by Defne Karabucak
Photography by Mae Davis
The Harvard Book Store, an independent bookstore not associated with Harvard University, is located in Cambridge. The bookstore has been open since 1932 and recently entered the political drama through political displays criticizing President Trump and the Republican Party.
The displays began with Kellayanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s top advisor, who has received backlash for her ability to stretch the truth. Recently Conway has been subject to scrutiny after her creation of the “Bowling Green Massacre.”
Conway, in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, cited the “Bowling Green Massacre” as reasoning to promote Trump’s immigration ban, claiming the reason people did not know about it was due to the fact that it had “little to no coverage.” In fact, there was no such massacre.
In response, the Harvard Book Store created a solemn tribute, through a display in their store, to the lives lost in the “massacre.” Along with a sign “Commemorating the Victims” of the nonexistent tragedy, the store offered book recommendations that included titles on fascism, anti-intellectualism, dystopia and “assholes.” The titles ranged from George Orwell’s 1984 and Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough.
The Harvard Book Store hopes the displays will provoke a discussion amongst shoppers. The “Bowling Green Massacre” memorial was put on display on February 8 and since then, other displays have been put up. The store has put #BowlingGreenMassacre on their website with specific books to purchase.
“We’re intending to provide deeper resources to think, read, and explore both the current events around this idea of disinformation but also exploring the history of it,” said Alex Meriwether, store marketing and event manager.
The store has displays that correspond with current events like trans rights, women’s rights and the immigration ban. Special promotions at the shop in recent days have included a shelf of children’s books for Muslim youth, along with signs reading, “You Are Welcome” and “You Belong.”
After Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) received sharp disapproval for attempting to read a letter by Coretta Scott King and sparked backlash on social media, the Harvard Book Store created a display that read, “#ShePersisted.” Senator Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter to Congress and was told the words of Coretta Scott King were not suitable for a debate and was stopped from speaking. In his explanation for barring Warren from speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” He inadvertently turned “She persisted” into a rallying cry for women.
In response to the silencing, the Harvard Book Store put up their display to show their support.
Most recently, after Trump’s decision to rescind protection for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their self-identified gender, the Harvard Book Store put up a display with books about what it means to be transgender. They also put up a sign that read, “This display is for everyone,” with a gender symbol inclusive of both genders.
“I think the Harvard Book Store has a lot of courage stating their opinion and making a statement,” said Jackie Arcoleo (SMG ’19). “It's good that they display current events because it will make the students more aware of what is going on in the world and get them talking about it.”
The Harvard Book Store shows its continued support for human rights with the goal that through their books and displays, people will become more educated on the topic and discuss it with others.