Throughout President Donald Trump’s administration, it has often felt like First Lady Melania Trump has been trying to make as little waves as possible. She’s tight-lipped and restrained even when her face says otherwise. And yet, just this week Melania has made more waves — at least on the internet — than possibly ever before, from her controversial reorg of the Rose Garden to reportedly bashing her husband and daughter in a new tell-all.
But her speech at Tuesday’s Republican National Convention made perhaps the biggest impact of all, as Melania took to the stage to speak against racism and bullying, and in favor of science — in general, making a whole lot of statements that go against the entirety of her husband’s administration’s policies, not to mention his public persona on social media.
And speaking of social media, it was Melania’s “special message for the mothers,” with which she concluded her speech, that got the most flack for its out-of-touch nature when it came to addressing (or rather, glossing over) her husband’s behaviors as President.
“I have a special message for the mothers of this country,” she said. “This modern world is moving so fast, and our children face challenges that seem to change every few months. Just like me, I know many of you watch how mean and manipulative social media can be. And just like me, I’m sure many of you are looking for answers, how to talk to your children about the downside of technology and their relationships with their peers… To mothers and parents everywhere, you are warriors.”
Melania talking to mothers about the harms of social media on kids when her husband is the biggest social media bully alive is rich. #TrumpChaos
— @JulieZebrak 🥁💛 (@JulieZebrak) August 26, 2020
It was not lost on viewers that Melania’s calls for kindness, for an end to bullying and racism, for the raising up of women’s voices (“We must make sure that women are heard”), and for an adherence to scientific facts (“a testament to what faith in medicine and the strength of science can do”) are all important issues that the Trump administration has spent four years not ignoring, although that would be harmful as well, but rather fueling the fires when it comes to racism, violence, misogyny, sexual assault, and anti-science in this country.
Viewers on Twitter did not hold back.
Melania Trump is a birther who lied about holding a college degree and called Trump’s bragging about sexual assault “boy talk”. Please never normalize her.
— jen pal (@jennyrachelpal) August 26, 2020
The nerve of some pundits fawning all over Melania’s subpar speech at best whilst trying to forget she’s a racist birther who was giving that speech of lies illegally at the Rose Garden she destroyed on purpose because of vindictive jealousy. It’s like 2016 all over again. Wtf.
— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 26, 2020
The bar is so low for Trump that Melania giving a speech in which she doesn’t say anything racist and speaks in a calm tone generates a day of positive coverage
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 26, 2020
Media insist on giving style points to Melania rather than identifying her participation in a massive Hatch Act violation. Who cares if she reads comments about pandemic victims (a pandemic Trump ignores) if she illegally uses the trappings of govt power?https://t.co/LWspdE8MMq
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) August 26, 2020
Viewers were also quick to notice that Melania’s mere appearance on the White House stage was in direct violation of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from conducting political activities while on duty or while in a government building — like, say, the White House.
It’s clear the Trump administration’s tactic here was an attempted injection of humanity into the RNC by having a Melania deliver a measured, focused, family-centered speech. And she is certainly measured and focused, especially in comparison to her husband. But when Melania insisted that “helping children is not a political goal; it is our moral imperative,” it was hard to envision anything but the children the Trump administration has kept in cages and ripped from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. And as for us mothers in the audience, when Melania sent us her “special message,” called us “warriors” for keeping our kids alive despite the dire conditions (pandemic denial, lack of paid leave, unemployment benefits ending, etc.) that her husband’s administration has forced upon this country, it only hammered home the fact that Melania is living a very different kind of motherhood than the rest of us.
Mothers have been warriors since long before Melania called us such. These badass breastfeeding protest pics are just one point of proof.