Category Archives: Literature

Dr. Seuss And The Wussification Of The West

Argument, Education, English, Literature, Logic, Race, Racism, Reason, The West

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.

Tucker’s defense:

“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)

Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate, Is Okay

America, Art, English, Founding Fathers, History, Literature

She’s intelligent and verbal, seems deeply—and unusually—attached to America’s Founders, the founding, and the founding documents; does not come across in the least as radical or resentful, and is certainly not in the mold of the New Democrats:

She is Amanda Gorman, national youth poet laureate, who recited her rather pleasant poetry at the Biden inaugural.

Here she is elsewhere:

The Dissident Right Has An Idiocracy Problem By Juvenal Early

Argument, Conservatism, Critique, Intelligence, Literature, Nationalism, Old Right, Paleoconservatism, Political Philosophy

Introducing “Juvenal Early,” a new contributor to Barely A Blog. (Myron Pauli, where are you?)

Once upon a time, the epistolary fluff ensconced at The American Conservative was detonated daily by the “pugnacious” Lawrence Auster. When Auster died, a void opened up. The “typically shapeless pieces” coming out of paleoconservative quarters, at once “weird and solipsistic”—Auster’s delicious descriptions—have escaped scrutiny. Going by the pen name “Juvenal Early,” a disillusioned former donor to Chronicles has begun the healing, here on Barely a Blog. Why “healing”? Well, bad writing is plain hurtful. It is healed by a brutal take down.
Enjoy.
ilana

The Dissident Right Has An Idiocracy Problem
By Juvenal Early

Annie Holmquist has a by-line at Chronicles Magazine, the long-time stoic voice of paleoconservatism, now flagship of the Charlemagne Institute. I’ve been reading Chronicles for nearly 30 years, have even made donations over that time (so singular and important did I think their work), since back when they were the most important publication backing the first Pat Buchanan Presidential campaign. That was just before the editor (who’d rather remain nameless where Chronicles is concerned these days) began unashamedly labeling his monthly column “Hard Right.” Times have changed. Annie’s there now and whoever holds the purse strings at Charlegmagne clearly wants chipper Annie there, and is banking on the cult of youth over hardened realists; passive and silly over strong, strident voices.

Annie was at it again recently, bless her heart. In an election postmortem on the Chronicles Blog, she wrote:

“I was feeling the oppression of these gray days when a note from a friend landed in my inbox. He made some joke in relation to election voter fraud and suddenly I found myself giggling.”

“Laughter Will Win Against Totalitarianism.” (11/20/20)

Giggling?

I tried to picture past Chronicles writers and the many subscribers I know giggling over the prospect of Kamala Harris being one senile heartbeat removed from the Oval Office. Oh yeah, that’ll show the bastards! Didn’t someone tell Annie? The Revolution is on the march. Angry old reactionaries like me (who, I’d argue, comprise most of the dwindling Chronicles readership) want red meat, realism. In any case, I wondered who’d be telling us jokes as the “peaceful protesters” approach. Laughing at a knee-capped Antifa is one thing, sure, but this?  Typical Annie.

The night before the election, Annie had protested vehemently (vehement for her) about Chronicles’ recent defenestration from Facebook:

“Though we feature articles and concepts that are typically right-of-center, we are not dogmatic and feature a range of ideas and authors. In fact, 60 percent of our audience is Democrat or Independent…”

                                    “Facebook Throttles Outsider Voices On Election Eve.” (11/2/20)

She might have been describing U.S. News & World Report. Old-time Chronicles people might label themselves a lot of things, e.g., Dissident right, paleocon, cultural warriors, the aforementioned hard right, even Southern Agrarian, but “right of center?” Check the masthead.

Did Rich Lowry take over, when I was sleeping? And what’s with the implied diversity: “range of ideas and authors…60% Democrats or Independent?” Sure, we’re not all registered Republicans, but that’s only because, Trump aside, who’d want to admit he’s a Republican, tepid and pusillanimous as they are. It was like Annie was ceding 90% of the argument to the left. Sure, there are plenty of extremists out there, but not us. Why should Facebook shut us down? We’re safe.

Only the inertia of old age keeps me from cancelling my subscription right now, but I can’t see myself renewing it.

The Dissident Right has a mediocrity problem. It’s an old story. Bosses promote mediocrities who don’t threaten them. Mediocrities entrench. Mediocrity takes over and promotes those who don’t threaten them. It’s a downward spiral. Just a guess. I’m the customer. All I know is I read a lot of bad prose, and then I need to search in increasingly obscure places to find quality writers.

Annie reminds me of a writer at The American Conservative (TAC), Gracy Olmstead. Another soft, passive, inconsequential voice. Conciliatory, or, in a word, boring. Early on, TAC wasn’t bad. Pat Buchanan was a founder. Pat is smart, well-read, genial, but don’t be fooled. Pugnacious Pat won’t give an inch where principle is concerned. He pulls no punches. Pat set the tone for TAC. Hardened, principled writers predominated. Anti-Iraq War conservatives unafraid to be called unpatriotic by the likes of David Frum (“The Frumbag”).

Pat’s gone from TAC now. Enter Gracy.

Contra Pat, Gracy may not even know what a punch is. In an election year piece, she was warning pro-life Christians to unhitch their wagon from the Trump train, lest they finally come a cropper, when the Real Trump emerged. This, in spite of the fact that Trump had recently demonstrated great courage by becoming the first sitting Republican president to address the annual Right to Life March in person. No, you can’t trust him, Gracy warned, stressing Trump’s past peccadilloes. He was a hypocrite. Presaging what was always going to be a brutal, polarizing election, Gracy tut-tutted that we needed to get past all that. She wrote:

“To remain true to one’s conscience…(is) far more important than party allegiance. … This could apply to the unborn, to refugees at the border, or to the victims of our proxy wars… where has the partisan spirit made us blind? “

                             “How Political Parties Kill Our Commitment to the Good,” (2/18/20)

Not exactly the ally you’d want on the ramparts. Was she saying we should we be bipartisan with the Democrats (truly, the Evil Party now)? “Refugees at the border?” Does this woman take NYT reportage at face value? Well, possibly. She has started writing the occasional piece for the “Old Grey Lady,” joining NYT’s other safe, house conservatives David Brooks and Ross Douthat, those two unbending champions of, oh, the hell with irony at this point.

I noticed that after she’d been at TAC for a while, Gracy seemed to find her niche in a post-Pat section called The New Urbanism, “New Urbs” for short, created in response to the rise of gentrification or at least in the spirit of it: cities are fun, cultural, good for the whole family. Good place for Gracy, who seems like the nurturing type, steeped in the early millennial culture of therapeutic America. A couple of years ago, in an article bemoaning the collapse of our civic institutions, she pulled out all the stops, sparing, it seemed, not a single therapeutic buzzword when positing a fix for “Institutional disillusionment”:

…hopefully it will… force us to press into the good… communities that nourish our souls. …. foster circles of trust—that can slowly nourish and heal what’s broken.”

-“Our Civic Institutions Are Self-Destructing” 8/28/18

“Communities that nourish our souls?” Sounds like an ad for a great big hot tub full of oatmeal to me. That was two years ago. By now, I hope the New Urbs is recommending bulletproof glass and fire-retardant building materials for the family’s urban fixer-upper. Something BLM-proof.

Do Annie and Gracy represent the new wave of the Right? Soft, passive, mushy, inconsequential bunk! To paraphrase the late Harry Dean Stanton in the 1983 Cult Classic “Repo Man:” Dissident Righter (writer) spends his life getting into confrontations.

Time is short. Barbarians are inside the gate. When it comes to right wing writers, I’ll suggest two rules: Avoid bad, boring (“flaccid”) prose and women who go by diminutives.

Two sob sisters, sure, but don’t bad things come in three’s? I’ve always thought so, thus, I offer TAC blogger Rod Dreher, whose surname looks like “drear” to me. Call him Dreary. You’ve seen him: metrosexual, Mies van der Rohe glasses, soi disant “Crunchy-Con.” He’s got a sweetheart book deal. Dumbs down Dante, astroturfs Solzhenitsyn—seems like his publisher will take any 90,000 connected words pissed out of his laptop and put them between hard covers.

I check Dreary’s blog occasionally. My observations: his favorite peers seem to be Douthat and Brooks; a Never-Trumper, he has a hissy-fit over every POTUS tweet; he still reads the NYT; his racial masochism surpasses even that of Nicholas Kristoff; he thinks being born in a Southern state and saying y’all makes you a real Southerner.  I believe the Dissident Right needs real Southerners: Stonewall’s at the barricades. Can’t say what Dreary thinks of the real Stonewall Jackson, but one can guess, given how he once described the greatest Southerner, Robert E. Lee. In an article in defense (sort of) of not tearing down the Lee statue in New Orleans (Dreary is from Louisiana), he wrote:

“I think it a blessing that the Confederacy lost the war. Lee fought for a bad cause. But Lee, for all his sins, was a complex figure, one worthy of honor — again, despite his sins…I would have left the Lee statue alone…”

                                                                   –The Day They Took Old Dixie Down, 5/19/17

In other words, “I don’t really care if they tear it down or not.” Would he care to elaborate on why Lee’s cause was bad or about all those sins Lee committed? I doubt Dreary would argue the point at a meeting of the Baton Rouge Sons of Confederate Veterans. Better to keep virtue-signaling from the safety of his blog at those antiquated racists. (He deletes unfriendly comments from his blog.)

Maybe the fault lies with TAC, who, since Pat left, hired both Dreary and Gracy, plus a bevy of other lukewarm scribblers, too numerous to mention. TAC, born in opposition to Dubya’s Iraq War, was once at the vanguard of the Dissident Right. Nowadays, they’re outpacing the Overton Window in leftward movement. I say we vote them off the island. But even then, what’s the matter with Chronicles? Whoever said all right-wing organizations eventually move left, knew what he was talking about.

Thus, Annie, Gracy, & Dreary, sob sisters all. Basking in the comfort of their sinecures and book deals. You can’t blame them for taking the money. The fault isn’t with the author; the fault lies with the people who published it, marketed it, and bought it. That’s America; we get what we pay for, or maybe we pay for what they give us. I forget which.

No Offense ‘Caged Kids,’ But Your Parents Probably Don’t Want To Get You Back (Humor Alert)

Comedy & Humor, Democrats, Donald Trump, Family, IMMIGRATION, Literature

Without question and with deep conviction, the moron media repeat the storyline about kids being ripped from their parents’ arms, and caged on entering the US illegally (by a president who—OMG!—enforced US immigration law, for the benefit of the American People):

Federal court filings made this week by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department say that the parents of some 545 migrant children who are currently in the United States have not been found. These parents were separated from their children at the U.S. border by border officials under President Trump’s zero tolerance policy from 2017 to 2018, and the filing says the parents are now unreachable.

Kids are not what they are cut out to be (joke alert #1).

And these particular kids? I don’t know. I’ve searched the Internet for images of tender toddlers caged. All I found are images of large, hirsute young adults, who look like they can stand on their own feet, maybe even join a gang.

Besides, what kind of parent can’t call a US government agency to locate his kid? An incompetent parent or, joke alert #2 for the mirthless, a parent who is not too keen on getting that “kid” back, a sentiment I understand. Completely.

In “Why Are Unfit Parents Fit To Become Americans?” it was pointed out that “bad parents will continue to deploy children as human shields to gain entry into the US”; and that “it’s unfortunate that children are born into disorganized, chaotic families. But a child is either the responsibility of his parents or of the state.”

The judicial trend of the state as parens patriae has seen the family usurped by the state as the primary socialization agent. The state-as-parent is the purview of progressives, not conservatives.

This question was posed: “Parents who put kids is such precarious a predicament are unfit. Why, then, are unfit parents fit to become Americans?”

I’m with the Mexican parents. You win some, you lose some–kids, that is (joke alert #3).

Once upon a time, American writers shared this sense of humor (wow; I am apologizing for wit). Remember the classic short story by William Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry’s (1862-1910)?

My all-time favorite fictional kid has to be the kid in the “The Ransom of Red Chief.”

Not only is “The Ransom of Red Chief” an American classic (written by a Southerner, of course)—it hearkens back to a time when kids had character; kid character.

Basically, the kidnapped kid, “Red Chief,” is so imaginatively naughty—never evil or wicked—that his traumatized kidnappers end up paying his wealthy grandad to take him back.

Grandad just sits back and waits. He knows the score.

* Image via Associated Press