Columbus: Have you been cancelled?
Perhaps I should change the punctuation on that opening: Columbus, have you been cancelled?
Statues of Christopher Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, have been damaged and removed from prominence and sent to purgatory (storage barn). Will all towns and cities across the country named “Columbus” be forced to change? What about Columbia University, the Columbia River, Columbia Broadcasting System?
Something called “Cancel Culture” has leaped onto the national scene. Maybe “leaped” is the wrong word. It’s more like it dug through the dirt and crawled in through the sewer.
Now, there have been serious, important “cancels” in our past: Slavery, Segregation, Hitler, the USSR. I’m sure you could name others. The Prohibition Amendment (#18) seemed like a good cancellation at the time, but fourteen years later we had to pass the 21st Amendment to cancel the cancellation.
Recent cancellations include Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Mr. Potato Head. Others threatened with cancellation include Sir Francis Drake, Girls’ sports, The Eyes of Texas, and the Jeep Cherokee. (Yes, the Chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma wants Jeep to drop the name. I suggested he do the opposite; advertise and promote the Cherokee in return for Jeep providing a new one to each elected official.)
Dr. Seuss presents an interesting situation, a “partial cancel.” Somebody intent on digging up dirt, especially on heroes, went back in history to the first Dr. Seuss books and found a few negative images. Before we go any farther, here’s a question: are there any images in any Dr. Seuss book that look realistic, like your pets, or like someone you know? No way.
I think most of us have read, seen and heard words and images that we object to. But if the other 99 percent is not racist or anti-women or full of cuss words, for example, we usually ignore those and enjoy the book, movie, music or conversation.
Personally, I’m not concerned about cancellation because I have no culture.
New York would like to cancel Florida. All the rich New Yorkers are moving to Miami. I heard that the most expensive house ever sold was one in Palm Beach for $110 million. There’s an island called Indian Creek (will that be canceled?) across a bridge from Miami Beach. It is 300 acres with a golf course surrounded by about forty multi-million-dollar estates. Apparently, these wealthy folks do not believe in global warming because the value of beachfront property keeps rising much faster than sea levels. And no fear of a major hurricane either.
Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“Senator [Tom] Heflin of Alabama held up all Senate business yesterday for five hours. That’s a record for narrow views. Tonight, in his home capital [Montgomery] I am pleading with Alabama to please not exterminate all Catholics, Republicans, Jews, negroes, Jim Reed, Al Smith, Wadsworth, Mellon and Coolidge and the Pope. Of course, my plea will do no good, for Tom knows the intelligence of his constituency better than we do.” DT #174, Feb 18, 1927
“See this morning where the Supreme Court says negroes in Texas have the right to vote at Democratic primaries. Certainly will seem funny to see the negroes and the whites voting the same ticket. First thing you know they will be allowing a white Republican to associate with a white Democrat in the South.” DT #191, March 8, 1927
“[VP candidate Charlie Curtis] is a Kaw Indian and me a Cherokee and I am for him… Come on, Injun! If you are elected let’s run the white people out of this country.” DT #589, June 15, 1928
[Interesting fact: Will Rogers was quarter-blood Cherokee, grew up in Indian Territory and became a world-class trick roper. Will learned to rope, starting about age 4, taught by a former slave, Dan Walker, a ranch hand working for Will’s dad. Yes, a Cherokee got his start toward stardom in a “white” world thanks to a black man.]