First they came for Mr. Potato Head (except they didn't). Then they came for Dr. Seuss (except they didn't).
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) invoked the children's book author while debating a voting rights bill on Tuesday, claiming an unnamed "they" had moved to "outlaw" Dr. Seuss.
Aside from the fact that McCarthy is a lawmaker who would theoretically have some say in what is or isn't outlawed, he was seemingly referencing a debunked claim that Dr. Seuss had fallen victim to cancel culture at a Virginia school district. Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided for itself on Tuesday it would cease publication of six of the author's most offensive books, saying they "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong." Educators and parents have for years debated Dr. Seuss' legacy, considering he published many racist works before he reportedly pivoted to children's books and expressed regret for his previous images.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
But the Virginia school district simply moved to reframe its Read Across America Day as not explicitly tied to Dr. Seuss' birthday. Contrary to what several conservative outlets and pundits have asserted, the district assures everyone the books "have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms."
As writer Charlotte Clymer notes in a fact-check on the claim Dr. Seuss has been "banned," the reality is that eight of the 10 most challenged books in 2019 were challenged for containing LGBTQ themes, often opposed by socially conservative groups arguing the content was inappropriate. None of the 10 books were challenged or banned for racist imagery.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.