Just ask Dave Rubin.
What am I talking about?
I am talking about one of the many wannabe-Rush-Limbaughs currently working the right wing ‘satire’ game for all of it’s worth. Rubin describes himself as a ‘classic liberal,’ and apparently holds some left-ish views, but none of them are important enough to prevent him from pandering to right wing extremists on his show, The Rubin Report. As with so many who feign political neutrality, Rubin’s right wing agenda grows ever more obvious.
I saw Dave Rubin at a comedy event hosted by John Fugelsang back during the 2016 campaign. One of the themes of the night was the mainstream news media pandering to Donald Trump by giving him more airplay (and more favorable narratives) than he deserved. It was Dave Rubin who noted, quite reasonably, that the comedians present that night were also giving Trump the limelight, just as others did. It was also Dave that stated quite clearly that his own show got more attention when he referenced Trump than when he didn’t, which is why he, and the comedians present, and the whole of mainstream media kept helping Trump by giving him more airtime than he deserved. I thought Rubin was right on target with those comments. What I didn’t realize at the time was just how prophetic these remarks would prove to be. Like Candace Owens or Diamond and Silk, Dave has discovered that right wing punditry pays more than any comparable options on the left, so he has drifted further and further to the right over the last few years. It’s a move seems to have been good for him.
What has me thinking about Rubin just now?
The Cat in the hat does.
Well, Dr. Seuss anyway.
Yesterday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that they would cease publication of 6 titles from Dr. Seuss over concerns about racial stereotypes contained in them. The works are; And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated had consulted with a number of experts over concerns about a number of his books, and concluded that these 6 books would be best left unpublished from this point forward. As they put it; “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
So, naturally the echo-chamber burst out bubbling mad!
Dave Rubin is just one of the many right wing hacks to weigh in on this decision. Apparently, Glenn Beck thinks it’s all fascism, but then again Glenn Beck thinks compassion is the first step to fascism. …which is probably giving Glenn Beck too much credit, because I have yet to see a shred of evidence that Beck thinks at all. …about anything! Dave Rubin? Well, Dave should know better. He really should have.
Still, Rubin came out against the decision.
…because of course he did.
From about the :44 to the 7:20 mark on this episode of The Rubin Report, Dave Rubin weighs in on Dr. Seuss. What fascinates me about this is the way that Rubin talks about the controversy without ever addressing any of the concerns about the books in question. (You may read about the actual concerns here, here, here, and here. A defense of Dr. Seuss from his stepdaughter may be found here.)
Early, in the segment, Dave names each of the 6 books in question, making up a few faux-criticisms (highlighted in red) as he goes. Here is a transcript of the segment from Youtube;
i’ve got all 02:18 six of them for you here 02:19 scary titles each one of them 1937’s 02:23 mulberry street nano getting rid of that 02:25 one 02:26 in 1947 he published mick elgat’s 02:29 pool we’re getting rid of that mick 02:32 elegance pool i suppose that is 02:34 1950s if i ran the zoo you can only 02:37 imagine what racist stuff was happening 02:39 there over at the zoo 02:40 uh 1953 he had scrambled egg 02:43 super where did the eggs come from who 02:46 what how many villages did you have to 02:48 destroy to get those eggs 02:49 this one is fairly obvious why they had 02:51 to get rid of it 02:52 1955’s on beyond zebra 02:56 you can imagine with the black and the 02:57 white with the zebra something something 02:59 wasn’t right 03:00 and of course in 1976 his truly racist 03:04 manifesto 03:05 the cats quizzer these will no longer 03:09 be published by random house children’s 03:12 books 03:13 anymore uh because you know 03:16 tolerance and stuff because we’re 03:18 becoming so evolved 03:20 in 2021 that we’re erasing books of 03:23 1937. 03:24 duh
Just to be clear, not one of the faux arguments Rubin attributes to Dr. Seuss Enterprises comes from Dr. Seuss Enterprises or the people they consulted with. Each is a flippant remark made up by Dave Rubin himself in order to make fun of their decision. To be fair, Rubin doesn’t really suggest that these are real arguments, but also to be fair, he makes no effort whatsoever to address any of the actual concerns anyone has raised about Dr. Seuss. This kind of sarcasm is all you get, leaving the entire segment devoid of any effort to engage the actual substance of the issue in any way.
Rubin moves on to read passages from; “Oh, the Places You Will Go.” He tells us this volume is far worse than the others, because it advances the notion of individual empowerment which the social justice cowd will surely want to censor. Finally, Rubin adds that the book has no page numbers which lefties would love because apparently we hate math. Thus, Rubin alludes to two completely different elements of the culture wats, neither of which has a damned thing to do with the concerns over Dr. Seuss. In both cases, his narrative is gratuitous in the extreme, enabling Rubin to present himself and his fans as proponents of self-reliance, and math, which his political enemies (and those of Dr. Seuss) evidently oppose.
In the end, Dave’s criticism of Dr. Seuss Enterprises fails to address ANY of the actual controversies associated with the Dr. Seuss Books. What he does instead is to present social justice criticisms in caricature while advancing a narrative having nothing to with the decision in question. Of course, the sarcastic tone enables him to do this without actually making making any false claims about Dr. Seuss. So, it’s all sarcasm, right?
This juvenile approach to the subject enables Rubin to bypass the actual issues entirely while generating a narrative flattering to his own audience, and to the politics they support. Add Rubin to the chorus of other right wing hacks howling about this and you have the echo chamber re-enforcing a message that condemns Dr. Seuss Enterprises without ever addressing the actual reasoning behind this decision in any meaningful way. You have a deceitful narrative that invites bigots and bullies to fancy themselves defenders of free thought and free markets, and even math. That sounds a lot better than describing them as people who insist that children’s books promoting racial stereotypes continue to be published, even over the objections of the objections of the man’s own estate.
Dave Rubin could have raised questions about the standards used to make this decision. He could have suggested alternatives to discontinuation. He could have addressed inconsistencies such as the fact that “Cat in the Hat” is still in publication despite also being the subject of similar concerns about its content. If Dave Rubin objects to the decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, he could have addressed the issues squarely on his show. Instead, he chose to make snide remarks and tell stories he knows his ever more deplorable audience audience will love to hear.
Benjamin Goldstein said:
I have never read Dr Seuss and I won’t. Yet, I have a question: Do you really believe that children books that did not strike many people as racist for most of the time of their existence are actually racist? Maybe I have a string of questions right now. Why the hysteria over stereotypes? Have you considered the idea that this was never the right approach to identify racial hate? Do you really think it is a drama when Jews are shown with large noses or Asians with chop sticks? Have you considered that many Asians eat with chop sticks and that many Jews happen to have big noses? Is it the end of the world? Is their a problem with big noses? Is there a problem with chop sticks? Have you considered the potential harm of mass paranoia and mass craze?
I don’t answer rhetorical questions.
Benjamin Goldstein said:
They aren’t, though. I really don’t know how you can make sense of that.
They are. You know it.
Benjamin Goldstein said:
Maybe I should rephrase it then…perhaps. Do you think that Dr Seuss was a racist who tried to indoctrinate kids? Do you think he was just not aware of his racism and reproduced something subconscious? Do you think people saw the racism all the time and just did not say something? Do you think people didn’t see it even though they were attacked and should have felt offended?
I think it is pointless to answer a series of questions from an individual who clearly hasn’t read what I already wrote and isn’t addressing any of the points I actually made.
Benjamin Goldstein said:
Hm…I even followed the links. But it is also a lot of talk about stereotypes which was the point I was actually addressing. Most of your text is about Rubin saying that he doesn’t find the book racist. He does not address the concerns as you complain. My understanding is that the concerns he does not address and that are addressed the texts that you link to is that the books contain stereotypes. I cannot wrap my head around how one can think that people would ever not create stereotypes. After all pattern-recognition is a basic function of the mind.
So, you are here to make the world safe for stereotypes. Got it!
Your specific argument here is a straw man. Nobody is saying that anyone will achieve a magical stereotype-free mindset. They are removing specific works containing specific stereotypical imagery, works created specifically for children. They are removing these works so as to prevent the works from spreading those specific stereotypes by teaching them to children today. Your efforts to broaden that decision to some generalities about pattern-recognition (which is not equivalent to stereotyping) are deceitful at best.
Benjamin Goldstein said:
I did not mean to be deceitful. What is the problem with the specific stereotypes. I mentioned two of them that where mentioned in the places that you linked to (noses, chop sticks). If those do disturb you, why? If others disturb you, which and why?
Yes, you did. You haven’t stopped.
Benjamin Goldstein said:
So you say that my generalisation from these books to the larger issue is a deceit. I guess, I’m straw-manning here because I don’t believe that this is what you think. By the way it must feel a bit like “work” to have this conversation in one go. I would appreciate it if you could continue it over a course of days without the pressure to respond immediately.
If the generalisation is a deceit or, let’s say, something you don’t want to take your argument to right now, what are the specifics of these books that YOU (let’s leave the people you linked to out) don’t want to see and why?
Take your games elsewhere.
Alexander S. Kunz said:
You’ve been way too patient with this troll.
Fine post, well-conveyed sentiments, and excellent shut-down of a right-wing ass clown in the comments section.
Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:
The Dr. Seuss Enterprises decision should be debated, but not through pandering to one side of politics. I’m reblogging this posting by Daniel because I think he makes some very good points. Maybe you don’t, which is okay. — kenne
After reading the Seuss organization’s statements — and descriptions of the offending portions of the discontinued books — I’m surprised that there is even a debate. The copyright holders made a decision based on their sense of what is right; they feel that they’re protecting the legacy of Ted Geisel. Given that he personally made changes for similar reasons more than once, it makes sense. Even for those who disagree, the decision is within the rights of the organization.
Side note: I am very impressed with the tolerance and patience shown in addressing one person’s absurd criticisms (trollingly framed as “questions”).
Thank you RJ. I think you are right on target with the fact that this was his estate that made this decision, and that it is in perfect keeping with the spirit of Dr. Seuss’s work. He did make changes over issues like this, and I see no reason to believe he would have dug in his heels over this. If it was anyone but Dr. Seuss, they might commission another illustration, but it’s Dr. Seuss. If it was adult material, we might contextualize and move on, but these are meant for children, children young enough to learn some of the most basic values of life. Parents use these books to teach those lessons. It really doesn’t work to include racist messages in books intended for such a young audience. I think the changes are perfectly in keeping with the spirit of Dr. Seuss’s work.
1. Didn’t know WordPress attracted trolls.
2. I wondered where you had disappeared to. Long time no see. Shall I blame it on WP?