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Posts published in “Day: March 10, 2021”

I like Dr. Seuss


A guest opinion by Matthew Meador, a long-time writer and political staffer in the Northwest.

I like Dr. Seuss. I have since I was a kid. The quirky creatures shown in playful line drawings accompanied by whimsically cadenced text are enough to capture the imagination of any child. As a kid who loved gadgetry and Rube Goldberg devices, I was a fan. I still am.

There’s just one problem. Yes, like so many latter-day heroes, it turns out the beloved Dr. Seuss was deeply flawed, too.

Now, wait, before you start, you don’t know what I am going to say until you actually read it so don’t assume. First, please note: I said “I like Dr. Seuss.” That was present tense, not past.

Second, Dr. Seuss isn’t being cancelled, despite what you’re hearing from the angry hand-wringers all over social media. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that owns and manages the rights to Dr. Seuss books, announced Tuesday it would no longer publish six Dr. Seuss titles because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” With nearly 50 books to his credit, half a dozen titles won’t ruin or cancel the author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

It’s true two of the six currently rank in Amazon’s top 10 best-selling children’s books. When I was a kid, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” was my favorite Seuss book so my childhood nostalgia wants to be a little sad to see that one go. The other best-seller is “If I Ran the Zoo.” The two books were originally published in 1950 and 1937 respectively. The other four titles are “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!” and “Scrambled Eggs Super!”

You’ll find an example of Seuss’ racism in the accompanying graphic and several of the disqualifying images in the comments — only a moron could argue they’re not racist. But that’s not even the point. This isn’t new news — 25 years ago, I did a double-take when I read Mulberry Street to my daughter and encountered Seuss’ clearly racist imagery.

Here’s the deal: white people do not get to be the arbiters of defining what non-white people perceive as racism. As the self-appointed masters of the universe who spread out across the globe to colonize and subjugate, it was white people who decided early on that people of features and coloring different than theirs were somehow inferior. Without this history, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. In a world that’s hurting worse than at any other moment in my lifetime, white people now must stand down. In the U.S., the problem has reached a crescendo.

It’s our turn now to sit down and listen. Just hear what people of color have to say. Chances are, you’ll be surprised by what you hear. You will almost certainly be shocked at times and deeply moved. I know I am.

Yeah, what about me? I listen, too — more today than I ever have. As a white man writing about race, I must tread a very careful line. I do not speak for any person of color and I know no person of color wants me even trying. Further, I do not speak TO any person of color — it is not my place to address any person of color on matters of race. As a human moral failing, overpowering and eliminating racism should be very near the top of every white person’s personal and public priorities. This moral principle should transcend politics, religion, philosophies, everything. This is why I write. If I can help ignite an anti-racist zeal in a few of the world’s clueless whitefolk, I must do so.

Back to the topic of Dr. Seuss, alter-ego Geisel also served as a political cartoonist during the 1930s and 1940s. During that period, he produced the most offensive work of his career, by far. While many white people will argue he was a product of his time, that doesn’t make it right but you already know that, even if you won’t admit it.

Fortunately, it’s pretty well-documented that even though Dr. Seuss diligently perpetuated racism for the first half of his life, he performed an about-face and worked vigorously as an anti-racist for the second half. By nearly all accounts, he succeeded — the man atoned for his sins. In fact, Seuss’ book “The Sneetches” actively deals with the subject of combating racism.

If I had to guess, I’d say Dr. Seuss Enterprises will sit on the titles for 10 or 20 years before possibly reworking them to eliminate racist imagery and language — we may see an updated Mulberry Street again, yet. But if we don’t, we shouldn’t mourn the old racism that rightly lost its place in modern culture.

So, yes, I do like Dr. Seuss, present tense. I believe the colorful whimsy coupled with moral rectitude Seuss demonstrated in his later years still holds a place in children’s libraries. Seuss’ history as a fallible man who worked for decades to achieve redemption might even act as a moral lesson for our older kids, too.

From robe to keyboard


Jim Jones was such a quiet fellow – at least during his 12 years on the Idaho Supreme Court and two years as the chief justice.

He wrote volumes of mind-numbing legal opinions during his judicial career, but didn’t say a peep about the issues of the day. Then after he retired in 2017, everything changed. He took up political column-writing, where he is widely loved or hated by newspaper readers throughout the Gem State.

“I suppose it all got bottled up,” he said jokingly. “Steam started to build up and it came uncorked like Mount Vesuvius.”

In general, if you like Donald Trump, then you’d hate what Jones has been writing about his presidency. And if you are a fan of Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, then you probably wouldn’t care what Jones has to say. But Jones stands by his view that the senators were wrong to acquit Trump after two impeachment trials.

“These are two accomplished lawyers – very smart people – and they should have spoken out,” Jones says. “We don’t have much leadership on today’s stage. We see followership and people who are petrified to say what’s the truth because they are afraid they won’t win the next election.”

Jones, a Twin Falls native, saw a different approach when he worked for Sen. Len Jordan in the 1970s.

“Senator Jordan was my ideal. He said you can’t always do what people say in their letters. He voted for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. He voted against two Nixon appointees to the Supreme Court. His attitude was that you have an obligation to exercise leadership and do what you think is right. If people don’t like it, they can vote you out,” Jones said.

“With the current state of the Republican Party, it’s not the party I belonged to. It left me behind,” Jones says. He calls himself an independent, but acknowledges that he’s more aligned with Democrats than Republicans at the moment.

Recently, Jones announced his involvement with a new venture, working with former Attorney General Tony Park and a former longtime deputy, Clive Strong, to call attention the Legislature’s constitutional violations. Twelve years as a Supreme Court justice certainly gives him some expertise in that area.

“I started looking at the bills, one on initiatives. I’ve always thought these restrictive bills were in violation of the constitution,” he said. “Then you have bills that take the attorney general out of the picture in advice for state agencies.”

As Jones sees it, legislators make a big mistake by not paying attention to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s constitutional advice on issues such as the governor’s authority during emergencies. Rep. Heather Scott of Blanchard, for one, has suggested that the attorney general’s office is filled with lawyers who can’t find a job with private firms. Jones, of course, disagrees.

“I’ve looked at the people I have hired over the years either as deputy AGs or law clerks of the Supreme Court. We didn’t hire just anybody who walked down the pike. Many of them were at the top of their classes,” Jones said.

“Most of these positions put young people on the front line from Day 1. They didn’t have to sit around doing second bench for some old stuffed lawyer who had been around forever. They would come into that office and might be in court the next day, representing the state. And they loved it.”

Jones says Wasden offers sound advice, and he usually ends up being correct. The problem is that legislators often have a mind-set in another direction and are willing to spend taxpayer money to fight losing court battles.

“They don’t care,” Jones says. “We have these people in the Legislature who claim to be constitutionalists. They wrap themselves around the constitution, but yet they are doing their best to undermine it.”

If Jones stays true to form, he won’t hesitate to call out the Legislature when he sees constitutional violations. And his efforts may go beyond the newspaper opinion pages.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at