Here’s Why Dr. Seuss Book Story Isn’t Cancel Culture (Opinion)
Everybody seems to be talking about the Dr. Seuss books being discontinued and how "cancel culture" has found yet another victim.
First, this whole thing is a major distraction from the issues that really matter, at a time when a lot of important issues really do matter. Second, unlike the ridiculously stupid Hasbro Mr. Potato Head publicity stunt that backfired, this Dr. Seuss issue is actually a topic that's real. It wasn't some ill-advised PR department trying to drum up sales, it was the caretakers of the Dr. Seuss empire trying to remain responsible and relevant.
Unfortunately, members of the national media on both sides saw it as a story that would deliver clicks, so they exploited the issue and got exactly what they wanted: another Trump-era cultural divide argued by people that probably never even read the books in the first place.
It's a classic example of "cancel culture" gone out of control, the pundits charge. The fact is, they're totally wrong on this one. This is not an example of "cancel culture" where people trying to create the perfect world, attempt to erase elements of history instead of learning from it.
Tearing down a statue of George Washington because of the period in time in which he lived, is a good example of "cancel culture" gone out of control. This Dr. Seuss story is not that, in fact, the decision follows a long line of business decisions in the name of American Capitalism.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises is the company which handles the Dr. Seuss books and characters and a while back they commissioned a group of educators and child experts to review the Seuss catalogue. The panel recommended these five books be allowed to go out of print because they no longer represent the legacy of Dr. Seuss books. The group believes the illustrations in the books and the story include content that depicts blacks and asians in a negative light. The books are not banned. No-one is coming in and taking your hard covers away or requiring you burn them at the stake. They just decided for their business and brand that certain topics and illustrations in the books are considered racist and hurtful today, so they're allowing them to basically disappear. It's not clear yet, but it's possible the books could return with revisions.
The Brian Kilmeade Show which airs on WIBX at 9 each day, joined Joy Behar of The View in saying the move was an attempt to erase history instead of using it as a teaching moment. A teaching moment? A teaching moment is when your child witnesses someone making fun of a person because of the color of their skin, and you teach them it's wrong. It isn't reading them a book that depicts a child being "made fun of" because of the way they look, and then teaching them afterwards that it's inappropriate. In other words, these Dr. Seuss books are not books for children, written to teach acceptance and inclusion. The books are meant to be funny and educators have found much of the catalogue works really well to teach children how to read. The owners of the franchise feel these five in particular, are no longer appropriate.
Since the media jumped on this story, there are groups of people fighting for a book that they probably never even read, and they're arguing the fact that the radical left is trying to eliminate their culture. This is stupid.
These books are intended for young people who are generally impressionable. It's our job as adults to pick and choose the age appropriateness of what they view, what they hear and what they read. It's pretty well accepted that children laughing at the color of a person's skin, their facial features, weight, etc., is something we don't approve of. When they do pick on or bully someone, it's up to parents, grandparents and teachers to use specific strategies to curb the behavior by using their misstep as a teachable moment.
Reading a book to a child that laughs at and picks on other people because of their race, even if you then teach them it's wrong, is not the way to teach kids. It's kind of like the father who smokes and tells his kid not to smoke, or the mother who doesn't wear her seatbelt and tells her children they must. Trust me, there will be many "teachable moments" in the world we live in today, for adults to teach children that racism, bigotry and bullying are wrong.
As these children grow older, there are also many "adult appropriate" books that were written in a different time that are absolute examples of bigotry that can certainly be used as a teachable moment, but, when the kid is old enough to understand.
I hope the Dr. Seuss company comes back with a revised and modified edition of these five books. An adult version of the book should show the problems with these specific stories and illustrations along with why and how changes were made. That's how we become a better society.
I heard someone today say that we'll never create the perfect world or the perfect society. I completely agree with that, however, trying to make the world a better place, is something we should all strive for.