Wussification of the West
by Ilana Mercer
Herewith, the latest in the saga of Dr. Seuss. The New York Times reports that “Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because of their use of offensive imagery.” None other than Dr. Seuss Enterprises, “the business that oversees the estate of the children’s author and illustrator,” “had decided last year to end publication and licensing of” the following titles:
“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” (1937)
“If I Ran the Zoo” (1950)
“On Beyond Zebra!”
“Scrambled Eggs Super!”
“The Cat’s Quizzer”
These custodians of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s work simply rolled over. They agreed to cancel their own books after consulting with the educational idiocrasy. It took panels of ponderous oafs to conclude that the “whimsical stories [that] have entertained millions of children and adults worldwide” “revealed strong racial undertones.”
Some parents were aflutter, too. The following headline perfectly captures the “wussification“—that fretful melding of “wimps” and “p-ssies,” en masse, to make for a Wussy Nation: “Parents grapple with racist images in Dr. Seuss books.” Grown-ups “grapple” with things like food and medicine shortages; with the fact that the educational establishment that is depriving kids of the literary canon has failed to teach them to read, write and speak English properly. Or, picture this: video footage of Kamala Harris being swallowed whole by a python has surfaced. She is being subjected to the crushing peristaltic movements of the giant reptile, as he digests her. You “grapple” with that: to pull or to publish these ostensibly upsetting images, that is the question. (Adult-humor alert for Wussy Nation.) But grownups do not “grapple” with Dr. Seuss content!
The Dr. Seuss book-burning gave a guest on Tucker Carlson’s eponymous show the giggles: “It’s total distraction from the real issues,” claimed one Chadwick Moore. So wrong. Come to think of it, our much-loved TV host’s defense of the purged Dr. Seuss books fell short of freedom’s standards: “Dr. Seuss was not a racist” was the gist of it. Tucker’s mistake was his contents-driven defense of these kiddie books:“Dr. Seuss was not a racist. He was an evangelist against bigotry,” pleaded Tucker. “He wrote an entire shelf of books against racism, and not in a subtle way. They were clearly, explicitly against racism. That was the whole point of writing them, to teach children not to be racist.” Even if Dr. Seuss was the pedagogic, sanctimonious bore Tucker makes him out to be—actual racism in the targeted literature should be a peripheral issue, or no issue at all. The Argument from Freedom means arguing process, not content.
Whether he intended it or not, the premise of Tucker’s defense of Dr. Seuss is that if we do detect “legitimate” racism in literature—there is a case for banning it. (Now, Tucker might not have meant it that way, but, this is what the structure of his argument implies.) By contrast, freedom makes the case for an unfettered free market in ideas, good and bad. Freedom argues for politically impolite books to be published and read freely.
Banning books, moreover, assumes a lack of choice and agency among individual human beings. It’s also predicated on a higher authority that decides for the rest of us which cultural products are fit for our consumption. The Argument from Freedom means arguing not over the contents of Mein Kampf or McElligot’s Pool, but for their publication irrespective of their content.
Which is why I say freedom’s argument is an argument from process, and not content. Mein Kampf, and any offensive literature, needs to be available in a free society to free men and women who want it. And not because of history; so that we don’t forget it or repeat it (blah, blah, blah, as I heard it enunciated by Seattle’s radio mouth, Jason Rantz, the other day).
Alas, in the face of the cancellation of people and publications, cancelled conservatives just keep these logically weak and, frankly, loser mea culpas coming. Like the argument from Hitler, which is a kind of “WhatAboutism”: “Amazon and eBay sell Mein Kampf, why not Dr. Seuss? I want what Hitler got, Amazon and eBay. Me too. Boo-hoo.” Tweeted “Musil Protégé”: “Conservatives [inadvertently] condone presentism. As Audrey says in Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan: ‘Has it ever occurred to you that our world judged by the standards of Jane Austen’s time would (look ridiculous)?’”
Most great literature doesn’t meet the sub-intelligent standards of the woke illiterati, who control the intellectual means of production—the schools (primary, secondary, tertiary), the press, publishing houses, think tanks, Deep Tech and the Deep State. In some of the axed Dr. Seuss books, the typically cartoonish illustrations exaggerate the physical characteristics of a “Chinaman” and one or two African islanders. You know, just the kind of characteristics that, once-upon-a-time, made books about faraway places and people so exciting to kids. Much of the Western literary canon—indisputably the greatest works of literature ever—is guaranteed to violate woke racial dogma. Yet, even by Wokepedia’s telling, “Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist.” What next? Should we ban Shakespeare because of Othello and Shylock?
YouTube: The Wussification Of The West: Shall We Ban Shakespeare For Othello And Shylock? https://youtu.be/Pb_X_08Q3kE
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s currently on Parler, Gab, YouTube & LinkedIn, but has been banned by Facebook and throttled by Twitter.