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Old 3rd March 2021, 03:25 AM   #1
psionl0
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Dr Seuss books withdrawn

Political correctness has hit Dr Seuss's childrens' books as 6 titles are to be withdrawn from publication by Dr Seuss Enterprises.
Quote:
Six Dr Seuss books will no longer be published because of racially insensitive imagery, the company that preserves the author's legacy has said.

Among the six children's titles being withdrawn are If I Ran the Zoo, Scrambled Eggs Super, McElligot's Pool and On Beyond Zebra!
Quote:
But despite the books' popularity there has been disquiet expressed over the way they portrayed non-white characters.

For example, In And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, a character described as Chinese has two lines for eyes, carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice, and wears traditional Japanese-style shoes.

Another title, If I Ran the Zoo, depicts two men from Africa as shirtless, shoeless and wearing grass skirts as they carry an exotic animal.
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-56250658
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Old 3rd March 2021, 03:33 AM   #2
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It's interesting that 2 March is the anniversary of Ted Geisel' (Dr Seuss') birth and that's the day that his publisher chooses to announce that his titles are being withdrawn.

It'll provide a useful shirt term bump in sales no doubt

I wonder if some of the illustrations could be reworked.

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Old 3rd March 2021, 03:41 AM   #3
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Or, the company that publishes the catalogue of titles has voluntarily withdrawn these six because they consider them potentially problematic to their audience today & in the future and don't want them to negatively effect people's opinions of the rest of the brand.

They will see it as good management of his image, he also drew political cartoons & I'm sure they'd prefer people to concentrate on his anti-Nazi ones than when he depicted Asian-Americans as an army of "Honorable 5th Columists" preparing for a terror campaign.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 03:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I wonder if some of the illustrations could be reworked.
In a world that seethes with outrage over statues of George Washington, that seems unlikely to make a difference.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 03:53 AM   #5
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The propaganda art that he did for the government during World War II was full of racist imagery too. It was unfortunately common in the era. For example, the notorious Action Comics #58 cover featuring "Superman says: You can slap a Jap with war bonds and stamps" with an accompanying racist caricature.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 04:13 AM   #6
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Well, I wonder if there are any old Bugs Bunny cartoons that are not shown any more because of obviously racist depictions.

Nah! That would be poltical correctness gone mad, right?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 04:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Well, I wonder if there are any old Bugs Bunny cartoons that are not shown any more because of obviously racist depictions.
I'm guessing that this cartoon won't be seen outside of YouTube.
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
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Old 3rd March 2021, 05:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I'm guessing that this cartoon won't be seen outside of YouTube.
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
Yeah.

Isnít it understandable that certain racialized depictions and language which seemed fine to show kids in the 1950s now look a bit...well...racist?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 3rd March 2021, 05:47 AM   #9
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This current crop of "cancel culture" victims seem to be especially pathetic. come on reactionaries, you can do better than this!

Is anyone actually supposed to get bent out of shape over this piddly crap?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 06:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Isnít it understandable that certain racialized depictions and language which seemed fine to show kids in the 1950s now look a bit...well...racist?
Yes; that seems pretty straightforward to me.

(Not sure what should happen to the books on library shelves, though.)
Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
This current crop of "cancel culture" victims seem to be especially pathetic.
No one is being canceled, in this case.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 06:33 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Well, I wonder if there are any old Bugs Bunny cartoons that are not shown any more because of obviously racist depictions.

Nah! That would be poltical correctness gone mad, right?
That reminds me that this isn't something new. The collection of Looney Tunes cartoons that I purchased on Laserdisc decades ago had an introduction by a movie critic who explained that some of the cartoons contained stereotypes and racist caricatures.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 06:51 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
The propaganda art that he did for the government during World War II was full of racist imagery too. It was unfortunately common in the era. For example, the notorious Action Comics #58 cover featuring "Superman says: You can slap a Jap with war bonds and stamps" with an accompanying racist caricature.
I know this can be hard for people to understand in this era of enlightenment, but we were actually at war with the Japanese at that time, and the money that was being spent on those war bonds and stamps was being used to do a lot worse than slapping. "Jap" was racist? What about "Gerries"?

And it is tedious to point this out, but the "Jap" getting slapped was not just any Japanese person, but General Tojo. Is it racist to caricature a foreign leader? If you look at pictures of Tojo, it's actually a pretty reasonable depiction of him with the obvious exception of the buck teeth (IIRC he had no uppers due to poor hygiene).
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Old 3rd March 2021, 07:28 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
This current crop of "cancel culture" victims seem to be especially pathetic. come on reactionaries, you can do better than this!

Is anyone actually supposed to get bent out of shape over this piddly crap?
Some people are just very passionate about their hatred of free enterprise.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 07:31 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I know this can be hard for people to understand in this era of enlightenment, but we were actually at war with the Japanese at that time, and the money that was being spent on those war bonds and stamps was being used to do a lot worse than slapping. "Jap" was racist? What about "Gerries"?

And it is tedious to point this out, but the "Jap" getting slapped was not just any Japanese person, but General Tojo. Is it racist to caricature a foreign leader? If you look at pictures of Tojo, it's actually a pretty reasonable depiction of him with the obvious exception of the buck teeth (IIRC he had no uppers due to poor hygiene).
I didnít expect to log into this forum today and see someone defend racist caricatures, but here we are.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 07:38 AM   #15
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It's a great time for the collectors..

They can put them on the shelf with their " Song of the South " VHS..

I saw one on Amazon asking for $10,000.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 07:38 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by johnny karate View Post
I didn’t expect to log into this forum today and see someone defend racist caricatures, but here we are.
I, on the other hand, fully expected foolish comments like that.

Let's hope no Asian papers ever caricatured Trump, because that would be racist.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 07:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
And it is tedious to point this out, but the "Jap" getting slapped was not just any Japanese person, but General Tojo.
In that example, yes. Geisel did many other propaganda drawings for the war, and he did depict other Japanese people in a racist manner.

Quote:
Is it racist to caricature a foreign leader?
If you do it in a racist way, then yes. You can caricature anybody in any way, but some of those ways will be racist. Draw Obama as Sauron = not racist. Draw him as Sambo = racist.

Whether or not racism can be justified in wartime is a separate issue from whether it can be accepted now just because it was accepted then. We're not obligated to retain everything our ancestors made. We're absolutely free to shake our heads, post it to Reddit's cringe subreddits, and carry on with our own culture. The ability to do the latter was sort of the reason that particular war was fought in the first place.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 07:53 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I know this can be hard for people to understand in this era of enlightenment, but we were actually at war with the Japanese at that time, and the money that was being spent on those war bonds and stamps was being used to do a lot worse than slapping. "Jap" was racist? What about "Gerries"?

And it is tedious to point this out, but the "Jap" getting slapped was not just any Japanese person, but General Tojo. Is it racist to caricature a foreign leader? If you look at pictures of Tojo, it's actually a pretty reasonable depiction of him with the obvious exception of the buck teeth (IIRC he had no uppers due to poor hygiene).
Tojo was hanged after the war for atrocities carried out on his orders, but what people today are upset about is that he was portrayed as a racist caricature. Anything but that.

The interesting thing I found about Dr. Seuss' wartime propaganda work is that Private Snafu et. al. were racist caricatures of white Americans. So were some of the drawings on the same page as the Chinese caricatures in "Mulberry Street". There's a band of tuxedoed, top hat wearing folks. Are those meant to be real people? Of course not. They're ethnic caricatures.


As for the retiring of those six titles, I don't think they are a great loss to the world. The caricatures of African tribesmen, typical for the era, were, I think, actually harmful, and may still be. I can see people getting offended by them, and the works themselves are not sufficiently important that they need to be continued. The six titles discontinued were not the top sellers. I do think that it's ironic that the author of "The Lorax" and "The Sneetches" would find himself a pariah of today's Politically Correct crowd.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:01 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Yeah.

Isnít it understandable that certain racialized depictions and language which seemed fine to show kids in the 1950s now look a bit...well...racist?
Yeah, the way they depicted Elmer Fudd as a stereotypically entitled and stupid white man was over the top. Almost couldn't take it seriously.

What I'm wondering here is why Seuss isn't "cancelled". I mean, between the racist children's books, his racist comments, his minstrel show and blackface participation, isn't he a prime candidate to be scrubbed from history? Or are we doing the "I like him, so we are selective with him" thing?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:01 AM   #20
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First the classic Song of the South and now this?

What next they will come for The Black and White Minstrel show?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:05 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
What I'm wondering here is why Seuss isn't "cancelled". I mean, between the racist children's books, his racist comments, his minstrel show and blackface participation, isn't he a prime candidate to be scrubbed from history? Or are we doing the "I like him, so we are selective with him" thing?
It's almost as if some people are capable of judging actions in context, rather than entire persons. How crazy is that?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:08 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
In that example, yes. Geisel did many other propaganda drawings for the war, and he did depict other Japanese people in a racist manner.


Not to mention depicting Asian-Americans as the "Honourable 5th Column" queuing up across multiple states to be armed with explosives to use against their country in "Waiting for the Signal From Home". This would have been round about the time of Internment of course. Geisel also produced cartoons that lampooned the America First lobby for not caring about children dying under the Nazis so long as they were foreign children, I don't think anyone is saying he was an inherently bad person (at least not here), but he was a product of his time and it seems reasonable that his publishers want to focus on the material that has stood the test of time and retire that that reflects an earlier set of standards most people don't hold today.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:11 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I do think that it's ironic that the author of "The Lorax" and "The Sneetches" would find himself a pariah of today's Politically Correct crowd.
I don't think he would actually. "I was wrong then and I know better now" seems to be an effective approach when it's clearly sincere, and as I understand it, Geisel did come to think differently about those kinds of depictions.

And while the family and publisher have decide to cease printing a handful of books, I don't see a massive antipathy towards the rest of his catalogue. There are probably some extremists, but most people you'd label "PC" are still fans.

Will Eisner is another great example. He drew some terrible depictions of black people in some of his early comics. As an older artist, he reflected on antisemitic depictions of his own ethnic group and saw the connection and worked to be better in the way he depicted people.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:19 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
It's almost as if some people are capable of judging actions in context, rather than entire persons. How crazy is that?
What an exciting time we live in! Tell me more about how we excuse a blatant but popular racist because everyone did it back in his day?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:24 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
And while the family and publisher have decide to cease printing a handful of books, I don't see a massive antipathy towards the rest of his catalogue. There are probably some extremists, but most people you'd label "PC" are still fans.
Give it time.

Hopefully it won't stick, but I have a feeling that there will be a persistent buzz that "Dr. Seuss did racist stuff", and so elementary school librarians will feel pressure to take the whole catalog off the shelves. (Assuming there are libraries and shelves these days. That's so last century.)
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:29 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Give it time.

Hopefully it won't stick, but I have a feeling that there will be a persistent buzz that "Dr. Seuss did racist stuff", and so elementary school librarians will feel pressure to take the whole catalog off the shelves. (Assuming there are libraries and shelves these days. That's so last century.)
Yes because slippery slope arguments that no one is actually arguing for are the reason we need to keep as much blatant racism as we can.

We can not rest until Ni**er Boy Licorice is back on store shelves world wide and not just in australia.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:33 AM   #27
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All I know is I have a 1937 copy of "To Think that I Saw it On Mulberry Street" in my rare book collection so this all good news for me.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:37 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
What an exciting time we live in! Tell me more about how we excuse a blatant but popular racist because everyone did it back in his day?
We call them "Founding Fathers" and put them on the currency, and some of them even have monuments erected in their honor.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:39 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I, on the other hand, fully expected foolish comments like that.

Let's hope no Asian papers ever caricatured Trump, because that would be racist.
If they give him an exaggerated characteristic stereotypical of white people that he doesnít actually possess, then yes, it would be.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:41 AM   #30
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I grew up with Dr. Seuss as a kid, and may even still have a couple of the books in question. I certainly once had On Beyond Zebra and If I Ran the Zoo. My older sister had Mulberry Street. They're not great literature, and a couple of them at least are not even the best of Seuss. The society of which Dr. Seuss was a spokesman was, unfortunately, deeply flawed, and though at the time those fairly minor barbs of racism were either not noticed or not objected to by some of us, whining about political correctness doesn't make them right. Things change. Things ought to change. We notice things now that we passed over then, even if we were fairly well aware of the more blatant examples of stereotyping.

Works of cultural and artistic importance need, I think, to be judged as products of their time, and some latitude must be allowed, but the notion that we cannot shed any objectionable baggage without forsaking some ideal of cultural continuity is, I think, just another kind of political correctness, the notion that if we shed any of our dismal baggage we will lose our sacrosanct identity.

That said, I suspect that in at least a couple of these instances, a compromise would be possible, if the artistic merit of the works were sufficient to warrant it. New editions could have the pertinent illustrations either removed or redrawn, or (as I think some cartoons have done) accompanied by a statement noting the change of values since they were drawn. If the publishers of these books have not done that, it just might be that they are not important enough to matter. Or maybe they're playing the butt-hurt game and hoping that enough people will whine about PC to bring them back. I don't know. But I do know there's plenty of other stuff left.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:46 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Tojo was hanged after the war for atrocities carried out on his orders, but what people today are upset about is that he was portrayed as a racist caricature. Anything but that.
Yes, itís all anyone talks about. Such a hot topic. Every where I go, people are buzzing about it.

Next time someone brings it up (and it wonít be long!) Iíll inform them of the exciting new fact I learned on this forum today: Racist caricatures arenít racist if the person theyíre depicting is bad.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:48 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
What I'm wondering here is why Seuss isn't "cancelled". I mean, between the racist children's books, his racist comments, his minstrel show and blackface participation, isn't he a prime candidate to be scrubbed from history? Or are we doing the "I like him, so we are selective with him" thing?
You seem disappointed.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:48 AM   #33
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How did I already know before I even opened this thread that most of the "Waaa Waa counter culture" talk would be about things that aren't Seuss?

Just standard whataboutism and "talk about anything and everything else."
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:53 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
How did I already know before I even opened this thread that most of the "Waaa Waa counter culture" talk would be about things that aren't Seuss?

Just standard whataboutism and "talk about anything and everything else."
But we learn so much! Like that we either have to tolerate anti-Japanese racist cariacatures or else we're siding with Tojo in WWII. There are no other options, those things are infrangibly connected!
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:53 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
In that example, yes. Geisel did many other propaganda drawings for the war, and he did depict other Japanese people in a racist manner.
I was specifically referring to the Superman cover.

Quote:
If you do it in a racist way, then yes. You can caricature anybody in any way, but some of those ways will be racist. Draw Obama as Sauron = not racist. Draw him as Sambo = racist.
Hence exaggerate the ears but not the lips (as the editorial cartoonists did for Obama), that kind of thing? Just curious--what feature on a white person would it be racist for a caricaturist to exaggerate?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:53 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Give it time.

Hopefully it won't stick, but I have a feeling that there will be a persistent buzz that "Dr. Seuss did racist stuff", and so elementary school librarians will feel pressure to take the whole catalog off the shelves. (Assuming there are libraries and shelves these days. That's so last century.)
If they feel the need to take them off the shelves then itís probably for fear their copies will be stolen. Reactionaries are already jacking up prices grabbing copies of a book they wouldnít have cared about a week ago. Iíve seen ads for Mulberry Street going for $1600, latest printing.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:55 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
But we learn so much! Like that we either have to tolerate anti-Japanese racist cariacatures or else we're siding with Tojo in WWII. There are no other options, those things are infrangibly connected!
I just love how many times I've been asked why we haven't cancelled the Founding Fathers yet in discussions that have absolutely nothing to do with them.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 09:01 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I was specifically referring to the Superman cover.



Hence exaggerate the ears but not the lips (as the editorial cartoonists did for Obama), that kind of thing? Just curious--what feature on a white person would it be racist for a caricaturist to exaggerate?
The size of his Mannheim Steamroller CD collection.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 09:03 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I was specifically referring to the Superman cover.
I know. But that cover isn't one of his works being "cancelled", it's six books. If you want to do a broader analysis of Geisel's work then do so by looking at multiple works, not just one Superman cover.

Quote:
Hence exaggerate the ears but not the lips (as the editorial cartoonists did for Obama), that kind of thing? Just curious--what feature on a white person would it be racist for a caricaturist to exaggerate?
I have no idea, the subject of how to depict white people in a racist manner is a tangent I'm not interested in. I don't believe hypothetical ways to depict white people in a racist way bears a critical importance in deciding whether or not it's acceptable to stop publishing certain of Geisel's works that contain questionable depictions of nonwhite people. Unless you're suggesting all racist depictions must be tolerated because it's conceivable any race can be so depicted, even if they actually weren't in any specific example being considered?
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Old 3rd March 2021, 09:05 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I just love how many times I've been asked why we haven't cancelled the Founding Fathers yet in discussions that have absolutely nothing to do with them.
Well, I refuse to purchase any new albums Thomas Jefferson releases.
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