The Redemption of Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss

One hundred and ten years ago today, Theodor Geisel was born. He is better known today by his pen name, Dr Seuss. And we all love him even if his book If I Ran the Zoo was cruel to give to young readers. Or maybe that’s just my complaint. But the fact is that he wrote and illustrated a number of great books and the world is a far better place for him having lived.

Now I’m going to tell you an adult story about Dr Seuss. But don’t worry, it has a happy ending. He was what Bill O’Reilly would call a “far left loon.” That is to say that Seuss was an actual liberal and not the faux liberals that are so popular today in America. He was early in his condemnation of the fascist movements in Europe. Related to this was an extreme anti-Japanese attitude during World War II.

He wrote uncharming things like, “But right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: ‘Brothers!’ It is a rather flabby battle cry. If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs, whether it depresses John Haynes Holmes or not. We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.” And it wasn’t just the Japanese who we were actually at war with. He didn’t seem to distinguish them from Americans who happened to have had Japanese ancestors, as you can see in the following disturbing political cartoon:

Dr Seuss Anti-Japanese Cartoon

It’s terrible and disappointing and all of that. But we all have vile tendencies. We are all less than we know we ought to be. What is best about humans is that we are able to change—some of us anyway.

After the war, Seuss visited Japan where our treatment of the people of that nation, including the nuclear bombings, caused him to change his opinions. As a result, he wrote Horton Hears a Who! which he dedicated to a Japanese friend.

The addition of “redeemed sinner” to Dr Seuss’ many great accomplishments only makes me love him more. A person’s a person, no matter how small.

Happy birthday Dr Seuss!


Source: Good Comics

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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