Librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro made news this week after she rejected a bundle of Dr Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump, claiming that some of the Seuss illustrations (in books that were not included in the bundle) were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes”.
She also pointed out that a gift of books to her already well-funded school would have been more appreciated by schools in “underfunded and underprivileged communities”, but those comments aren’t what has everyone in a tizzy.
Trump supporters have taken to the internet with pictures of Michelle Obama during her tenure as first lady, in which she can be seen reading Dr Seuss books to various groups of children. According to the tweets, either Michelle Obama is racist, or Dr Seuss only became racist “because Trump is president”.
Despite the fact that the school district has pointed out that Phipps Soeiro “was not authorised to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district” and stressed that her views do not reflect those of the school, the argument rages on.
“So when Michelle Obama praises [Dr Seuss], we smile & applaud. When Melania Trump does the same, it’s supposed to be racist? I’m so confused,” one person posted Twitter, along with side-by-side photos of the two first ladies.
There’s also a poll running on Twitter, asking whether voters thought the same librarian would have rejected the books if they were sent by Michelle Obama. At last count, more than 133,000 people had voted, with an overwhelming 84 per cent saying they believed Obama’s contribution would have been fine.
Do you believe a Cambridge librarian would have rejected Dr. Seuss books if they were sent by Michelle Obama and not Melania Trump?
— VBTheWise (@VBTheWise) September 29, 2017
“Riddle me this,” one user wrote. “How can the same books Michelle Obama read to children now be racist books because Trump is President?”
Riddle me this: How can the same books Michelle Obama read to children now be racist books because Trump is President?
— Lori Hendry (@Lrihendry) September 30, 2017
Obama and Trump have yet to comment on the controversy.