Woke-O Haram Comes for Dr. Seuss | Opinion

On January 7, 2015, terrorists stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and brutally murdered the employees of the satirical publication for daring to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The same day, across the Atlantic, in Atlanta, Georgia, woke progressives set about destroying the fire chief of the Atlanta Fire Department for having the audacity to publish a Bible study that quoted Scripture on homosexuality.

The Charlie Hebdo situation was savage, violent and deadly. Physically, Atlanta's fire chief was unharmed and lived to tell the tale. But the Wokes made sure to ruin his life, take away his livelihood and assassinate his character all for writing a Bible study with permission from his employer. Between the Islamic fundamentalists and the Wokes, the dividing line that separates them is increasingly only murder and death itself. The Wokes will ruthlessly wreck the life of any person who runs afoul of their ever-shifting fundamentalism, and redemption is often not possible. The Wokes will send mobs to houses and businesses to threaten, harass and destroy.

Like the Islamic fundamentalists who have apologists in the media assuring everyone that the terrorists are just misunderstood, the Wokes too have sympathizers in the press who collaborate with them, support them and gaslight on their behalf to claim people and things are not really canceled. Alternatively, and even worse, they often justify cancelations by brashly asserting that the canceled person got what he deserved.

Dr. Seuss is the latest to run afoul of Woke-O Haram, the most appropriate title for a movement that terrorizes the nation. In his early writings, Dr. Seuss wrote six books that have racial issues, most often in the artwork of the books. In 2017, after Melania Trump delivered a pile of Dr. Seuss books to a school, she was vilified for contributing racist material to a library. A librarian actually rejected the gift as "racist propaganda." Mrs. Trump's approval of Dr. Seuss's material appears to constitute the useful grounds on which Woke-O Haram struck.

In 2016, President Barack Obama praised Dr. Seuss's work for its depiction of tolerance and acceptance. Hollywood has turned Dr. Seuss's books into paeans to environmentalism, diversity and tolerance. Once Melania Trump performed a generous act with Dr. Seuss books a year later, though, Seuss suddenly became problematic.

Now, the Wokes want him canceled. Not so, says Washington Post reporter Philip Bump. His son recently received one of the problematic Seuss books, If I Ran the Zoo. Bump writes, "In Seuss's drawing, the bird-thing is perched on a pole being held by two caricatures of African men that are so obviously and immediately racist that it was almost breathtaking. It would be like watching an interview with Tom Hanks in which he suddenly started casually dropping racial slurs, a grotesque act accentuated by astonishment at the source. This was Dr. Seuss, the benchmark for authors of children's books! And here are the racist caricatures he drew."

Dr. Seuss books on bookshelf in 2015
Dr. Seuss books on bookshelf in 2015 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Bump argues that Seuss is dead, so he cannot be canceled—and anyway, he is not really being canceled because only six of his many books are no longer going to be published. He continues, "If Dr. Seuss's profile wanes a bit as a result of the attention being paid to his drawings—the only form of 'canceling' at play here—to whom is harm being done?" He answers his own question: If you have a problem with all of this, you might be the problem.

Of course, it goes beyond six books. In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia English teacher Charis Granger-Mbugua wants Seuss off the reading lists altogether. She writes, "[R]acism, bigotry and hatred should never be celebrated, even in the writing of some of our most celebrated authors. There are too many other stories to be told, voices to be heard and books to be read that are just as capable as any by Dr. Seuss to inspire young minds and reflect all readers." Granger-Mbugua hilariously also notes she read Dr. Seuss to her son and only recently learned of his racism—something that she, an English teacher, could not deduce for herself.

The National Education Association (NEA) started "Read Across America Day" in 1997 and tied it to Dr. Seuss's birthday. His books, characters and images have been used throughout its history until the last few years, as Woke-O Haram increasingly declared him racist. Now, instead of Dr. Seuss, the NEA recommends as age-appropriate a book about a boy who dresses as a mermaid, a book about a prince who is a secret cross-dresser at night and a book about the plight of illegal immigrants. In the 108 books recommended for this year's "Read Across America Day," zero were from Dr. Seuss.

The Wokes and their media sympathizers say Dr. Seuss is not canceled. He is already dead. While it is true anyone can go on Amazon and buy his books—except those problematic six—the Wokes are working to disappear him before our eyes. "Read Across America Day" has, until now, consistently used Seuss. Now? He is nowhere to be found, English teachers demand we move on and reporters declare you racist if you have a problem with it. Woke-O Haram strikes again.

Erick Erickson hosts the Erick Erickson Show from Atlanta, Georgia.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.