Dr. Seuss and the Fall of America

Dr. Seuss and the Fall of America

Dr. Seuss is the latest victim of US intolerance. Of all things I could imagine, Dr. Seuss? Beloved part of my childhood, nightly companion as I read my children to sleep. Dr. Seuss. He encouraged my children to try new foods (Green Eggs and Ham) and not to be too prideful (The Big Boast). He entertained them, twisted our tongues and taught us so much.
His audience was children, but not really. Dr. Seuss’ greatest messages were for adults (The Butter Battle Book, Yertle the Turtle, Gertrude McFuzz, and so much more). I’ve tolerated much over the last year of nasty politics and insanity, but somehow this is what broke me. Dr. Seuss? Really? Have you lost your minds?

In the US today, an unbecoming and frightening atmosphere pervades much of the culture and society. It is hard to determine when it began, but subtlety no longer exists. No one hides their intolerance, their bigotry, their greed and corruption. What would Dr. Seuss say about a society that celebrates shutting down the voice  of the President of the United States (and no, it doesn’t matter that it was Donald Trump)? It means nothing that politicians credit Facebook and Twitter rather than their own offices and misguided actions.
As Voltaire said long ago, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” On this, I grew up. This, and Dr. Seuss.
First Danger Mark is Silencing Others
First you silence the President, then you erase history, then you silence Dr. Seuss? That Americans aren’t upset and terrified by this is shattering and terrifying. In truth, I’ve always enjoyed his books but when I read “The Butter Battle Book” that I purchased for my children but never read to them, I realized his absolute brilliance…
Yertle the Turtle was the ultimate lesson for a dictator. Abuse others, and you’ll find yourself face down in the mud. That simple, a message to leaders. And now, from his grave, Dr. Seuss delivers a message to us all. When you silence a voice or are silent to that silencing, you break a vital trust in your society. I do not recognize the America that exists today, and that frightens and saddens me greatly.
Watching Nations Fall
We watched the fall of the Soviet Union and were not surprised. Today, I believe, deep in my soul, we are watching the fall of the United States…nothing less. And it crushes my heart and soul. Gone is the possibility to disagree with someone politely and to discuss. Everything is so nasty in the country of the red, white and blue. Denigrated are the heroes…lost is the unity.
I don’t care about Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Yes, I can’t stand Biden.. No, I don’t much like Donald Trump, though yes, I appreciated his raw (yes, and sometimes crude) manner. But  the level of fake that personifies Joe Biden and his victory has been elevated to holy in the United States. And now that fakeness shows its claws by silencing its adversaries.
A few years ago, my youngest son spent a few months in the States after his army service. I feared that he’d “fall” for the shopping and the openness of the country I remembered. Going outside Israel offers a bit of a shock each time. Even native-born Israelis get tired of always watching, always thinking. It’s so amazing to walk through an open marketplace and not think once of any danger. It’s wonderful to walk in Venice, Amsterdam, Athens and London and not once assess, watch, or consider the potential that the backpack on the floor could be a bomb, that the man over there, young and watching, is planning something. That is the pull for many of our young and I worried as he explored with his friends.
Is the US Next?
So I spoke to my son regularly and listened to what he was telling me. The US is much larger than Israel. In just days, he drove 10 times the size of little Israel. The colors were so green. The grass is soaking wet in the morning. The land very beautiful. “As beautiful as Israel?” I asked him carefully. Different, he said, and I smiled because at 16, I thought the very same thing.
And then I asked him about the people. They are so polite, he told me. And, he added, he preferred the openness of Israelis, the directness, to the fake and so very politically correct Americans. Even then, a few years ago.
You just know where you stand, when you speak to Israelis. More, when you put the most left and the most right Israeli together, they’ll end the conversation with laughing and sometimes even a hug. The distance between us isn’t so great that we forget we need each other. Always, there is the reality that we stand alone in the world, so as Israelis, we stand together.
Seuss Book Removal is the Latest Sign
All this and more, I thought of when “they” removed six of Dr. Seuss’ books, lest they offend. Perhaps, as a writer, I can suggest that offending is not the most serious offense but rather, indifference is. Over the last few months, I have become less and less interested in voicing my opinions (perhaps to the delight of many). This too is a danger. We must be vigilant, and we must be vocal.
The childish need to endlessly fight those who dare to express an opposing opinion is, I believe, more dangerous than the communism of the Soviet Union. When it is my way or no way to the point of demanding the silence of those who disagree with you, don’t be surprised when you end up with the Soviet mentality on your doorsteps, broadcast on your news stations, and spouted forth from the White House and elsewhere.
I have seen the word “fascism” bantered around on Facebook lately. The Israeli government is fascist because it has purchased and established a program that enables every citizen of Israel (yes, Arab and Jew despite what the morons on Saturday Night Live tell you). Silencing the President is good, silencing a doctor who promotes a treatment other than the vaccine is fascism. Trump was a fascist. Biden is a fascist. What is missing in all these discussions is that the greater threat posed by censorship.
So back to Dr. Seuss
Oh what a mess, we’ve made of the land we live in
Silence was never a thing to be given,
Oh what a loss we now must feel.
Honesty and truth should have been real.
Gone are the days when the world went around
And nowhere can the land we love be found
The cat in the hat has left our fair shore
And here we are left, abandoned and poor.
Yertle has risen above and beyond
The fox now lurks on the edges of the pond
And in the lands he created, so many now mourn
Having lost their right to speak, they stand forlorn.


  1. I enjoy your blog posts, Paula, but I wanted to point out that this claim about censorship of Dr. Seuss and his books is inaccurate. As you can see at https://www.seussville.com/statement-from-dr-seuss-enterprises/, the foundation that oversees the publication of the Dr. Seuss books made the decision to stop publishing the six books in question. This decision was not undertaken by the U.S. government or from other outside sources. We must always question the actions around us and not jump to convenient but false conclusions.

  2. Garth Fink

    Is it possible to publish or broadcast the text of the banned Seuss books in Israel or other places outside the US?
    I cannot believe the books were banned for what the caricatures looked like, but more likely for what the book said and what it meant!
    Can the censorship and consequential tyranny be resisted in this way?

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