Tucker Carlson’s defense of some purged Dr. Seuss books is plain wrong: “Seuss was not a racist” was the gist of Tucker’s defense.
But before deconstructing the TV host’s conservative, typically defeatist argument, here is the latest in the saga of Dr. Seuss and the wussification of the West, from the New York Times:
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.
In a statement on Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said that it had decided last year to end publication and licensing of the books by Theodor Seuss Geisel. The titles include his first book writing under the pen name Dr. Seuss, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” (1937), and “If I Ran the Zoo” (1950).
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in the statement. The business said the decision came after working with a panel of experts, including educators, and reviewing its catalog of titles.
Mr. Geisel, whose whimsical stories have entertained millions of children and adults worldwide, died in 1991. The other books that will no longer be published are “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
In “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” a character described as “a Chinaman” has lines for eyes, wears a pointed hat, and carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice. (Editions published in the 1970s changed the reference from “a Chinaman” to “a Chinese man.”) In “If I Ran the Zoo,” two characters from “the African island of Yerka” are depicted as shirtless, shoeless and resembling monkeys.
A school district in Virginia said over the weekend that it had advised schools to de-emphasize Dr. Seuss books on “Read Across America Day,” a national literacy program that takes place each year on March 2, the anniversary of Mr. Geisel’s birth.
“Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,” according to the statement by the district, Loudoun County Public Schools.
An example of “wussification,” namely the melding of “wimp” and “pussy” to make a wussy, is this fretful headline: “Parents grapple with racist images in Dr. Seuss books.”
You “grapple” with a shortage of food; with the fact that your kids are not learning to speak, read and write English proficiently. You “grapple” with footage of Kamala Harris, swallowed whole and subjected to the peristaltic movements of a python snake, as he digests her—to pull or to publish the ostensibly upsetting images?
But you don’t “grapple” with Dr. Seuss content.
And, yes, Dr. Seuss Enterprises rolled over, conceding to cancelling its own books.
“Dr. Seuss was not a racist,” Carlson asserted. “He was an evangelist against bigotry. He wrote an entire shelf of books against racism, and not in a subtle way. They were clearly, explicitly against racism. That was the whole point of writing them, to teach children not to be racist.”
Actual racism in the targeted literature should be a peripheral issue, or no issue at all.
The Argument from Freedom means arguing process, not substance.
Whether he intended it or not, the premise of Tucker’s defense is that if we do detect legitimate racism in literature—there is a case for banning it. (Tucker didn’t mean it that way comes the counter-argument. This, however, is what the structure of his argument portends. The premise of Tucker’s argument is precisely that.)
And freedom means that politically impolite books may be published and read freely. Freedom means no book banning. Period!
Moreover, banning books demands a higher authority that decides for the rest of us. As does banning assume a lack of choice and agency among individual human beings.
It’s called freedom. The Argument from freedom means arguing for Mein Kampf as well as for McElligots Pool. A free market in ideas.
And not because of history, blah, blah, blah; namely, so that we don’t forget it or repeat it, as I heard it enunciated by radio mouth Jason Rantz, the other day. Mein Kampf, and any literature, needs to be available in a free society to free men and women who want it.
In the face of the cancellation of conservatives, the latter invariably just keep making these logically impoverished “arguments.” In this case, it’s the Argument from Hitler: “I want what Hitler got, Ebay. Me too, Amazon.” Or, call it a kind of “WhatAboutism”: Amazon sells Hitler’s book, why not Dr. Seuss’s?
“Conservatives,” tweets “Musil Protege,” “start arguments by legitimizing the premises of stupid questions. Then they condone presentism. As Audrey says in Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan: “Has it ever occurred to you that our world judged by the standards of Jane Austen’s time would (look ridiculous)?”
Most great literature doesn’t meet the sub-standards of the woke illiterate who control the means of intellectual production, these being schools (primary, secondary, tertiary), press, publishing print, think tanks, Deep Tech and Deep State.
Much of the literary canon—the greatest works of literature—is guaranteed to violate woke racial dogma.
Shall we ban Shakespeare for Othello?
*(Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP)