My kids received by mail a couple of books for Christmas. One book was by Bill O’Reilly called, Give Please A Chance and the other was by Ainsley Earhardt called, Take Heart, My Child: A Mother’s Dream. Both authors are journalists–I use the terms loosely–on Fox News Channel.
If you don’t know Bill O’Reilly, he said that the slaves, who built the White House, were, “well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government,” in an attempt to fact check Michelle Obama’s remarks about how the White House was built by slaves.
If you don’t know Ainsley Earhardt, she complains that we (and by we she means White people) have “bent over backwards to be tolerant of minority groups,” but they aren’t tolerant of individual beliefs (by individual beliefs she means racist, misogynistic, Christian, homophobic, xenophobic, birtherism beliefs.)
Needless to say, these two nitwits make me reach for the topical hydrocortisone. I was scratching my new rash as I completed the return process for the Amazon order. That money–and these were not cheap books–will be donated to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. (Bill is an anti-abortionist, who, for four years, incited the murder of Dr George Tiller, an OB-GYN who performed abortions, and he has been critical of the ACLU, once comparing them to Nazis.)
Maybe if Trump wasn’t the president-elect, maybe if an upset in the electoral vote today still won’t make a damn bit of difference, maybe if I could spend one day without a fresh outrage coming out of Trump Tower, I might have waited a little longer before requesting a refund. However, the books themselves are not purchase worthy.
Earhardt’s is symbolically muddled and her message of, “if you follow your heart, you can do anything,” is bromidic and contemptibly naive. O’Reilly’s lesson of saying “thank you” is treated in an entirely literal and predictable way. One writer has no control or discipline over her imagination or words or reality beyond her white privileged bubble, and the other lacks imagination altogether, writing a “story” that is so concrete bound you have to wonder if Bill didn’t mean for the book to be a collection of cue cards to study on the way to grandma’s. Both are examples of dull, soporific children’s fiction. They belong in the Amazon warehouse forever.
To their credit, both books are beautifully illustrated. By other people. Unfortunately, the drawings heavily or exclusively feature white kids. My kid’s are half Asian. Not a single Asian face is to be found between both volumes. Overall, the books look good, but fail in the realm of racial diversity, substance, and fun, much like their authors.
The books reminded me of generic greeting cards you find in a rotating display case tucked into the back corner of a small suburban drug store. One might depict a sad, pastel watercolor of flowers in a vase; another, a golden retriever puppy with its head tilted just so. $5?! And when you open them, they’re blank.