WASHINGTON, D.C.â€”Melania Trump is causing controversy yet again, this time for decorating the White House with the skulls of her decapitated enemies.
While past first ladies have decorated the White House with traditional Christmas wreaths, trees, holly, and lights, Trump opted to mount the heads of her slain foes throughout the executive residence “as a warning.”
“Did she go too far?” one pundit on CNN pondered. “I gotta say, these heads don’t exactly say ‘peace’ and ‘love’ like a good, old-fashioned wreath would, you know?”
Speaking to reporters, the First Lady commented, “The skulls bring out the festive joy of the holiday season in our decor. We’re reminded to treasure what we have when we see the skulls of our conquered foes every time we walk through these sacred halls.”
“It’s all to point us to the reason for the season,” she added.
When asked what the “reason for the season” is, she stated, “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”
Liz Phipps Soeiro, School Librarian, Cambridge, Massachusetts
First Lady Melania Trump, as part of National “Read-a-Book” Day, sent ten Dr. Seuss books complete with White House bookplates bearing the donor’s name to one specially-selected school in each of the 50 states.
One might suppose that the local authority figures would smile at the thought of the small children of their neighborhood enjoying such a gift. But, not in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In Cambridge, School Librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro spurned Melania Trump’s gift responding with a remarkably pretentious and ungracious letter, filled with partisan political venom, published in Horn Book Family Reading, reading in part.
My students were interested in reading your enclosed letter and impressed with the beautiful bookplates with your name and the indelible White House stamp, however, we will not be keeping the titles for our collection. Iâ€™d like to respectfully offer my explanation.
* * * * *
My school and my library are indeed award-winning. I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to â€œexcellence.â€ Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an amazing city with robust social programming, a responsive city government, free all-day kindergarten, and well-paid teachers (relatively speaking â€” many of us canâ€™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. Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance. The American Association of School Librarians has a great infographic on these findings. Many schools around the state and country canâ€™t compete.
Yearly per-pupil spending in Cambridge is well over $20,000; our cityâ€™s values are such that given a HUGE range in the socioeconomic status of our residents, we believe that each and every child deserves the best free education possible and are working hard to make that a reality (most classrooms maintain a 60/40 split between free/reduced lunch and paid lunch). …
Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school â€œchoiceâ€ 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? Why not reflect on those â€œhigh standards of excellenceâ€ beyond only what the numbers suggest? Secretary DeVos would do well to scaffold and lift schools instead of punishing them with closures and slashed budgets.
Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seussâ€™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 youâ€™ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynchâ€™s School Library Journal article, â€œIs the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,â€ reports on Katie Ishizukaâ€™s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seussâ€™s characters. Scholar Philip Nelâ€™s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Childrenâ€™s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.
I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out. Books can be a powerful way to learn about and experience the world around us; they help build empathy and understanding. In return, Iâ€™m attaching a list of ten books (itâ€™s the librarian in me) that I hope will offer you a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husbandâ€™s administration. You and your husband have a direct impact on these childrenâ€™s lives. Please make time to learn about and value them. I hope you share these books with your family and with kids around the country. And I encourage you to reach out to your local librarian for more recommendations.
Liz Phipps Soeiro
What a self-righteous, self-important pill!
Dr. Seuss a racist? His “Mulberry Street” book (read aloud on YouTube) features a child’s imaginative reference to a rajah riding and elephant and a Chinese man who eats with sticks. Wow! How terrible.
Vogue’s “Fashion Muse” Lynn Yaeger (see photo below) saw a photograph of First Lady Melania Trump boarding a Houston-bound plane in stiletto heels and made a major thing out of it.
This morning, Mrs. Trump boarded Air Force One wearing a pair of towering pointy-toed snakeskin heels better suited to a shopping afternoon on Madison Avenue or a girlsâ€™ luncheon at La Grenouille.
While the nation is riveted by images of thousands of Texans wading with their possessions, their pets, their kids, in chest-high water, desperately seeking refuge; while a government official recommend that those who insist on sheltering in place write their names and social security numbers on their arms, Melania Trump is heading to visit them in footwear that is a challenge to walk in on dry land.
A spokesperson says she has other shoes to change into on the planeâ€”and one sincerely hopes there is a pair of leopard-print Wellies-in-waiting to get her from the tarmac to the limo. But what kind of message does a fly-in visit from a First Lady in sky-high stilettos send to those suffering the enormous hardship, the devastation of this natural disaster?
And why, oh why, canâ€™t this administration get anything, even a pair of shoes, right?
Melania Trump is the kind of woman who travels to a flood-ravaged state in a pair of black snakeskin stilettos. Heels this high are not practical. But Trump is not the kind of woman who has to be practical. Heels this high are not comfortable. Comfort is not the point. Neither hers nor yours.
Trump is the kind of woman who knows that when she walks from the White House to Marine One there will be photographers, and so she will dress accordingly. On this soggy Tuesday morning, she wore her stilettos with a pair of cropped black trousers and an Army-green bomber jacket. Her hair was nicely blown out, and she was wearing a pair of sunglasses though it was overcast and drizzly at the time. As she walked to the chopper, she glanced toward a camera, and the photographer captured her with one hand in her pocket, her weight shifted slightly to one leg. She looked great.
Trumpâ€™s fashionable ensemble was defined by its contradictions. She was wearing a working manâ€™s jacket but it was juxtaposed with sexy limousine shoes. The trousers and the top were basic black â€” utilitarian. The oversize aviator sunglasses were Hollywood. Itâ€™s an image that would have been at home in any fashion magazine, which is so often the case with the first lady. …
It was also an image that suggested that Trump is the kind of woman who refuses to pretend that her feet will, at any point, ever be immersed in cold, muddy, bacteria-infested Texas water. She is the kind of woman who may listen empathetically to your pain, but she knows that you know that she is not going to experience it. So why pretend?
Well, sometimes pretense is everything. Itâ€™s the reason for the first lady to go to Texas at all: to symbolize care and concern and camaraderie. To remind people that the government isnâ€™t merely doing its job, that the government is engaged with each and every individual. Washington hears its citizens. Thatâ€™s what the optics are all about. Sitting around a conference table and talking into a speaker phone are not good optics. A politician has to get on the ground in work boots and a windbreaker. Rolled-up sleeves. Galoshes. Baseball caps.