In one of the most surreal things in modern history, eBay, the online auction site, removed several Dr. Seuss listings and still allows Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler’s biography and political philosophy book that was written while he was in prison) to be sold. I always make it a point to try to listen to the “logic” of someone else’s position. I do so for multiple reasons, first and foremost among them to try and understand the thought process behind the other person’s position.
So I read a Vox article by Constance Grady titled “Dr. Seuss is a beloved icon who also drew some extremely racist stuff” At first, Ms. Grady was rather respectful toward Dr. Seuss, saying that the ban only referred to five or six books and that no one would be touching his classics. She actually made some interesting points and praises Dr. Seuss for taking on Jim Crow, anti-Semitism, and racism in general. But then Ms. Grady goes on to criticize Dr. Seuss for not having enough “persons of color” in his books, and the few “persons of color” in Dr. Seuss books are all subservient characters. Ms. Grady then goes on to say in this article that the “Cat in the Hat,” while not being racist, was actually making people uncomfortable – aka "The Cat in the Hat" is racist – you are just not smart enough to see what we see.
Being a prominent non-white in Shenandoah County and Strasburg, I have experienced less racism here than at any point in my life. I have experienced it here but not to the same extent that I experienced it in supposedly racism-free Northern Virginia. Almost no person I hang around, be them Democrat, Republican, independent, moderate or whatever, spends their time thinking about race. Most people, be they white, Black, Asian, Latino, or in my case one-half Afghan one-half Scots Irish, are thinking about work, their family, their friends, vacation, or something else important to them. Most people do not think about their “white friends or Black friends or Latino friends.” They think of these people as friends.
Ms. Grady goes on to say that “But the example of the 'Cat in the Hat' is illustrative. It shows how a man steeped in racist ideas and imagery could end up reproducing the same imagery in a medium as innocent as a book designed to teach kids to read, all while espousing liberal ideas about tolerance and love for all. And it shows how that imagery can swim subliminally through our popular culture, divorced from its context, without our ever quite being fully aware that it’s there.”
With all due respect, this is crazy talk. A man who took on anti-Semitism at a time when there was anti-Semitism, and who took on Jim Crow cannot and is not by definition a racist. The fact is that Dr. Seuss is an American hero.