"And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street," published in 1937, is one of Dr. Seuss' books withdrawn for his racial stereotypes.
Christopher Dolan / AP / SIPA
No, Dr Seuss is not "canceled".
Tuesday, the company which manages the heritage of the famous author of children's books simply decided to put in the closet six titles, for their racial stereotypes, among the fifty illustrated albums published by the author in fifty years of career.
But the announcement provoked the fury of the American right, which denounced a new example of "cancel culture".
Among the titles removed from the list is the first published in 1937 by Theodor "Seuss" Geisel,
And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street
, which notably features a "Chinese boy", carrying a bowl and and chopsticks.
If I Ran the Zoo
, characters with long mustaches appear in what looks like traditional Chinese attire.
The wild thing about people pointing out Dr. Seuss's racism is that they're only spreading one drawing he's done when there's dozens of others that shouldn't be ignored pic.twitter.com/LTtG2lvYEP
- Brandon Rodriguez (@ brandonr107) March 2, 2021
"Inappropriate and hurtful"
"These books inappropriately and hurtfully portray characters," Dr. Seuss Enterprises explained Tuesday, revealing that the decision to withdraw was made last year, in agreement with publisher, Penguin Random House.
“Taking these books off sale is just one aspect of our commitment and plan to ensure that the Dr. Seuss Enterprises catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the group added in a statement released on Tuesday.
Several conservative figures immediately denounced a form of censorship in the name of political correctness.
They see it as a new example of the "cancel culture", which aims to tarnish the image or disrupt the activity of a personality or a company to force it to withdraw statements, images or products deemed offensive or discriminating, to apologize, or even to withdraw from public life.
"Depraved socio-political purge"
"When history examines this period, it will be seen as an example of a depraved socio-political purge driven by hysteria and madness," tweeted Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), better known under the name of Dr. Seuss, became from the 1930s one of the most prominent references in children's literature in the United States, and his creations were exported in many countries of the world.
The books of Dr. Seuss have sold more than 600 million copies and the universe which he invented has frequently been adapted to the cinema, with in particular
The world of Dr. Seuss has often been criticized in the past for conveying, according to several observers, clichés about different ethnic communities, and has even been accused of promoting white supremacism.
A study published in 2019 by the Conscious Kid association, which promotes equality among youth, highlighted the use of caricatures for Chinese, Japanese, or Middle Eastern characters.
It also showed that the only two black figures seen in Dr. Seuss' albums were portrayed with only a loincloth, carrying wild animals.
Do you mean diversity like this?
When depicting Africans, it might be important to depict as they truly are, instead of a stereotype of them.
Yeah, Dr. Seuss books are pretty fantastic, and there are problems with how some races are depicted.
- shc07404 (@ shc07404) March 2, 2021
Soaring prices on Amazon
The study also presented Dr. Seuss' animals as a vector of stereotypical racial representation,
primarily the Cat in the Hat
, one of the author's most famous books.
According to several publications, the cat was inspired by the "blackface" culture, a caricatural representation of black people by white actors in make-up.
The work of Theodor Geisel and the man himself are complex.
During World War II, the illustrator produced more than 400 political cartoons for the New York daily PM, most of them criticizing American isolationism and attacking Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini or Joseph Stalin.
Several youth comic book authors born before the war have been criticized for their approach to minorities, in particular the Belgian Hergé and his
Tintin in the Congo
Since the 1980s and 1990s, representations have evolved and now generally avoid clichés and caricatures.
The controversy gave a boost to the albums of Dr. Seuss, which occupied, Tuesday at the end of the day, 14 of the top 20 sales places on the online shopping site Amazon.
Old copies of
If I Ran the Zoo
were selling for up to $ 1,300 a piece