobody had called for the elimination of Apu. Apu has since been cancelled as “racially insensitive.” The show also decreed that white voice actors can no longer portray black characters, so Dr. Hibbard has a new sound. Presumably “The Simpsons” will eventually seek a low IQ hick to voice “Cletis the Slack-Jawed Yokel” and a socially awkward MIT PhD. to do the voice of Prof. Frink.

Now Dr. Seuss’s drawings are under full attack. Two years ago, on the day after Geisel’s birthday (which is also “Read Across America Day” (to be accurate, the NEA re-named it “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers” Day, because the NEA is an example of self-parody) in honor of Dr. Seuss and his positive impact on children, the progressive indoctrination group (I’m tired of pussy-footing around), published a magazine article accusing his books of perpetuating racial stereotypes and showing minorities in “subservient roles.” The article based its position on a study in which researchers examined 50 children’s books and 2,200 characters created by Dr. Seuss. “Their findings were shocking,” the article says.

Hardly. The researchers were all non-white, “from groups that were often on the receiving end of racial attacks in Geisel’s early work and in some of his children’s books,” and the objective of the study was to show that Dr. Seuss books are racist. This is called a researcher bias, so of course the researchers “proved” what they were looking for. The study was sponsored by that towering giant of social science research, St. Catherine University,

Last month, citing this single study, Loudon County schools in my Northern Virginia back yard announced that they were de-emphasizing the Dr. Seuss books, saying in part,

“Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate ‘Read Across America Day’ in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard…As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss.”

Make that a single study by unknown researchers at a publicity-seeking college, but never mind. The current fashion dictates that calling the work of white authors and artists racist is inherently fair and appropriate because a habitually brutal white cop in Minnesota abused a black perp while be was resisting arrest and over-dosing on fentanyl. It’s completely reasonable.

Today, on Geisel’s birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that it will stop publishing six of his books that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong…because of racist and insensitive imagery.” The now banned books include “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the company said. This came from the organization that is supposedly protecting the legacy of Dr. Seuss. It’s funny: when I read the item about the Loudon schools, I searched my memory banks to recall my favorite Dr. Seuss books from my childhood. They were “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” and “If I Ran the Circus.”

I’m sure the last one slipped by the censors by accident and will be erased in due course.

I understand that once one accepts the premise that any works of art and literature from the past must be excised from the culture (to avoid upsetting those who have been conditioned or encouraged to be wounded and traumatized at anything that doesn’t comply with the narrowest and most restrictive ideological constraints) Dr. Seuss would become an inviting target. Here, for example, is a section from “If I Ran the Zoo”:

If I ran the zoo

However, he logic behind banning a book with such caricatures dictates that all cartoons of human beings must be considered offensive. As I wrote in the earlier post, I am not offended by the grotesque caricature of the  bald, white man that is Homer Simpson, and I assume that people of other races and nationalities have, as I do, sufficient perspective not to suffer self-esteem and paranoia attacks when they see caricatures of  their race or ethnicity. I also expect them to be responsible parents and to teach their offspring not to look for reasons to be offended, because life stinks that way.

But, alas, this is The Great Stupid. The cancelling of Dr. Seuss is a small part of the Mao-like cultural destruction going on around us. The only hope is if Americans push back, eloquently and hard, while refusing to be intimidated by accusations of racism aimed at them.

19 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! You’re Cancelled, You Racist.

  1. I much preferred Curious George as a kid and probably still do. My then twenty-something son and the magazine staff he managed, for whom I copy edited, used to refer to me as “The Man in the Big Yellow Hat.”

  2. Remember when some school librarian insulted Melania Trump for sending some Seuss books her way and spitefully added something along the lines of “Dr. Suess was a racist, you know”. This has been building for awhile. They aren’t done with Seuss anymore than they are done with Laura Ingalls Wilder or any other beloved cultural slices of Americana.

  3. Wonder how long it will take Merriam-Webster to change the definition of protection to ‘erasing from history because some people claim it’s offensive’

  4. As in so many of these instances, the answer is to reduce the period for copyright protection so that it matches the 20-year patent period. The protection is intended to spur the creation of new things, not to hinder the exploitation of old ones.

  5. This is almost like the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church wanting to cancel books and TV shows merely for implying that homosexuality is only like other sins.

    The difference is that the Great Stupid has the support of academic and media elites.

    That is what makes the Geeat Stupid “Great”.

  6. Notice how none of these f*ckwits have a problem with Li’l Abner, my…um…personal favorite Daisy Mae, nor any of the other denizens of Dogpatch?

    Perhaps because, despite her diminutive stature, the town’s corn-cob-pipe-smokin’ bare knuckle Champeen (sic) spitfire Mammy “Ah Has Spoke Yokum was one tough cookie?

    Doesn’t matter; c’mon, were it a protected class/privileged group being DEPICTED the way these, and I quote: “lazy hillbillies, who usually wanted nothing to do with progress” were, the weenie-whining slobberfest would deafening.

  7. Just saw an article online that said as of this afternoon, 13 of the top 20 best-selling books listed on Amazon in the U.S. were by Dr. Seuss. We have an extensive collection, going back to our daughter’s childhood, and augmented with the birth of her children. I have been reading “Fox in Socks” to my six-year-old grandson since he was a year old (I think he liked the alliteration) and it is still a favorite. His three-year-old brother likes “Hop on Pop” better.

  8. At least cancel something that’s racially insensitive and also sucks. I wouldn’t mind if they erased that Mike Myers Cat in the Hat movie from existence.

  9. Here’s what it boils down to:

    “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” – a single mention of “A Chinaman, who eats with sticks” and possibly a rajah riding an elephant “And just to give him a little more tone, have a rajah, with rubies, perched high on a throne.”

    “If I Ran the Zoo,” – a mention of “I’ll hunt in the mountains of Zomba-ma-tant, with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.” and a stereotypical depiction of Oriental men and African natives. Also possibly the mention of the scraggle-foot Mulligatawny (actually a kind of soup) “from the blistering sands of the desert of Zind. This beast is the beast that the brave chieftains ride, when they want to go fast to find someplace to hide. A Mulligatawny is fine for my zoo, and so is a chieftain, I’ll bring one back too.” Maaaybe the brief mention of eight Persian princes.

    “McElligot’s Pool,” – Huh? There’s nothing in here that’s racist. There’s an offhand mention of Eskimo fish and fish from the tropics with appropriate illustrations, and a mention of falls in Tibet with a very imaginative illustration.

    “On Beyond Zebra!,” – the Nasim of Basim – a steretypical sheik.

    “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” Huh? I guess a group of Eskimos who jump in the Katta-ma-side to get eggs of the ice, and a stereotypical Persian named Ali who goes to get a single egg.

    “The Cat’s Quizzer.” Don’t know, never read it.

    So these are the serious sins enough to get these books pulled from circulation. Boy, are we raising a generation of sensitive snowflakes.

  10. So, as a bookseller I had a copy of Scrambled Eggs Super — not surprisingly I got one or more orders for this book on every venue I sell on, plus a phone call from a librarian in California. All told, perhaps 30 orders for that one book.

    My sister (who is a progressive) and I read the book and looked at all the drawings. Neither of us saw anything that we thought was offensive. But I think there was someone who decided Dr. Seuss needed to be cancelled and searched through his books to find things to push that agenda.

    I will say this: None of the six books, I think, were his best and best-selling books. Hopefully, if they had tried to cancel the Cat in the Hat, I think there would’ve been a much larger outcry. But you’d have thought the Seuss Foundation would have resisted this more than it appears they did.

    I did check on a couple sites for this book, at it looks like you’d need to shell out probably $300-500 for a copy now. Were I an unethical bookseller, I’d tell my one lucky buyer I didn’t have the book and relist it later for a bunch more money (and no, I won’t do that).

  11. Hey Jack,

    Not sure if you appreciate ridiculous articles, but I found this one at The Nation, where the author basically argues that all opposition to Dr. Seuss is because of racism. The author doesn’t even beat around the bush:

    “What they want is for racism to be OK. They want it to be OK for them to be racist or for their children to be racist to my children. Most of all, they want it to be okay to ignore racism and their own contributions to white supremacy as they go about their daily lives. They do not want to not think about the racism they’re imprinting just by reading a stupid bedtime story.”

    Clear, logical thought is apparently becoming outdated as well.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/dr-seuss-racism/

  12. Here’s a nuanced take that considers wide range of inherited value sets and comes to a less than predictable stance from a Conservative Christian. The text, by Albert Mohler:

    PART I

    Is Dr. Seuss Being Cancelled? Not Exactly — How Should Christians Think About Depictions of Fellow Image Bearers?

    They’re canceling Dr. Seuss. Well, at least they are delisting, no longer going to publish, six of the titles by Dr. Seuss. What does this tell us? Well, there are some deep worldview issues that are invoked here, but we’re also looking at some of the most sensitive and controversial issues of our contemporary moment.

    And the headlines about this story, the cultural conversation about the ceasing of publication of six of the Dr. Seuss titles tells us a great deal, not only about our culture and its sensitivities, its moral judgments in this age, but also as we look to the future. This means it’s actually an important story.

    Now, the substance of the issue is that the company that controls Dr Seuss’s books, it is known as Dr. Seuss Enterprises, announced just as a matter of fact, Tuesday of this week, that at the end of last year, it had made the decision voluntarily to cease publication of the six Dr. Seuss books at issue. Not only to cease publication, but also to cease licensing, which means that eventually the only copies of these books that will exist are in private or other libraries. They are no longer going to be published. You’ll no longer be able to buy them as currently published books.

    This requires some kind of explanation, but let’s go back to who we’re talking about here. Behind the Dr. Seuss books was Dr. Seuss even more properly, Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Geisel became famous, first of all, as a cartoonist in terms of political cartoons, but far more famous and far more wealthy as the bestselling author of children’s books known as the Dr. Seuss books. He took the nom de plume, the pen name of Dr. Seuss taking his middle name and using his doctorate in order to identify the author as Dr. Seuss.

    Dr. Seuss became a part of the intellectual hard wiring of many American children in successive generations. His stories, his poetry is unusual rhyme. And furthermore, the storylines of what he was dealing with, they became a part of American culture, but Dr. Seuss had influence not only in the United States and not only in the English speaking world, but far beyond.

    The New York times ran an article about this with the headline, “Six Dr. Seuss Books With Offensive Images Will Be Dropped.” Jenny Gross, the reporter for the New York times tells us six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because of their use of offensive imagery according to the business that oversees the estate of the children’s author and illustrator. Dr. Seuss, by the way, died in 1991.

    But let’s also look at the fact that as the New York Times tells us in a statement on Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said that it had decided last year to end the publication and licensing of the books by Theodor Seuss Geisel. The titles include his first book writing under pen name, Dr. Seuss, that book entitled And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. That book was published in 1937 and also the title, If I Ran The Zoo, that title from 1950, add to those two four other titles that are now going to disappear from the current Dr. Seuss catalog.

    Now, one of the things we need to know carefully is the cause given for this action and the cause is the fact that Dr. Seuss in the books used offensive and insensitive imagery. Now, there is assuredly more to it than that, but there’s not less to it than that. And as we look at this, you have headlines immediately declaring that what’s going on here is a cancel culture.

    You have others saying, “No, this is just a necessary, morally necessary updating of the Dr. Seuss catalog.” And let’s be honest here, we are looking at some really interesting issues that have deep worldview significance. For one thing, let’s just forget about the current controversy. Let’s think as Christians about the artistic and narrative depiction of fellow human beings.

    Now here’s what Christians have to understand. We are called to love God and love neighbor. We are also commanded in scripture to understand every single human being made in the image of God. We are to celebrate what God has given us in humanity. And that includes the fact that there are individuals, there are people from every tongue and tribe and people and nation, and we are also to treat all persons with respect. Now, treating people with respect means telling the truth about them. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t have fiction, but it does mean you do not use fiction in order to try to convince people of what is untrue.

    You don’t slander people. You do not dehumanize people through either the non-fiction or fiction products that end up in books or in any other kind of artistic expression, but let’s leave the literature. Let’s leave the language world for a moment and let’s go to the world of imagery. And here, the Christian worldview has some very important principles.

    As you’re thinking about artistic representations of humanity, you need to understand that for Christians, this has been a rather controversial issue for a very long time. It’s also controversial in historic Judaism. Do you represent a human being in a painting? Can you, or in a figure or a sculpture? Now, the consensus is that yes, you may do so. But the reality is that one of the early instincts of the people of the Bible was that any depiction in this sense and say the figure of a human being, what the Bible says, an English translation, the figure of a man, for example, what you find in Romans 1, it ends up transgressing the commandment against idolatry.

    And we have to understand that there’s a reason why we would think this. There is the temptation for any image of a human being to become more than an image, but the Christian worldview reminds us that there are other issues here at stake as well. The choice of how artistically to present a human being is not uncomplicated, is not uncontroversial, and that goes all the way back to early art.

    Now, just think about the fact that even as you take, say, race, ethnicity, those kinds of issues out to the picture for a moment, just consider asking the question. If someone painted you in a picture or drew a drawing of you, would you be satisfied with the painting or drawing? The fact is the history is replete with artists who have found their art thrown back at them by wealthy sponsors who did not like the artistic depiction of themselves.

    And that’s because the Christian worldview reminds us we really are operating with what is an artistic gift. And by the way, that gift to a greater and lesser extent. But the fact is that when you are looking at a representation, it is a representation of that person, but it’s not that person. That is a depiction of that individual or people, but it’s not that individual. It’s not those people. And thus, to some degree, it involves the essence, the individuality, the artistic ability, the subjectivity of the artist, as well as the subject or subjects who are being depicted in the art.

    Now, let’s just say that that’s a complicated procedure. The same issue that means that you might not like the photograph of yourself, much less the drawing or painting of yourself or the statue of yourself. If you take that issue writ large, there are entire people groups who do not like their depictions. And sometimes this is justified.

    All you have to do is look at the history of artistic depiction and say, just use the word propaganda to understand that intentional distortions of human beings have often taken the form of what’s been called art, or at least graphic representation, especially visual representations. Now I started out with language and I turned to imagery because frankly, those are not the same.

    As you’re dealing with imagery, you are almost automatically inevitably dealing with the difficulty of what it means to respect someone, what it means to honor someone, what it means to honor the truth about someone. If you’re going to put an image out that is supposed to depict that individual, or for that matter, that people group, however defined. It is inherently complex. It’s also morally risky.

    Now a lot of conservatives have immediately jumped on the announcement concerning Dr. Seuss and said, this is just another example of cancel culture. Well, it sort of is and it sort of isn’t. I mean, just to be honest, I think most of those who are complaining about the removal of the books would feel a bit uncomfortable if they actually looked at the books themselves. They’re likely to feel uncomfortable, not in the sense that Dr. Seuss or Theodor Seuss Geisel was an evil person or that everything he produced was tainted by some kind of evil, but that as you look at these particular depictions, there’s an historical context and that context, turns out to be something that might make all of us cringe a bit.

    To say this, it’s almost impossible to imagine that a book with those same depictions could possibly be published in the United States by any kind of major publisher today. It’s actually unlikely. I think that a lot of Christian parents would want to put some of these depictions in the hands or the images in the minds of their own children.

    Now that should warn us from immediately jumping on this as if all that’s here at issue is cancel culture. Now, again, cancel culture is here. We’re going to look at how it’s operating in this case, but we also have to understand that we do take responsibility for our use of, or even our enjoyment of our reception of certain kinds of images. Now I mentioned historical context because every art, every piece of literature, yes, but every artistic expression has an historical context.

    The historical context of so much of the controversy about Dr. Seuss has a great deal to do with World War II. It has a great deal to do with the fact that before he became a children’s author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist. He was then simply known as Theodor Geisel, but in his cartoons that were published before and during and after World War II, there were racist depictions. I don’t know that there’s any question about that. And some of these were fueled by the war themselves.

    Now, in order to understand that, you have to look at even the propaganda war that took place on all sides of World War II, particularly in the Axis powers, primarily there, Nazi, Germany and Imperial Japan, but also the allies fighting against the Axis powers. In the United States, even the war posters, the propaganda posters, the advertising that would have been quite familiar to Americans during the period of World War II. They would be quite concerning to Americans now, but here’s where Christians have to understand. That historical context is really important.

    That doesn’t mean that the historical context justifies any kind of artistic misrepresentation. It does mean that the historical context helps to explain. Now sin being sin and the urgencies of World War II. And let’s also understand Americans took the sudden invasion of Pearl Harbor with great personal affrontery. And that meant that Imperial Japan became the enemy. They became the enemy because it attacked the United States.

    There’s a complicated picture behind that, but there can be no question that Japanese military expansionism led to what became World War II in the Pacific, and that there was an unprovoked attack upon Pearl Harbor. And furthermore, Japan then, and now is one of the most ethnically singular nations on Earth. That is to say it’s one of the least ethnically and racially diverse cultures or countries on Earth period.

    Under the pressure of war stereotypes came very much to the fore. And by the way, that’s on all sides of the conflict. That doesn’t make it any more morally appropriate. It does put an historical context the fact that objectifying the enemy is one of the casualties of war. There is no doubt that the objectification of the enemy, and this means not only amongst those who fight the war, but the civilians who are supporting the war and sacrificing for the war, this became very much a part of the era.

    Now, what does that mean? Well, it does mean that if you’re going to understand, just to take an example, America or Britain, or the Soviet Union in the period of the second World War, you’re going to see all kinds of depictions that will be very, very offensive. But then even as you take that to the next level, if you look at the racist, caricatures and depictions that were apart of official Nazi propaganda under the Nazi regime. That’s going to take on an exponentially greater concern because at this point it’s not just talking about nations at war and enemy. It’s talking about the final solution, the Holocaust, and the intentional design of the Nazis to eliminate all of the Jewish people from the face of the Earth, most importantly, and primarily from the face of Europe.

    Now we hear these days about the wrong of objectifying a human being, but that’s a biblical understanding of wrong. That’s not a word that’s used in the Bible, but mistreating human beings by objectifying whether in pornography or some kind of racist depiction or some kind of cartoonish exaggeration. Well, the fact is there is a warning against objectifying human beings, using human beings, misrepresenting human beings. That should be a Christian impulse.

    And we do understand that again, there’s risk in every single painting. There’s a risk in every single drawing, but let’s also understand there is more risk in the kind of illustrations that Dr Seuss was famous for in his books, the kind of illustrations that really became his livelihood in the period before he wrote the books. Let’s just say this, political cartoons intentionally take some form of exaggeration of a human representation in order both to poke fun and to identify individuals.

    Political cartoons aren’t nice. Just think of the exaggerations about political figures, most of us would be quite offended by most of those representations. But when objectification takes the form of objectifying an entire people group on racial characteristics or appearance or skin color, well at that point, we understand that if that is intentionally misrepresented and exaggerated, if it is objectified in a sense that we understand to be demeaning, then we, as Christians should oppose it, period.

    Better to have no paintings or drawings of human beings than those that communicate evil and untruth and disrespect. So the bottom line, when it comes to these six books by Dr. Seuss, and I’m actually familiar only with two of them, the two that are mentioned by the New York Times, I’m going to say that Dr. Seuss Enterprises was probably actually acting, not so much out of a moral impulse. They were probably embarrassed by the titles, but out of a commercial self-protection, because frankly, it’s going to be very, very controversial for the company to try to keep some of those books in the catalog.

    PART II

    Cancel Culture, the Judgment of Successive Generations, and a Tale of Two Presidents: Dr. Seuss Removed from Read Across America Day

    But what about cancel culture? Is that what’s going on here? Well, not technically when it comes to removing or ceasing publication of those six books, but cancel culture is here. And here’s what we need to note. Where in the culture this is now going? In fact, what’s already happened now, in order to get to that, let me tell you something of a tale of two presidents, and we’re not going to talk about a Democrat and Republican. Let’s just talk about two Democrats, the two most recent Democrats to sit in the oval office.

    Let’s talk about Barack Obama elected in 2008. And let’s talk about Joe Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice-president and President Biden elected of course, in 2020. Why those two presidents? Because we’re really looking at a seismic shift and we’re really looking at how the cancel culture works when we take public events of those two presidents. And we don’t have to go back to the beginning of the Obama term, we go back to 2015.

    So we’re just talking about six years ago. We’re not talking about a millennium. We’re not talking about a generation. We’re talking about six years. What’s the difference? We’ll six years ago, you had the first lady, then Michelle Obama welcoming The Cat In The Hat to the white house for the celebration of Read Across America Day. That Read Across America Day was actually timed on the calendar to be at least close to the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel.

    But you had Dr. Seuss right in the forefront in 2015, The Cat In The Hat, his most famous character was actually appearing in costume at the White House. It was a part of Michelle Obama, the first lady celebration of reading for children, her encouragement to children to read. And Dr. Seuss was right at the center. As Dr. Seuss was associated with the Read Across America Day from the very beginning.

    That was 2015, but then fast forward to 2021, and guess who’s absent from Read Across America Day? You got that right, Dr. Seuss. It’s not just Dr. Seuss’s books that aren’t going to be published as that Dr. Seuss is effectively here, himself being associated as an evil character whose works simply shouldn’t be a part of American culture today. The same kind of impulse has been directed against people, such as Mark Twain, people such as Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    And in one sense, this represents some kind of effort, some kind of ambition to sever the present from the past because if you are looking at the history of literature, you’re going to find offensive. You’re going to find morally wrong realities. That’s just a fact, as you’re looking at art, as you’re looking at literature, as you’re looking at just about any kind of human representation or human depiction, any kind of human art. As you look through human history, you’re going to find some really offensive, really wrong, really untrue realities. But those are also a part of our culture one way or the other, and any responsible culture has to deal with those depictions in truth.

    Furthermore, we have to have some category and Christians do have, I think, a category here for understanding how you have successive generations who do understand the sins of fathers and mothers, but still honor them as fathers and mothers. We do have ancestors. We can’t be here without ancestors. Those ancestors will have feet of clay, but they also have established a patrimony and a matrimony, without which we would not have a culture at all. We wouldn’t have a language. We wouldn’t have literature. We wouldn’t have books. We wouldn’t have art. We wouldn’t have museums, wouldn’t have anything.

    The Christian worldview doesn’t call for, doesn’t even justify an indiscriminate embrace of the past. Of course not, just read the Old Testament. You don’t even have to get to the New Testament just read in the old Testament where you see people correcting and identifying, lamenting the sins of fathers, forefathers, previous generations.

    They’re not simply erased. They’re not forgotten. They’re a part of the Holy Spirit inspired word of God. We read about the heroic acts of the patriarchs. We read about their sins as well. This includes the Kings of Israel and Judah. To make the point, it’s true about the Bible. It’s true about the New Testament as well. You have human sin, the sin of Saul before he became Paul, it is not hidden. You had the betrayal of Peter. It is not hidden.

    In fact, the Bible gives us adequate understanding to know how we are to honor, and to own the past without doing so uncritically, without any kind of theological or moral lens. But we also have to understand that if the Lord delays, we will also be judged by successive generations.

    Now you have people on the left who say, “That means you have to get on the right side of history.” But of course, we’re Christians. We got to say, “No, we got to get on the right side of Scripture. You’ve got to get on the right side of truth.” And because there is going to be a judgment far beyond the judgment of succeeding generations, and that’s the judgment of God himself.

    And that means that every single idle thought, every single word, every single deed is going to be accountable. And so is every single cartoon, every single novel, every single children’s book, every single illustration. All the human beings touch is moral because God made us moral.

    It turns out that in 2018, the National Education Association broke the relationship with Dr. Seuss because Dr. Seuss is now radioactive to many on the left because he had indeed been the author of these books. But you have to understand that when I was a teenager and a young adult, Dr. Seuss was also famous then, but as a man of the left, of a moral, progressive. And he was celebrated by the liberals and progressives of that era. He was read by many people who weren’t liberal at all. Green Eggs And Ham, Are You My Mother?, Go, Dog. Go! Many of those aren’t political at all.

    But at the same time, Dr. Seuss did write political books and they were written from the vantage point of the left. He wrote books against war. He was basically something of a passivist. He wrote books against dictatorship. He wrote books against discrimination. But you’ll notice how the left operates on this. If you had ever been involved in, say, wartime propaganda, and Dr. Seuss was, Theodor Geisel was, if you were ever involved in writing books, such as the six books that are going to be delisted, then that means that’s who you are. And that’s who you are forever. There is a basic lack of respect for human beings in this decision taken by the NEA and others in canceling Dr. Seuss himself because frankly, he was moving in their direction. He just didn’t get far enough for the left.

    Michael Saltzman, responding to this controversy in the Wall Street Journal got it right when he wrote, “The desire to wipe Dr. Seuss’s books from elementary schools stems from the same harmful worldview that says Abraham Lincoln’s name should be removed from a public school because some of his views fall short by today’s standards, or that describes Mount Rushmore as a monument to racism.” He then concludes this way, “Our country’s history is filled with imperfect people who nevertheless did remarkable things.”

    Now here’s the question: Can that sentence actually be controversial today? Are there people who would argue against that sentence? And here’s the warning to us as we think about our culture today and tomorrow. Yes, there are many people in influential sectors of our society who are saying, they do not agree with this sentence. It’s not fair to say our country’s history is filled with imperfect people who nevertheless did remarkable things. If you’re an imperfect person, then your remarkable things don’t matter. But you’ll notice what that means. It means that eventually that argument consumes itself. And if you want to say that just to understand the Dr. Seuss, the man of the left, the author of the left is now Dr. Seuss consumed by, banned by, no longer really even acknowledged by the left because the left moved on, leaving Dr. Seuss in the dust, along with The Cat In The Hat.

    PART III

    Shaping Young Hearts and Minds in a Loving Way: Why It’s So Important to Put Down the Smartphone and Pick Up a Good Book to Read to Your Children

    But next, as we close today, let’s just go back to a basic issue we also need to encourage one another about, and that is, we need to read to our children. I still remember my parents reading books to me, my grandparents reading books to me, others reading books to me, especially my parents. I was the oldest child. Eventually I had the honor of reading books to my siblings, but it all started with my parents reading to me.

    And as they read to me, they read me books. Sometimes they rhymed. Sometimes we looked at pictures and I pointed out the lamb and the pig and the bear. Sometimes it became a story. And sometimes I fell asleep even before the story was concluded. My parents kept on reading even when I was no longer young enough to sit on the lap. When there were younger brothers and a sister, they’re on the lap, but here’s something else. You’ll notice if you read to younger children, older children will be drawn even to hear you read.

    There is something that is expressed in tangible love when parents read to their children. Choose well, read well, read carefully to your children, but yes, read to your children. You’re shaping hearts and minds. And furthermore, expressing love to your children in a way you might not think of as a hug.

    And one of the axioms of our time that wouldn’t make sense to most previous generations, but certainly makes sense of urgency now, put down the smartphone, turn off the television, get disconnected from anything that requires a power cord, other than a reading light. Put a child in your lap and read that child a good book.

    Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

    I want to speak to families, parents, young people, if you’re considering college, wondering about college, wondering about which college to attend, what college means for you. I want to invite you to a Boyce College Virtual Preview Day. It’s going to be held on Friday, March the 26th. It’s going to be four o’clock in the afternoon Eastern time. It’s going to be a virtual event this time. It’s going to include an ask anything, live event with me. I’m looking forward to meeting with students and parents for that event. There’d be live faculty discussions, a virtual campus tour, but we’re going to be talking about some really basic questions. Why college? What college? When college? Who college? And I think that who might very well be you. I did that as a tribute to Dr. Seuss. You can register at boycecollege.com/preview if that who is you. Boycecollege.com/preview.

    For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.

    I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

  13. Here’s the most important blurb:

    “But you’ll notice how the left operates on this. If you had ever been involved in, say, wartime propaganda, and Dr. Seuss was, Theodor Geisel was, if you were ever involved in writing books, such as the six books that are going to be delisted, then that means that’s who you are. And that’s who you are forever. There is a basic lack of respect for human beings in this decision taken by the NEA and others in canceling Dr. Seuss himself because frankly, he was moving in their direction. He just didn’t get far enough for the left.

    Michael Saltzman, responding to this controversy in the Wall Street Journal got it right when he wrote, “The desire to wipe Dr. Seuss’s books from elementary schools stems from the same harmful worldview that says Abraham Lincoln’s name should be removed from a public school because some of his views fall short by today’s standards, or that describes Mount Rushmore as a monument to racism.” He then concludes this way, “Our country’s history is filled with imperfect people who nevertheless did remarkable things.”

    Now here’s the question: Can that sentence actually be controversial today? Are there people who would argue against that sentence? And here’s the warning to us as we think about our culture today and tomorrow. Yes, there are many people in influential sectors of our society who are saying, they do not agree with this sentence. It’s not fair to say our country’s history is filled with imperfect people who nevertheless did remarkable things. If you’re an imperfect person, then your remarkable things don’t matter. But you’ll notice what that means. It means that eventually that argument consumes itself.”

    But the cancel culture conduct of the left does still involve tangentially a valid concept –

    How much BAD does a person have to do for that BAD to start us to shrug our shoulders at the good they’ve done.

    Hitler got Germany the autobahn. So what?

    Mussolini “got the trains to run on time” (he didn’t actually). But if he did, so what?

    Let’s run down the continuum some.

    Michael Jackson great artist and great pervert.

    Bill Cosby great comedian and promoter of family values and great abuser.

    Let’s run down the continuum some.

    Theodore Giesel….

    So what?

    There is a valid ethical principle here, that while individual actions of individual people should be evaluated on the basis of the action separately from the rest of the person’s life work, that ethics accounting isn’t a valid way to disregard some good some person has done…there is at some point an exception to that logic when evaluating a person’s whole life…and when evaluating that whole life at some point on the continuum, yes we can indeed “shrug” off the person as a whole.

    Now the Left has clearly taken this too far, but what is the point on the continuum?

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