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National is focused on the issues that matter to Kiwis

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 am, March 7th, 2021 - 39 comments
Categories: censorship, making shit up, national, same old national, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Over in the US of A the Senate has just passed Biden’s Covid stimulus bill.  The bill, which allows for stimulus payments of $1.9 trillion and which provides welcome although very modest payments to American citizens, was opposed at every turn by the Republicans, even though it had overwhelming public support.

Instead of concentrating exclusively on the budget Republicans went all cancel culture on it after news broke that the estate owning the rights of Dr Seuss’s books had decided not to continue printing six of them.

Esquire has the details:

On March 2, the nation’s annual Read Across America Day (a holiday once synonymous with Dr. Seuss, designated on this date to honor his birthday), Dr. Seuss Enterprises released an unexpected statement. The venerable author’s estate announced that it has decided to end publication and licensure of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, including his first book under his celebrated pen name, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (published in 1937), and If I Ran the Zoo (published in 1950). “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the statement read, alluding to their appalling racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The estate’s decision prompted days of relentless cable news coverage from Fox News, as well as cries about “cancel culture” from prominent conservatives, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused Democrats of “outlawing Dr. Seuss” on the House floor. Sales of Seuss’ most-beloved books skyrocketed amid the discourse, topping Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s online bestseller charts throughout the week. Meanwhile, copies of the now-discounted books soared in price, with resellers listing those titles for up to $500 on eBay.

When you look at the books they have some content which was really out there, acceptable perhaps back in the 1940s and 1950s but no longer acceptable now.  So a decision to no longer print the books is not something that should attract controversy.

But clearly the chance to yell “cancel culture” at the top of their lungs and perhaps divert attention away from their refusal to support ordinary Americans proved to be too much.

And let us be clear, if it is not already exceedingly clear, the decision was made by private individuals and not by the Democratic Party.  Democrats were far too busy getting the budget passed to worry about 70 to 80 year old books with questionable ethnic stereotypes.

But what is really strange is that National Party MPs though this to be an issue worthy of public pronouncement.

From Caitlin Ellis in Stuff:

National MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger has come out in defence of the author, asking Facebook users to: “release the grudge, the hate, the rue, and embrace the hope of Cindy Lou.”

Kuriger says she copied the poem from a friend. The post beginning with: “Alas they’ve come for Dr Seuss, they wish to hang him with a noose. They claim his tales were racist bent, they judged him fast, missed what he meant.”

The post then goes on to name some of the author’s famous titles, none of which are going out of publication, and the important lessons to be learnt from them.

“But if we look inside his tales, you’ll find the balance of the scales. Remember when Horton heard a Who, and we heard the wisdom of the Lorax too.

“The lesson behind Green Eggs and Ham, that changed the mind of Sam I am.

“Remember to the rotten Grinch, who once would never give an inch. He taught us lessons, one and all, boys and girls, big and small. His impact was beyond compare, he taught us it was good to care.”

“So if you’ve judged his works as poor, you should re-read them, I implore,” the post continues.

I would implore Barbara Kuriger to read what Seuss’s estate said.  The books that were no longer going to be published were not the ones that she mentioned, they were six older books with more questionable content.  And they were not going to be banned, they were not going to be printed any more.

Not to be outdone Simon O’Connor called the estate representatives woke censors casting doubt on his comprehension skills as well as his choice of language.

If there is a political strategy behind this, and I doubt it, it is severely misplaced.  Thinking that Kiwis are going to buy into US conspiracy cult controversies is foolish.

Being in opposition is no fun and until you look coherent and focussed on a vision the electorate will ignore you.  Thankfully National shows no sign of changing.

39 comments on “National is focused on the issues that matter to Kiwis ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    I think it reflects the beliefs of the culture war evangelicals who are in ascendant in the National party. As such, it’ll play well with the base.

    The liberals in National were dumped en masse by their party and the electorate. The taint in the right wing's saidin left by the dark Cameron Slater and the rest of the dirty politics crew is poisoning the party.

  2. Muttonbird 2

    National Party pollster and probable advisor, David Farrar, believes there is legitimate political strategy behind this. Although, he is being uncharacteristically coy about it. Perhaps the focus groups are inconclusive.

    'Wokester', cancel culture issue a winner for National, says party pollster

    Farrar was speaking at Metro Nat drinks on Tuesday night at Wellington's Wellesley Boutique Hotel.

    According to people at the meeting, Farrar discussed cancel culture – the practice of ridding someone from public life for making inappropriate comments.

    An attendee said that Farrar believed cancel culture issues were a winner for the National Party.

    Farrar would not confirm or deny what was said at the meeting.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300243666/wokester-cancel-culture-issue-a-winner-for-national-says-party-pollster

    I'll never understand why these people have such a morbid fear of plain decency.

    • georgecom 2.1

      so that is a tacit admission by Farrar that nationals political strategy is not based on facts or reality but purely on emotive squawks and truth twisting.

  3. Adrian Thornton 3

    “acceptable perhaps back in the 1940s and 1950s but no longer acceptable now. So a decision to no longer print the books is not something that should attract controversy.”

    So if we use your logic, I guess Shakespeare is next on the list then…. when, where does it stop?

    Racism and Homophobia in "The Merchant of Venice"
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/30029881?seq=1

    The problem with you liberals is that you are so arrogant (just like the historical white master) that you actually seem to think that you have the right to reshape all of our collective history to suit some sort of contemporary vision and ideology that you believe in and you adhere to…the arrogance is fucking unbelievable.

    • woodart 3.1

      take a chill pill. as the column says(if you bothered to read all of it) the decisions were made by the authors representatives. by not accepting that fact, you are on your own little path to reshape collective history, . your arrogance in this matter is, as you claim of others, phucking unbelievable. however, all is not lost , ask any liberal where you can get banned books, and they will tell you to go to your nearest anarchists supply shop , where you can get out of season fireworks, 1% logo's, confederate flags, and all of the other rubbish that will show others, just how truly individual you are. if you get hold of jamileeross you can get some magic beans as well.

    • joe90 3.2

      Cos you're along for the ride.

      /

    • shanreagh 3.3

      Most/many people don't read Shakespeare to their 3-6 year old children. So the Shakespeare analogy is way off mark. We read Shakespeare when we are older, reading editions with foot notes, perhaps guided by teachers, lecturers who can explain the references and steer us through the seemingly, difficult bits about racism etc not being the views we have today.

      The Dr Seuss books are designed for a much, much younger audience, ones who often cannot read or who are early readers. They are incapable of independently searching on the Internet or understanding about casual racism etc in the 1950s or 60s. Read to children by tired parents, unable to spare the time doing online content searches etc on their children's books.

      The Seuss books fill a niche of rhyming books. But we have other rhyming books; even NZ rhyming books, many parents will be able to recite long extracts about Donaldson's dairy; or fill in under their breaths where they think Spot is now…..They may go to the library and get the later Dr Seuss books out

      When you look at the books they have some content which was really out there, acceptable perhaps back in the 1940s and 1950s but no longer acceptable now. So a decision to no longer print the books is not something that should attract controversy.

      The executors of the Estate have decided they do not want to publish the particular books anymore – a private decision. Presumably there was a monetary impact for the estate that they have borne in mind. That's all, finish, nothing about liberals, nothing about book banning or cancel culture. No impact on Shakespeare.

      The books that were no longer going to be published were not the ones that she (Barbara Kuriger's copied verse) mentioned, they were six older books with more questionable content. And they were not going to be banned, they were not going to be printed any more.

    • McFlock 3.4

      Some of Shakespeare's more dated passages have been quietly ommitted from productions for decades.

      But the good thing about him is that in most of his plays, even the bit parts were well-rounded. Shylock can be played as a racist caricature or as a sympathetic and tragic character using the same script. Marlowe's plays, on the other hand, not so much.

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    Have you seen the "not-for-books" art-work by Theodor Seuss Geisel?

    There's some really odd stuff in there!

    With regard Farrar's excitement about National using "woke" as a way to win the hearts of the public, I'd like to cite John Banks (ex-Magic Radio-talkback host) and Sean Plunkett (ex-Magic Radio-talkback host) both of whom recently affixed their stars to the "woke" wagon and fell off spectacularly satisfyingly 🙂

  5. Sacha 5

  6. joe90 6

    Remember when these idiots hated liberal attempts to indoctrinate kids.

    Apparently, The Secret World of Arrietty and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax represent liberal Hollywood’s attempt to indoctrinate children.

    The accusations from media personalities on the right were probably inevitable, given similar charges leveled at Cars 2, Happy Feet 2 and Muppets, where similar political themes are explored to one extent or another.

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/secret-world-of-arrietty-the-lorax-lou-dobbs-293977

  7. Ad 7

    Hmph. Never did me any harm.

    Berenstein Bears is next for propping up patriarchy.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    I think the pushback should be fast against the wokster cancel culture outings by the nats.

    Starting with "doesn't your party have any policy?" so it's having to rely on this type of news outing to pointing out forcibly that the likes of John Banks have been holding the microphone for many decades now cancelling out the views of the rest of his generation (and a lot of others) who never even had a chance to hold the Mic.

    Gaining votes by stirring the grievances of those who are unable to share the power and the mic doesn't look good. Keep asking "can't you people share " as they assume they have a absolute right to the airwaves.

    • Sacha 8.1

      the pushback should be fast against the wokster cancel culture outings by the nats

      Sure, because what could possibly go wrong with letting their deranged remnants set the agenda? To the barricades that they have set up, comrades!

  9. Incognito 9

    I guess it’s not too late for National MPs to start a petition Save Winnie-the-Pooh!

  10. AB 10

    "Woke' is serving the same purpose that 'political correctness' did a generation ago – a generalised insult to any leftish or liberal policy, opinion, thought or attitude. Go back to 2008 and the outrage of National and their media proxies over energy-saving lightbulbs. Remember John Key plugging into that vibe by saying that he didn't want to be "told what to think" by Helen Clark. Both "woke" and "politically correct" are slurs that avoid the need to argue the detail, but are instantly recognised and validated by others in the same tribe. Every time a formerly dominant worldview receives pushback and begins to fray, the same sort of thing is likely to happen – it's a reactionary resistance to changing public values. I'm expecting it to be quite a successful strategy – but not as successful as 2008, when it was used against third-term government.

    This is not to say that there aren't difficult issues of freedom of speech. Cancel culture has always existed, and it has always been used by the powerful against the weak. We are hearing a lot about it now because of a slow power shift – those who used to dominate public discourse and through that effectively have the power to cancel others, are now (on rare occasions) finding themselves cancelled.

    In the case of the Dr Seuss books the publisher (and copyright owner) is simply making a financial decision based on their perception of their contemporary customers' values. It's a business decision played against the background of continuous social change – societies are changing all the time.

    • woodart 10.1

      how dare the owner of the books is making their own decisions! what right have they got?

  11. Drowsy M. Kram 11

    "Green Eggs and Ham" was one of my favorites. The message didn't stick (or maybe it did – I'm cautious when it comes to trying something new), but those extended rhyming sequences were such fun.

    And spare a thought for the ever-so-patient/persistent 'Sam-I-Am'.

    I could not, would not, on a boat.
    I will not, will not, with a goat.
    I will not eat them in the rain.
    I will not eat them on a train.
    Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! You let me be!
    I do not like them in a box.
    I do not like them with a fox.
    I will not eat them in a house.
    I do not like them with a mouse.
    I do not like them here or there.
    I do not like them ANYWHERE!

    I do not like green egss and ham!

    I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    As with all of these contentious decisions, the devil is in the details – which have not been provided for our consideration.

    The author is not alive to have his livelihood destroyed by the dubious moralists of the new Inquisition, and it seems that the popular titles have escaped the axe – for the moment.

    Which is probably just as well – the Dr Seuss books having had a greater positive effect on US literacy than probably any other author, including some very academically qualified ones.

    • Sacha 12.1

      Inquisition? The publishers made a commercial decision to stop publishing a handful of titles. Unclutch those pearls.

      • Stuart Munro 12.1.1

        If it were a standalone thing you might have a point. But it's not. Some of the decisions are sound, and some are not.

        Gina Carano got cancelled for way less than hate speech. Our politics are opposed, and I'm not a fan of her acting – but she was done dirty by wretched neopuritans. Fuck 'em.

        • I Feel Love 12.1.1.1

          She got cancelled? Oh ffs get a grip, she got sacked.

          • Stuart Munro 12.1.1.1.1

            she got sacked

            For her private opinions, which were far from hateful. She had become, as Bierce put it: the fundamental element in a cone of critics, not for her work of course, but for not kowtowing to a mob of vicious and unprincipled scalphunting trolls. Crucible stuff. Get a grip yourself.

            • arkie 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Earlier this month, the actress shared an Instagram story that compared "hating someone for their political views" to the treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

              https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-56156005

              Yeah these things aren't comparable, it's pretty distasteful to equate them. Her employer is allowed to make commercial decisions, such as sacking her.

              • Stuart Munro

                I read her posts – they were well short of hate speech.

                But the pitiless assholes destroyed her career anyway – not because it was just, but because they could.

                Of course, I've seen such powers abused before, in other contexts.

                Pretty sure Rawiri Waitiri won’t get cancelled for “Pay them no attention, their archaic species is becoming more extinct as a new Aotearoa is on the rise.” Double standards in play.

                • arkie

                  It doesn’t have to be hate speech for an employer to make employment decisions. If it was hate speech then the law may be involved. This is capitalism, her false equivalence invoking the Holocaust affects the commerce of her employer and so they sacked her.

                  These powers may be ‘abused’ but that’s capitalism, the bosses make and enforce the rules and we must abide them if we wanna keep our jobs. The workplace is a dictatorship.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    I think you've chosen a broad version of hate speech.

                    If you mean to criminalize such behaviour you need to think about how it fits into rights and laws we currently have, including freedom of speech and conscience.

                    What you call hate speech in this instance is nothing more than a poorly chosen analogy.

                    I'd prefer to use a narrower definition of hate speech, that doesn't overturn centuries of enlightment values. Hate speech being that which incites or supports violence against minorities. Carano did nothing of the sort – but still got punished for it, by mob justice. Not a healthy precedent, and not one that makes minority communities safer.

                    • arkie

                      I never said what Carano said was hate speech. Read what I wrote and stop catastrophising.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      @Arkie Read what I wrote and stop catastrophising.

                      Do you know what, I'll make my own decisions on such matters, thank you very much.

                      Your views are not persuasive.

                    • arkie

                      Right, you're entitled to your views, but not your own reality. What I stated might not be "persuasive" but it is a statement of fact. Not endorsing it, just stating facts.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    You don't have the facts to save yourself.

                    You're merely so arrogant that you presume to preach to someone who doesn't subscribe to your beliefs.

                    Bad taste, and bad manners.

                    • arkie

                      Meanwhile someone conflating the industrialised genocide of the Nazis with the ire she receives being a conservative is worthy of your defence and outrage.

                      It's not my belief that employers can make employment decisions, it is the reality of capitalism.

                      Based on your performance here I would question your ability to determine what is good taste or manners.

    • Descendant Of Smith 12.2

      "his livelihood destroyed"

      It seems pretty clear the six titles chosen won't have a major impact on his income stream (not that it is his cause he is dead.) Besides if they didn't keep fucking around with copyright laws they would be out of it by now. Copyright laws were in part originally to ensure works entered the commons i.e. to restrict the ownership and behaviour of publishing companies.

      The original copyright laws in the US were 14 years then off to the commons it went.

      "It seems that the popular titles have escaped the axe – for the moment."

      Pretty sure the popular stories don't have caricatures of African Americans in them. That means there was neither an axe to escape nor a future moment.

      This stuff isn't even complicated.

  13. Populuxe1 14

    Yeah, but realistically it will probably work. The electorate will bridle at ambiguous law reforms around identity and hate speech. You have to bring the plebs along with you on the journey to enlightenment. You can't just shout at them.

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