September 19, 2019

Leave Malia Obama alone

Story by Denton Williams    

 Logging on to Twitter has turned into a game of Russian roulette for me. I never know what kind of posts I’m going to see anymore. Will I be greeted by pictures of small animals doing cute things or will I be assaulted by someone’s hot take on brunch?

     This month I ended up losing the game more than winning it. No loss was more frustrating to me than seeing pictures and videos of Malia Obama drinking wine and enjoying time with friends plastered over my feed.

     I scrolled and saw countless headlines calling Obama underage and irresponsible. There were pictures of her that were cropped to emphasize the bottle she was holding to cast her as an elitist for drinking wine. As I kept scrolling, I felt myself fuming.  

     I was so frustrated that Malia Obama, a private citizen, would be so mercilessly and publicly scrutinized for something so irrelevant. Does it impact anyone’s life that Malia enjoys wine on the beach?

     Malia Obama grew up in the political spotlight as President Barack Obama’s daughter and is certainly no stranger to unfair and overhyped public scrutiny. No child of a figure is so prominent as the President of the United States is. It’s not a secret that Sasha and Malia had to endure years of the public judging their appearance and behavior. They did it all while half of the country was trying to question their father’s true nationality.

     When I think back to what other children of presidents went through during their fathers’ time in office there is a clear pattern of nit-picking the lives of these children.

     Malia Obama is not the first member of a presidential family to be so publicly scrutinized. Chelsea Clinton was attacked regularly for her appearance in the new cable news climate. Radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh regularly took to the airwaves to discuss her hair and clothes, calling her a dog. The Bush twins were regular staples of the tabloids during George W. Bush’s presidency. They were labeled as wild, drunk college girls who were only good for viral pictures like the one of a drunk Jenna Bush holding a cigarette and falling to the ground.

     The newest First Family have faced their own scandals and scrutiny. Barron Trump, the youngest Trump at 12 years old, has been able to avoid the spotlight, mostly. However, that hasn’t kept attacks from coming his way, including one the way he dresses and the school he goes to. He’s also been used in attacks against his father like when Twitter users said that Barron should be kept in a cage because of Trump’s border policies.

     The children of presidents have had to form their own circle of support to get through the vitriol that surrounds them. They often jump to each other’s defense when critics come after them. Interestingly, Chelsea Clinton has defended Barron Trump from critics almost every time his name has been brought into the public conversation since his father’s inauguration.

     Chelsea often makes an excellent point during her defenses of Barron. Barron is a child who didn’t ask to be the son of the president. He didn’t ask to be the center of attention and he definitely didn’t ask to be in a position to be held responsible for each of his father’s policy failures. While Barron’s older siblings have taken surrogate roles in the Trump campaign and official roles in the White House, Barron is staying private and hasn’t even hit his teenage years.

     It’s absolutely ridiculous to attack these kids, it’s even more ridiculous to do it while they are working on coming of age. They have enough to deal with at that age. They already have the added pressure of being related to the president and being constantly followed by multiple armed agents. They shouldn’t be put on some pedestal to be thought of as perfect and attacked any time that they don’t live up to that standard.

     Malia Obama was on a beach with some friends and she had some wine. She’s a private citizen. It’s past time that the world finally let her live in peace without the threat of her private social media accounts being leaked and paparazzi taking photos. Using those photos as a social media attack against her is gross and says so much more about the person posting them than it does about Malia Obama. No one deserves that level of scrutiny, not even someone whose politics don’t line up with yours.

 

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