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The Inconsequential Ramblings of FatDave
Posted by FatDave in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Mar 18th 2008, 01:44 PM
I was a child of the 70's, and like the generation before me and every generation since, I grew up on Dr. Seuss. Mostly on the books, but also the animated television specials that were magnitudes better than the drivulous live action adaptations Hollywood has churned out the past few years. I may have been sharper than the average grade-schooler (and apparently became a less modest adult), but the messages that some of the Dr. Seuss stories contained were usually not lost on me. Once Sam I Am tried the Green Eggs and Ham, he found that they were actually quite delicious. The Lorax warned of looming environmental disaster, and I understood. Had the north-going and south-going zaxes simply compromised, both would have gotten where they were going instead of neither. And while the full implications of Foxes in Sockses to this day escapes me, I knew that the lesson of The Sneetches was that people were not to be judged by superficial appearances such as skin color. Even as a boy, I understood that it was a story about discrimination and racial equality.

Twenty-odd years later, I had kids of my own and of course the Dr. Seuss books were a big hit in our household, as I hope they will forever be in every household. But when I read The Sneetches to my kids, I realized that there was an element I actually hadn't understood as a child.

I am speaking of course of one Sylvester McMonkey McBean, opportunistic capitalist and self-proclaimed "fix-it-up chappie". McBean devised a way to put stars onto the plain-bellied sneetches for the low low price of just three dollars. When the original star-bellied sneetches complained, McBean told them that belly stars were no longer in style and devised a way to remove their stars for just ten dollars. Soon things got hectic with stars going on and coming off at a ridiculous pace. Once McBean had every last dollar of the sneetches' money, he simply left. It was then, when they had hit rock bottom economically, that the sneetches had their revelation that sneetches were sneetches, regardless of abdominal decorations.

Reading the story again as an adult, the implication was clear: Capitalist interests were playing the races against each other for their own selfish financial gain. I understood the message, but I wasn't sure I believed it. Now I can be a real cynical motherfucker, but this seemed like a stretch. Maybe it was a moment of naivety on my part, but I thought surely the good doctor had overreacted in this case.

But today I heard Barack Obama make his historic speech on race in America, and something he said connected that last dot for me.

"This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesnít look like you might take your job; itís that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit."

Upon hearing this, it occurred to me that keeping people fighting about race really does benefit moneyed interests. If they can keep the masses arguing about affirmative action and immigration, they can divert attention from the real reason that jobs are being lost. For the sake of corporate profits. Keep them fighting amongst themselves instead of banding together against the common enemy. It's not about black and white at all. It's all about green.

Then again, maybe I'm not understanding The Sneetches at all (in which case my post title is way off). Maybe it's really just a parable about fashion and keeping up with the Jonses. Maybe it's just a story of rich vs. poor. Some have said it's about the holocaust, but that seems like a real stretch.

Or maybe the whole thing is just an inkblot in which each reader can see whatever they want. If that's the case, at least my own inkblot became a little more clear today.
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FatDave
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