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December 1 2018

Social Justice Warriors Miss the Moral Lessons in Rudolph

by Julie Gunlock

Wikipedia defines a fable as a “succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized …and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral lesson…”

Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is a fable; a tale about cruelty, suffering and eventually kindness and triumph. To convey the moral lesson, Rudolph and the entire Santa operation are given human qualities—the reindeer can speak and they live in a human-like civilization. There are family units, human-like relationships, schools, and athletic coaches. The reindeer and humans exhibit both moral and immoral behavior.

The lesson the story teaches is that bullying, exclusionary behavior, ridiculing someone’s disability (or in Rudolph’s case, extra abilities) is wrong. The behavior on display by the townspeople in Rudolph’s world is cruel and inhumane. Rudolph endures this mistreatment from nearly everyone—even Santa (a saint) and his own father.

Yet, one would have to be pretty dim to miss the point—one should endeavor to be like Rudolph, not his tormentors. In the end, Rudolph triumphs and those who were cruel to him understand the wrongness of their behavior. These are the very stories we should be telling children.

Yet, over at HuffPo, this all seems to have gone over their heads. In a video released last week, HuffPo calls the much-loved children’s Christmas classic “problematic” and “not so jolly after all.” The video goes on to criticize the cartoon for showing the very things that make it a fable illustrating a moral lesson—Rudolph’s father’s cruelty, Santa’s cruelty, the coach’s cruelty, the other kids’ excluding him from games. This is too triggering for HuffPo.

In fact, instead of praising this fable for serving as a vehicle for the very lessons Huffpo ostensibly promotes (kindness, inclusiveness, diversity), they objected to the portrayal of suffering and unkindness

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a terrific children’s fable that teaches children the importance of accepting differences. The fact that this is lost on HuffPo reveals the dangers dimwitted, anti-intellectual social justice warriors present to history and didactic literature.

 



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