A few days ago, central Jersey congressmen Rush Holt and Leonard Lance went back to school to read to kids. Special occasion was Read Across America Week, an NEA (those despicable teachers and their bothersome union) event celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday – today. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
Rush Holt, sitting cross-legged on the floor in a very serious, grownup suit and tie, read House Mouse, Senate Mouse. Leonard Lance, in a chair but leaning towards his students, read Dr. Seuss.
And that makes me wonder this Seussical Day whether my increasingly right-wing congressman Lance knew he was indoctrinating his little whippersnappers with some very volatile stuff. Equality. Tolerance. Democracy. Oh, no! See …
The Lorax was about conservation for little tree-huggers – anti-capitalist propaganda, by Seuss’ own definition – which the logging industry felt compelled to answer 20 years later with their own Truax about “forest management” (worst children’s book ever?). The Sneetches tackled racism and anti-Semitism. (NATO used it in Bosnia in 1998). Horton Hears a Who was about post-war occupation of Japan. (A verse in it – “even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small” – was co-opted by the anti-abortion right, which pissed off both Geisel and his wife, who threatened to sue). The Butter Battle Book was about the nuclear arms race every bit as pointed as Dr. Strangelove. In Yertle the Turtle, Yertle was Hitler, the turtle borrowed from his own early cartoons at the progressive PM and the pond the site of Yertle’s Hitler-like cruel rule. The PBS doc The Political Dr. Seuss has more on this, including his WWII-era editorial cartoons for the lefty NYC newspaper PM.
Why, in 1974, Dr. Seuss helped political columnist Art Buchwald tell Richard Nixon it was time to resign. Seuss rewrote “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” – his own book for early readers – crossing out Marvin K. Mooney and scribbling in Richard M. Nixon. Buchwald published Seuss’s altered text in his syndicated column. Nixon resigned 9 days later.
Now, I’m fine with this. I like it when the little crowd gets rhyme-y parables about equality, tolerance and democracy. Woo hoo! But Lou Dobbs (who lives up in Sussex County) sees dastardly Hollywood indoctrination in the animated The Lorax that opens today in theaters (oooh, Occupy Wall Street for the kiddies, oooh…). And Lance and Dobbs agree on … a lot of stuff.
If you’re wondering if I thought about writing this post in anapestic tetrameter, like Dr. Seuss, you know me only too well. But everything I came up with was very dirty (it’s Friday). Extra credit, and my admiration, for Comments Dr. Seuss-style below. Just keep it clean and play nice. Little pitchers have big ears. Here’s how Dr. Seuss did it.