Dr. Seuss, the German-American cartoonist and author, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, is well-known for his children’s books but not so much his political cartoons. For two years, starting in 1941, Geisel worked as a political cartoonist for the liberal New York newspaper PM, creating more than 400 cartoons on the subject of Nazis, Hitler‘s rise and World War II. These cartoons have been reemerging amid protests against Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The cartoons show the apparent naiveté about the dangers posed by Nazi Germany over 70 years ago, as well as a callousness regarding the lives of children who aren’t American citizens.
“America First” is nothing new. Geisel’s war cartoons highlight and lampoon isolationism, anti-Semitism, and racism. They skewer Hitler, Mussolini, and a variety of American nationalists, including Charles Lindbergh. And they feature Geisel’s fierce anti-authoritarianism and humanism that run through Dr. Seuss’s books.
By May 1941, Geisel was publishing as many as seven cartoons a week in PM. One called, “The Isolationist,” features a limerick, with a drawing of a whale suspending himself “safely” on top of a mountain, out of water, and thus out of danger. It reads,
“Said a whale,
‘There is so much commotion
Such fights among fish in the ocean
I’m saving my scalp
Living high on an Alp
(Dear Lindy! He gave me the notion!)”
As the cliché goes, history repeats itself, but somehow as obvious as things are in retrospect, we are doomed to repeat them it seems.
(via The Atlantic)