The story of Babar sucks.
We were given a Babar book as a baby shower gift for The Mayor but we only read it for the first time the other night.
The first page introduces little baby Babar. The wee elephant is busy loving life, frolicking happily around with his wonderful Mom...
...and on page two...
Babar's mother is SHOT AND KILLED BY A HUNTER!
Don't even get me started about how the orphaned Babar flees the jungle in fear only to be rescued by a civilized old white lady who teaches him to un-heathenize himself through sartorial elegance.
Babar grows up to be the number one pawn of THE MAN and so he is made King of the elephants.
Only an elephant that dresses and acts like whitey can be King, right?
Heathen elephants without clothes wouldn't know the first thing about how to govern themselves to be sure.
It's subversive material, I'm telling you!
But back to the early and violent death of Babar's mother...
Before K or I could recover, cover-up or otherwise divert and distract, The Mayor was fretting over what happened to the mommy elephant.
He worried his way through the rest of the book and into the next few days.
"Where is Babar's Mommy? What happened to her? Why would the hunter hurt her?"
The Mayor is only two and a half years old.
What kind of idiot was Jean de Brunhoff the author?
Piece of mother elephant killing, neocolonialist scum.
It's not that I believe I can protect my children from the reality of human cruelty forever, but I do think I should be able to do so until... oh, I don't know - their THIRD birthday?! Is that asking too much?
It got me thinking about my childhood, remembering how I learned that people were capable of cruelty.
I used to regularly sleep over at my next door neighbor's house.
Kimmy and I were great friends... though I did once, when angry, konk her on the head with a crab mallet at the property line between our yards. (We lived in Maryland and "Maryland is for Crabs!")
I was sleeping over at Kimmy's house the night the movie "Jesus of Nazareth" was on TV for the first time.
I didn't grow up going to church so I wasn't familiar with the Bible story.
I vividly remember watching right up until Jesus wore the crown of thorns and carried the cross to the crucifixion.
I told Kimmy's mom I didn't feel well and needed to go home.
I ran across our adjoining yards, into my house, down the stairs and into my parent's bedroom.
I buried my head in my mother's lap and sobbed.
I'm sure she must have been taken by surprise. She stroked my hair and asked me what was wrong. I blubbered about what a nice man The Jesus Guy was and wailed about The Mean People hurting him.
I was probably nine years old.
I cried and cried.
My mom suggested that we watch the end of the movie together. She thought it would help if I saw the ending, the resurrection.
I suppose it did help, to an extent, but it didn't erase my new understanding of our human potential for unfathomable cruelty.
What possible motivation could anyone have had for such evil? I couldn't get my head around it. I could barely believe it was real.
Not too long after that, I watched the movie "Holocaust" with a baby sitter when my parents were out.
It was my introduction to that page of our human history.
Again I was devastated, my heart broken anew.
It happened again when I understood that Isaac, the African-American hired hand on my great grandmother's rural Virginian farm, wasn't allowed in the house because of his skin color...
...and again in sixth grade when I read the book Roots,...
...and again when I learned the history of Native Americans...
...and again and again and again.
To be honest, it still shocks me and breaks my heart every time.
Like just yesterday when I read this awful thing on Jen's blog.
In truth, every single day of the year the news is filled with examples of it.
Despite the constant hammering of awful, evil news, I somehow remain a trusting person with great faith in human goodness.
So I want my children to be filled with the same faith, hope, love and compassion.
I want them to believe that good will triumph over evil in the long run.
Because I know that they will have their hearts broken again and again, just as I did and still do, I don't need any help exposing them to the cruel ways of the world.
From now on, all books that kill mommy elephants are banned from story time... along with all books that justify colonialism and glorify the bringing of "western civilization" to the jungle... and any books in general that were written by French fucktards in 1931.