A Massachusetts librarian has been criticized for rejecting a donation of children’s books by Melania Trump, because she thinks the author, Dr Seuss, is “racist” and a “cliche.”
To coincide with National Read a Book Day, Cambridgeport Elementary School, Massachusetts, was chosen to be the recipient of 10 copies of Dr Seuss books from the first lady.
School librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, rejected the donation in an open letter to Trump, however, saying that her school didn’t need the books and that the author was racist.
“You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature,” Soeiro wrote. “Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”
“Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art,” she added.
Soeiro’s comments did not go down well in Seuss’s hometown of Springfield, where Mayor Domenic Sarno branded them “ridiculous.”
“I think her comments ‘stink’,” Sarno said, as cited by Mass Live. “Her comments that this is ‘racist propaganda and that Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliche and a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature’ is ‘political correctness’ at its worst.”
Sarno thanked the first lady for her donation and extended an invitation to her and the president to visit the city’s Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.
A grandnephew of Dr Seuss also criticised Soeiro.
“I know one thing for sure — I never saw one ounce of racism in anything he said, or how he lived his life, or what his stories were about,” the Boston Herald quoted Ted Owens as saying.
“When you have grinches and sneetches and all his other characters, how can you say that’s racist? His characters are based on made-up characters,” he added.
Dr Seuss, real name Theodor Seuss Geisel, was born and raised in Springfield and is the city’s foremost son. He was a vocal anti-fascist critic during WWII, drawing cartoons warning of the threat posed by the Nazi regime before the Americans entered the war in 1942.
He also drew anti-Japanese cartoons during WWI, which prompted some academics to call for a reassessment of some of his works. Suess later admitted he regretted doing this.