At this rate, nobody will hear a who
Dr. Seuss is the latest posthumous victim of cancel culture. It's a sad commentary on American life in the twenty-first century when a man who died thirty years ago is deemed unsuitable for children's eyes and ears. The good news is this represents a truly "First World" problem.
For background, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904. His parents were born in 1878 and 1879, respectively. His grandparents were all born in what is now Germany. Modern society is judging a man whose parents were born more than 140 years ago.
CNN reported that "six Dr. Seuss books won't be published anymore because they portray people in 'hurtful and wrong' ways." Take note: it isn't only right-leaning outlets picking up on the story. It's international news, with several agencies from the U.K. running articles on the absurdity of the event. CNN made sure to mention that Seuss "had a long history of publishing racist and anti-Semitic work." They had to get their "dig" in.
Diving into the wrongthink, stand-up comic Bill Burr did a sketch four years ago about living too long. His bit touched on the idea that people are a product of not only the time they were raised, but also their parents' generation. The sketch is raunchy. Be advised.
Working in the context that Burr so eloquently framed, Seuss is a product of both the early 1900s and the Gilded Age, as that is when his parents went through their formative years. It comes as no surprise that the lexicon of any person born almost 120 years ago is vastly different from current expressions. Judging any person from any era by any other means than comparing him to his contemporaries is a historical fallacy.
No person can measure up to standards that don't accurately define the context of his formative years' culture. Etymology demonstrates the evolution of language over time. If language is seen as a living organism that changes over the years, why use modern standards to judge people who used their era's language?
It's a first-world problem. When a country reaches a point where all its citizens' basic needs can be easily met, the notion of "problems" takes on a new meaning. Medical science, infrastructure, agriculture, and business are all functioning at a level that keeps society moving along. As a result, idle hands are occupied with "discovering problems" that must be corrected, else children might learn the nasty words of yesteryear.
Does America honestly believe that children cannot distinguish between acceptable and inflammatory language because it was written in a book some seventy years ago?
Canceling Dr. Seuss for language considered socially acceptable at the time of publication is akin to suggesting that all history will inevitably be erased because it will eventually fail to meet newer, "better" social acceptance standards. He is a product of the time he was raised. He is a product of the time his parents were raised. He is a product of an immigrant family and all the trappings that each immigrant family brings to America's melting pot.
If America continues down the road of canceling all voices that make someone feel uncomfortable, children will be denied the chance to learn from the good and bad of history. It destroys any opportunity for historical reflection. It eliminates any measure of progress because no record of the past will exist. At this rate, nobody will hear a Who from Whoville ever again.
Image: Greg Williams.