URLs du Jour

2021-03-10

[Amazon Link]

  • Ever get the feeling that the world is busy adding couplets to that Martin Niemöller poem? I'm pretty sure John McWhorter feels that way: And then they came for ON BEYOND ZEBRA!.

    Last week I learned that the copy of Dr. Seuss’ On Beyond Zebra that I and my daughters have so enjoyed for years is now officially a collector’s item. The Seuss estate has decided to no longer publish it and five other Seuss books because of their racist imagery.

    I get that we might not want to be showing kids some of the images in the other books, where the only black people depicted are exotic, subservient “natives,” or the only East Asian is a Chinese person who “eats with sticks” in To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

    However, I was at first perplexed as to just what was now offensive in On Beyond Zebra and had to page through it carefully. I assume that the problem is with one, or perhaps two, pictures in it that could be interpreted as “Orientalist.”

    A careful look at a classic. And McWhorter brings a linguist's insights to how the Seussian language works its magic.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour, by the way, … yes, it's technically still available there … only has "collectible" editions on sale from third parties. And (as I type) asking prices starting from $400 hardcover and $349 paperback.

    That can't last. Can it?


  • But about McWhorter's contention that "we might not be showing kids" some of the Seuss pics: Kevin D. Williamson says that's malarkey: Mere words and images in Dr. Seuss books can't harm kids.

    The idea that children are harmed by mere exposure to words and images — rather than educated by such exposure — is pure superstition, but regnant superstition. Hence, even self-consciously anti-racist works such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” have been suppressed by school boards and libraries for the crime of accurately portraying the world they were written about. “Of Mice and Men” has come under similar pressure, as have dozens of other works by authors from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou. 

    And this is not only about verboten words and images: Part of the complaint against “Mulberry Street” was its “centering white childhood,” a social-justice no-no. As quoted in the Los Angeles Times, a parent looking to spare their children the indignity of reading “Huckleberry Finn” — arguably the greatest American novel — complained about its storytelling: “There’s no counter-narrative to this black person dealing with racism and a white person saving them.” This is not about George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television — this is about the elimination of ideas and points of view, narratives, and entire bodies of literature.

    It's also been a hallmark of the complainers to use language to obscure rather than illuminate. See above: "Centering white childhood". What does that mean? Why does it apply to Dr. Seuss's kids, and not to Ramona Quimby?

    Oh oh. Ramona Quimby, you're next!


  • On that topic, Ann Althouse notices a strange inconsistency in the legions of the woke: Why isn't there a vibrant anti-pornography movement within the present-day cancel culture?.

    I wondered. I remember the big anti-pornography movement of the 1980s — and how it was squelched — and I thought it is due for a comeback. We're censoring Dr. Seuss books for minor racial improprieties, but the monumental misogyny problems of pornography are ignored. 

    It could be, I suppose, that the <voice imitation="horatio_caine">cancellers are going up against what they perceive as …

        (•_•)
        ( •_•)>⌐■-■
        (⌐■_■)
        
    … softer targets</voice>.

    YEEEAAAHHHH.


  • Back to KDW@NR, the latest installment of his weekly series The Tuesday. And this week it's unsurprising: Democrats Abuse Coronavirus Crisis to Bail Out Union Pension Funds.

    The so-called American Rescue Plan, which would be more accurately called the Democrats Looting the National Fisc to Pay Off Demanding Constituencies and Grease Every Squeaky Wheel to the Left of Mitt Romney (DLNFPODCGESWLMR) Act, contains a few nickels and dimes for coronavirus vaccinations and billions upon billions of dollars to bail sundry labor bosses and financial managers out of the most recent episode of financial trouble associated with union pension plans, a decades-long parade of organized crime and disorganized incompetence brought to you by the Teamsters, the mafia, Wall Street, and the most ruthless mob of them all: the U.S. government.

    This is straight-up piracy, but it is also more than that. Like their public-sector counterparts, these union-run multi-employer plans are in trouble not because of the coronavirus epidemic or some other unforeseeable circumstance but simply because they have promised extraordinarily generous benefits and failed to put aside money to pay for them. Under pressure from previous underfunding, the managers of these pensions (a committee that has over the years included everyone from Goldman Sachs to Labor Department regulators) have sought out riskier and riskier investments, hoping to achieve higher returns and help them close the gap. That has — contain your jactitations of shock and alarm! — not always worked out as intended. (The thing about risk is, it’s risky.) In effect, they took their money to the casino, came up short, and now are using their political clout with the Biden administration and congressional Democrats to demand that somebody else — you taxpaying suckers — make good on their losses.

    Yes, he said "jactitations". He went there.


  • I should have mentioned that the previous item belongs in the "In a Saner Country, People Would Be Outraged" Department. But so does this, from Jacob Sullum: These Nonprofit ‘Disclosure’ Requirements Are an Assault on the First Amendment.

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says he wants to prevent charitable fraud, while the House Democrats who approved the "For the People Act" last week say they want to fortify democracy, fight corruption, and block foreign interference in U.S. elections. But the methods they have chosen pose a serious threat to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

    Under a policy at the center of a First Amendment case the Supreme Court will hear this term, Becerra requires that all 115,000 nonprofit organizations operating in California report information about their major donors. That information is supposed to be confidential, but in practice it is not, because California has a history of accidentally posting it online and making it easily available to anyone with rudimentary hacking skills.

    If it's passed, one would hope we don't have to wait too long before the Supreme Court eviscerates it. But while we're relying on hope, why don't we hope for Democrats to suddenly take their oath to support the Constitution seriously?