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RightNation.US: Liberal Fascism in Horton Hears a Who - RightNation.US

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*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

We just got back from seeing Horton Hears a Who, and I don't know what all the news stories were on about. I unfurled my huge anti-abortion sign like I always do, and no one said anything.

As for the movie, it was very good. I'd even say excellent. The animation was wonderful, the voice acting was spot on and there were lots of those inventive moments that make kid movies enjoyable for adults. I won't spoil it, but fans of Japanese animation will either be offended or flattered. I don't get that stuff myself, but it was funny in Horton.

Now why would I title this post Liberal Fascism in Horton Hears a Who? Well, I'm about half way through Jonah Goldberg's book, and I can't watch Good Eats on the Food Network without equating everything I see with something from the book.

Besides, the fascist elements leap off the screen. The main villain, a purple kangaroo, is all about conformity of thought and will not hesitate to threaten and punish those who don't toe the line. She even has to think it over for a moment when her son's life becomes part of the negotiation with another villain. And like any good fascist, she knows how to whip up a mob of thugs to do her dirty work.

Why a liberal fascist, though? For one, our menacing marsupial is clearly an empiricist. She keeps repeating that unless one can see, hear or touch something, it does not exist. She can't accept that there are other forms of evidence for why something must be true. Of course this does not mean that all liberals are empiricists; it's just rare that you find one that isn't. Moreover, it's rare that you find a conservative who uses that kind of narrow reasoning.

Another way I could tell the kangaroo was a liberal fascist is by the contrasts with other characters. Horton's best pal, Morton, doesn't believe there's a little world inside a speck any more than the kangaroo, and he tries to convince Horton that there isn't. However, he doesn't try to force his view on his friend, and when the chips are down, Morton is there to help Horton despite his disbelief. It isn't conservatives and libertarians who try to erode the beliefs of others through court orders and indoctrination.

That brings me to the weak point in my analogy. Horton is a teacher (like myself, I might warn), and the kangaroo disaproves of his methods. So, she "pouch schools". It would seem, then, that the kangaroo is more like a right-wing religious nut...except for that whole empiricism thing. And while Horton includes a convenient jab at homeschooling, it also makes a pretty good case case for it since the child in question turns out to be a pretty well adjusted individual. In other words, even if you're homeschooled by a fascist, you turn out fine.

I'm sure Dr. Seuss was a progressive and is turning over in his grave at the thought that his hopping little Nazi actually shares more with his worldview than with a Bible thumping Southern Baptist. But this is how I see it. And no liberal can argue with me unless it is willing to reject the concept of deconstructionism--a liberal and a fascist term.

Edited to add: In my head cold ravaged state, I forgot to add one of the main reasons the kangaroo is a liberal fascist: she does everything "for the children!" She and her mob even chant it as they descend upon poor Horton. And I think her name was actually Hillary...I'll have to check.

Update: It looks like I got Jonah Goldberg's attention with this one. :) I don't know what to make of his "Uh oh" though. :coolshades: Let's just say I'm not the only one who's going to make these connections. I might be the only one stupid enough, however, to say it out loud.

Guests who want to post and tell me what an idiot I am, just click on "comments" at the bottom. I have to approve them to avoid spam, but rest assured you'll get approved even if it's a really good shot.

My Mind is Clean

23 Comments On This Entry

Oobleck, on Mar 15 2008, 01:25 PM, said:

Very interesting post--I can't wait to see Horton to see for myself.

I'm sure Seuss leaned left (see, e.g., the Butter Battle book), but Horton isn't the only one of his works that is open to a conservative or libertarian interpretation.

Exhibit A is the Lorax. Most people see the Lorax as standard issue lefty tree hugging. But the theme of the book really is the tragedy of the commons--the fact that people exhaust resources when they have no incentive to conserve them. So the question that is raised, "who speaks for the trees?" is a good one, and is at least open to the conservative or libertarian answer that better established property rights ensure that someone speaks for the trees because they have a stake in environmental protection.

Exhibit B is Thidwick the Bighearted Moose. This is a lesser-known Seuss work, but it's great. Basically it's about...well, a big-hearted moose, who offers to carry around smaller creatures in need. Eventually, though, more and more creatures take advantage of his generosity, and they become more and more demanding. At one point, if I remember correctly, they "out-vote" Thidwick, who would like to migrate with his fellow meese for the winter, and refuse to let him go. The whole thing is a great metaphor for the welfare state. In the end, the small free-loaders get what they deserve. Highly recommended, but you'd best read the book because I doubt a movie will ever be made of it!

Hope this is of interest!

Very interesting. Luckily, I have daughters of the right "Seuss" age so my research into it won't seem a bit out of the ordinary. Thanks for the input.

Oobleck, on Mar 15 2008, 01:25 PM, said:

Oobleck? Interesting name. When I used to teach middle school science one of our projects involved making oobleck out of corn starch and water...

Steffan, on Mar 16 2008, 10:07 AM, said:

Dr. Seuss was a classical liberal, on a par, I think, with Adlai Stevenson or Hubert Humphrey. I don't know if he would care to belong to the current Democratic Party.

He drew some very pointed anti-Nazi cartoons. He hated Nazis, which is never a bad thing.



I wouldn't use the term "classical" liberal to define Stevenson or Humphrey since they were staunch New Dealers and preogressives. The terms "classical liberalism" is conventionally reserved for those who respect parliamentary democracy (as opposed to a strong executive like FDR's) and free market economics.

I would also point out that Seuss probably falls within the progressive camp as well, and his distaste for Nazis and fascism comes as no surprise. One of the main arguments Goldberg makes is that progressives' hatred for fascism is the result of the Soviets' hatred for fascism. He spends much of the book showing how the two had gotten along and how they shared common intellectual origins (fascism and communism, that is, but it's certainly true of progressivism as well) only to have a falling out over competition for the same political and intellectual turf--the left.
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