Why one Cambridge school won't be accepting books Melania Trump sent it

Liz Phipps Soeiro at the Cambridgeport School thanks the First Lady for the ten Dr. Seuss books, but explains why the school won't keep them:

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. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal children’s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.

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.

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    Comments

    This is all a trick?

    By on

    To get outraged Trump supporters to start buying books - any books - for their children.

    Why can't you tell me in your

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    Why can't you tell me in your own words? Why do you think the illustrations of Dr. Seuss are racist? Or the stories? I know how to use Google. But why do you think they are? What are your beliefs, not Google's. When you answer that question, you will then sound like a racist yourself.

    Wait a second

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    If that's racist, that would make pretty much every cartoon ever drawn racist.

    Other than the clothes, I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between this guy and dagwood bumstead with his eyes closed.

    lmgtfy

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    What is this, 2009?

    Seuss legacy

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    Dr. Seuss received many awards. In 1984, he received his greatest honor; The Pulitzer Prize Committee presented him with an award for a Lifetime of Contribution to Children’s Literature. He said he wassurprised to get the award; he had been struggling with his drawings at the time. Some of the other awards he received include: An Academy award for “Gerald McBoing-Boing” (Best Cartoon, 1951). An Emmy for “Halloween is Grinch Night” (Best Children’s Special, 1977), and “The Grinch Grinches the Cat” (Best Children’s Special, 1982), A Peabody for the animated specials, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “Horton Hears a Who!”, 1971. He received a New York Library Lion, 1986, Caldecott Honor Award, “McElligot’s Pool”, 1947, Caldecott Honor Award, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” in 1949, a Caldecott Honor Award, 1950, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, 1980, for “If I Ran the Zoo”. An Oscar for the cartoon “Gerald McBoing-Boing”, “Hitler Lives” and “Design for Death”, Legion of Merit Award for his film in the “Why We Fight” movie series.

    Debate

    The Cambridge Librarian offered some good reasons for why she thought alternate books would be better. Hopefully it will spur a larger discussion of the merits of modern children's literature. That seems to be the point. Good for her.

    What would have that accomplished?

    The Librarian wanted Americans, local and nationally, to debate the merits of children's literature and public funding of libraries and educational resources. Responding privately would not have spurred that discussion.

    You're distributing racist literature

    Accomplish getting the books you want! Accomplish getting people on your side instead of getting their backs up.

    Telling somebody they are distributing racist literature is a bad way to get the debate started. This isn't about #Resistance and public shaming? Melania is so dumb she sent us Little Black Sambo.

    "getting their backs up"

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    Accomplish getting people on your side instead of getting their backs up.

    Because it always works so well if you shut up and go away when people react badly to hearing unpleasant truths.

    You have some racist beliefs

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    ...if you think people shouldn't call out racist behaviors because it's not polite or whatever.

    If you're uncomfortable hearing about racism and thinking about how you can combat it, imagine what it's like being a recipient of it.

    If Madam is embarrassed ...

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    If Madam is embarrassed ...
    by a diverse range of opinions openly expressed, she may be in the wrong job.

    Wow, this is a challenging post

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    There is a lot of nuance in the full post. The librarian-writer has a lot of good points, but also takes the opportunity to drag politics in and then slam Dr Suess. Yikes!

    "drag politics into it"

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    The librarian-writer has a lot of good points, but also takes the opportunity to drag politics in and then slam Dr Suess

    Leaving aside the goring of the sacred cow that is Dr. Seuss (already addressed above), some people in America have the luxury of mostly ignoring politics, because the results of politics don't get up in their faces every single day. Other folks are not so lucky, and increasingly are unwilling to sacrifice their own well-being for the mental comfort of members of the former group.

    Well, I'm probably not as

    Well, I'm probably not as much of an expert as Liz Phipps Soeiro, but I'm the father of three kids, and I read them a lot of books, and Dr. Seuss holds up a lot better than a lot of the crap out there for kids (e.g. P.D. Eastman and too many contemporary books to list). If they're cliches, it's for the same reason Shakespeare is a cliche. He did it first, and he did it better than almost anyone who came after him.

    And no, the occasional unfortunate visual stereotype notwithstanding, his books are not "steeped in racist propaganda". If there were specific examples in the specific books that Mrs. Trump chose, that would be a valid reason to consider excluding them from the school, but hardly a reason to exclude his works completely.

    This is petty and classless

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    This is petty and classless on the school's part. They could have graciously accepted the books and then auctioned them off or donated them elsewhere. Calling Dr. Seuss racist is also a bit out there. What's next banning Jack & Jill for emotional trauma and reinforcing normative gender assumptions?

    Educators have really turned into activists these days and it is disturbing to me that they are indoctrinating children with their personal beliefs rather than focusing on elementary education.

    This is petty and classless

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    I agree this could have been handle in a better way whether she accepted or returned. Not sure about the racist part - the stories are classic reading material, perhaps not all or maybe none of them too some, i think "The Grinch, teaches about what is truly important in life, relationships and not material things, right? And don't forget "The Lorax"..these two should be read to #45...though he would dismiss them as liberal...ah yeah, caring about others and the planet, facts!

    I disagree about educators turning into activists - they are teaching more than Sally and Jane these days and need to speak out, I do not understand people who think certain people have to stop being involved with the community or any part of the globe and give their opinions. We know he would like that to be so and only have those who agree with him, that is far from making america great.

    Dr. Seuss re: racism

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    It's a quick google away, but I'd encourage you to at least research it. Not to excuse it because of the time, but he caricatured Japanese people quite a bit during WWII, and there are other arguments out there regarding other books and elements of racism.

    I'm not debating it, I'm just stating what I've come across.

    I hope she re-gifted the books

    Even if the Cambridge public or school library (not sure which) doesn't want them, someone else will. Put them in a Little Free Library box and they will be snapped up.

    yes

    She just made sure she gave them to the racist kids so they'd go to the proper home.
    /s

    What would be great

    If the 1st lady took the time to respond to her post and either defend the Seuss books or actually took some of her suggestions. You know, intelligent debate and discussion.

    So, the White House

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    (not even sure the First Lady had any hand in this) sends a group of Dr. Suess books to this school and Ms. Soeiro basically says that the gift sucks (could be better thought out), and you, Ms. Trump, suffer from a lack of learning and empathy. And, oh, by the way, you really need to catch up your your own reading because you are ignorant. May I suggest these titles?

    Hokey. I understand that you may think (or not) these things about the First Lady and her husband. However, you, Ms. Soeiro, as someone who is educated, should try to understand that not everyone is aware of Dr. Seuss's poltical and racist undertones in his books. I dare say most kids do not. (And he was more complex that just a racist bigot. Not cool to pick and choose his flaws for your argument, Ms. Soeiro, while ignoring the positives).

    Oh, by the way, Insulting a person who sends your institution a gift is not a way to win support to your way of thinking. Unfortunately, many who exhibit smugness like Ms. Soeiro still do not understand that that way of acting is what, in part, got us Ms. Trump's husband in power.

    No, not at all

    If I send you a gift you think is insulting and detrimental to your community should you just smile be thankful for getting anything?

    She gives her reasons why she thinks it's not suitable for her Library. Maybe you disagree with her reasons but she wasn't being rude or out of line. She wanted people to think about the books, not just assume they should be exempt from critique.

    Yes.

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    It is called being polite. And, again, she as an educated woman should understand that Mrs. Trump might not be in her league in regards to her book knowledge.

    Yes, I do disagree and that is ok, as you point out. By way of an example, it would be like me sending to someone, who I perceive needs some educating 'cause I believe him/her to be ignorant even though I am making a BIG assumption 'cause I do not even know him/her as a person, a group of my favorite reads on politics, racism and/or the class divide in America. I dare say the recipient would probably throw them in the trash.

    The Librarian was extremely polite

    She went to lengths to shown her appreciation for the donation. Read her post.

    Nothing she said in her post called into question anyone's intelligence. What she did say is that many other communities are far more in need of donations then her own. She added that if Ms. Trump wanted suggestions for good children's books (understandably, not many adults know kids books) she could speak with a nearby librarian.

    Oh really?

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    extremely bitchy between the lines

    Oh really? Do tell us precisely how, please. While you're at it, explain why you had to use a gendered insult to refer to this alleged behavior.

    bitches

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    Oh really? Do tell us precisely how, please. While you're at it, explain why you had to use a gendered insult to refer to this alleged behavior.

    because she sounds like a pontificating bitch? if she was male I would call her a bitch too, ok? a gendered insult, lol.

    PTSD much?

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    You are obviously having issues with proper sentence structure, usage, and punctuation.

    Here's a green egg - point to where those mean female teachers and librarians hurt you.

    Publishing an "open letter"

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    Publishing an "open letter" is inherently not polite. People write them to be openly critical.

    "Polite" and "critical" are not opposites

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    And there's no requirement that one be polite when calling out oppression. There is a tendency for people who don't belong to marginalized groups to say they aren't going to listen to criticism because it wasn't polite, i.e. "those pesky Black people didn't speak to me in the way I insist on being spoken to."

    Ok, BD,

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    you are on a different rail than I. I did read her post. It was what was said in between the "thank you" that you and I differ on. (Oh, you might want to re-read my posts. I hope you learn something from them.*)

    *So, how does that last sentence make you feel?

    Yes, actually, the well

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    Yes, actually, the well-mannered thing to do is to politely accept any gift.

    If we don't care about being well-mannered, that's another story.

    Totally agree with Whyaduck -

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    Totally agree with Whyaduck - I'm a liberal, but this type of smug "I'm smarter than you" reaction is 100% what provides anti-liberal fodder, and indeed sows division within anyone left of center.

    Liz Phipps Soeiro's lack of tact is a discredit to her cause.

    A simple thank you

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    One thing was taught early on is that when given a gift one says thank you. You do not lecture the giver on what you wanted instead of what they gave.
    If this librarian did not want the gifts, pass them on to someone who does.
    To write a self serving, self congratulatory letter to the donor is rude, and then to publish it simply shows she wants to gain attention for herself.

    I detest Trump

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    But this is appalling, and rude. Let's focus on the truly awful stuff coming out of the Trump administration, and not a gift of classic children's books by an author so beloved that Obama chose his birthday as the day for Read Across America Day. Not to mention an author whose books had themes of environmentalism, anti-fascism, and pacifism. This, unfortunately, is playing right into the anti-PC folks' hands.

    Walking and chewing gum at the same time

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    But this is appalling, and rude

    In what way? Please provide specifics.

    Let's focus on the truly awful stuff coming out of the Trump administration

    I have an alternate suggestion: let's let each other concentrate on whatever we feel is most important and that we can best work on. You do your activism, and let others do their activism -- we do not have to all march in lockstep. While you're at it, consider that some people are capable of responding to more than one specific narrow instance of "truly awful stuff" at a time -- but ya know what, even if it's not the most efficient way (and really, what would determine that?), we're not a conscript army here.

    and not a gift of classic children's books by an author so beloved

    But the unfortunate truth about many "classic children's books" is that they ARE racist, or sexist, or christian-supremacist, or have really shitty attitudes about disabled people, etc. If it's true, should your response be to flip out and attack the person who pointed out that there's a problem with the book? Here's something you might want to read, and then reconsider your response.

    This, unfortunately, is playing right into the anti-PC folks' hands.

    No, it really isn't. Reactive, thoughtless people's knees already jerked when they got halfway through the headline; it is not possible to "play into the hands" of anyone who's going to execute the exact same tactic regardless of what you do. All you can do is acquiesce to their efforts to silence you, or not.

    So wait

    By on

    Are we really adding the works of Dr. Seuss to the list of banned/challenged books?

    I wonder if Soeiro knows about Giesl's view of Nazis?

    Dr. Seuss is no stranger to banned book lists apparently

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    Here's an amusing list.

    Also this was too good not to quote (and it checks out with other sources):

    Green Eggs and Ham was banned in Maoist China in 1965 because of its “portrayal of early Marxism” – a ban that was not lifted until the author died in 1991. It was also banned in California because of Sam-I-Am’s apparent homosexual seduction of the protagonist. Also, the ham is a phallic symbol…obviously if one has that sort of imagination.

    Jayzus!

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    I'm speechless. This Anti-Seuss thing is a thing.

    The only Seuss book I want banned is the "go to bed" book whose name I'm too lazy to look up. It took me 20 minutes to read to Junior. That's too long at bedtime.

    Yes

    By on

    And not only is it long, but it doesn't flow well. The words can easily jumble together, meaning the flow is ruined, like when there are repeated whistles in hockey games.

    The more I think of it, screw Dr. Seuss.

    On second thought, I have to admit that Cat in the Hat flows well, so he's okay in my book.

    Oh, Waquoit

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    Are we really adding the works of Dr. Seuss to the list of banned/challenged books?

    There you go again, sloppily eliding concepts that are different things. If I didn't know better, I'd say your access to Google had been revoked and you did not have the means to do a little simple inquiry and find out about Dr. Seuss's history with racism (that article points to one example; there are others. Or, y'know, you can just throw out some more-heat-than-light stuff instead.

    All I know is

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    I read his books as a child and have read his books to my child. My conclusions after reading his children's books is that were these books donated by someone else, they probably would have taken them. This is the "total war" philosophy of American politics, espoused by both sides, and none of this is helping the country.

    But sure, if you want to say that Seuss was a racist asshole, that's your opinion, and you're entitled to it.

    You don't seem to know what

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    You don't seem to know what the word "elide" means. Did you mean "conflate"?

    That said, you seem to be attempting to rebut what the parent post said, but it's coming off as, "since I think these books are racist, I agree they should be banned/challenged."

    Is that what you actually meant?

    Hyperbole, much?

    By on

    She didn't say they should be banned or not read. She pointed out that books selected for a national program of sorts should perhaps be better chosen so that they are deeper and uplift all children. The Seuss books certainly have merit, but books given as a gift from the First Lady maybe should be ones that are completely free of racist stereotypes.

    I agree that the librarian's

    I agree that the librarian's letter was rude/passive-aggressive. I teach my kids that the proper response to a gift that you don't want is "Thank you, that was very thoughtful."

    In this case, it appears that Ms. Soerio wanted to spark a discussion of racist stereotypes in children's literature, which is, IMO, an extremely valuable discussion to have. Unfortunately, she couldn't have done more to sabotage such a discussion if that had been her explicit intent.

    Yes, Dr. Seuss drew vile racist propaganda during World War II, along with the animators of Warner Brothers cartoons and, I'd imagine, hundreds of other illustrators at the time. Such propaganda is completely unrelated to his children's books and should have no bearing on the discussion of same.

    Yes, some of his children's books have gross racist stereotypes in them, presumably his earlier ones (I've spent too much time on this subject already today and am not going to research his entire bibliography), which were created during a time when virtually the only depictions of non-white characters in pop culture were racist stereotypes.

    Those caricatures are certainly problematic, and worthy of discussion, but to claim, as Soerio seems to be doing, that they taint all Seuss books by association and render his entire body of work unacceptable is only to play into the culture war propagated by the likes of Fox News who, I assume, are already preparing to lead off their nightly broadcast with the story of how DR SEUSS WAS BANNED BY PC MOONBATSZ!!!1!!1!!11one

    There are two questions here.

    The first is whether the specific books donated by Mrs. Trump contain such stereotyped caricatures (the list is available in the blog post). Based on the ones I've read (there are some obscure ones in there), I would say not (one should note that the two specific examples cited by Ms. Soerio include the very first children's book Seuss ever published, and neither are included in the collection that was donated).

    Based on the googling I've done today, there is apparently some question about whether The Cat in the Hat represents racist minstrelsy, which strikes me as a bit far-fetched, but even leaving that book out, other classics such as One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and Green Eggs and Ham certainly belong in every library, everywhere, IMO.

    The other question is how to respond to racist stereotypes that were not intended to be harmful and which were completely consistent with the cultural norms of their time (e.g. Asian characters in conical "rice paddy" hats or "exotic" middle-eastern characters in turbans).

    In the case of works that have considerable merit aside from the stereotypes (e.g. The Merchant of Venice and Seuss's work), I would suggest that they offer the an opportunity for teaching students about how commonplace such racism was in past times. Specifically, the cartoony "soft" racism found in some Seuss books does not strike me as being particularly harmful in and of itself; I grew up with it (and much worse, e.g. the Babar books or Dr. Doolittle) and did not turn into a racist myself.

    There may certainly be an argument that such books (which again, do not appear to have been included in the collection donated by Mrs. Trump) might no longer be appropriate for the general children's collection in a library, and should instead be presented in such a way that explains the context in which they were originally published.

    But to claim that such an argument renders all of Dr. Seuss's work unfit for public consumption is completely ludicrous, and does not appear particularly relevant to the specific books in question.

    I teach my kids that the

    By on

    I teach my kids that the proper response to a gift that you don't want is "Thank you, that was very thoughtful."

    A tricky area to teach in!

    Repressing opinion so as not to hurt someone's feelings, I get. TMI.

    But the little white lie saying something you find poorly thought out to be thoughtful is an actual misrepresentation of sentiment. Let the lack of attaboy speak for itself.

    Then again, as FLOTUS, she must be living in a world of insincerity and sham, given the hyperbolic bullshit broadcast by hubby. She might not recognize it.

    vl;wr

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    (very long; worth reading)

    Thanks for taking the time to dig into this a bit more.

    Peoples Republic of Cambridge

    By on

    Yeah that sounds like the cambridge response. Just say we don't want the books cause we don't like you. Simple and straight to the point.

    Idiot.

    I realize for some people that catering to the easily offended is job security in Cambridge, but this stretches it just a weeee bit. Maybe she’d prefer Home Video For Kids by Kim Kardashian or a manual on good parenting from Lena Dunham.

    Librarian has ulterior motives

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    I strongly believe the librarian refused the books only because of the source (Trump White House). She would not have done so under the past administration.

    As others have pointed out, President Obama issued this proclamation that reads in part:

    March 2 is also the birthday of one of America's revered wordsmiths. Theodor Seuss Geisel—or Dr. Seuss—used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear. Through a prolific collection of stories, he made children see that reading is fun, and in the process, he emphasized respect for all; pushed us to accept ourselves for who we are; challenged preconceived notions and encouraged trying new things; and by example, taught us that we are limited by nothing but the range of our aspirations and the vibrancy of our imaginations. And for older lovers of literature, he reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously, creating wacky and wild characters and envisioning creative and colorful places.

    So they're complaining that

    So they're complaining that Dr Seuss was a racist, and yet the first picture I see is of a woman wearing a burka, an instrument of women's oppression.

    hrmmmm

    didn't vote for Trump before shit gets thrown

    So a scarf is an instrument of women's oppression?

    By on

    All clothing is an instrument of oppression, then.

    Especially when people like you are always the first to say "she shouldn't have worn xxx if she didn't want male attention like rape".

    Not at all

    * a head scarf that Muslim women are required to wear to be faithful to their religion.

    Where are you getting that info? The Muslim directive, for both men and women, is to dress modestly. Actual implementation of what "modest" clothing means, varies entirely by culture and is not dictated by the core Islamic texts. For some it means burka. For others it means no bikinis except at the beach or the pool.

    What about shoes that cause serious, lifelong body damage?

    Wearing them all the time makes it 100% not oppressive!

    IMAGE(https://i.pinimg.com/564x/ae/9e/53/ae9e53b9a553860c8d6ab01a7445afd4.jpg)

    It is 100% not oppressed to end up in your 60s and 70s unable to walk due to permanent "Barbie Feet". Common among women forced to wear heels in the workplace. It took 10 years and lots of PT visits for my MIL to undo even that much damage ... not to mention the damage to other parts of her body due to the posture they force.

    What religion is that?

    Where women have to wear burkas?

    None. No religion requires women to wear burkas. It is simply primitive tribal shit, falsely claiming religion as a justification for its repression of women.

    The Capitalist Religion

    By on

    Many work places still require women to wear them if they want to stay employed/support themselves/feed their kids, etc.

    What planet have you been on?

    Many places of work require

    By on

    Many places of work require you to wear pumps??? Where are women required to wear pumps? Maybe an exotic dancer but other than that....

    Kids these days

    Probably don't even remember workplaces that required men to wear a suit and tie to work.

    Seriously, this is an age thing. Back a few decades ago, when the term "white collar" described a dress code, not a salary level, such workplaces were sticklers about dress code, including grooming and shoes. Fellows like me had to wear lace-up dress shoes, and women had to wear pumps. It did not matter how high up the organization you were, you all had to toe the line.

    Women might get sent home for wearing flats, like men would get sent home for wearing loafers. Men who came in unshaven might be sent to the bathroom with a razor and no cream for a dry shave. The pumps thing, once upon a time, extended to stewardesses and waitresses as well at some places.

    Very few workplaces do this anymore, to men or to women.

    I'm not a kid and isn't this

    By on

    I'm not a kid and isn't this conversation about present day not the past? I may be reading too quickly missing things.

    Missed this part

    SwirlyGirl's MIL having PT 10 years after retiring is indeed talking about the past, probably the 1960s, if not the 50s.

    Melania will probably also have problems. It's nice that fewer women will today than in the past.

    I could be wrong but I don't

    By on

    I could be wrong but I don't know of any women that are required to wear painful foot crushing pumps in the US.

    important difference

    By on

    Wearing pumps destroyed women's bodies.

    Wearing ties doesn't hurt you.

    Category error

    Compare ties to flouncy collars or something. The men's equivalent to pumps are hard leather lace-ups, like cap-toe oxfords. I could go back to the ties any day, but the shoes never.

    Fit and quality are important.

    Decent-quality men's dress shoes with a proper fit are extremely comfortable. I'd rather wear a good pair of leather-soled, lace-up, cap-toed oxfords all day long, especially if I have to do a lot of standing, than athletic shoes or almost any other more-casual type of footwear. (Exception: quality work boots have similar virtues for comfort.)

    A good rule of thumb with any pair of shoes: make sure they feel great the first time you put them on: none of this "breaking in" nonsense.

    YMMV

    Fit and quality of your favorite pair of shoes are irrelevant to someone else's feet. You find work boots and cap-toed shoes comfortable. Other people find them excruciating.

    I wore dress shoes (my preference was for brogue wing tips) in great comfort every day when I was a young man. I'm not anymore. Luckily, I don't have to wear them anymore.

    I didn't mean to suggest that my favorite pair of shoes would

    fit everyone. My feet are E-width and kind of knobbly. My point was that if *any* pair of shoes doesn't fit you *very* comfortably the moment you try them on, you shouldn't buy them.

    I suspect the discomfort many men associate with dress shoes is borne of an aversion to investing in decent quality, a lesson it took me years to learn, but once I did, and got religious about shoe care, especially the use of shoe trees, yielded good-looking shoes I've owned for 20 years and are still going. You want features like Goodyear welting (a way to attach the upper to the sole), which makes re-soling worth the cost. The other issue is this notion that ill-fitting shoes can be broken in, which does work, but is painful and sub-optimal. Much better to wait until you find a pair that fits great out of the box.

    The same is true with tailored clothing like sport coats and suit jackets. If it doesn't fit you great off the rack, especially in the shoulders, move on. The only necessary alteration you should expect to make and still have the jacket look good is lengthening or shortening the sleeves by an inch or so, maybe a little tapering at the waist. If it doesn't mostly fit you beautifully off the rack, move on.

    Sympathy to folks who are very athletic or have other body types outside the norms that off-the-rack manufacturers cater to for obvious reasons. The good news is that your options are much better these days with the advent of more big-and-tall specialty retailers, and mass-market-bespoke options like Suitsupply and Indochino, which deliver very nice fits (you have to get measured by a tailor or by a pro in one of their retail outlets) and quite decent quality for the money. Of the two, I like Suitsupply better: their jackets include a half-canvas interlining of the sort usually used only by much higher-end designers, which helps the jacket hold its shape much more nicely.

    Another male privilege for which I'm grateful: we get

    to wear comfortable shoes every day of our lives, no pressure to ever do otherwise.

    I did drag once, for a chorus-line skit with my football teammates for a high school pep rally. I can still feel the pinch of those damnable shoes my sister lent me.

    Yes, thank goodness we elected a man with

    the awe-inspiring physique, physical fitness, mental sharpness and studiousness of Trump.

    Impeachment isn't likely, but a myocardial infarction, stroke or dementia is still on the table as a 25th amendment scenario for our obese, lazy, 71-year-old President. Keep sitting for hours every day in front of Fox News, shunning intelligence briefings and the exercise bike, and horfing them Big Macs and well-done steaks with ketchup, Don!

    Golf, you say? Sure, his golf habit makes Obama look like a piker -- remember how you used to love to bust on Barry for all that golfing? But Trump rides the cart the whole way, including onto the greens.

    Trump is rated the most skilled golfer among American presidents, no small feat. The top 10, per Golf Digest: Trump, JFK, Ike (whom I would have guessed for #2), Ford, FDR (might have gotten better, but polio ended his game at the age of 39 -- shit, imagine having that happen to you, and still going on to become a world-saving President), W, HW, Clinton, Obama, Reagan.

    But Trump's also a notorious golf cheat. Surprised?

    She's not wearing a burka

    By on

    She wearing a hijab, a headscarf basically. There is a huge difference, which you should probably learn.

    On the other hand, you got me to read the whole letter. Oh, brother. Did she really call out the First Lady for not reading School Library Journal? Does she really think that the average person has studied gender and race in children's literature?

    A few things unrelated to her comment. The nonpolitical initiatives of First Ladies should be off limits for political debates. Remember right wing nut jobs that when after Michelle Obama's vegetable garden? It was insane, as this is.

    Also, I recommend the works of Ezra Jack Keats for younger kids. Great stories, with a diverse cast of characters, and the best thing is that the diversity of the characters doesn't affect the joy the stories bring. Who can't appreciate the cat ruining Archie's day? But you know what, I think the cat kind of liked him.

    The nonpolitical initiatives

    The nonpolitical initiatives of First Ladies should be off limits for political debates.

    Agree 100%. If Soeiro wanted to use this gift as an opportunity to discuss race and gender stereotypes in children's literature, there are a lot of ways she could have done so without calling out the First Lady publicly for being insufficiently woke.

    Same to you:

    Same to you:

    * a head scarf that Muslim women are required to wear to be faithful to their religion

    Okay, I'll explain it

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    A headscarf is a subtle symbol. You will note that a woman wearing a hijab is the go to symbol of a Muslim because sure, she is being modest, but you can engage with her. My once was once seen by a doctor wearing a hijab. It is a moderate symbol. A key attribute- you can see her face.

    A burka is a fuller covering. You can't see much if anything of the woman other than eyes and hands. It's the image used by Islamophobes to imply that we are heading for rule by sharia law with a Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. The honest hidden truth is that even liberals in the West are a bit put off by burkas.

    Hijab
    Burka

    The more you know...

    Sure

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    As long as you know the difference now, all else is opinion. I can't make you change that, but the woman in the photo is not wearing a burka.

    Enforced on Muslim women?

    You know so little, but state your ignorance with AUTHORITY!

    First of all, this is cultural, not religious.

    It isn't enforced any more than blond hair and boob implants and Betty Rubble/Wilma Flintstone dresses are enforced on any woman in the White House.

    Not in the US, anyway. Women choose to wear their scarves.

    If you knew any Muslim women at all, you might know these things. You clearly don't.

    I know Muslim women and they

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    I know Muslim women and they pretty much are made to feel like they HAVE to wear them. It is frowned upon to not wear them.

    Some CULTURES, perhaps

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    Huge variations exist.

    Oh, and guess who else wears head coverings? Jews. Christians (Amish, Mennonite, Old Believers to name a few).

    Culture != religion!

    Questions for Metoo

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    What cultures were these women from? Muslim cultures differ widely.

    How often do you wear a dress without shaving your legs?

    Are you old enough to have worked somewhere that requires that women wear heels?

    They are mostly of American

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    They are mostly of American Muslim culture. Their parents being of Middle Eastern culture.

    My wife actually loves my hairy body so don't worry too much about shaving.

    I also don't know any women that are required to wear pumps. None. It's a personal choice and I know some pretty powerful women that didn't get there by wearing pumps.

    Ah, okay

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    You have no idea - just mansplaining.

    I'm glad you think I have no

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    I'm glad you think I have no idea. That actually matters to me...not. I'm Womansplaining actually.

    What are those?

    The nonpolitical initiatives of First Ladies

    Ain't no such thing. "Political" refers to the use of influence to shape public opinion and behavior.

    Let me put it this way

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    We don't elect the First Lady (or someday the First Husband or whatever). That they do anything public is beyond any politics. When they get out there and say "reading is good, so read" or "eating healthy is good, so have some fruit instead of a Twinkie", this is not some political move. They are using their "office" to push some issue, and by and large the issues are, or should be, nonpolitical in the generally accepted sense of the word.

    I do have to be careful to say anything they do is beyond politics. Hillary Clinton worked on political initiatives (Clintoncare) and while Nancy Reagan's exhortation to "just say no," while nonpolitical in of itself, did have some political ramifications.

    The mistaken understanding lies elsewhere

    That they do anything public is beyond any politics. When they get out there and say "reading is good, so read" or "eating healthy is good, so have some fruit instead of a Twinkie", this is not some political move.

    That is precisely a political move. It is the use of influence to change behavior. What we've lost track of, is that politics is a good thing, not a bad thing.

    Politics is the art of compromise, more generally the art of bringing people along towards a compromise solution. Your right to sing, for example, and my right to sleep quietly through the night, are both entirely legitimate, and yet they conflict directly with each other. A skilled politician is one who can listen to both of us, craft a compromise solution that won't give either of us 100% of what we want (You: no singing under my bedroom window at 2AM; me: no complaining about your singing at 8PM), and then convince us both that it's something we can live with.

    "Politicians" are people who are good at this. People who don't have our best interests at heart have convinced us that "politicians" are bad, and that we should elect someone other than "politicians" to the legislature. The result, entirely predictable, is that we have a legislature full of people who have neither the aptitude for nor the interest in listening to all sides and creating compromise solutions, and therefore a dysfunctional government.

    It's tough to argue against what you say

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    Because in the theoretic sense, you are 100% right.

    Let me put it this way. Say someone wanted more people to wear seat belts. They could have an ad campaign and speak out that seat belts save lives (which I think is true). Conversely, they could advocate for stronger seat belt laws and steeper fines for non-use along with a greater ability for law enforcement. The former would be a FLOTUS initiative that is a lot less policy driven than the latter, so if a FLOTUS did the former, people shouldn't be giving them shit for it, because it is not the latter.

    All politics is conflict

    The difference between promoting seat belt use and promoting healthy eating is that the latter is adversarial and the former is not.

    Consider Michelle Obama's "eat healthy" advocacy. You could see this as 100% unalloyed good for everyone, but in fact, it was a direct frontal assault on a multi billion dollar industry that profits by pushing people to eat junk. Hence the vitriolic opposition, which was not "insane" but was simply skillfully purchased PR. Always follow the money, and everything makes more sense.

    Geisel's real political views

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    In all of the above discussions, I'm surprised that only one person has mentioned-- and then only in passing -- Theodor Seuss Geisel's actual political views, which he made no effort to hide in his early works, before he started writing children's books.

    As the Atlantic magazine wrote back in 2013, in the early 1940s Geisel created over 400 political cartoons for PM newspaper in New York City, which is described by Wikipedia as "a liberal leaning daily". Many of those cartoons were blatantly anti-Fascist, even before the U.S. became involved in World War II.

    Some of Geisel's cartoons did include views that were racist, but they were a product of their times. The Atlantic quotes a good friend of him as saying that he later regretted some of his cartoons, but remained proud of others, including one about racial harmony.

    Given that heritage, I'm a bit surprised that it's the so-called "People's Republic of Cambridge" that is raising opposition to Seuss/Geisel's works, and not the other side of our political spectrum.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/when-dr-seuss-took-...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PM_(newspaper)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_messages_of_Dr._Seuss

    Ugh

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    I am left leaning, and absolutely despise Trump, but having read the librarian's letter, I have to say she comes off extremely pedantic and obnoxious. Hope she gets knocked off her high horse someday.

    Adam...

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    ...seriously?

    One more thought

    The most damaging thing about Soeiro's response is that the focus on the merits of Dr. Seuss (or lack thereof) obscures the extremely important point she makes earlier on:

    My school and my library are indeed award-winning. I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to “excellence.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an amazing city with robust social programming, a responsive city government, free all-day kindergarten, and well-paid teachers (relatively speaking — many of us can’t afford to live in the city in which we teach). My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science.

    ...

    Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school “choice” with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools. Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?

    This point cannot be repeated frequently enough or loudly enough. Cambridge schools perform well because Cambridge schools are well-funded. Schools in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit do not perform well because they are underfunded, not (as the popular right-wing myth holds) because their teachers are lazy or because their unions are too powerful, and not (as the popular bipartisan myth holds) because their students don't follow a nationally-standardized curriculum or take enough standardized tests.

    But by bringing the (superficial, extremely unhelpful) discussion of racism in Dr. Seuss's work into the same letter, Soeiro guarantees that nobody will focus on anything else, and her initial point will be completely ignored (as, I believe, it has been in this comments thread until now).

    Another key point from the letter

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    50 (or hopefully 51 to 55) sets of books were sent out, one to each state. The schools were chosen by state officials, not by the White House. They were being honored.

    Cambridge public schools are

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    Cambridge public schools are certainly solid, but to suggest that funding is the end all falls flat on its face when you look at spending in other districts in the region. Cambridge spends 2-3x more per student than a large number of districts in the area yet has a lower HS graduation rate than many of these same districts.

    The reality is it is not schools, teachers, funding, or fancy computers that make great schools, it is cohesive communities. All of those things are certainly essential, but they can only do so much without households and communities that put education as a top priority.

    to suggest that funding is

    to suggest that funding is the end all

    I did nothing of the sort. But it's like water for your garden. It's not all you need, but you sure as fuck won't grow jack shit without it.

    The thing about water, is

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    The thing about water, is once you have enough, more does not necessarily help.

    Funding in excess of the norm largely does not yield results in excess of the norm.

    Look who else is not sufficiently "woke"

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I6NQ2Le6c8

    Seriously, Melania Trump sends books that were probably chosen to be as inoffensive as possible and gets her hand bitten. I'm no fan of the Trumps, but I the same people who are in a huff about this would have insisted on respect for the office of the presidency when the Obamas were in the White House. Melania ought to get the same.

    That letter was certainly not respectful. Like many gestures of disrespect, it has turned out to be a boomerang insult.

    To me, another lesson in "how not to fight Trump"

    But to each his/her own. I'm not sure if there has yet emerged a truly effective way to fight him, so best of luck to all I guess.

    Wasn't Seuss a local guy? Seemingly an odd target for the old "KKK" branding iron. Of course I never met him.

    A son of Springfield, MA, and

    a Dartmouth College alum. He adopted the pseudonym so he could continue contributing to, and later editing, the college humor magazine, the Jack-o-Lantern, after being banned from campus activities for getting caught drinking during Prohibition. (At Dartmouth!) Lived most of his later years in La Jolla, CA.

    Those African- and Arab-caricaturing racist ads for Flit, a bug spray, launched his career after early struggles to find work. The important arc of his story, I think, is his later professed regret for that work, as well as his racist anti-Japanese propaganda editorial cartoons, followed by the anti-bigotry ethos he soon afterward espoused in children's books like "Horton Hears a Who".

    A lot of artists do questionable things in the name of patriotism in a time of war. Giesel was one who later recognized what was wrong about that, and labored long and hard to live up to his newfound, more-enlightened ideals in a way that mattered: inspiring acceptance of differentness in the minds of children during an era of suffocating conformity. The Sneetches, man: they put a lasting dent in my five-year-old brain.

    An early art teacher (high school, I believe) told him he couldn't draw, and should abandon his artistic ambitions. He never had kids, himself.

    I agree that this rejection was misguided, and only likely to fuel the fire of the easily-distracted, critical-thinking-impaired twits that make up Trump's hardcore base. Said humps painfully demonstrate their millimeter-shallow understanding of the Constitution when they frothily assert that peaceful protests they don't agree with should be banned, and loonily conflate the motives for protesting during the national anthem at a sporting event with disrespect for the military.

    (Gotta give Trump props for his odious skill at pushing their racist-grievance buttons. The man really knows how to change the conversation away from his endless string of abject failures as chief executive. One of my scant joys these days is watching how hilariously inept he is at getting most of his hateful policies enacted. Trumpies have no idea how lucky they are that their hero can't get shit done.)

    But this play has given them something to justifiably howl about, if not necessarily for the reasons they think. When someone gives you a well-intentioned gift that you dislike for personal reasons, the civilized response is to say, "Thank you", then quietly re-gift it to someone who will appreciate it. You might think that airing your objections aloud will reflect well on you, but you will be wrong. The ungracious, ill-disguised sanctimony here plays into the worst right-wing stereotypes of liberals. Not helpful.

    Seuss did indeed create some racist advertising illustrations

    and editorial cartoons back before he became a children's book author. Propaganda cartoons that racially caricatured our Axis foes popped up everywhere in the 40s, even in Warner Bros. cartoons. He expressed regret for them pretty quickly, in the 50s, and many of his children's books are clear homilies on tolerance ("The Sneetches and Other Stories" comes quickly to mind.)

    I'm not familiar with racist tropes in any of his children's books. If they're there, I guess it raises an old conundrum: should you entirely write off an artist's work for some of his sins in life? Can Seuss's books that don't have any such racist themes, subtle or otherwise, still be appreciated?

    Simply rude

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    She was rude. It's that simple. She owes the First Lady an apology. Teach, by example, how to have some class.

    My eyes see

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    A doctor will tell you vegetables are worth eating even if they're not organic. So too with reading books.

    Arrogance

    Arrogance is arrogance no matter what your political allegiances are.

    Not even in Liz Phipps Soeiro's wildest dreams will she bring so much to children as Theodore Geisel has and does.

    I wonder if her library is short of books on manners and humility.

    TL/DR

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    OMG UPPITY WOMAN!

    OMG Buzz Words!

    Privileged white woman verbally abuses immigrant who speaks English as a second language for donating books that aren't classy enough.

    Your turn.

    BUZZT

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    Try again.

    Working professional who supports herself in an honest profession gives an honest rejection to a patronizing superwealthy woman whose husband could much better use that schooling.

    Should we have Melania tell you how to do your job? Offer something patronizing to be "helpful"?

    I'm as anti-Trump as you can

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    I'm as anti-Trump as you can get, but attacking Melania and bringing in questionable racial history of a beloved childrens author isn't a great way to #Resist. Her first point, about books being sent only to schools that are already doing well, is fine enough, and I hope the teacher gave those books went to kids who could use them.

    Honestly, I feel bad for Melania. She signed up to be arm candy and a trophy wife of an aging millionaire, not the First Lady of the nation in an era of crises. Their marriage is just another business deal that Trump reneged on, and I'm sure she'd rather not be engaging in any of this nonsense.

    Ignorance

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    It would clearly appear that Ms.Liz Phipps Soeiro is unaware of the fact that significant work done in collaboration by Tufts, MIT, Harvard and Yale researchers has found that colorful artwork tied to rhyming text - along with a bit of music - are key ingredients to what was then developed into arguably the most effective way to help develop young minds develop so as to be able read effectively, be they regular kids or kids with learning issues.

    In other words, the good Dr. Suess was onto something good a long time ago.

    Sounds like she was

    Sounds like she was reprimanded.

    The Cambridge School system says the opinions in the editorial do not represent the district and released a statement, which says in part: “In this instance, the employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district. We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.”

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/librarian-explains-why-she-rejected-books-donated-by-melania-trump/

    Letter of apology

    As per counseling, she was required to write a letter of apology. I managed to acquire a copy, from which I quote:

    I'm sorry to First Lady Trump
    For being such a nasty grump.

    I did not like the books you chose;
    I said to stick them in your nose.

    My library will take your gift.
    I spoke too mean, I spoke too swift.

    It was not nice, it was not kind,
    To say you have a tiny mind.

    I learned a lesson here today:
    Our words may travel far away.

    We should be careful that they show
    A face we'd like the world to know.

    Every now and then..

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    .. 140+ comment threads from the prior day are worth re-checking. Thanks for the laugh!

    Maybe the school will have a book burning.

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    They could have it be part of the curriculum. They could start with any racist or otherwise bad books that might be in the school (Mark Twain would obviously be included). Then they could have their students bring in books from home that violate the school's rules about what is permitted reading and what isn't, and those books could be burned. Maybe they could even have the students start to do public shamings of their parents when they notice that their parents are behaving in ways that violate the school's rules and standards. They could start a Cultural Revolution right here in the U.S., just like they had in China! Wow. I do sense a groundswell here!

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