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UCSD torches library and its contents in atonement for years spent honoring hateful author

Gone Geisel

“In a lot of ways, books themselves are just a White Supremacist tool,” said Burner. “So many cultures survived and thrived for centuries through an oral culture. But white colonization, and its practice of writing everything down and binding it between two covers — shackling and perhaps even enslaving the world captured in the words — destroyed that culture, again and again. Even if the dread Geisel’s insidious evil had not been discovered, there was good reason for this conflagration. In form and, all to often, content, libraries are just temples dedicated to the worship of Western thought — a dying religion if ever there was one. Let the consuming flame purify our minds! Let the heat of this funeral pyre make our own hearts burn with zeal for justice! Let the light it casts show us the path through this dark night of racism and hate to a new dawn of equity and goodness! Burn! Burn! Burn!”
“In a lot of ways, books themselves are just a White Supremacist tool,” said Burner. “So many cultures survived and thrived for centuries through an oral culture. But white colonization, and its practice of writing everything down and binding it between two covers — shackling and perhaps even enslaving the world captured in the words — destroyed that culture, again and again. Even if the dread Geisel’s insidious evil had not been discovered, there was good reason for this conflagration. In form and, all to often, content, libraries are just temples dedicated to the worship of Western thought — a dying religion if ever there was one. Let the consuming flame purify our minds! Let the heat of this funeral pyre make our own hearts burn with zeal for justice! Let the light it casts show us the path through this dark night of racism and hate to a new dawn of equity and goodness! Burn! Burn! Burn!”

Once, Sylvia Burner was head librarian at UCSD’s Geisel Library — the campus’s signature building, named for La Jolla’s most famous citizen, beloved children’s author Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Once, she paused every morning on her way into work by the statue of Geisel outside the library entrance and rested her hand on its shoulder in silent communion with an acknowledged genius. But that was before: before the great groundswell of anti-racist activism that has done so much to shine a light on America’s enduring vice. Before the movement shone its unblinking spotlight on the hateful images in Seuss’ early cartoons, political and otherwise. And not just those bits of adult-oriented juvenilia, but also the children’s books that would make him famous all over the world. In some cases, such as the six books recently unpublished by the Seuss Foundation and delisted by eBay, he employed grossly offensive caricatures of the amusement of his audience. In others, he encoded racist subtexts; even seemingly noble works like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who were discovered to be racist at heart. And once Burner saw the truth of Geisel’s monstrosity, she was filled with righteous fury for the way she and so many others had been misled, manipulated, and delighted for so many years. Last night, that fury gave rise to spectacular action, as she and a cohort of brave university students set fire to the Geisel Library in a grand gesture that echoed the Gleichschaltung movement of Germany in the early ‘30s. Then, idealistic German college students burned 25,000 un-German books, many of them taken from university libraries, in Berlin’s Opera Square, taking “fire oaths” in allegiance to the movement as they did so. “We did them one better,” says Burner. “We burned the library, too. Now, as long as they are at UCSD, our children will be safe from the scourge of racism. Or at least the racism of one Theodore Geisel.”

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“In a lot of ways, books themselves are just a White Supremacist tool,” said Burner. “So many cultures survived and thrived for centuries through an oral culture. But white colonization, and its practice of writing everything down and binding it between two covers — shackling and perhaps even enslaving the world captured in the words — destroyed that culture, again and again. Even if the dread Geisel’s insidious evil had not been discovered, there was good reason for this conflagration. In form and, all to often, content, libraries are just temples dedicated to the worship of Western thought — a dying religion if ever there was one. Let the consuming flame purify our minds! Let the heat of this funeral pyre make our own hearts burn with zeal for justice! Let the light it casts show us the path through this dark night of racism and hate to a new dawn of equity and goodness! Burn! Burn! Burn!”
“In a lot of ways, books themselves are just a White Supremacist tool,” said Burner. “So many cultures survived and thrived for centuries through an oral culture. But white colonization, and its practice of writing everything down and binding it between two covers — shackling and perhaps even enslaving the world captured in the words — destroyed that culture, again and again. Even if the dread Geisel’s insidious evil had not been discovered, there was good reason for this conflagration. In form and, all to often, content, libraries are just temples dedicated to the worship of Western thought — a dying religion if ever there was one. Let the consuming flame purify our minds! Let the heat of this funeral pyre make our own hearts burn with zeal for justice! Let the light it casts show us the path through this dark night of racism and hate to a new dawn of equity and goodness! Burn! Burn! Burn!”

Once, Sylvia Burner was head librarian at UCSD’s Geisel Library — the campus’s signature building, named for La Jolla’s most famous citizen, beloved children’s author Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Once, she paused every morning on her way into work by the statue of Geisel outside the library entrance and rested her hand on its shoulder in silent communion with an acknowledged genius. But that was before: before the great groundswell of anti-racist activism that has done so much to shine a light on America’s enduring vice. Before the movement shone its unblinking spotlight on the hateful images in Seuss’ early cartoons, political and otherwise. And not just those bits of adult-oriented juvenilia, but also the children’s books that would make him famous all over the world. In some cases, such as the six books recently unpublished by the Seuss Foundation and delisted by eBay, he employed grossly offensive caricatures of the amusement of his audience. In others, he encoded racist subtexts; even seemingly noble works like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who were discovered to be racist at heart. And once Burner saw the truth of Geisel’s monstrosity, she was filled with righteous fury for the way she and so many others had been misled, manipulated, and delighted for so many years. Last night, that fury gave rise to spectacular action, as she and a cohort of brave university students set fire to the Geisel Library in a grand gesture that echoed the Gleichschaltung movement of Germany in the early ‘30s. Then, idealistic German college students burned 25,000 un-German books, many of them taken from university libraries, in Berlin’s Opera Square, taking “fire oaths” in allegiance to the movement as they did so. “We did them one better,” says Burner. “We burned the library, too. Now, as long as they are at UCSD, our children will be safe from the scourge of racism. Or at least the racism of one Theodore Geisel.”

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