Ivanka Trump responded Friday to the cancelation of her digital commencement speech at Wichita State University Tech by posting the video address – which was written weeks before tens of thousands hit the streets across the country protesting police brutality and the murder of George Floyd. The result: an immediate backlash on social media for being “tone deaf” to the plights of others.
“Here is the message I recorded on May 18th for the Graduates of WSU-Tech. I know that all of these talented graduates will dream big and aspire to make the world a better place!” the president’s daughter wrote Friday as a caption to the video. She was dropped from the lineup Thursday and a release from university leaders noted the move was made to focus the event “more centrally on students.”
“Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Listening to one another is important now more than ever!” she said in the video, in which she ruminates on how her own personal growth often, in her estimation, came during times of “discomfort and uncertainty.”
She also encouraged students to embrace “the adventure” of “daunting challenges.”
Her message, recorded before unrest over the killings of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor brought days of protest to major American cities – drew ire from many.
Majid M. Padellan, an author and political commentator, tweeted, “‘DISCOMFORT AND UNCERTAINTY?’ ‘EMBRACE THE ADVENTURE?’ People are getting tear-gassed, tased and SHOT while protesting that Black people are getting tear-gassed, tased and SHOT. That’s not discomfort. That’s not adventure. That’s criminal, #IvankaTrump.”
“Hard to imagine something more tone-deaf than this but I assume they’ll cook it up,” Daily Beast editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast wrote.
Screenwriter Randi Mayem Singer focused less on the content of the address and more on Trump’s condemnation of so-called “cancel culture,” tweeting, “‘Free speech!’ cries Sweatshop Barbie, who walked alongside her fascist daddy, carrying his prop bible in her purse, as he gassed peaceful protestors along the way to a photo op.”
“Were you feeling discomfort when dad gassed those people during your propaganda stroll? Were you uncertain when to take the prop bible out of your $1500 purse?” she wrote in a subsequent tweet.
Singer was referencing President Trump’s Monday comments threatening to deploy the U.S. military to extinguish protests around the country if cities or states do not do what’s “necessary to defend the life and property of their residents.” After he said that, he walked to St. John’s Church holding a Bible after law enforcement officials fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful protesters to clear a path.