See below for a statement from FCPS Pride, responding to this rant by Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees member Phil Rosenthal. Among other things, Rosenthal bemoaned the library “highlighting the Muslim writers” and asked, “why don’t we have books by Catholic writers or Mormon writers or Jewish writers or Baptist writers?” Rosenthal also mocked the term “systemic racism”; saying“Black lives documentaries – why don’t we have some white lives documentaries?” and “Black Lives Matter people “are communists, they’re Marxists.” Rosenthal further opined, “we have rainbow books for young readers, I don’t know what we’re going to encourage our young readers to do.” With that background to this guy’s appalling remarks, here’s FCPS Pride’s statement, which also calls out Dranesville representative Darren Ewing, who “was not shocked by this rant; instead, he agreed with it: ‘This is a catalogue homepage; to Phil’s point, it is completely one-sided…’”
Statement from FCPS Pride about library trustees
At the Fairfax County Public Library trustees electronic meeting on July 29, 2020, Springfield representative Phillip Rosenthal launched into an anti-Muslim, racist, anti-LGBTQ rant, apropos of nothing. He had prepared this statement in advance.
A member of FCPS Pride responded upon watching the recording: “Any time you have to list your African-American employees and state that you’re not a racist…you’re a racist! Not resign! REMOVE NOW! This is classic white man racism!”
Supervisor Pat Herrity of the Springfield District should remove Phillip Rosenthal from his position as a library trustee, without delay.
Dranesville representative Darren Ewing was not shocked by this rant; instead, he agreed with it: “This is a catalogue homepage; to Phil’s point, it is completely one-sided….”
What side would Mr. Ewing have the FCPL put forth? An anti-Muslim side? A pro-racist side? A side where black lives don’t matter? A side where LGBTQ+ people are denigrated?
As one of our members said “It takes two wings to fly! If you are pulling from 30 years ago…we know where you stand with being present!”
Mr. Ewing should also resign or be removed immediately by Supervisor John Foust.
Phillip Rosenthal seems horrified that the library catalogue would center books by Muslim authors; are not your neighbors, friends, children’s friends and colleagues Muslim? Of course, Muslim people should be welcome in our community, not shunted aside. Check one of the books out, Phillip! Maybe you could learn something.
He seems to think that the national attention paid to Black Lives and Muslim people diminishes his own life. Library collections are not a pie, they are a buffet. One person taking a portion does not subtract from what another can have.
As for the anti-LGBTQ section of Rosenthal’s diatribe, we will let one of our members speak:
“When you step into a library there are so many books with families. My family looks different. I am a transgender woman. My wife and I have several children, some of whom are step kids. When my daughter picks up a young adult novel, does the story reflect her experience? Can she see her family in that book?
“I never saw myself in books growing up. I could identify with characters who were different, bullied and ostracized. But not characters who were loved for who they were.
“Having a “Rainbow Reads” sections allows LGBTQ+ teens to see themselves and kids of LGBTQ+ parents to see their families.
“How do you ask what we are to teach younger kids about LGBTQ+ people? We are trying to teach them that we are people. Reading about a trans person will not make your child trans, but if they are trans, they may finally see themselves.”
From another member: “Books that are positive about LGBTQ people are offensive to Catholics, Mormons and Baptists? What about the LGBTQ people who are members of those religions? Mr. Rosenthal implies that all Catholics, Mormons and Baptists are offended by non-pejorative portrayals of LGBTQ folk; there are many people who are members of those religions who will disagree with him. Religiosity is not an excuse for bigotry”
To conclude: Phillip Rosenthal and Darren Ewing should resign; or they be removed immediately by Supervisors Herrity and Foust. The board of trustees of the FCPL and the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County should renew their commitment to the One Fairfax policy and inclusion of all members of our community. The supervisors should strive to appoint members who are more representative of Fairfax County.
Here is the link to watch the meeting. The relevant parts come at the end, as indicated by the time stamps. Rosenthal’s rant begins at 1:36:52 and is picked up again at 1:44:51. Ewing’s agreement comes at 1:43:21.
1:36:52 Phil Rosenthal and 1:44:51 to 1:45:
1:43:21 Darren Ewing