And to think they stood up for Dr. Seuss on 42nd Street.
If there was anyplace that the Cat in the Hat was going to be sent packing, where there was going to be a reckoning over why Dr. Seuss only included one fish, two fish, red fish and blue fish in his works, it would be in New York City.
And yet, despite the fact six of Theodor Seuss Geidel’s titles are being pulled from publication because his publisher says they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong” — and eBay has gone as far as to delist those books if they’re posted for bidding — the New York Public Library says it has no plans to take those titles out of circulation.
“As with all public libraries the New York Public Library does not censor books,” NYPL spokeswoman Angela Montefinise told the New York Post, the paper reported Thursday.
“In this case, the six titles in question are being pulled out of print by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, so the very few copies we have of these titles will continue to circulate until [they] are no longer in acceptable condition,” she added.
“In the meantime, librarians, who care deeply about serving their communities and ensuring accurate and diverse representation in our collections — especially children’s books — will certainly strongly consider this information when planning storytimes, displays, and recommendations.”
Yes, you heard that accurately. While the library system serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, most people associate the system with the iconic main branch on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan.
If you want to find the belly of the beast when it comes to that illiberal form of liberalism that’s gone by so many names, from political correctness to cancel culture, it can’t be far from there. You wouldn’t even have to take the subway to get to it, most likely.
And yet, they don’t think your child is going to be permanently scarred and turned into a future Proud Boy because there’s an Asian caricature in “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” that doesn’t sit well with modern sensibilities. Amazing, that.
New York City’s other two public library systems are taking similar stands, although with slightly less aplomb.
On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Public Library said the books remained in circulation.
The Queens Public Library, meanwhile, said it was considering moving the books to its reference section. However, they added, “we stand firmly against censorship.”
One hopes this is where the anti-Seuss wave rolls back, although one doubts it. Earlier this week — just before “Read Across America Day,” a day which falls on Seuss’ birthday — Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it would no longer publish six titles.
“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 Quizzer,” it was announced, would all be taken out of print immediately.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in a statement. “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.”
To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles:
— Dr. Seuss (@DrSeuss) March 2, 2021
These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.
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.
— Dr. Seuss (@DrSeuss) March 2, 2021
The offending material? The best-known example was from “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” where an Asian man with a conical hat, eating out of a bowl of rice, is depicted. A side-note to cinemaphiles: If this is enough to get a children’s classic taken out of print, you may want to track down hard copies of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “A Christmas Story” now, as unfashionable as physical media might be.
The cancelation of Dr. Seuss moved so quickly, it’s almost difficult to pinpoint where it began. It felt a bit like an unexpected winter storm. A few flurries are coming down, you don’t notice much — and then three days later you’re digging out from under two feet of snow and wondering when the roads will be plowed.
The inflection point seemed to be when Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia sent a statement to employees encouraging them to disassociate “Read Across America Day” from Dr. Seuss, citing “strong racial undertones” in his work.
“Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate ‘Read Across America Day’ in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard,” an announcement from the school district, obtained by The Daily Wire and published on Feb. 26, read. “As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss.”
A Feb. 27 clarification after the story ran said that the books “have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms” but that “Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools,” which is interesting wording after an announcement that all but labeled Seuss’ body of work sullied with racist undertones.
Apparently, this struck enough of a chord that President Biden didn’t mention Seuss in his Read Across America Day proclamation. The books themselves were taken out of print. And, again, if you want to buy them, eBay is delisting them for the time being.
However, considering the exorbitant prices they were selling for — some resellers were asking upwards of $1,000, according to MarketWatch — one might speculate this has to do with price-gouging.
Whatever the case may be, you can still get them from the New York Public Library. My guess is there might be a bit of a waiting list, however — even in liberal New York.
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