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Letter to the Editor from Tracy Aitken, January/February 2017, and Response from Roger Sutton

January/February 2017 Horn Book MagazineJanuary/February 2017 Horn Book

January 5, 2017

Good morning Mr. Sutton,

I felt inclined to write to you following my reading of your editorial letter to Dr. Carla Hayden. I would like to preface my comments by revealing that I did not vote for President-Elect Trump.

This morning’s news contained a disturbing video of four Chicago young adults torturing a special needs young man and taunting him as a Trump supporter. Following this was a report of a group of celebrities who plan to boycott the inauguration and hold a telethon on Inauguration Day in protest of Trump. Of course, one of these is an example of our democratic right to freedom of speech and the other is hateful thuggery. However, both are part of a disturbing imbalance to the peaceful transfer of power typical of our democratic republic by folks who are reluctant to accept the newly elected leader of our country.

Of course, you have written an editorial which reveals your personal thoughts and political leanings. That’s what editorials are all about. I just ask that you consider what effect editorials such as these have on further tipping the imbalance. I believe whomever is the elected president of our nation deserves a chance to begin office without being called unfair names (troll under the bridge) or having unsubstantiated assumptions made against him (“desperate grab to a 1/2 remembered 9th grade reading list”). Furthermore, reading between the lines of your editorial leads a reader to infer that P-E Trump plans to cut funding for the Library of Congress or otherwise harm the mission of the Library. I haven’t heard or read about anything in his administration’s agenda that alludes to this happening. I don’t think it is fair to suggest this without providing any evidence to support it.

I love Horn Book. I appreciate all that you and your staff do for children’s literature and literacy. That’s why I believe this editorial was beneath you and why I felt the urge to write to you. Please consider giving the future President the proverbial “benefit of the doubt” and refrain from poking at him in your editorials until he gives you a reason to.

With regards,

Tracy Aitken, Ed.D
School Librarian, NBCT
Mechanicsville, VA


Response from Horn Book editor in chief Roger Sutton

Dear Ms. Aitken:

I have no idea what plans, if any, Donald Trump has for the Library of Congress, and nothing in my editorial was meant to suggest I did. And on the list of things I worry about Trump screwing up, the LC is pretty low. (My worry about a President who doesn’t like to read remains high, however.)

It is disingenuous of you to cite the attack in Chicago and the decision of some entertainers to counter-program against the Inauguration and leave unmentioned the many documented attacks on immigrants, people of color, sexual minorities, and Jews that have also accompanied this “peaceful transfer of power.” I do not blame Donald Trump for these attacks; please don’t blame Bruce Springsteen or me for that terrible hate crime in Chicago.

If Donald Trump decides not to build his Wall, not to arrest Hillary Clinton, leave intact the Affordable Care Act as well as a woman’s right to choose, and strengthen gun control laws, I’ll be the first to cheer. But until then I have to take him at his word, and he has spoken and Tweeted very clearly about his positions on all these things. Are we to “doubt” that he means what he says?

Sincerely yours,

roger_signature

Roger Sutton
Editor in chief
The Horn Book, Inc.

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Comments

  1. I take the PE’s words at face value. I see no reason to do otherwise. And I have to say I have grown very tired of being told to “give him a chance.” Since he’s already established his character, plans, and priorities via his words and actions during the primaries, general election, and transition, asking now for him to be given a chance is equivalent to asking those of us who oppose him to step aside and let him have his way.

  2. I agree with every word you have written, Mr. Underdown. Our PE has had thousands of opportunities from the first day he announced his candidacy to show Americans who he is and what he values. Sadly, I have found his bizarre behavior extremely consistent. Why does the writer of this letter “read between the lines”? How about reading the facts and what is stated for a change.

    Thank you, Roger, for sharing the letter and your response. I agree with every word you have written, too.

  3. If only Roger had the power to “tip the balance”. The “balance” in favour of big business, illicit profit, racism, sexism and ignorance is already overwhelming. As to giving Trump the “benefit of the doubt”, I’m a bit confused about what doubt there is. Unless you think Trump was lying about his agenda all along?
    If the king of post-truth America is allowed free rein, Roger Sutton is allowed it as well. Without voices of intelligent dissent, we are ruined.

  4. Nikki Walker says:

    Dear Horn Book,

    I respectfully write to inform you that your article “Laughter and Resistance” is very offensive to me and to anyone with a conservative and obviously different point of view than yours. I know that I cannot change your views nor you mine so I will not bash opinions about our political landscape. You choose to use your magazine as a forum for that kind of information so I choose never to subscribe to your magazine again. I also choose to voice my concern to other librarians and tell them that its time to find other outlets to receive information about the literary world other than yours. For eight years I was respectful to the Commander in chief even though he was not my choice. As a librarian, I never disparaged him and made sure that we had books and materials that reflected respect for him. Now I see that times have changed. This article by Phillip Nel, if it reflects your opinions, tells me that a whole lot of library professionals are not welcome here. Sorry, but in this day and age, there are other places to go for the information I need.

  5. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    How is Nel’s article offensive to you? More to the point, what does an article about political satire in children’s literature have to do with including books about the president in libraries? And why does reading something you don’t agree with make you feel unwelcome?

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