Digital Book Burning Comes for Dr. Seuss

Last week, when Amazon removed Ryan T. Anderson's When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment from its digital shelves, many conservatives rightly decried the act as a kind of digital book burning. Yet on Tuesday, six Dr. Seuss books received the same treatment for Theodor Seuss Geisel's March 2 birthday — a day now celebrated as "Read Across America Day." Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author's legacy, announced it would pull six books from publication due to allegedly racist and insensitive imagery.

"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press on the anniversary of the author's birthday. "Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises' catalog represents and supports all communities and families."

Yes, seriously. Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that it would pull six of the iconic children's author's books on the author's birthday.

The titles affected — 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 Quizzler — still appear on Amazon, but the bookseller lists them as "out of print."

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street has no buying options for hardcover or paperback formats, although another version of the book sells for $35 and users can purchase a used copy.

Digital Book Burning Comes for Dr. Seuss
Amazon screenshot

The original version of If I Ran the Zoo sells for a whopping $1,500 on Amazon, although alternative sellers are still listing the product.

Digital Book Burning Comes for Dr. Seuss
Amazon screenshot

By contrast, When Harry Became Sally does not appear anywhere on Ryan T. Anderson's Amazon author page.

Digital Book Burning Comes for Dr. Seuss
Amazon screenshot

The attack on Dr. Seuss as somehow racist traces back to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left smear factory known for branding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as "hate groups" and listing them along with the Ku Klux Klan. The SPLC's education arm, formerly Teaching Tolerance but now known as "Learning for Justice," issued a report condemning Dr. Seuss books for signs of "Orientalism" and "anti-blackness." Learning for Justice promotes Marxist critical race theory in public schools.

Loudoun County Public Schools, a Virginia school district known for its leftist tilt, removed Dr. Seuss books from its library shelves last week, ahead of the week celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday. (LCPS has also adopted SPLC curriculum in its elementary schools.)

Fitting the theme of Marxist critical race theory — which teaches that hidden "structural racism" permeates American society, a society that must be deconstructed and upended — Learning for Justice claimed that the characters in Dr. Seuss books were "virtually 100 percent white," save for a small minority of people of color. Of the 2,240 human characters in the books, only 45 characters appeared to be racial minorities, and "43 exhibited behaviors and appearances that align with harmful and stereotypical Orientalist tropes."

"The remaining two human characters 'are identified in the text as 'African' and both align with the theme of anti-Blackness.' It's also important to note that each of the non-white characters is male and that they are all 'presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanized roles,' especially in their relation to white characters," Learning for Justice claimed.

The Sneetches takes on the subject of racism, demonstrating how absurd it is to reject someone over surface characteristics. Teaching Tolerance even "featured anti-racist activities built around" that book. But Learning for Justice — the woke-r Teaching Tolerance — explained that "when we re-evaluated, we found that the story is actually not as 'anti-racist' as we once thought. And it has some pretty intricate layers you and your students might consider, too."

You see, gentle reader, the book's "message of 'acceptance' does not acknowledge structural power imbalances. It doesn't address the idea that historical narratives impact present-day power structures. And instead of encouraging young readers to recognize and take action against injustice, the story promotes a race-neutral approach."

Yes, the SPLC rejected the Dr. Seuss book that addresses racism because it does not try to turn children into activists. How un-woke, Dr. Seuss. Shame! Shame! Shame!

As of yet, The Sneetches and Other Stories remains on Amazon and Dr. Seuss Enterprises has not decided to unpublish it. However, if the publisher will revoke these six books, even Sneetches is not likely to remain safe for long.

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About the Author

Tyler O'Neil
Tyler O'Neil a conservative commentator, is Assistant Editor of PJ Media. He has written for numerous publications, including The Christian Post, National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Daily Signal, AEI's Values & Capitalism, and the Colson Center's Breakpoint.