Shortly after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, her husband’s second impeachment, and reports that she has not reached out to future First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Melania Trump is bidding farewell to her “Be Best” initiative with a video that still doesn’t exactly clarify what the campaign accomplished.
“‘Be Best’ is a platform that helps children achieve their fullest potential and also highlights the people and organisations that are doing extraordinary things in our country and around the world,” Melania says over footage of herself speaking and posing with children. “As the legacy of ‘Be Best’ comes to a close at the White House, we must continue to give a voice to our nation’s children and the issues that impact their lives.”
As the legacy of #BeBest comes to a close at the @WhiteHouse, we must continue to give a voice to our Nation’s children & the issues that impact their lives. It’s the values & spirit of the American people that inspired Be Best & it’s those values that will carry on its mission. pic.twitter.com/fRBTWphmlj
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 15, 2021
The obvious question here is: what legacy, exactly? Michelle Obama, as the leader of “Let’s Move!,” partnered around 3,500 chefs with schools in America, successfully pushed Walmart to lower the costs of fruit and vegetables, and helped the U.S. Tennis Association build more than 6,000 tennis courts across the country. Former First Lady Laura Bush co-founded a national book festival and started a foundation that directly provides funds to libraries in low-income areas. Meanwhile, “Be Best” has been without any specific legislative or quantifiable goals since 2018.
Meanwhile, Melania has met with many children and visited schools and hospitals, but according to the White House’s website, the initiative’s achievements mostly include Melania speaking at events and “promoting” the importance of practicing online safety, encouraging children’s well-being, and preventing opioid abuse.
While these are important topics, Melania is most proud of raising awareness about topics like online safety and opioid abuse — and it’s hard to take those accomplishments seriously when Trump has consistently harmed the very causes Melania claims she’s championed. For one, her website states, “Opioid dependence, addiction, and abuse are an epidemic in this country. ‘Be Best’ will support the families and children affected by this crisis.” However, her husband — and stepson Donald Trump Jr., too — infamously mocked President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter for his fight with addiction.
And then there’s the topic of safe internet practices. At the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Cyberbullying Prevention Summit in 2018, Melania said that social media can be “positive,” but it can also be “destructive and harmful when used incorrectly.” No one has caused more destruction online than her husband, a man she has consistently supported throughout his presidency. It feels very surreal to listen to Melania now promote her work emphasising positive ways to use the internet when, just last week, Trump’s Twitter was deactivated after he fanned the flames of a violent mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Melania captioned her video with a call to “continue to give a voice to our Nation’s children.” She didn’t explain how she plans to do this, but maybe it’s not the children she should focus on. She says she already helped kids “understand their self-worth is not defined by social media,” and that might be a lesson Trump needs, too. (If he’s ever allowed back online, that is.)
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