Opinions

Oh, the books that you’d ban!

Congratulations! Today is your day!

You’re unwriting the writers who wrote the wrong way!

Some of the writers we loved, sad to say,

Wrote hurtful and ignorant things in their day.

But you’re on the case! You won’t delay!

Throw them away! You’re on your way!

Your motives are pure, your intentions are true,

Your rightness rings out like the black cockatoo!

Not pleasant to think it, but what’s true is what’s true.

These books mock Black people, Asians and Jews.

(Who knew a racist drew Cindy Lou Who!)

It’s all up to you! You know just what to do!

“Book-banning!” they shout. “Of course not,” you beam.

“Book-banning is only an Internet meme!

The publisher heard our ear-splitting scream,

And decided they wanted to be on the team!

A book is a product, whatever it seems —

Why, it’s no different from selling some fancy face creams!”

They’ll attack you, of course, this you already know,

Call you a fascist! Say you’ve hit a new low!

Shout about canceling on their cancelable show!

You’re not deterred, though.

To Twitter you’ll go!

It’s comforting there,

in the Twittified air.

And there you will see how the others agree!

They know just what to read, and just how to be!

They know just what to do with our dark history!

Erase it, don’t face it, and just let it be.

So bang the big drum! Play the didgeridoo!

You’re making things better! You’re thinking anew!

Except when you don’t.

Because, sometimes, you won’t.

You see …

There are writers we’d never ask into our homes,

Who’ve nonetheless wrought our most sought-after tomes.

Awful bigots who wrote brilliant novels and poems.

You can get lost down there, amid gray catacombs,

In the moral morass where hypocrisy roams.

There are writers, it seems, whose un-wokeful crimes,

Are mostly the ghostliest signs of their times.

Twain and Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot’s rhymes,

And what of those Curious George pantomimes?

The slopes can get slippery as you hike and you climb.

What old art can endure in this new paradigm?

But on you will go,

Though the Trumpists cry foul.

On you will go,

Though the purists will howl.

On you will go,

Past the gullies of doubt,

To the clearing where fearing and bullies win out.

And will you succeed?

Yes, you will, indeed!

(In the bluest of counties, at least, guaranteed.)

You’ll paint the naysayers as racists and outcasts!

You’ll banish the doubters with shaming and bombast!

Oh, the books you’d ban!

You’ll get all mixed up, as you’re soon bound to find,

With people who have their own banning in mind,

and with whom you may not be so closely aligned.

In this Thicket of Woke, where morality’s clear,

The babbling beasts of oppression rove near,

eager to make many more books disappear.

But that’s not you! That’s not your attitude!

We can trust you to choose between harmful and rude!

It’s so simple to sort the obscene from the nude!

To banish what’s ugly, and protect what’s just lewd.

So run to the library! Hip hip hooray!

We’re vanishing books now.

You’ve gotten your way!

Illustrations by Sergio Peçanha/The Washington Post over photographs by Scott Olson/Getty Images

More from Opinions:

Read a letter in response to this piece: Who decides what we read?

Alyssa Rosenberg: The Great Dr. Seuss Hysteria of 2021 shows how silly and unimaginative adults can be

Matt Bai: Our institutions didn’t fail when Trump attacked them. Quite the opposite.

Paul Waldman: The American right is consumed with its cultural Lost Cause

Sonny Bunch: How copyright law can save Dr. Seuss — and the rest of us — from cancel culture

Dana Milbank: Did the Pentagon wait for Trump’s approval before defending the Capitol?

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