A spokeswoman for Melania Trump fired back yesterday at a Cambridge Public Schools librarian, saying her rejection of 10 Dr. Seuss books from the first lady was “divisive” and “unfortunate.”
“Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as First Lady to help as many children as she can. She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to children across the country is but one example,” Stephanie Grisham wrote in an email.
“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,” Grisham wrote.
Librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro on Thursday turned down the donation Trump sent as part of National Read a Book Day, calling Dr. Seuss’s illustrations “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes.”
In a sharply worded letter to the first lady, posted on The Horn Book blog, Phipps Soeiro also scolded her about Department of Education funding cuts, suggesting she instead donate the books to “underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.”
Cambridge Public Schools said the librarian’s opinions did not reflect the district’s. School officials also “counseled” Phipps Soeiro on “all relevant policies, including donation policies and the policy against public resources being used for political purposes,” they said in a statement.
In a Herald front-page story yesterday, Ted Owens, the grandnephew of Springfield native and world renowned children’s book author Dr. Seuss, called Phipps Soeiro’s comments “preposterous.”
“I know one thing for sure,” Owens said of his great-uncle, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, “I never saw one ounce of racism in anything he said, or how he lived his life, or what his stories were about.”