March 2, 2021
How Did It Get So Late So Soon?
“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss
As I write this, I’m still digesting the news that the entity that manages the works of Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, will discontinue six popular titles of the late author’s work. Those are “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
My mom and dad bought a (then) complete collection of Dr. Seuss books. I read them so many times. Mom then gave them to some cousins of mine, who then immediately destroyed them. Another story for another time.
I don’t think that the now discontinued titles were among that collection. However, I can’t for the life of me imagine that Dr. Seuss being racist in his writings. His stories never hit me that way.
The news today prompted me to dig into this a little deeper into my favorite children’s author. I was a bit surprised. (You can find this on the internet like I did so I won’t be assigning credit for the data points, below.)
Dr. Seuss was for the internment of Japanese in the U.S. No doubt, this was because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the fact that we were at war with the Japanese. For some reason, though, there’s no evidence that he was for interning Germans within the U.S. even though, a) we were at war with them; and, b) he was known to be anti-fascist.
Dr. Seuss was not a fan of “America First”.
He said of himself that he was “as subversive as hell.”
According to Wikipedia (so it must be true . . . shouldn’t it?), the good doctor was a “liberal Democrat and supported the New Deal” but settled in the oh-so-Republican (at the time) La Jolla, California.
I list these things because I know good and well that my dear friends on both the Left and Right will be throwing shade to support their view of my favorite children’s author. From what I see of the record, he had views that covered both sides but leaned a tad Left. Big deal.
That said – and going back to the subject of his children’s books – I can’t say that I ever saw his books as anything but imaginary with neutral lessons taught. If there were “subliminal” messages of racism in the good doctor’s books, I guess I was too thick-skulled to receive them. However, I think that if there were, in fact, racial messages in any of Seuss’s works, they were offset by the non-racial upbringing that I credit my parents for.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, often times, books – like songs – are what the reader (and listener) interprets them to be. That doesn’t change the writer’s intent, of course. But, as I once heard a precious metals trader say back in another lifetime, “Facts don’t move the markets but what the markets perceive the facts to be.”
What I didn’t have “read” to me or heard or perceived, appears to being read to, heard, or perceived today – despite what Dr. Seuss may have intended. Accurate or not – then or now – the “markets” choose to see things a certain way. I choose innocence and to see people as fellow humans – not hyphenated people. That’s how my mom and dad raised me and it has served me pretty well thus far.
I’ll close with another quote from my favorite children’s author. It’s from a book that I give to high school graduates whom I receive announcement from. It’s titled, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” (1960).
“Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Note: Please enjoy the embedded great music video by J.H. Mullen