When Donald Trump mocked a disabled reporter during the election campaign, where was Melania?
The Invictus Games, started by Prince Harry, are a noble endeavour. Allowing thousands of soldiers with life altering disabilities to compete in adaptive sport events is a win for everyone involved. That Toronto should be hosting them next month contributes to the city’s reputation for diversity and compassion.
However, it should concern everyone that current first lady of the United States, Melania Trump will lead the 90-athlete delegation from her adopted country.
I’m not going to fall into the trap of gender shaming that the right-wing press indulged in with Michelle Obama, who was criticized at every turn in the most coarse and racist fashion by the same people who have now altered their standards so the current first lady is not subjected to the same vile assessments as the previous one.
However, Melania, like Ivanka, Donald Jr., and the rest of the privileged and sinister clan have made it clear that they see themselves as little more than extensions of their narcissistic, wealth-inheriting, never-accomplished-anything-on-his-own husband and father, in attitude and public stance. They’ve all proven to be little more than whimpering sycophants before a patriarch who has proven to be, at best, a rather stupid, manipulative madman with no impulse control.
In a relatively short time in office Trump has managed to attack, belittle, and unfairly target any number of vulnerable minorities in order to appease his fascistic followers. If Trump isn’t doing it himself, his Republican henchmen are constantly working behind the scenes to limit rights to those who do not fall into the false paradigm of “the majority.”
Among his targets have been immigrants, Mexicans, women, journalists, and, perhaps most inexplicably of all, trans military staff—a group whom, under the blanket of the LGBTQ community, he had sworn to protect prior to “winning” the election.
But no group has been attacked by Herr Trump as much as people with disabilities.
Who can forget the heartbreaking images of people in wheelchairs, supported by walkers, without vision, being arrested and roughly dragged away for protesting Trump’s draconian proposed changes to health care?
And where was Melania through all of this?
First she was suing a tabloid for interfering in her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to establish “multimillion dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world” for suggesting she was a sex worker, then she was announcing her mission to take on the cyber-bullying of young people. Considering her husband’s record of bullying pretty much anyone he speaks to, this was a bit like the wife of Jerry Sandusky announcing she was going to take on pedophiles in college sports.
A short time later, when The Donald went on one of his unhinged Twitter tirades, bullying two television journalists who dared to question him, Melania responded by defending him with a statement from her spokesperson: “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Melania Trump coming to Canada as an emissary of the Invictus Games is exactly the kind of hypocrisy we don’t need in Canada—or anywhere—at any time.
However, we are Canadian, and her husband is a psychopath who’s capable of starting a nuclear war over someone insulting his “hair,” so we have to proceed carefully. My suggestion would be that Mrs. Trump find a graceful way out and those who extended the invite support her wholeheartedly in her decision.
Toronto doesn’t need the expense someone likes her brings to the celebration. But, more than that, this demonstration of her hypocrisy, which is also an exhibition of the hypocrisy of our entire corporately owned political system, cannot help but draw protests. Canadians may be polite by nature, but we also cherish our right to free speech and, if she came, many of us would exercise that right in order to point out just how offensive her appearance is at an event that honours those who are not like the majority.
Brad Fraser is a Canadian playwright, screenwriter, and cultural commentator based in Toronto.