The fires from the embers have yet to cool down over the announced “cancellation of Dr. Seuss.” Of course, he is not cancelled. Nor are his books banned. As a conservative, I am annoyed that fellow conservatives can jump to quick conclusions after being riled up with triggering rhetoric. I mean, isn’t that what you complain about regarding liberals? Though Amazon has other things to possibly answer for, the company is only removing items for sale at the request of the owner of the material. As a believer in the free market, I see nothing wrong with the owner of property deciding to no longer sale what they own and to remove it from sale. This in itself does not trouble me, and we as conservatives should defend this basic right even if you don’t like the reason.
First, brace yourself for a slap of reality. The owners of the estate that controls the property of Dr. Seuss has announced they are removing six titles because they believe they may be offensive. Many took it to heart and are angry over the decision. Yet how did they fight back? They bought massive amounts of Dr. Seuss books, many of them are not even the ones being removed. In other words, they financially rewarded the same company that decided to remove the books in the first place! I mean, seriously, think about that!
Second, if they really wanted to fight back, they did it wrong! Instead of increasing the monetary value of the Dr. Suess brand, they should have stopped buying the whole series altogether. I mean, if you are fighting mad (over a presumed book banning), then why reward the very people who spurred you to be fighting mad? This is horrible strategy on so many levels. They got played like a fine fiddle! Beware of companies who will purposely pull stunts like this fully knowing that reactionary buying is profitable for them.
Third, some of Dr. Seuss’ works are used to show how bad Trump is and that “America First” is awful. A story of his recently made into a major animation film, The Lorax, is a blatant story about the environment that is absolutely worshiped by the climate change people right now. Oh, and the protagonists were caricatures of redneck/hillbilly/southerners with accents and all. It is a clear mockery of many conservatives and a favorite piece to push the climate change issue on our children, but suddenly you adore Dr. Seuss and want to buy up all the books? We should pay more attention to what we feed our children.
Conservatives genuinely believe in the First Amendment and despise the notion that someone has the power to arbitrarily determine what is or is not fit for the community to see.
Yet…many of us believe that there is a greater issue at stake. There is a clear threat that we are seeing, and the frustration is that it is hidden under terms meant to soften the blow like, “not wanting to offend” or “there is concern…” There are efforts to silent conservative voices on many levels, and the attempts are far more blatant and, in your face, than before. It may put some of you on edge and it has made you easy prey for statements like, “Dr. Seuss is banned.” I get it. I truly do. Conservatives genuinely believe in the First Amendment and despise the notion that someone has the power to arbitrarily determine what is or is not fit for the community to see.
In this particular case, there is a sinister back story going on that should give us cause for alarm. The entity managing the estate of Dr. Seuss made this decision based upon feedback from academia and groups concerned with racism. They are obviously operating under the current paradigms of critical race theory and can find a racist even where one does not exist. You know, the kind of material recently used for race training that embarrassed Coca Cola because it emphasized being less white! The one where the material was taken down from LinkedIn and where Coca Cola was doing a tap dance to appear innocent. Yah, it is this group think that was advising the Dr. Seuss people on their material. This group now delights in their growing power to simply label something as “racist,” and simply watch as people uncomfortably scramble to take drastic actions to equally condemn to prove that they are not racist themselves. Of course, if your white (women may have some grace here), you are still a racist and you will never be able to work it off. Sorry. So, what does this lead to? If there is something I want removed or silenced, all that has to happen is the mere accusation of racism to be issued and that does the trick.
Maybe the removal of certain books concern you, but you should be more concerned with what the left wants to replace them with. For example, the books that are being added to the list for Read Across America (that was dominated by Dr. Seuss) is being slammed packed with left-wing, woke filled, material. Here are some examples:
Julian Is a Mermaid. This is about a little boy who sees women dressing as mermaids and wants to dress like them.
The Prince and the Dressmaker. This is about a prince who secretly wears dresses at night.
Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card. This is about an illegal immigrant from Iran.
We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults. This is another illegal immigrant tale.
Now this is what the left is not factoring into this conversation. Their response to charges of “cancel culture” and “censorship” has been a mix of plausible deniability and mild agreement at the same time. In this case, there was no lofty decision to ban Dr. Seuss books. No government agency actually banned them, and no law was passed against them. By this the claim is made that no actual censorship has been made. However, at the same time the left admits that it is completely acceptable to declare a book, article, etc. to be offensive and thus capable of being removed. In other words, they are saying, “It is not censorship, BUT we agree with censoring works that we find offensive.” This is nothing short of preloaded circular logic to be wielded depended on the complaint, designed to simply argue, though without substance.
Leverage is thus given to a political entity to, in effect, “censor” what is appropriate speech. This is CLEARLY a violation of the concept of free speech! You cannot say there is no censorship and then turn around and say that certain things should be removed because it may offend someone. But who are we fooling? The left knows this but prefers to be drunk with power as they giddily decide what can and cannot be fit to be heard…all without passing a law or technically violating a right. Instead, they get someone else to do their dirty work for them. As I write this Ebay is actively removing people from reselling older versions of the books in question. This move, prompted by a fear of appearing racists if they do not do so, clearly goes beyond the desire not to print anymore. This is a move to blatantly prevent the resale of older copies. There is no claiming innocence here as if this is not an attempt to squash certain books.
So, the left will on one hand say that there is no real censorship, but on the other hand actually give the ok for censorship for material that they (and only they) find offensive.
The truth is that other books have been banned specifically for their political content. Just recently Amazon removed When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment by Ryan T. Anderson. This was not the choice of the owner of the property, but of Amazon. It is an obvious move to remove a book they do not want for political and ideological reasons, but they hide behind vague responses without telling any real reason. On top of that, a complete social media platform called Parler was removed because Amazon wanted more control exercised over what was allowed on it. Think about it. There are certain things they want censored, and since Parler was not doing it, so they shut them down. Sound American enough for you yet? So, the left will on one hand say that there is no real censorship, but on the other hand actually give the ok for censorship for material that they (and only they) find offensive. Though innocence is claimed, there is hardly anything innocent about it.
Imagine if Republicans hosted a good ole’ fashioned book burning. I mean the kind where the books are stacked a mile high. Everybody can show up with guns just for good effect. American flags can be waving just to give more of a touch for the obvious cries of “fascism” that are sure to follow. Let us add rhetoric that denounces the designated and highly offensive material and warn corporations of the drastic response in store for them if they dare support them. Come on, let us not skimp on this. Let it be the chance to incinerate all works of Marx or any communist for that matter. All socialist material must certainly burn too. If anything offends you, even if it is not socialist in nature, we will just call it “socialist” anyway on account that we are so offended. Burn all critical race theory works on account that the concepts are racist in themselves (not a stretch by the way). Add in all things that we find offensive, and so on. Then torch it! Let it burn a mile high and then let us cry with delight to high heaven. Now tell me, will this not provoke an outrage? Will not cries of “censorship” ring out loud by the same people defending removing titles that appear offensive?
The Washington Post ran an article about “white students” (this had to be emphasized of course) burning Jennine Capó Crucet’s novel “Make Your Home Among Strangers” where she writes about white privilege and adjusting to white schools. They burned it because they felt it was full of hypocrisy, but of course, no, they are just racists. On another note, Mexican feminists stole books talking about sex changes with spiritual therapy from book fair and set them aflame. I cannot find any article in the Washington Post about this event, though they have covered numerous stunts by the feminists in Mexico. It is only an outrage apparently if white people do it! They apparently dislike book burnings, but ignore them if a potential ally does it.
Yet what is the difference between a live book burning and a digital book burning? Front row theatrics! Actual book burnings are far more impressive, but they have a negative stigma to them (unless Mexican feminists do it). However, digital book burnings do not conjure up such sentiments. They are a cleaner affair, more behind the scenes. They both accomplish the same political goal, the silence of an idea, but one just seems so much nicer than the other. It is here that the left cannot come to terms with what they are doing. They would go stark mad over a literal book burning but have no problem with a digital version that does the same thing. But of course, all things are permissible when you add, “It is for your safety.” Right?
“Oh, you don’t like book burnings. Well, quit doing it then!”
On second thought, perhaps conservatives should host a massive book burning. Find a strategic spot, say in front of an Amazon office building, and publicize it a month out. Make known the titles that are being burned and why. Torch them and wait for the inevitable outrage to follow. “Oh, you don’t like book burnings. Well, quit doing it then!”
Philip Sharp is a US Army Infantry Veteran of 20 years with 3 combat deployments, author of "Not in the Wind, Earthquake, or Fire," and host of the podcast “Rage of the Age: Politics, Religion, Economics & History With a Conservative Bend.” You can follow Philip Sharp on Twitter @RageoftheAgeNow.