First Lady Melania Trump has invited an 11-year-old who has been bullied at school because his last name is Trump to tonight’s State of the Union.

Joshua Trump, who is not related to the president, is one of 13 people who will join the Trumps as their guests.

Trump state of the union

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump delivering last year’s State of the Union.

The White House describes the sixth grader, who lives in Delaware, as a lover of science, art, history, and animals, and notes that he “hopes to pursue a related career in the future.” A local ABC affiliate reports he has begun going by a different last name in school, and was at one point pulled out for a year to be homeschooled due to the situation.

The unfortunate and heartbreaking story of what Joshua has gone through should bring empathy to everyone who hears it, no matter their view of the current administration. Yet it’s hard to imagine how putting the boy further into the spotlight and creating a more direct link to President Trump is going to help the situation.

More to the point, it displays that Melania Trump, who according to New York Magazine is personally responsible for Joshua’s invite, still identifies most closely with those who remind her of herself.

melania don't really care jacket


A month after the official launch of her Be Best campaign, aimed at encouraging “everyone to be kind to each other and treat each other with respect in everyday life and on social media,” she went to visit detained immigrant children wearing a jacket reading, “I really don’t care. Do U?” Her spokesperson said there was no hidden meaning behind the jacket, but then Melania contradicted that statement and claimed in an interview it was a jab at liberals and the media.

Then, in October, during a trip across four African nations, in which she wore a pith helmet and received criticism due to its ties to colonial rule on the continent, she said she herself was the biggest victim of bullying.

“I could say that I’m the most bullied person on the world,” she claimed.

“You’re really the most bullied person in the world?” interviewer Tom Llamas asked.

“One of them,” she said. “If you really see what people are saying about me.”

So it’s no wonder she would select someone so close to her own situation to highlight as the ultimate victim of bullying: Someone with her same last name, who is being picked on because of her husband’s actions.

Of course, with Melania, there are also her own actions to discuss. Not to mention the obvious difference that she’s an adult, who chose to marry Trump and take his name, and continues to defend his policies.

Then there’s the irony that a victim of bullying would be the guest of one of the biggest, most powerful bullies in the world, who will likely spend much of his time demonizing immigrants in his unending push for a costly wall.

For evidence of that, you need look no further than the telling invite of three family members of Gerald and Sharon David, who were shot and killed in Nevada. 19-year-old Wilber Martinez-Guzman, who, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, entered the country illegally from El Salvador, has been charged in their deaths.

trump be best


Not to mention Trump’s continued attacks on the LGBTQ community’s rights, including his military ban, which seeks to keep out trans service members, some of whom will be in attendance at the State of the Union as well, as the guests of Democrats.

Then there’s the administration’s rollback of transgender student protections, which has made life for queer students even more difficult. They are already bullied at higher rates than their straight, cis counterparts.

Melania Trump’s choice of a fellow (albeit unrelated) Trump couldn’t be more transparent. If things get too rough for her, maybe she can take a tip from Joshua and change her name. Melania B. Best has a certain ring to it.

Journalist, editor, and artist.