“Walking into the museum, opening to the public Saturday in the author and illustrator’s hometown of Springfield, Mass., is like walking into one of his beloved children’s books.”
That’s how the Associated Press described the early June 2017 opening of the Dr. Seuss museum. Leagrey Dimond, one of his stepdaughters, said, “And to know that he’s going to be here permanently, safe, protected, that people who want to know more are going to make this trip here to see him, it’s perfect.”
Of course, Dr. Seuss is not safe and protected. He is the latest icon under fire from the politically correct hordes that wake up every day trying to be offended. A librarian at an elementary school in Cambridge, Mass., was a foot soldier in this army when she rejected a gift of Dr. Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump. She was roundly attacked by many as an ungrateful scold.
However, she opened a line of attack on Seuss that has been continued by higher ranking members of the mobs threatening many historic figures. Mike Curato, Mo Willems and Lisa Yee, major authors of children’s books, declined an invitation to the museum’s inaugural children’s Literature Festival, because of a mural featuring illustrations from the author’s first children’s book, And to think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The library caved and pulled the mural. The authors claimed that the mural features a “jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man, who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat, and slanted slit eyes.”
In a poll at www.masslive.com, over 87 percent of people did not see the mural as offensive. I think this is really about the fact that Seuss used his great talents as a cartoonist to help defeat the Nazis and Japanese during World War II. He propagandized against both enemies using tough language and stereotypes. I have seen many of these and I look at them in the context of the times and the savagery of the enemy.
I see Seuss as a patriot for his work. I recommend the documentary series on Netflix titled Five Came Back. It’s the story of five major Hollywood directors who put their careers on pause and went to the front lines to make films and public service announcements to inspire and rouse the American public to fight during World War II. Seuss and these directors represent a time when artists were supportive of traditional American values.
This whole attack on Seuss is centered on his depiction of Chinese and Japanese people. Why is there no movement to sanction President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s executive order to imprison Japanese-Americans in internment camps? This action actually saw Japanese-Americans as a group as disloyal and took away their liberty. Is there any movement to take away the prominent Roosevelt monument in Washington? Do prominent Democrats still not lionize him?
Now that Seuss is on the endangered list of American icons, will this affect Mayor Kenney’s donning a hat and reading Seuss’ iconic The Cat in the Hat? I hope not, because that is one of the best things Kenney does.
One of the best ways to evaluate this whole controversy is to look at the people attacking Seuss. One of his leading critics is Katie Ishizuka, who is the director of The Conscious Kid Library. This outfit brands itself as the arbiter of books that are more diverse and appropriate for young readers. She claims Seuss’ fans are trying to sweep under the rug the very negative aspects of Seuss.
My kids grew up reading the Berenstain Bears and a few Dr. Seuss books. There is now an internet controversy that says the books were really called the Berenstein Bears. You can’t make stuff like this up.
The bottom line of all this is that if the beloved Dr. Seuss can be dinged significantly, who is safe from the diversity police? These people will never run out of targets. They are driven by a need to cleanse and, in some cases, destroy. The best method to fight them is mockery. They deserve nothing better.