Soon-to-be-former First Lady Melania Trump released a statement Monday morning regarding last week’s attempted coup and a so-called “path forward.” Unfortunately, that path is paved with mealy-mouthed condemnation and an alarming level of self-centeredness.
After briefly opining on the damage caused by covid-19—“the invisible enemy”—Trump acknowledged the deadly siege at the Capitol on January 6, in which pro-Trump insurgents tried to stop lawmakers certifying President-elect Biden’s victory. She gave solemn shout-outs to both Capitol Hill officers and supporters of her husband who died in the incident, and somehow managed to squeeze in some self-pity through her grief.
“I am disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week,” Trump wrote. “I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda. This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.”
She continued: “Our Nation must heal in a civil manner. Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol. Violence is never acceptable.”
It’s unclear what “gossip” and “personal attacks” the First Lady is referring to—perhaps something surrounding the resignation of her top staffers, including her chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, or reports that she was taking photographs for her coffee table book as insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. But they pale in comparison to the fact that five people are dead thanks to the Trump administration’s insistence that the November general election was rigged. At a rally prior to the siege, President Trump himself encouraged told his sea of admirers “you’ll never take back our country with weakness” and that “you have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
And so they showed strength, barrelling through suspiciously thin police lines, scaling walls, and roaming the halls of the capitol armed with Confederate flags and ammo.
This, in Melania Trump’s world, is simply called “passion” (emphasis ours):
As an American, I am proud of our freedom to express our viewpoints without persecution. It is one of the paramount ideals which America is fundamentally built on. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect that right. With that in mind, I would like to call on the citizens of this country to take a moment, pause, and look at things from all perspectives.
I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness. We must listen to one another, focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us.
It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence. Our path forward is to come together, find our commonalities, and be the kind and strong people that I know we are.
The vagueness of this call for peace did her no favors. It reads as if both the left and right are culpable for last week’s violence, a blatant falsehood. While Melania Trump would never implicate her husband in the Capitol clusterfuck, a responsible message to the American people would have attempted to set the record straight about President Trump’s election loss. She, instead, chose to coddle those in denial and characterize them as enthusiasts.
But the First Lady may be in denial herself, which is part of the problem. How can one take seriously a call to move forward from someone who can’t even tell the truth?
The message was laced with finality, with Trump noting that it has been “the honor of my lifetime to serve as your First Lady.” There are rumors that she is already “checked out” and focusing on writing her book. It’s nice to know that even amidst administrative chaos, insurrection, and spilled blood in her husband’s name, Melania Trump knows what to prioritize: Herself.