Ivanka Trump posted this photo with her son on Twitter because she’s a mom and she loves her son. The response from the Internet has been vicious with people calling her “tone-deaf” and Samantha Bee saying that she was a “feckless c***” since one trending story recently has talked about immigrant mothers are being separated from their children. When Samantha Bee got in trouble for what she said, Twitter filled up with pictures of Donald Trump supporters wearing t-shirts calling Hillary Clinton the c-word (i.e. that thing we call whataboutism when right-wing people do it). So it’s time to say something that should be self-evident: shaming Ivanka Trump for being a mom doesn’t help immigrants. At all.
I’ve spent the last three days supporting a political refugee whose husband is locked up for no reason other than that he did everything by the book in how he crossed the border and asked for political asylum. Their family was being threatened with assassination by a government that is a stated enemy of the United States, but they are being treated like criminals, just like every other immigrant in our broken system. It’s disgusting. It’s heart-wrenching.
The fact that the US government tore children away from their families and lost them is incredibly despicable. It’s at a God needs to send fire and brimstone down to destroy Washington, D.C. level of despicable. And these heartbreaking, evil, unjust circumstances call for a more pragmatic, strategic response than a bunch of self-righteous liberals virtue-signaling each other with their hashtags and centering the importance of their trending stories rather than the people whom they’re supposedly supporting.
The kind of “activism” that calls Ivanka Trump “tone-deaf” is not solidarity with marginalized people. It’s only “tone-deaf” to post a picture of your son on Twitter if you believe that everyone in the world is supposed to be part of the same universal 24-hour news-cycle conversation to which they’re supposed to respond with the same prescribed outrage. It’s only “tone-deaf” if all activism is reducible to commentary and virtue-signaling.
Commentary and virtue-signaling don’t accompany immigrants to their ICE check-ins. Commentary and virtue-signaling don’t help immigrants find a place to print critical documents for their asylum cases off the Internet when they don’t have access to WiFi. Commentary and virtue-signaling don’t volunteer to drive immigrants to an organizing meeting and watch their children while they’re there so they can concentrate and collaborate. These are all things that our local immigrant rights coalition is begging for allies to support them with. And many times the allies who actually help out are different than the loudmouths (like me) who create a bunch of noise on the Internet.
Solidarity is completely different than woketivism. Solidarity is based in love of people who are being ignored and stepped on. Woketivism is based in scorn of people who can be easily judged for their privilege and ignorance. We need more solidarity and less woketivism among those who say they’re fighting for justice in our world. We need to be sharing stories and pictures that are being ignored and silenced instead of making the Trump family the exhausting epicenter of every story.
Let Ivanka Trump be a mom. Challenge her to advocate for justice with her father until he’s voted out of power, but don’t shame her for sharing photos with her son. We need to have a world where every mom is able to experience that kind of joy, especially moms who are marginalized. Scorn won’t get us there.
Check out my book How Jesus Saves the World From Us!
Please support our campus ministry NOLA Wesley as a monthly patron or one-time donor!