First Lady Melania Trump took to the stage at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. During her speech, Trump addressed the "racial unrest" that has been occurring in the country. While she earned a great deal of praise for her acknowledgment of this systemic issue, many noted that the first lady was involved in the racist "birther" claims about former President Barack Obama, claims that were spread by her husband, President Donald Trump, as the Washington Post reported.
Trump spoke to the American people on Tuesday night from the White House's Rose Garden. At one point, she addressed the matter of racism in the United States, a topic that has been at the forefront ever since George Floyd's murder at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin in May. She said, "Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country. It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history." Trump called for an end to "violence and looting being done in the name of justice" and a stop to racial profiling. Her speech was soon met with praise from figures on both sides of the aisle. But, the first lady's speech caused more than a few raised eyebrows as she did push forward the racist "birther" theory in 2011 alongside her husband. In 2011, both Trump and the president pushed forward a falsehood that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, and that he was thus constitutionally ineligible to be the president.
"I appreciate that Melania's tone was gentler. And that she at least acknowledged Covid suffering and civil unrest," Bryan Behar, a TV writer and Huffington Post blogger, wrote. "But she has been complicit with her husband in sowing racial discord and trampling on our laws, norms & institutions. That can't be forgotten nor forgiven." As political scientists have pointed out, the "birtherism" theory is rooted in racism, as none of the 43 White men who served as president before Obama faced questions about their birthplace. However, Obama, the country's first Black president, was plagued with questions about the legitimacy of his presidency.
Donald Trump reportedly began to spread this theory in March of 2011, near the end of Obama's first term in office. His wife later went on The Joy Behar Show in April of that same year to defend her husband and to purport his theory. "It's not only Donald who wants to see it," she told Behar about Obama's birth certificate. "It's American people who voted for him and who didn't vote for him. They want to see that." The TV host then pointed out that Obama's short-form birth certificate was available on the internet, to which the now-first lady replied, "We feel it's different."