Melania Trump’s Denunciation of Online Bullying is Absurd — and not Just Because of Her Husband
by Aaron Rupar –
She is part of the problem.
Prospective First Lady Melania Trump denounced online trolls and cyberbullying during a Thursday campaign appearance, saying that finding “better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media” will be “one of the main focuses of my work if I’m privileged enough to become your First Lady.”
“Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers,” said Trump. “It is never okay when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground, and it is absolutely unacceptable when it’s done by someone with no name hiding on the internet.”
Melania Trump: “We need to teach our youth…kindness, honesty, respect, compassion, charity, understanding…our culture has gotten too mean”
Her speech, which echoed comments she made during a CNN interview last month, was absurd for a couple obvious reasons. Her husband’s presidential campaign has elevated online trolls and cyberbullies to unprecedented heights. Donald Trump’s legion of adoring trolls, many of whom don’t use their real names, have bullied journalists, rigged online polls in his favor, amplified Trump’s unfounded conspiracy theories, and espoused hateful, threatening views. Their voices have been amplified by Trump himself via retweets or appropriation of white supremacist imagery and memes for use on his account.
Second, Donald himself has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to the “too rough” culture Melania decried. Last year, the Republican presidential candidate infamously mocked a disabled reporter. As Megyn Kelly has pointed out, he’s smeared women at various times as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” In recent weeks, he’s repeatedly suggested that several women who have accused him of sexual assault aren’t attractive enough for him in the first place.
And that’s not to mention Trump’s notorious reputation as a cyberbully. To cite just a few of almost countless examples: He’s attacked numerous political pundits for being “dumb,” ridiculed Bette Midler for being an “extremely unattractive woman” with an “ugly face [and] body,” and even denigrated the appearance of Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife. He’s used Twitter for nefarious ends ranging from slut-shaming to casually using racial slurs against his political opponents.
But Melania Trump’s speech was absurd for an additional reason: She herself has condoned the cyberbullying she decries. Last spring, Julia Ioffe wrote a critical profile of Melania that was published by GQ. After Trump’s troll armies targeted Ioffe with anti-Semitic attacks, Melania said the journalist had “provoked” them.
“I don’t control my fans, but I don’t agree with what they’re doing,” Melania told the lifestyle magazine DuJour in a follow up interview. “I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. [Ioffe] provoked them.”
Melania also recently made a cringeworthy attempt to discredit a People Magazine reporter who claims she was sexually assaulted by Trump. After the reporter published an account of the events surrounding the alleged assault, Melania Trump’s lawyers issued a letter demanding a retraction of several details trivial details, but didn’t contest the part of the article describing the assault itself.
If Melania is serious about addressing cyberbullying, a good start would be telling her husband to delete his Twitter account. But she should look in the mirror as well.