Melania Trump's announcement Thursday that her cause as first lady would be to combat cyberbullying left many viewers puzzled — it's either an odd or all too apt choice for a woman who is married to America's foremost Twitter troll, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. To Lady Gaga, it was pure B.S., and the pop star took to Twitter Sunday to do a little trolling of her own.
"To say you will stand for 'anti-bullying' is hypocrisy," Gaga tweeted at our potential next FLOTUS. "Your husband is one of the most notorious bullies we have ever witnessed."
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed Gaga's topical Twitter alias — the singer is a staunch supporter of Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton. She also knows what she's talking about. Putting an end to bullying is a priority of Gaga's, and the reason she founded the Born This Way Foundation. So when she calls Trump a notorious bully, she knows what she's talking about — and she's not wrong.
In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a report on the so-called Trump Effect, documenting the uptick in fear and anxiety in school children as a result of Trump's candidacy, which has also given rise to bullying and racism in the classroom.
The trend has obviously not escaped Melania. "Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and to teenagers," Trump said in her speech Thursday. "It is never okay when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied or attacked."
Trump's husband has mocked, bullied and attacked roughly 282 people and things from behind the veil of his Twitter handle. This may help explain her emphasis on children — Melania proposed to protect kids and teens from cyberbullies, while Donald typically trains his sights on adults.
Gaga isn't the only high-profile individual to call out Trump's on-the-nose choice. Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the Democratic nominee, noted in a Friday interview that the cause was "a little ironic" in light of the Republican candidate's penchant for harassing people on social media.
"I do think we all need to pay attention to what some call the Trump effect, the rise of bullying that is haunting middle school hallways, but also what's happening in high schools and elementary schools," Clinton said. "We absolutely have to pay attention."
Indeed we do: Children who are bullied are more likely to become depressed and experience feelings of loneliness. Their health and academic performance might suffer, and the side effects are lasting. Bullies, meanwhile, are more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol and romantic partners later in life, and are also more likely to accrue criminal convictions and drop out of school. Bullying is a serious problem, and Melania might just know that better than anyone.