Let’s start with some basics.
Born in 1970 in Slovenia, Melanija Knavs, known today as Melania Trump, spent much of her childhood in Sevnica, a town of less than 5,000 inhabitants. Her father was a member of the Communist Party, but had his daughter secretly baptized by a Catholic priest. From the age of 5, Melania worked as a model, first in Slovenia, and then in Milan and Paris, before moving to New York. There she eventually met Donald Trump, a businessman and celebrity 24 years her senior. They married in 2005, and together they had one son, Baron William Trump. Before becoming first lady, Melania founded successful jewelry and skincare companies.
A Closer Examination
Now let’s look at some details.
Melania speaks six languages: Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, English, French, Italian, and German. She was a highly successful model.
She is a good mother. After her husband’s inauguration in 2017, Melania kept her son in school in Manhattan for the remainder of the academic year rather than placing him in a new school in Washington.
Despite various reports and speculations in the press, the Trumps appear to be happily married.
She can be tough. When Britain’s “Daily Mail” reported that she had worked for an escort service during her modeling days, Melania sued the paper, the “Daily Mail” admitted its false charges, and the court settled the case in favor of Trump.
In public, the first lady always appears decked out like the fashion model she once was. Judging from what we know of the state dinner she arranged for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, Melania’s taste in entertaining is as exquisite as her taste in clothing.
Many diplomats and foreign leaders have complimented her for her poise and civility.
As first lady, Trump prefers the shadows to the spotlight. She seems most comfortable when visiting children in schools or hospitals. She initiated the Be Best campaign, advocating against cyber-bullying and illegal drug use by young people.
So here we have a first lady who is beautiful and intelligent, a caring mother and loving wife, and a patriot proud of her adopted country.
So why, for the last four years, have some in the press so reviled her? Why attack a woman who brings so many positive attributes to the White House?
Some of them have viciously criticized her Christmas decorations, her accent, her religious faith—she was once assailed for reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public. Some regard her as a Trump showpiece, “a visual adornment,” ignoring her obvious intelligence and her behind-the-scenes participation in White House matters. This deluge of denigration is what undoubtedly led her to remark, during an October 2018 interview with ABC News, “I could say I am the most bullied person in the world.”
By now, any objective observer knows that our mainstream press as a whole despises Donald Trump. For nearly his entire presidency, the major television news stations, with the exception of Fox News, have given Trump 90 percent negative news coverage. During the recent impeachment hearings, that negative coverage rose to 96 percent. That same objective observer might surmise the press was trying to destroy Trump.
But why go after his wife?
Is it because they hate her? That seems unlikely. Melania fits the model of a successful woman. What’s to hate in her unless you dislike her choice of husband?
Could some of these critics be jealous of her? Again, that option should strike us as improbable. Those in the press and in the population at large whose wild and savage hatred of the president has introduced a new illness to our culture, Trump Derangement Syndrome, would hardly be likely to envy his wife.
Or do they pound away on the first lady because they fear her?
Here we come to firmer ground.
We live in a crude age. More and more, our culture often seems rotted through, our traditions caffirsst aside, our standards tattered. For the most part, we have removed any mention of our deities from the public square and have replaced them with Kipling’s “Gods of the Market Place.”
We place less and less emphasis on the well-being of the family; some climate change advocates now regard children not as a resource to be loved and treasured but as a carbon footprint on the planet. We promote sexual practices that would have appalled our ancestors. We raise athletes and movie stars to the status of demigods, we live to be entertained, we put rights above responsibilities, and we fail to teach our young people the classic virtues.
On and on runs the list of coarse vulgarities. As C.S. Lewis noted in “The Abolition of Man, “We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
Melania Trump stands as a living rebuke to this dark side of our culture. Oriented toward her family, a believer in God, a woman with class who pulled herself out of tiny Slovenia and into fame and prominence, mostly by guts, desire, and street smarts, she is strong in the face of adversity and seemingly happy with her life.
Suppose young women began to take such a woman as their role model? Suppose 12-year-old Annie looks at Trump and wants to be a family wife and mother like her? Suppose her older sister reads about Trump or watches her on television, finds her a composed, self-confident woman who overcame all sorts of obstacles in life, and decides to emulate her kindness and grace?
Instead of bringing out the big guns and taking aim at Trump, we should be applauding her.
Those who keep bombarding the first lady reveal much more about themselves than about her.
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C., Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.