Charles Blow, a left-wing columnist for the New York Times, has suggested canceling the popular Looney Tunes cartoon characters Speedy Gonzales and Pepé Le Pew — the former because it is “racist,” the latter for contributing to “rape culture.”
Blow made the suggestions in a column applauding the removal of several Dr. Seuss books from circulation for allegedly racist caricatures. In the column, titled, “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias,” Blow argued: “Racism must be exorcised from culture, including, or maybe especially, from children’s culture.”
As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior. And I was not alone. The Black society into which I was born was riddled with these beliefs.
It wasn’t something that most if any would articulate in that way, let alone knowingly propagate. Rather, it was in the air, in the culture. We had been trained in it, bathed in it, acculturated to hate ourselves.
It happened for children in the most inconspicuous of ways: It was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales and children’s books.
Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent.
Blow defended his arguments on Twitter on Saturday:
RW blogs are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let’s see.
1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will.
2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her
3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping. pic.twitter.com/CbLCldLwvR
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) March 6, 2021
Critics pushed back:
Dr. Seuss and Pepe Le Pew too controversial for the current year, but it’s okay to encourage eight-year-olds to take puberty blockers.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 7, 2021
Now they Pepe Le Pew & Speedy Gonzales, because it will never end until we pretend that we are all culturally the same.
Ok fine. Cancel Chef Boyardee. That fake Italian BS. https://t.co/SJnDc8i98y
— Carmine Sabia (@CarmineSabia) March 7, 2021
Pepe Le Pew is a gentleman compared to Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Ted Kennedy, Carlos Danger, Eliot Spitzer, Lt. Gov. Fairfax of VA etc. etc. etc.
— Howie Carr (@HowieCarrShow) March 6, 2021
I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too? U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico 💨 pic.twitter.com/Ov4wjO00kM
— G a b r i e l – I g l e s i a s (@fluffyguy) March 7, 2021
Pepe Le Pew has been targeted before, notably in 2018, shortly after the emergence of the #metoo movement. Breitbart News’ John Nolte noted: “Pepé Le Pew is the butt of all the jokes, who always, always, always loses in the end — usually violently at the hands of his so-called victim.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.