Melania Trump’s baffling decision to renovate the White House Rose Garden amidst a pandemic, financial crisis, and months of protests have Twitter users comparing her to Marie Antoinette.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States is about to reach 150,000 and counting. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment and are unable to pay their rent. Parents are struggling to decide if it’s safe to send their kids to school. Hundreds of thousands are protesting an unjust system and fighting against police violence. And Melania Trump is redecorating the White House. Twitter lashed out at the first lady’s tone deaf announcement that she would be renovating the White House’s Rose Garden, where her husband, President Donald Trump, often holds his rambling coronavirus press briefings.
As the United States succumbs to coronavirus and cities like Portland are under siege by federal forces, Melania will be hidden away, literally smelling roses. The renovation, which includes electrical upgrades for televised events, a new walkway, and new flowers and shrubs, is “act of expressing hope and optimism for the future,” the first lady said to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House on July 27. “Our country has seen difficult times before, but the White House and the Rose Garden have always stood as a symbol of our strength, resilience and continuity.”
Some are comparing Melania to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution. As the citizens of France suffered from extreme poverty, she and husband Louis XVI lived a life of luxury at Versailles. She famously said when told that peasants had no bread and were dying, to “let them eat cake” and laughed off the matter. Sound at least a little bit familiar? “Since Marie Antoinette is trending, remember what happened to her @FLOTUS? You and your ‘nancing’ around the rose garden hardly qualifies for anything aside from tone-deaf self-indulgence. You should be ashamed,” one angry Twitter user wrote. As for “what happened to her”… Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine after being convicted of treason in 1793.
“I wonder if Marie Antoinette redid the gardens at Versailles when the revolution was brewing,” a critic cheekily tweeted, using the eyeroll emoji. One Twitter user pointed out that besides the optics of her decision, there were also some logistical problems with renovating the Rose Garden. “@FLOTUS People still haven’t received unemployment! People are waiting in the heat for hours to get tested, food banks, etc… Now is not the time to waste $ on yard projects! Besides, planting roses in peek summer heat is not the time to plant roses! #RoseGarden #MarieAntoinette.”
Melania received criticism in March for tweeting an update about her renovation of the White House tennis pavilion as the coronavirus crisis reached critical levels. “I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the @WhiteHouse to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities. #BeBest,” she tweeted in response.