It broke my heart to hear about Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ decision to stop printing some of his classic children’s books at the behest of outraged leftists. It was even more horrifying to witness so many people in power, from President Joe Biden to the executives at eBay, willingly comply with a small mob’s demands. Maybe it is easy to obliterate something valuable when you have never lived without it before.
The first time I read Dr. Seuss’s books was when I was pregnant with my son. Ever since I knew his existence, I began to read to him every night. I bought Dr. Seuss’s books in both English and Chinese to read each story to him in two different languages. I wanted him to become familiar with my voice. Like all mothers, I wanted him to have a much better childhood than mine, including having things I never had, such as great children’s literature.
I grew up in China. At the time, adults had nothing else to read other than books written by Mao Zedong. A collection of Mao’s books was a typical wedding gift for the newlyweds. Naturally, there weren’t many choices for children’s books either. The few children’s books I read had no adorable characters, nor did any convey a sense of humor or wit. There wasn’t much color in the books either. Most of the drawings were black and white, just like our colorless, dull life under socialism.
One story I still remember was “The Rooster Crows at Midnight.” It was about an evil landowner, Zhou, who was very cruel to laborers who worked for him. The story said the Chinese Communist Party liberated laborers and distributed land and livestock formerly owned by Zhou to these poor laborers.
One night, children patrolling the village caught Zhou as he was trying to steal a chicken. I still remember the picture in the book that depicts the scene when Zhou got caught: he knelt on the floor, head dropped, back bent, and hands tied back; the children who surrounded him all pointed their shining spears at him, with an indignant look on their faces.
The author of the book disclosed in an interview later that this book was based on a true story. In real life, Zhou confessed his crime in a struggle session and was beaten to death.
That’s the story I remember from my childhood. I had many nightmares after reading it. The Chinese Communist Party even turned this story into a movie. The CCP wanted people to believe owning private property and having more wealth than other people is evil. This propaganda campaign was effective. Zhou, the demonized landowner, soon became synonymous with evil.
In a totalitarian regime, children’s books aren’t meant to bring any joy or inspire a healthy imagination. Instead, their sole purpose is to instill the correct political ideology in young minds so we would be prepared to become devoted soldiers of Communism.
Like everyone else, I despised Zhou, the evil landowner, until years later I learned that my great-grandfather had been a landowner also. My great-grandfather was always kind, generous, and hardworking. He earned his land inch by inch through sweat, tears, and even blood.
The CCP took all his land and livestock away in the name of “land reform.” He had to endure many cruel struggle sessions, but miraculously, he survived. Learning the truth about my great-grandfather made me feel that the CCP had cheated me out of my childhood twice. Not only did I not have a normal childhood, but also I fell for the CCP’s lie that landowners like my great-grandfather were terrible people.
Tyranny Always Begins with Book Burnings
When I was reading Dr. Seuss’s books to my unborn son, I was not only introducing him to my voice, but also filling in a missing chapter in my own life. I learned that it was never too late to read great children’s literature.
“Green Eggs and Ham” may sound like nonsense, but Dr. Seuss reminded us that nonsense “wakes up the brain cell. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” If more of us think like children, if more of us are willing to open our eyes and explore different things and ideas, the world would be a much better and happier place. As Dr. Seuss said: “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
Just like the zealous Chinese Communists in the 1960s to 1970s, today’s leftist mob is bent on smashing the “old” world so it can build an ideologically purified “new” world on the carnage of the old. Their destruction usually begins with annihilating the most problematic aspect of our society. Few people can find reasons to object to it.
The initial acceptance then empowers the mob to target more for elimination, no matter the historical context. Within three years, we went from removing Confederate statues, which most Americans supported, to pulling down statues of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and renaming their namesake schools and buildings.
But today’s leftist mob won’t stop their destruction of our world until it gets all of us. No one is safe because none of us are flawless. They can always find faults with everyone and in everything. In an extreme circumstance, as we learned from China’s Cultural Revolution, some sin of ideological impurity eventually may be washed away by blood.
Such ideology-driven destruction will only stop when there is nothing valuable left to be eliminated: all the statues of flawed historical figures have been pulled down; all the problematic books have been burned; all the history has been rewritten; all dissenting voices have been silenced, and people who survive tremble in fear.
In such a new world where ignorance is power, future generations of Americans probably will have a childhood like mine: they may never read any books by Dr. Seuss nor hear of Beethoven’s music.
A Simple Call to Action
If that’s not the kind of world you want to see your children and grandchildren live in, you need to act now. Let the cancellation of Dr. Seuss become a call to action. Refuse to comply with the woke mob’s demand.
Here is something all of us can do: build a freedom library in your home or among friends. Let the cancel culture’s demand become your shopping list.
Since Big Tech companies like Amazon have sided with woke mobs and used their market power to help enforce the cancel culture, do not rely on their services or servers to fill your shelves (and children’s minds). Stock your freedom library with physical copies of books, movies, music, even statues (if you have enough space) that have been or about to be deemed problematic. As T.S. Eliot said, “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”
The more each of us can do to preserve truth, beauty, wisdom, and diverse ideas of our civilization, the better hope there is that our future generations won’t have to live in a colorless, dull, ignorant, and illiberal world.