Cancellation culture attacks Dr. Seuss’ books
Did You Know? Bonnie Donovan
“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his are not very new, after all.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Destruction of history and current culture to replace it with a new, preferred, history and culture by an existing government — or by a new dominant or a rising group — has been an obsession for centuries.
Its purpose is to suppress history and independent thought and communications by the population at large. In the past, this took the form of massive book burnings and the imprisonment, or death of the intellectuals and scholars who wrote the books and manuscripts.
The unifying factor between all types of book burnings is that the perpetrators see themselves as victims, even though they might be the ones in power. Here are some examples.
In 213 B.C., Chinese Emperor Qin Qin had just unified China under his rule. He and his advisors did not trust the scholars and saw them as a threat to his new regime. He ordered the destruction of many thousands of priceless books.
All history was destroyed so that Qin Qin could write his own version of history. This campaign went on for three years, until Qin Qin decided to bury 1,000 scholars alive, in addition to burning all their books.
Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Tung) used the Cultural Revolution in China to do essentially the same thing from 1966 to 1976, when the young Chinese were recruited to root out intellectuals and others who might have alternative, noncommunist thoughts about how to govern China. It became a frenzy.
Thousands were consigned to re-education camps, where most of them died and others were executed. Many were first publicly mocked and humiliated before Cultural Revolution tribunals before they were taken to the camps.
By 100 B.C., the Mayan civilization had developed a system of writing. For the next 1,400 years, Mayans recorded history and extensive astronomical observations and calendar observations.
In 1562, after the invasion by the Spanish, Spanish friars tried to convert the Mayans to Christianity through torture.
To prevent the Mayans from returning to their old ways and beliefs, the friars sought out and burned all the codices, books and writings they could find to obliterate Mayan history, culture and beliefs.
In 1933, the rising Nazi Party systematically set out with special “burn units” to seek out and burn Jewish books and documents in German libraries as they started the process of eliminating Jews. By the end of World War II, the Germans had destroyed 16 million books and manuscripts in Poland, in an attempt to wipe out Polish history and culture.
In 2013, Islamic extremist insurgents in Timbuktu, Mali, destroyed all ancient books and manuscripts going back to the year 1200. They covered the medieval history of the Sub-Sahara, but none had been digitized or copied, so this ancient history and culture is lost forever.
There are many more examples of attempts to destroy history, culture and beliefs by rising groups, extremists and rulers to enhance their power or to retain their power.
How is all this relevant to us in California? In today’s world, book burning is replaced by the cancellation culture.
We are all facing the consequences of “The Woke Cancel Culture” that is highly prevalent in almost all universities.
The latest hit is on the readings for the tiny tots who love learning to read with Dr. Seuss’ books. It appears that six of the author’s books might contain some small language that could be offensive to a number of curmudgeons of woke orthodoxy.
It seems, for example, that “Eskimo” might now be a derogatory word of offense.
Of course, most of us, Democrats and Republicans, are aghast that as we read Dr. Seuss’ many books to our children, we were committing unforgivable offenses to an amazing array of sensitive people. An associate of this group who is British commented that he “never gave a second thought to being called a ‘Limey’ or a ‘Pommy.’ Being from Irish stock, I was also called ‘Spud.’ Being white, I never felt that annoyed about being called a ‘honkey.
“Perhaps I am insensitive, but in a multi-ethnic society, one gets used to being called an ethnic name,” he said. In fact, many multi-ethnic friends used them as terms of friendship and humor.”
It seems Random House, the publisher of all Dr. Seuss’ books, has made a strategic decision, to discontinue publication of six of the books because they might contain a few examples of unwitting offensive terms.
Kathy Young, a contributor to Reason Magazine, speculated in a recent issue of NewsDay that Random House might have acted in proactive defense by sacrificing six of the less popular titles to avoid a massive onslaught of woke indignation on all of them.
Random House has stated it is reviewing all other Dr. Seuss titles for potentially offensive content. So a few more might be removed from publication.
Where does that leave all of us in Santa Barbara County? We may want to all buy a number of Dr. Seuss books from a local bookseller for our children, or grandchildren, or for the children of others, less able to afford the books, and donate them for children to enjoy and learn to read.
It is a small task to help protect us from this latest onslaught on culture, history and innocent enjoyment of some of the first books children have used to learn to read. Is Winnie The Pooh next? After all, he was always doing “stoutness exercises.”
Another experience in these recent woke times is a chant of white supremacy presented as Critical Race Theory, which blames the founders of our country and everything it was built on as racism by only white people. It reaches every nook and cranny, not just children’s books but also asserts that even math and proper grammar are racist. We do not understand the nexus or the conclusion.
The California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is poised to become the most efficient vehicle of Critical Race Theory into the classroom. An update on the increasingly radicalized Ethnic Studies curriculum and its continued focus teaching Critical Race Theory (i.e. bigotry) is extremely timely as this radicalized curriculum is poised to be approved at the state level. “The group Cal Ethnic Studies is, like Fair Education SB, fighting to emancipate public school curriculum from CRT’s divisive, bigoted and outright racist pedagogy,” James Fenkner noted.
The state Department of Education ignored almost all of the 100 pages of edits submitted by organizations advocating to shift the CRT focus. Per Elina Kaplan of Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies: “.. It reflects the CRT approach of ignoring inconvenient facts to promote a specific agenda.”
Some of the new curriculum includes adding the following section in the “Model Minority Myth” lesson: “The concept of the ‘model minority’ became a stereotype used to pit Asian Americans against other communities of color, particularly black Americans. News publications ran articles extolling the ways Asian Americans capitalized on the American Dream with their work ethic and emphasis on education. By doing this, it delegitimized centuries of systemic oppression and racist policies that shaped the experiences of black Americans.”
Another lesson was added to the ESMC, “An Introduction to Arab American Studies,” and it is the only one that has not been subject to a public comment period. The lesson raises a number of concerns about anti-Semitism and includes required reading that erases the culture and identity of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews, framing them as “Arabs” because they emigrated to the U.S. from Arab states.
The reading never mentions that 850,000 Jews fled or were expelled due to anti-Semitic persecution in these Arab states.
Supporters of the ESCMC model also expanded direction from an Ethnic Studies course to a “set of courses,” and asked schools to consider that Ethnic Studies “become its own department” in high school.
Lately we have read and heard too often that anyone who speaks out against the narrative of “wokeness supremacy” is canceled, shouted down and accused of being racist.There is no room for civil discourse or a difference of opinion or statement of facts.
Tragically, this divides the unity of Americans. And dangerously, it begins in the classroom, with instructors who are developing the upcoming generations.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
— Abraham Lincoln