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June 11, 2020

Dr. Seuss gets “cancelled”? 

How (not) to Handle Past Depictions of Racism. Three instances of how to handle past hate: racism, sexism, and anti-semitism or homophobia.

Censorship is easy, but blunt. Context, plaques, moving statues to museums, adding information and history and learning and context and teaching—that’s harder, but has great benefits. We don’t want to erase our troubled history—we want to learn from it. Lest we forget.

Dr. Seuss gets “cancelled”

“[Initial post] says that Dr. Seuss is being “erased” from children’s literature.

The article talks about 6 Seuss books that won’t be sold any more. These books weren’t that popular to begin with, were they? It’s not like they are getting rid of Grinch and One Fish, Two Fish, and Cat in the Hat.

Secondly, the article states, in the last paragraph:

Before he became a giant of children’s literature, Mr. Geisel drew political cartoons for a New York-based newspaper, PM, from 1941 to 1943, including some that used harmful stereotypes to caricature Japanese and Japanese-Americans. Decades later, he said he was embarrassed by the cartoons, which he said were “full of snap judgments that every political cartoonist has to make.”

First of all, this shows that he isn’t being cancelled. His estate is the one shelving the books.

Secondly, the article recognizes something that several people on both sides of the “woke” culture can’t seem to process themselves . . . that people are capable of growth. If Dr. Seuss was alive today, I’m sure he’d be embarrassed of the caricatures and would want to revise them.

OP, stop over-reacting.

These books aren’t beloved. Dr. Seuss isn’t getting cancelled; his estate is calling the shots, and they probably know more about him than any of the “woke” or “anti-woke” crowd on social media.” ~ smart comment

And, a smart reply: “[The initial post about Seuss getting cancelled], and then your response, are prime examples of the dangers of jumping to conclusions too quickly. I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I read OPs comment and agreed with him. Then I saw your comment and agreed with what you said. If I had just read the initial comment and walked away, I wouldn’t have had the full picture. Context is so important. Discussion is important. In today’s society, people are much more likely to read a headline and formulate an opinion based on it. And because dramatic headlines sell better, people tend to hold more dramatic points of view/opinions. It’s also how we spread so much misinformation. We must do better as a society. Educate our children to be more discerning, to be nuanced and deliberate in forming an opinion and speaking on it.”

Whoopi Goldberg: How (not) to Handle Past Depictions of Casual Racism, Sexism, Anti-Semitism in Warner Bros., Tom & Jerry, Dr. Seuss.

We need less censorship, and more warnings/context. We can use past racism to teach, as Whoopi Goldberg does here:

“But removing these instances would be the same as saying they never existed.”

Also: “Disney Adds Warnings for Racist Stereotypes to Some Older Films “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” a 12-second disclaimer on the Disney+ streaming service reads. They are classic animated films like “Dumbo” (1941) and “Peter Pan” (1953)”

Comment: “I feel like this is the correct way to handle this. Much better than censoring them and pretending it never happened, but still acknowledging that it was wrong.”

~

“Oh, you took a boat to America? That’s cute. We walked here from Mongolia.”

“Why do we need a statue for a guy that got lost?”

“If you think Columbus landing here is [ir]relevant because other people got here before him you don’t understand history.

Tearing down a statue of Columbus however isn’t really that controversial imo. The guy wasn’t just a white colonist, he was particularly brutal, and not wanting to continue venerating him isn’t a rejection of our history.”

~ comments.

I love old statues. But… ~ Waylon Lewis

On statues of Christopher Columbus, Confederate generals, and Tyrants, oh my.

I love old statues.

I love history.

How’s the quote go? If we don’t learn from history, we remain forever a child. Something like that.

So yeah, I love statues.

But if they’re of a Hitler, a Mussolini, a Stalin, a Mao, a Confederate, a Columbus, a tyrant, a murderer, a rapist—and, let’s face it, that’s far too many statues—let’s remove that history from the commons, and place it mindfully in a museum where it can be seen in an educational context as history, instead of erasing it on the one hand (Lenin, Saddam) or glorifying it on the other (Confederate generals, Columbus).

 

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Protesters have been dismantling and defacing monuments of Confederate leaders, slave traders, and other individuals with anti-black legacies in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the resulting protests against police brutality and racism.⁣ ⁣ The debate over monuments to racist and anti-black historical figures has been going on for years, particularly in the US. It remains to be seen whether the protests can overturn opposition to the removal of these statues. It’s also unclear what impact the protests could have on changing the police policies that disproportionately impact people of color. But as they continue, it is clear that they have already helped prompt the dismantling of some of the symbols those American inequities were built upon.⁣ ⁣ Photo 1: A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, on June 4. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week that the state would remove the statue “as soon as possible.”⁣ ⁣ Photo 2: Protesters in Bristol, England, throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into the harbor on May 25.⁣ ⁣ Photo 3: After the monument to Edward Colston was tossed into the harbor in Bristol, England, a protester taped a sign to the statue’s base. It reads, “This plaque is dedicated to the slaves that were taken from their homes.”⁣ ⁣ Photo 4: Philadelphia police stand near a vandalized statue of Frank Rizzo. A former police commissioner and controversial mayor of Philadelphia who served from 1972 to 1980, Rizzo was criticized for his racist and homophobic beliefs. City workers removed the statue on June 3.⁣ ⁣ Photo 5: A vandalized statue of Louis XVI, the last king of France before the French Revolution, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, on May 29.

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Monticello does a good job of this, in not only being open about but talking about the slaves who lived and toiled there as human beings, which they were—not just as property.

One of my favorite TV shows was Mad Men, for this same reason. It didn’t Disneyify or whitewash history, making it all easy and sweet and saccharine and safe. It showed the anti-Semitism, the racism, the sexism, the sexual predation…and it sure didn’t glorify it or back it up. It showed it bare, raw, as it was—sick, cynical, ridiculous.

I don’t want my future children growing up in a world that seeks perfection, tho, either. FDR is one of my heroes—he did many good things for Civil Rights and equity—I can list some for anyone curious—and he did one very bad thing, or went along with it. Perhaps two that I know of. It’s important to see his goodness, and to see his failings, both.

But then there’s another class of human—murderers, authoritarians, racists—they deserve no glory, they deserve to be held up only as lessons to our generation and future generations. We can see racism rise again when we hide history away—see the abrupt and frightening rise of racism in Germany—or, our US. And so, as with the Holocaust museum, we must remember and learn from horror, just as we remember and learn from art, science, and achievement.

Any thoughts welcome. I am here to share what I have learned, but I am here to learn and listen to you, too.

For more.

 

In that vein…a few comments re a questionable musical. “New TCM Series will showcase 18 historically significant films that have been labeled as “problematic.”

“I watched 7 brides for 7 brothers with a group of friends. The main plot is that the 6 younger bothers decide to actually kidnap 6 women from the nearest town and bring them to their farm in hopes that they will eventually fall in love. The brothers are the heroes of the story and it is a musical. It is hilariously inappropriate and dated and me and my friends laughed our asses off at it.”

“But goddamn if those high energy dance numbers haven’t stood the test of time.”

For those who haven’t seen the movie:

 

“And the fight scenes too!”

“Dance fighting scenes were the best. I love that movie so much.”

“It’s incredibly dated and ridiculous but dammit if I don’t love the sh(t out of that movie. I used to have an old westerny style dress that was too big for me and I’d just dance around my room throughout all the musical numbers singing along.”

“BLESS yore beautiful hiiiiide! Wherever you may beeeee!”

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