Douglas Andrews / March 2, 2021

Oh, the Classics They’ll Cancel!

Biden’s omission of Dr. Seuss from “Read Across America Day” speaks volumes about the malign influence of the Woke Left.

The Left’s War on Childhood took another violent turn yesterday, as Joe Biden’s ultra-woke handlers canceled perhaps our nation’s most read, most loved, and most original children’s author: Theodor Geisel. We know him better as Dr. Seuss, and we still remember “Hop on Pop” as the first book we ever read.

Yesterday began normally enough at the White House, with Biden following a presidential tradition of more than 20 years when he proclaimed today “Read Across America Day.” It’s only fitting that he’d do this, too, since the date is no coincidence: March 2 is Geisel’s birthday.

But Biden failed to even mention the author’s name in his 621-word proclamation. Instead, he went on about how “the path to literacy begins with story time in their school classroom” and how he’s committed to “providing support to States and communities to help them create the conditions for students to return to safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible.” So long as the teachers unions give him permission.

For a guy who’s been preaching “unity” ever since he took office, this cancelation of Dr. Seuss was a jarringly disunifying decision. An affinity for Dr. Seuss, after all, is one of those rare things that our increasingly antagonistic culture has been able to agree on. Heck, Barack Obama and Donald Trump agreed on Dr. Seuss.

Obama’s 2015 proclamation was typical, reading in part, “The works of [Dr. Seuss] have sparked a love for reading in generations of students. His whimsical wordplay and curious characters inspire children to dream big and remind readers of all ages that ‘a person’s a person no matter how small.’”

Trump’s 2018 proclamation was no less typical: “As we celebrate Read Across America Day, and recognize the critical role literacy has played in shaping our wonderful Nation, let us always remember the still-vibrant words of Dr. Seuss: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’”

We’d hoped the White House presence of a nationally renowned educator like Dr. Jill Biden would’ve kept her husband and his handlers from doing something so stupid. Our hopes were misplaced.

The Bidens are clearly paying too much attention to Virginia’s Loudoun County Public Schools, which has already told its teachers to “avoid connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss.” Or to Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which has canceled publication of six of his books. According to Fox News, “Copies of ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ ‘If I Ran the Zoo,’ ‘McElligot’s Pool,’ ‘On Beyond Zebra!,’ ‘Scrambled Eggs Super!,’ and ‘The Cat’s Quizzer’ will no longer be published.”

Where Dr. Seuss and so many other historical figures are concerned, the Woke Left appears unwilling to forgive, unwilling to consider one’s redemptive growth as sufficient for avoiding cancellation. As Michael Saltsman writes in The Wall Street Journal, “Some of Seuss’s early works were indeed racist. He drew on crude and offensive stereotypes in several drawings of blacks and Asian-Americans. … But like many Americans before him and since, Dr. Seuss changed. As a political cartoonist during World War II, Seuss often criticized ‘isolationism, Racism, and Anti-Semitism with a conviction and fervor lacking in most other American editorial pages of the period,’ another well-known illustrator, Art Spiegelman, wrote in 1999. He also wrote ‘Yertle the Turtle,’ an antifascist tale on ‘the rise of Hitler,’ and a magazine story that would become the antidiscrimination classic ‘The Sneetches.’”

Alas, that’s just not good enough for Scranton Joe Biden.

“The desire to wipe Dr. Seuss’s books from elementary schools,” concludes Saltsman, “stems from the same harmful worldview that says Abraham Lincoln’s name should be removed from a public school because some of his views fall short by today’s standards, or that describes Mount Rushmore as a monument to racism. Our country’s history is filled with imperfect people who nevertheless did remarkable things.”

Last week, it was Mr. Potato Head. Today, Dr. Seuss. And tomorrow?

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