October 7, 2017

"A controversial mural at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Massachusetts will be replaced after several children's authors complained that it promoted racial stereotypes..."

"... and that they were boycotting an upcoming festival at the newly opened museum because of it" (Chicago Tribune).
[Mo] Willems, Lisa Yee ("Super Hero Girls") and Mike Curato ("Little Elliott") said the mural, which illustrates a scene from Theodor Geisel's "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," includes a "jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat and slanted slit eyes." The authors called the caricature "deeply hurtful."

Following the uproar, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which oversees the author's estate, said it would replace the mural with another image depicting another of Dr. Seuss' stories.

"This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do," according to a statement. "His later books, like 'The Sneetches' and 'Horton Hears a Who,' showed a great respect for fairness and diversity. Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change. In fact, Ted Geisel himself said, 'It's not how you start that counts. It's what you are at the finish.'"...
Why didn't they figure this out as they were designing the mural?

75 comments:

Luke Lea said...

This is silly. Seuss went out of his way to combat bigotry.

Ralph L said...

Why didn't they figure this out as they were designing the mural?

They wanted publicity for their opening and the chance to virtue-signal?

John Lynch said...

If they ever look at his wartime editorial cartoons they'll blow a gasket.

Jay Elink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

Seven Chinese brothers swallowing the ocean....and mitigating the ruinous effects of climate change!

When your fondness for certain books of your childhood is a benchmark of your ideology you know things have gotten really fucking silly.

Unknown said...

Just read Edward Sylvester Ellis's "The Huge Hunter; Or, The Steam Man of the Prairies": Cover & Text.

It was surprisingly entertaining, but I was given to reflect how fortunate it was that the ethnic humor was bog Irish rather than the "comic negro" that would populate boys' series like "Tom Swift" & "The Great Marvel" series later in the early 20th century.

Seuss was a liberal, not doubt about that, but there's also no doubt that some of his books have images and dialogue that wouldn't pass today. I think there are some unfortunate Africans in "If I Ran The Zoo" and some rhyme about "eyes at a slant" in another book picturing far off lands. It wasn't meant meanly, or to be any more comic than the exaggerated cats or foppish courtiers in the Bartholamew books.

Jay Elink said...

Chinese don't have have eyes that appear "slanty" because of their epicanthic eyefolds, and they don't use chopsticks.

They have eyelids shaped like the every other race, and they all use knives and forks.

Oh wait! They DO have "slanty" eyes, and they DO use chopsticks. But we're suppose to ignore reality.

And, of course, it's entirely OK now to stereotype whites---especially white males---until the cows come home.

Utter rubbish.

tcrosse said...

I'm willing to bet that most of the complainants were round-eyes.

Fernandinande said...

I once saw a deeply hurtful caricature of a European who was stereotypically depicted without chopsticks, wearing an unpointed hat and unslanted, almost vertical but narrow eyes and a demeaning name which emphasized the fact that he was stupider than a rabbit.

Jupiter said...

"Why didn't they figure this out as they were designing the mural?"

Why didn't Barack Obama figure out that butt-fucking is the foundation of marriage in 2007?

Rob said...

Racial stereotypes are the least of it. Dr. Seuss was practicing without a license.

William said...

Presentism. We are now to believe that we at this present moment are at the apogee of morality and tolerance and that the days and works of all who came before us deserve nothing but contempt......I don't blame the Chinese for taking offense at a stereotypical representation, but, as Althouse points out, the offense does not come from Seuss but from the curators who chose this picture to represent his work.

Ralph L said...

How are we to know they're Chinese if they don't look like Chinese?

Jupiter said...

The comments of Jay Elink and Fernandinande bring up an interesting question. How can we be sure that Elmer Fudd is not a black Chinese woman? Neither sexes nor races have any distinguishing characteristics. They can't possibly, because both sex and race are social constructs. They don't actually exist, they are figments of the patriarchal white supremacist imagination (not that white males are an actual thing, of course). So how can it be possible to have hurtful stereotypes about the members of nonexistent groups? It's a puzzle.

I'm pretty sure that Elmer is gay. Not that his having that gender identification would have any implications for his behavior or appearance or anything.

buwaya said...

They should have run it by the actual Chinese, in China.
Well, anywhere in Asia will do.

Who would have remained silent, out of prudence, wondering (again, as they have so often) about occidental inscrutability.

Quasimodo said...

I just spent 2 weeks in China and I saw: a Chinese man .... with chopsticks, a pointed hat and slanted slit eyes. Better tell him how hurtful he is being.

Angel-Dyne said...

"deeply hurtful"

Lol.

Bet you anything that they find caricatures of whites deeply funny. (Which they are, if the artist is any good.)

YoungHegelian said...

Sneetches Get Stitches.

Ann Althouse said...

"This is silly. Seuss went out of his way to combat bigotry."

Partly because he was responsible for some genuinely racist images of the Japanese in WW2 and in ads for Flit bug spray, before he got into the children's lit game. The image in question was from one of his earliest books.

They had so many images to choose from in making the mural. It was just stupid to pick the stereotypical "Chinaman."

n.n said...

Dr. Seuss Enterprises was diversity compliant (e.g. color, features). The complainers are anti-diversity. Unfortunately, for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, they live and operate in a Pro-Choice, Pro-Choice, Pro-Choice nation, where the law is selective, unprincipled, and opportunistic. Perhaps they failed to make their protection "donation".

tds said...

Can't understand what's exactly wrong with Chinese hats, chopsticks and slanted eyes

Comanche Voter said...

Ain't no Justice. It is "Just Us" in the Social Jut Us Klan. They worship in the secular church of the perpetually outraged. And they are tiresome.

Ann Althouse said...

The key point here is that they had a new museum and they designed a new mural and could have used all sorts of different images.

Why choose that one? It's just weird. Could they have thought it was providing good diversity, representing the Chinese people?? Because that's just really stupid.

This is different from condemning Dr. Seuss for things he drew long ago or excluding those things from the museum displays. You can cry "presentism" about that, but the mural is something that was made just recently. It is part of the present.

Ann Althouse said...

"While The Sneetches is metaphorical and does not contain human characters, it is taught in schools as “anti-racist” so must be examined through a racial lens. Unfortunately, it fails in being “anti-racist” for several reasons. One is because it portrays the “oppressed” in a deficit-based framework. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are portrayed as “moping and doping” in their self-hatred and spend all their time, energy and resources trying to be exactly like the dominant Star-Belly Sneetches. This is a very problematic and misguided way of looking at oppressed groups. Oppressed communities are generally fighting to hang on to their own culture and identity and not have it erased, marginalized or appropriated by the dominant culture. Oppressed people want to be free of oppression, they do not want to be their oppressor...."

Unknown said...

So now a couple of authors are all it takes to destroy a legacy and jerk a museum around? No way for Seuss to push back on these claims of racism since he is dead. Do we get a vote from all billion chinese to see if a majority are offended? As in so many of these cases, a handful of people want to decide what we can see or say or celebrate. They want to decide about tearing down statues and censoring art. Not a majority, just a couple of people is all it takes. The authorities (universities, governments, museums) really need to get a backbone against all this bullying.

Mark said...

Remember -- the ACLU is a white supremacist group.

Mr. Majestyk said...

My Chinese wife and I have read Dr. Suess to our kids for years. She has never mentioned being offended by how Chinese are depicted.

William said...

Thank God for the Germans. The one ethnic group you can relentlessly parody and murder ruthlessly without causing offense. I just saw the recent Wonder Woman film. Good movie, but she kills an inordinate number of Germans in order to secure world peace. They're not Nazis either, but WWI Germans.

Mr. Majestyk said...

The Left's crusade on things like this reminds my wife of the Cultural Revolution.

YoungHegelian said...
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YoungHegelian said...

I always love it when some lefty East Asian - American whines on & on about American racism & stereotyping while never, ever mentioning the ubiquitous & profound racism/ethnocentricity of East Asian cultures. I mean, those folks know they're the bestest of the best. They just have good enough manners not to rub it in our faces when they're around us.

You want an example? The guy standing in the elevator? That's the Korean view of the quintessential American tourist.

DanTheMan said...

What about the people who are offended by taking down the mural?

Mark said...

How do the depictions of Chinese people by Dr. Suess compare with cartoon depictions by the Chinese themselves?

Not a whole lot different.

You know, all these white progressives need to stop their imperialist, racist behavior of telling minorities that they need to be offended by this or that.

Michael said...

The three complaining authors will never in a thousand years have a mural of one of their books nor a museum in their name . That is what is deeply hurtful. Oh, and some Chinese use chopsticks. I have seen them.

Yancey Ward said...
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ALP said...

"I always love it when some lefty East Asian - American whines on & on about American racism & stereotyping while never, ever mentioning the ubiquitous & profound racism/ethnocentricity of East Asian cultures."
************
No shit. You should hear what my half Japanese partner has to say about what Koreans have done to teriyaki and other Japanese dishes. And when his Japanese mom was alive - hoo boy!

On the flip side, I worked at a firm owned by a Korean-American from SoCal. He had stories about how shitty the Japanese in the neighborhood treated him and his family.

Mark said...

In addition to whites telling indigenous peoples that "Redskins" is offensive to them and whites pushing to have it banned, it doesn't take much to notice how much men are the ones pushing the whole argument that abortion is a "woman's choice."

buwaya said...

This may be a bit far-fetched, but I predict (30% probability) that the Chinese will eventually save you from yourselves.

Yancey Ward said...

Good thing Seuss changed the concept at the last minute from "Horton Has a Ho".

tcrosse said...

OMG ! Disney too !

Hurtful Cartoon Racial Stereotypes

Mister Brickhouse said...

Next up - Dr. Seuss racist for not having any diversity. In the modern game, not noticing=races, noticing=races. It's a no win scenario, and all our Captain Kirks have long parted.

Mark said...

Depictions of people in ancient Chinese art -

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gentlemen_in_conversation,_Eastern_Han_Dynasty.jpg

http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/ancient-chinese-painting-merton-allen.jpg

http://www.digitalmeetsculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ancient-painting-China-1.jpg

Rabel said...

But what about the South Asian guy in the Turban and pointy shoes riding a blue elephant?

Koothrappali weeps.

RichardJohnson said...

"I always love it when some lefty East Asian - American whines on & on about American racism & stereotyping while never, ever mentioning the ubiquitous & profound racism/ethnocentricity of East Asian cultures."

Chinese and Chinese-Americans do not like blacks. What I have heard from them would be much closer to passing muster at a Klan meeting than at a meeting of earnest progressives.

Unknown said...

"Why didn't they figure this out as they were designing the mural?"

Maybe Asians were too successful to be considered victims until the explosion of identity politics.

rhhardin said...

I like the North Korean newsbabe. You'd never see her with chopsticks.

She'd make a great feminist, if they had feminism there.

rhhardin said...

There's two Asian faces, I understand. The round-face and the skinny lean face.

I don't know that our stereotypes distinguish them but it seems to be important in Asia.

rhhardin said...

Chopsticks are probably responsible for chop suey.

rhhardin said...

All looking alike is another Asian problem. Face details don't register.

rhhardin said...

"In many Western countries, crooked teeth are seen as imperfections and most people consider a straight set of pearly whites ideal. The story is slightly different in Japan, where "yaeba," or snaggletooth, are considered cute; with some men finding the imperfect smile they form endearingly childlike and attractive.Jan 31, 2013"

Jupiter said...

buwaya said...
"This may be a bit far-fetched, but I predict (30% probability) that the Chinese will eventually save you from yourselves."

A lot of the Chinese and Korean engineers I work with get just a little bit po-faced when they hear some progressive asshole nattering on about how Asians are "over-represented" in the highly-paid jobs they worked hard to get. They are beginning to realize that the Left thinks they should check their Yellow Privilege. Stop crowding People Of Color out of Harvard, slant-eyed oppressor!

If you mean the Chi-Coms, God helps us. They won't.

Bob said...

YoungHegelian said,

"I mean, those folks know they're the bestest of the best. They just have good enough manners not to rub it in our faces when they're around us."

I can give you a better example. In college, I belonged to a "professional" fraternity (accounting-related). One of the members was a very nice Korean fellow. He told me his Korean friends sometimes asked him why he spent so much time with "whites" (and other non-Koreans). It was kind of okay as long as it was for "professional advancement", but he was very clear that Koreans thought themselves to be a superior people.

There was a Korean man who worked in IT where I work. He had a rep for being a bit difficult to work with. Polite enough, but my boss and I were on the fence as to whether he would acknowledge either of us if we didn't acknowledge him first.

SDaly said...

Why didn't they pick another image? I bet that, along with TV advertisements, which portray America as 40% black, 30 percent hispanic and 20 percent asian, the museum was trying to be "inclusive," and that was the best they could come up with.

Mark said...

Meanwhile, I'm surprised that they have not rioted in Hollywood demanding that every print of "Some Like it Hot" be burned.

Oso Negro said...

A cariacature is deeply hurtful? Go the fuck home to China.

Biff said...

This reminded me of the Chinese immigrant family that moved in down the block from me when I was a kid. The mother and the grandmother used to tend their garden wearing pointed hats, and when they would take a break, they would squat (not sit) next to the garden and eat bowls of rice with chopsticks. Someone should have told them that they were reinforcing a cruel, racist stereotype. (Nearly fifty years later, the son from that family remains my oldest friend.)

Jim at said...

"Why didn't they figure this out as they were designing the mural?"

Because that was before the election of Donald Trump and The Great Purge commenced.

Achilles said...

"Why didn't they figure this out as they were designing the mural?"

Because the leftists hate asians and they thought it was ok.

mockturtle said...

It's not how you start that counts. It's what you are at the finish.

I thought it was Pete Carroll who said that.

TWW said...

The Museum will be renamed "Dr. Mengele".

mockturtle said...
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rcocean said...

Dr. Seuss was a Commie. I don't have the slightest doubt he would have approved.

He toed the party line when alive, and there's no reason to believe he would've changed.

sdharms said...

Didn't anyone notice that snetches is all about showing the ridiculous side of pc?

Bill Peschel said...

Racist authors gotta race.

If we're woke and look at the content of the character, then we're a threat to anyone who favor thinking about race and demand that we act according to their beliefs.

The museum capitulated to racists. They should have said, "Dr. Seuss is not a racist. The problem is that you hold to old, outdated racist beliefs, and we're offended you think he was just like you."

Let's see them justify their racist thinking.

stlcdr said...

Good grief.

This is the problem with adults (sic) analyzing children's books and stories. Adults are actually idiots, in these instances.if you look even slightly off kilter, you will find racism, sexism, etc in every story 'meant for kids. Stories which are designed to tell a simple moral in simple terms.

I'm sure Aesops Fables are both sexist and racist (and probably every other -ist that has been made up).

stlcdr said...

At some point, Manga will be considered racist.

Jay Elink said...

This is a very problematic and misguided way of looking at oppressed groups. Oppressed communities are generally fighting to hang on to their own culture and identity and not have it erased, marginalized or appropriated by the dominant culture. Oppressed people want to be free of oppression, they do not want to be their oppressor...."

*********************************
Snort! So , Chinese people move here for a better life, but what they want most of all is NOT to assimilate in the great Melting Pot of American Culture. No, they feel oppressed and fight to hang on to their own culture, which includes using chopsticks. But depicting them looking like Chinese people do, and using chopsticks to boot, is deeply hurtful.

There's only one way to describe people who ascribe to such horseshit. They are deeply fucked up.

Gahrie said...

Chinese and Chinese-Americans do not like blacks.

Blacks aren't especially fond of Asians either, especially Koreans who tend to own and operate stores in or around Black communities.

Gahrie said...
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Gahrie said...

... You should hear what my half Japanese partner has to say about what Koreans have done to teriyaki and other Japanese dishes. And when his Japanese mom was alive - hoo boy!

On the flip side, I worked at a firm owned by a Korean-American from SoCal. He had stories about how shitty the Japanese in the neighborhood treated him and his family.

Japanese and Koreans hate each other with a passion, which is funny because they are essentially the same people. But there is a long history of Korean/Japanese aggression and the Japanese occupation of Korea was marked by oppression and persecution. The biggest insult you can make is to call a Japanese person Korean, or a Korean person Japanese. Dangerous when most Americans can't tell them apart.

Henry said...

It was certainly the right thing to do.

Jay Elink said...


Japanese and Koreans hate each other with a passion, which is funny because they are essentially the same people.

**************

Yes. Many of the ancient Kofun tombs dotted around Japan show unmistakable signs of Korean influence, from the 5th century BC onward. Nothing dispositive, but enough to make the phalanx of people who "Protect" the Royal Family actively discourage delving deeply into those tombs.

Can't have loyal Japanese think they are closely related to the horrid Garlic Eaters.

Quaestor said...

It was certainly the right thing to do.

The right thing to do would have been to kick their sorry butts out onto the street. What shall we do with virtually every piece of classical Chinese since, well, the fucking Stone Age? If depicting slanty eyes is racist, then the Chinese are racist against themselves. Observe.

gadfly said...

In the eyes of the beholder, "jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat and slanted slit eyes."

Last time I checked, the Chinese have slanted eyes and use chopsticks as eating utensils. But the Chicago Trib picture shows no such character anywhere near the Lorax statue illustration.

It's all Melania's fault. But MassLive shows the picture as part of a poll in which 87% of respondents found the cartoon "not offensive".

Biotrekker said...

It wasn't that bad. It wasn't deeply hurtful.