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- Former First Lady of the United States
Last week, multiple outlets reported that former American First Lady Melania Trump would be returning to public life for the first time since her husband’s ill-fated exit last January. Despite her many fumbled attempts to banish bullying from American discourse during her husband’s one-term presidency, Melania Trump will not be making her famously ineffectual campaign for “kindness” the target of her post-White House life. Instead, she will launch an NFT platform, cashing in, as it were, on the crypto craze in an attempt to make money off something that doesn’t actually exist.
If the former First Lady’s post-political endeavor seems surprising, it shouldn’t. She married into a family, after all, that has carried on a long legacy of the Imperial clothing. They promise us robes spun from gold and deliver us nothing at all. Why wouldn’t Melania buy into a business of delivering to the public a host of objects — non-fungible tokens delivered under the monetized title “Melania’s Vision” — that aren’t strictly real?
In some ways, Melania was the most honest Trump around. When she wore the jacket that made her, er, famous — the one that declared, “I Really Don’t Care Do U?” — she was telling us the truth. That was exactly who she was. Unlike the grimier, slimier, Twitter-grubbier Donald, who tried to back out of every racist thing he ever tweeted, Melania said her piece and let us live with it. Nah, she didn’t care, and she didn’t care if we cared that she didn’t care. Get it? If there’s a more fitting second act for a vapid, pretend ally of the bullied and the kicked-around than a business that sells actual nothing, I certainly don’t know what it is.
Of course, part of the American entrepreneurial spirit lies in the tender, hard-fought ability to cash in by doing any old exploitative thing. There will be plenty of people out there patting Melania on the back for this silly, performative business. Good for you, Mel. You’ll get rich(er) by selling nothing. You’ll try to convince yourself that art is anything we believe art to be, anything we’re willing to pay for.
It should be known that Melania says she is using her initiative for good. She is tying her NFT business to her anti-bullying platform (it’s called Be Best, a grammatical tic that this writer still cannot get her brain around). But that platform is also powered by Parler, a right-wing social media site that helped to fuel the January 6 insurrection, and that many —including me — would argue is hardly an exemplar for anti-bullying. Actually, Parler is basically a room full of bullies, getting their rocks off by punching down at the weaker, the small, the different. How does the statuesque, white, cishet, wealthy, Melania Trump protect the bullied by siding with the aggressor, I wonder?
She doesn’t really care — and she doesn’t really care if you know it. But she does want you to buy her digital art, attached to a recording of her voice, for the tidy sum of $150.
Should Melania Trump get a second act? The public, I suppose, will get to make that decision for themselves. Whether or not there is space for the wife of an aggressor who set the world on fire in the wake of a democratic loss is up to everyone, and not just one person. It is worth considering, though, the constitutional makeup of a woman who, though notoriously private, will happily cash in on the crypto craze in the interest of a cheap buck, no matter the cost. Is $150 too much to pay a traitor to democracy? Does she really care? Do you?