Another Lost Opportunity for a Teachable Moment by the The Thought Police
Here’s another example of the thought police at work and the lengths to which the cancel culture will go to call out certain individuals and affect their ability to share their ideas in public. In this case it’s Dr. Seuss, the beloved author of a series of children’s books. You heard me right…Dr. Suess!
The public school system in Loudoun County, Virginia claims Dr. Seuss' books contain racial 'undertones’. Celebrated American children’s author Dr. Seuss is now considered too controversial for it to include in the school curriculum.
So, what’s so offensive that a movement is on to have schools removed from the curriculum of our youngster? One criticism is the following statement: “A person is a person no matter how small.” The iconic line from Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who, is beloved by thousands who value empathy and the books that helped them understand that others who are different are equally human. The objection is to the word small. Rather than interpreting it as indicative of young readers, the cancel police decided it refers to minority groups. Say what?
There are tons of fantastic books that are entertaining for kids and parents and can help young readers identify with others better. The connection between reading and empathy isn't just conventional wisdom anymore–there is a lot of scientific evidence that reading helps people develop their empathy needs.
For over two decades, Dr. Seuss’s birthday has been celebrated in schools as Read Across America Day — a day dedicated to the importance of reading and literacy. The day falls on Dr. Seuss’s birthday in honor of the impactful author, whose books have helped countless children learn to read across the globe. But following pressure from activists, Loudon County Public Schools is reportedly dropping the annual Dr. Seuss celebration.
"Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate ‘Read Across America Day’ in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard," Loudoun County Schools said in an announcement reported by the Daily Wire.
"As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss," the school district continued.
Learning for Justice, a liberal education advocacy group, was reportedly behind the pressure campaign against the celebrated children's author. The organization pegs itself as a group that seeks "to uphold the mission" of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Learning for Justice cited a study by St. Catherine University that claimed Dr. Seuss’s books are covered with "orientalism, anti-Blackness and White supremacy" in a magazine article they released.
The group also claimed that the characters who were not White in the books were "subservient" to White characters. This is, at a minimum, overstated. Even if it were true, the best way to handle it to open learning to all thoughts and views is discuss it in the context of whether what is said is right or wrong. Ask youngsters: Should children's books be censored when they say things that may be offensive to one group of people? If so, how far should we go? In other words, make it a teachable moment.
This isn’t the first time that Dr. Seuss has been targeted for cancellation. Former first lady Melania Trump objected to a Massachusetts elementary school librarian in 2017 who claimed the illustrations in Dr. Seuss’s books — usually cartoon animals or fantastical creatures — were examples of "racist propaganda."
Dr. Seuss is just the start of the effort of the cancel culture. There’s more to come for sure. We have to fight back against the thought police and, if we don’t, we will begin the slide down the proverbial ethical slippery slope and before you know it, every author/book will become a target for censure.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on March 3, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.