melania

Dear Madam First Lady,

As I compose this letter, I do so counting on that fact that you will never see it. But in the unlikeliest event that you do, please accept it as a sort of call to action.

First off, to prove that I can balance criticism with praise, allow me to first admit that I have no any qualms with your previous career as a nude model. With political theater being what it is, people are always digging into others’ past, trying to find something damning and incriminating. As far as I’m concerned, your career was neither. I also don’t fault your decision to be with and stay with a man like Donald Trump, even if it appears that he has betrayed you with infidelity. While some people argue that you’re only staying in this marriage for money, for status, for citizenship, or for your son, I don’t question any of your intentions…and neither, I don’t believe, should anyone else. I’ve known other people – including people close to me – who have endured horrible men for a variety of reasons. Like them, you have my judgement-free support. And, also, I will go to my grave forever defending you against people who mock your accent and English literacy. While you can speak five different languages, a lot of us can barely speak one.

There is a lot for us to celebrate about you.

I will say, however, that you were wrong for adding fire to the inherently racist birther conspiracy by wanting President Obama to produce his birth certificate. While a part of me believes you were simply echoing your husband as you may have felt you needed to, it was done in poor taste. Also, as a person who works in academia, I’ve been critical of you essentially plagiarizing other people’s work (including Michelle Obama’s) without giving proper credit. A part of me, though, realizing that you are not a statesmen and probably never wanted this responsibility in the first place, allows me to let you off the hook.

All of that being said, I – and countless other Americans – were thrilled to hear that as First Lady, you were taking up the cause of cyber bullying. But those cheers quickly turned into jeers when we sat back and watched that noble cause fall flat on its face because of, none other than, your own husband. Over the years, we’ve witnessed your husband attack women because of their looks, encourage violence at his rallies, and use his online presence to attack others (even if he claims he was “hitting back”, the man with the most powerful position in the world shouldn’t need to defend himself with schoolyard insults). We’ve watched colleagues and supporters of his mercilessly mock and attack school shooting survivors for simply having a voice. Even some of his policies targeting specific ethnic groups can arguably be included in that bullying (attacking the defenseless falls in that category, in my opinion). All of this has happened in the same moment in history that you declared the fight against bullying.

And yet, you are/were nowhere to be found during these difficult moments.

As some people have accurately pointed out, your initiative places particular focus on child bullying. But, the fact is, you will have a hard time pushing that agenda when it’s the adults who take the lead with their own acts of bullying. When the bullying behavior of the President of the United States is celebrated, normalized, or – in your case – outright ignored, it makes teaching impressionable kids the wrongs of bullying an uphill battle. It’s not just children who need to hear your message.

A part of me wonders if you live in fear. I obviously don’t know the inner workings of your marriage with Mr. Trump. But based on the cards he has shown us, he seems to have little regard for you or his family and would have no compunction about attacking you in one way or another if you stood up to him. Maybe, however, there is more good to Mr. Trump that you see privately than the bad we see publicly. Maybe you just don’t see what is happening around you. Maybe you do see it, but just don’t care. None of that is for me to speculate. I will say though, that – as a FLOTUS who voluntarily choose this cause, as a mother of one of the very types of children you’re seeking to protect, as a person with one of the largest platforms on Earth, you have a duty to follow through on this initiative; and not just to do it selectively. Whether people believe you deserve the title, position, and influence you have doesn’t matter at this point. You have it. You have the ability to change lives and a duty to counter your husband’s environment of toxicity.

As I said before, I’m probably wasting my time writing something that you’ll likely never see. But the very fact that I’m attempting to reach out to you proves that I have faith in you. I believe that behind the distant stares and the unhappy looks lies a woman who truly believes in the cause she is championing. I believe that beyond the status, wealth, and power lies a person with human decency, goodness, and compassion. A person who realizes a key to human interaction is courteousness, civility, and love.

Your husband is not leading this charge. You are.

Please, for the sake of the country you love and who loves you, stand up.

– ACL