While Democrats are working to pass a new stimulus bill in Congress this week, conservatives continue making the discourse largely about children’s books and toys. Dr. Seuss dominated coverage on Fox News for the second straight day, with outrage over its publisher’s decision to take six problematic (and largely obscure) books out of print drawing ire from many right-wing pundits and politicians screaming about cancel culture.
One of those is Glenn Beck, who went off about both last week’s Mr. Potato Head controversy and this week’s Dr. Seuss storm, calling the situations around them “the end of freedom in America.” The comments quickly went viral on Twitter, mostly because they’re very absurd but also because it’s pretty wild people are still getting upset about a controversy that isn’t actually much of a controversy.
"Buy Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head because it's the end of an era. It is the end of freedom in America" pic.twitter.com/VokzfOj8b6
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) March 3, 2021
“They are banning Dr. Seuss books. How much more do you need to see before all of America wakes up and goes ‘this is fascism. this is fascism,” Beck asked. “You don’t destroy books. what is wrong with us, America?”
It’s important to note that, well, Beck is wrong about pretty much everything here. The books aren’t “banned” or being destroyed. Books, especially ones with insensitive messages and imagery, go out of print all the time. So while plenty of people are loudly yelling about censorship and reacting by buying up more obscure Dr. Seuss titles, plenty of other ones are available for sale.
Beck then turned to a very capitolistic demand for his listeners.
“Go out and buy those books today. Find out if you can get them,” he said. “Buy Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Because it’s the end of an era. It’s the end of freedom in America. Where you are bullied to the point where ‘You better not have that book.’”
The problem with the conservative outrage over the Mr. Potato Head is that it all stems from a poorly-worded tweet from the Associated Press last week. Hasbro isn’t getting rid of Mr. Potato Head but simply putting both Mr. and Mrs. under a general “Potato Head” branding umbrella. The gendered pieces — mustache, handbag, and so on — are still for sale, they’re just rebranding the toys as part of a non-gendered Potato Head universe.
A current challenge for me is that Republicans are making false claims about subjects so silly (Dr. Seuss! The Muppets! The Potato Head fam!) that you yourself sound silly if you correct the wrongness.
But anyway Dr. Seuss remains legal in the United States. https://t.co/iYY4cv6BfI
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 3, 2021
It’s yet another willfully misrepresented controversy taking up oxygen in a room, where, as many have pointed out, even trying to correct them makes it all even more absurd. But at least we have Beck insisting a plastic spud is responsible, finally, for the death of America.