Dr. Seuss’ insensitively illustrated books have to go


Joel C. Bautista | The Ticker

Anastasia Matano

Legendary children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, has recently been under fire for the depiction of racially offensive images in some of his illustrated books.

While his most popular creations, such as Green Eggs and Ham, remain untouched, several of his books have been pulled from library and school shelves — an act that has ignited conversation as to whether or not Seuss has become yet another victim of “cancel culture.”

While Seuss is undoubtedly a beloved figure, it is only right that insensitive depictions from earlier books be removed from the public eye, a fact that Seuss’ publishers have dutifully acknowledged.

The public debate over Seuss’ illustrations emerged after an announcement from Dr. Seuss Enterprises LP on March 2 stating that it would no longer continue to publish six of Seuss’ books because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Specifically, these six works contained blatantly racist depictions of Asian and African Americans. This decision, while seemingly drastic given Seuss’ literary prominence, represents the estate’s efforts to both reject some of Seuss’ more outdated views while also protecting his brand and legacy.

Unfortunately, rather than spark discussion on the progressive efforts of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, this decision has become yet another point of contention between conservatives and liberals, with Fox News expressing explosive outrage over the selective discontinuation of Seuss’ works.

Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, cited no less than “139 mentions of ‘Seuss’ on Fox News” between midnight and 4 a.m. on March 2.

The dominating narrative is that Dr. Seuss is yet another victim of “cancel culture,” and commentators spent just about all day railing against the “censorship” that this issue represents.

It is important to note that Seuss was not a racist and that the decision made by Dr. Seuss Enterprises does not aim to discredit his works.

Seuss’ stepdaughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, told The New York Post on March 2 that there “wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body,” and that “he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much.”

Seuss merely lived during a time when racist depictions of both Asian and African Americans was a norm, and discontinuing those specific works with such insensitive imagery is a proper response to the issue of racist content in children’s media.

However, Fox News, and specifically, conservatives, do not share this view.

In the same way that the Black Lives Matter movement has slowly been reduced to a battle of the left vs. the right, so, too, has the discussion of Dr. Seuss’ discontinued works.

Fox News dedicated a great deal of their March 2 broadcast to accusing leftists of wiping out Seuss’ legacy, going so far as to relate this issue to that of the removal of Confederate statues.

“Cancelling” Seuss is neither the concern nor the reality of the situation. The accusation that leftists are “canceling” Seuss is merely another way for conservatives to reject change that favors diversity and inclusivity.

Besides, it is certainly much easier to discuss the discontinuation of a few children’s books rather than address the pressing issues of public policy and legislation.

Moreover, what Fox News fails to acknowledge is that the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises occurs against the backdrop of not only the BLM movement but also during a visible rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the United States.

The growing awareness of the plight of both Asian and African Americans in the United States needs to be reflected in the content that is used to teach the future generation, an opinion that Dr. Seuss Enterprises clearly shares.

Regardless of the decision to discontinue six of Seuss’ works, several booksellers, most notably Barnes & Nobles, have publicly declared that they have no intention to remove any of the Dr.Seuss titles in stock.

“We understand the issues out there, but we will have the books in stock,” Lori Fazio, chief operating officer of R.J. Julia Booksellers, said.

Rest assured; Dr. Seuss’ works will continue to prevail as some of the most beloved in all of children’s literature. Discontinuing those works with racist depictions serves his legacy well and acknowledges the importance of relevant social and cultural change in children’s media.