Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss). War does strange things to a man.
File under: The past is another country. So is Japan.
A 100th-Birthday Reading of Dr. Seuss by Mayor Faulconer to a group of third-grade students went horribly awry last Monday, as Mr. Faulconer found himself reading from the wrong book. Instead of a sweet and inspiring graduation speech, the text he'd been handed was a racially offensive piece of wartime propaganda, written by Seuss in defense of the United States internment policy toward Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The art lacks Seuss's later subtlety and wit, but the ambitious rhyming is already in play.
We reached out to Mayoral Spokesman Dan Ajkantrol, who offered this explanation over the sound of weeping eight-year-olds and enraged parents.
"After 1942's Operation Setting Sun started in California, schoolchildren were naturally curious about where their former classmates and friends had gone. So the Dept. of Internment commissioned Seuss, who had already penned The 500 Hates of Bartholomew Cubbins and To Think That They Moved In On Mulberry Street, to create a children's book that would help explain the practice to the very young.
Thanks, Uncle Sam! Please don't haunt my nightmares!
Trap that Jap! was the fruit of his labor, but it was ultimately decided that the project should not go forward. That would have been the end of it, if Seuss's widow Audrey Geisel hadn't decided to publish What Pet Should I Get?, a Seuss manuscript she recently found among his papers in her La Jolla home.
There was a war on?
The news of unpublished Seuss materials started a frenzied search among his papers for as-yet-unsold material. You know, out of respect for his legacy. Anyway, someone must have found Trap that Jap!, which bore the ominous subtitle Oh, the Places You'll Go! When the Mayor asked for Seuss's 1990 book by the same name…let's just say that mistakes were made and never speak of it again, okay?"