First Lady Melania Trump tried to donate ten Dr. Seuss books to a school library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and because we live in the most frustratingly partisan times ever, this act of charity was deemed problematic by librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro.
"Dr. Seuss's illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes," wrote Soeiro in an open letter to the First Lady.
For this and other reasons—Soeiro again: "my students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science," so, you know, they're all good—the gift was rejected.
"We will not be keeping the titles for our collection," the letter states.
Melania Trump's office fired back this morning.
"To turn the gesture of sending young students some books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere," said a spokesperson.
As many people on Twitter have pointed out, Melania Trump was following in the footsteps of Michelle Obama, who often read Dr. Seuss books to kids. Would a librarian—sorry, a librarian with a graduate degree in library science—have rejected this gift if it came from Mrs. Obama? We will never know, but probably not.
In any case, Soeiro is actually right: yes, some of Dr. Seuss's drawings depict racial caricatures. Seuss actually had a huge blindspot when it came to Japanese Americans, and some of his early work can be read as a defense of Japanese internment policies during World War II. He also produced laudable anti-racist content, as seen below.
But none of that means The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, or Oh! The Places You'll Go are "steeped in racist propaganda," and even if they were, it still wouldn't justify yanking them off library shelves and prohibiting students from reading them. Is not a school the ideal place to learn something about historical cartoons and issues of race? Maybe instead of going all Fahrenheit 451 on the school's Seuss collection, Soeiro could put her graduate degree to use and talk to the kids about why she has a problem with some of the images.
Punk ass book jockeys, indeed.