OKIE IN EXILE — Sam I Am
I was a picky eater, and it drove my parents to distraction. In a vain attempt to fix this, one of the first books they read to me was “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Let me tell you, I rocked that book. I got to the point where, in the words of my mother, I knew it by heart. I can still quote vast pieces of it. “I do not like it here or there. I do not like it anywhere.”
It didn’t cure me of being a picky eater. And — entirely unintentionally — gave me a better vocabulary to talk about it.
I almost wrote that we are living in a strange time, but then I thought it’s probably no stranger than any other. The biggest difference is that we are the ones living through it. I was going to use that as a segue to talk about the latest tempest in a teapot over Dr. Seuss.
Let me preface this by saying that I don’t know anymore about the goings on here than anyone else. Will Rogers used to say that he only knew what he read in the newspapers. I’m not as well-off as that: I only know what I see in social media.
But I do know this: Controversy draws media attention like cow flop draws flies, and new innovations come along in how to generate it. Attention, not cow flop, but yeah that too, come to think about it.
Right now there is a machine out there that uses words like Social Justice Warriors, Woke, and I am sure there are a few others, but you can go a long way on just those. They are used as cuss-words and insults by some; by others, they are worn proudly.
We hear about “cancelling.” While right now the right wing is telling us that it is something the left wing is doing, you might remember it as something that was done to “The Dixie Chicks” for some political comments they made.
In my opinion, “cancelling” is a very un-American thing to do, but it has been done by many Americans.
Here’s the thing. It is a weapon that is most effectively used against one’s own people. The Left couldn’t cancel Rush Limbaugh because they were not his market; the Right cannot cancel Rachel Maddow for the same reason. However, if a member of your group does not toe the party line, then you can come down on them like a hammer.
This is not healthy, but it does explain some of what is going on in this country. We get in our own bubbles, our own echo chambers. It all starts feeding back on us. And if anybody in our bubble says that maybe someone in that other bubble has a point, they get kicked — or cancelled — right out of the bubble.
The bit with Dr. Seuss is kind of instructive. Perhaps we’d better pause here to learn all we can from it. My first reaction to this controversy was, huh? This is Dr. Seuss who wrote about the star-bellied sneetches and the great controversy about sneetches whose bellies were plain and the ones with “stars upon thar’s.”
Then I used my old friend Google to find some of the pictures. Oh. My.
One can find ancient quotes by Theodor Giesel that are anti-Japanese, for instance. Quite frankly, you can’t view it from an angle that makes the pictures look much better. I know because I tried.
This was during WWII and that was the way we were “supposed” to think then, just as there are ways we are “supposed” to think now. Over the course of time, his thinking changed. He was able to see the unity of the human race in Horton Hears a Who, writing: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”
Maybe the lesson here is to judge individual works on their own intellectual merits and not dismiss all of someone’s work because you don’t like some of what they did. Maybe the lesson is to sharpen your own thinking and to resist being herded by what the group is thinking.
If you do, you might just find out that you like green eggs and ham, or you might find out it’s gross, regardless of what they are pressuring you to think.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.