Dr Seuss books withdrawal is a 'product recall' not cancel culture, racism expert claims

THE decision to stop publishing six Dr Seuss books is a "product recall," not an example of cancel culture, an expert on racism said.

Philip Nel, a professor at Kansas State University and an expert on racism in children's literature, said that the six books that Dr Seuss Enterprises said it would stop publishing include "clear" examples of racist stereotypes.

"Dr Seuss Enterprises has made a moral decision of choosing not to profit from work with racist caricature in it, and they have taken responsibility for the art they are putting into the world – and I would support that," Nel told the Guardian.

The six books that Dr Seuss Enterprises – the company that controls the late author's legacy – said it would stop publishing are: 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.

The decision has led to much backlash, with many online commentators – and even prominent politicians – commenting on how Dr Seuss has become the latest victim of so-called "cancel culture."

However, Nel pointed out that the books aren't being banned, and the author himself – a beloved children's writer who has sold millions of copies of his books worldwide – is not being "cancelled."

"[The books are] not going to disappear," Nel told the outlet. "They're not being banned. They're not being cancelled. It's just a decision to no longer sell them."

Nel pointed out that the author – who died in 1991 – made efforts to tone down racial stereotypes in his books later in life.

He called the revisions "imperfect, but well-intentioned efforts that softened but did not erase the stereotyping."

Recent claims have alleged that there were racist caricatures of black, Asian and Arab people in several Seuss works.

The renowned author's stepdaughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, spoke out after the Seuss Enterprises decision, saying that he was not racist – but she did understand the company's move to stop producing the books.

"There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body — he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much," she told the New York Post.

The cancel culture critics took issue with another cartoon victim this week, when writer Charles Blow – in a New York Times Op-Ed piece commenting on the Seuss scandal – accused cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew of perpetuating rape culture.

Blow discussed hidden racist and sexist messages embedded into media made for children.

"Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent," Blow wrote.

Twitter users were quick to slam the position, pointing out that Pepe Le Lew – Looney Tunes' French skunk cartoon – could hardly normalize anything.

But Blow stuck to his guns in series of tweets on Friday.

"RW blogs are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let's see. 1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will," he wrote.

"2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won't release her 3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping.

"This helped teach boys that 'no' didn’t really mean no, that it was a part of 'the game', the starting line of a power struggle," he continued.

"It taught overcoming a woman’s strenuous, even physical objections, was normal, adorable, funny. They didn’t even give the woman the ability to SPEAK."

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