It’s extremely rare to witness textbook dramatic irony play out before your very eyes like a Shakespearean tragedy, but that’s exactly what happened Monday afternoon when First Lady Melania Trump spoke out against cyberbullying at the same moment her husband was on one of his characteristic Twitter rampages. And so, life imitates art.
Part of Melania’s platform as First Lady of the United States is her #BeBest campaign which is a stance against cyberbullying, specifically among children and teens. As part of that initiative, she attended and spoke at the Cyberbullying Prevention Summit in Maryland Monday. The appearance comes just days after the president — you know, Melania’s husband, Donald — bashed former aid Omarosa Manigault Newman as “wacky” and called her a “dog.”
First lady Melania Trump told a cyberbullying summit in Rockville, Maryland that it’s important to help children understand the ‘safe and responsible use of social media’ pic.twitter.com/IX9Wo41aHM
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 21, 2018
“In today’s global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives,” FLOTUS said, “It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly. This is why Be Best chooses to focus on the importance of teaching our next generation how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting.”
Divorced of context, her comments are totally fair. Yes, cyberbullying is harmful to children and teens. Yes, we need to encourage people to use compassion and empathy online. But the juxtaposition between her husband’s twitter feed and Melania’s words are a little too much for some people.
Today Melania Trump read a 4 minute speech about “cyberbullying prevention” while the 72-year-old father of her 12-year-old son was busy cyberbullying.@TheLastWord 10pm
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) August 21, 2018
I still can’t believe she has the nerve to stand in front of people and talk about this.
— Kaye Reed (@kayereed78) August 21, 2018
Perhaps take a look at your hubby’s tweets? Perfect example of cyberbullying.
— Gina Wulff (@wulffg) August 21, 2018
There are several theories about what the First Lady’s intentions are with picking cyberbullying as her platform. Is she trolling her husband? Is she fighting back? Do her words really have nothing to do with her hate-spewing husband? Melania and her team have addressed the appropriateness of her taking on this particular social issue several times. The response every time is that she is passionate about it and wants to “do what is right.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times has been keeping a running list of the people, places and things Donald Trump has insulted online. Spoiler: it’s A LOT and it’s growing rapidly.