Misdirection and Duplicity: The Cult of Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump is a gorgeous liar.

Ever stop to consider why she’s been shoved in our faces since Trump began his campaign? Why he’s served her up on a platter like the most beautiful piece of cake you’ve ever seen? Because she makes his authoritarian regime so much easier to swallow.

Men want to possess her (check out her Facebook fan pages, where they make the same type of comments they make on pornstars’ pages), and women want to be like her.

And as the creator of a lucrative lifestyle brand for working mothers, she’s a stone-cold Gwyneth Paltrow without a conscience.

She’s Trump’s glittering gewgaw and we’re a flock of chattering magpies. While she beguiles us with her grace and beauty, he’s busy destroying our healthcare, environment, international reputation, and our very democracy.

Because she has young children, she’s inviolate. If you criticize her (or Melania) for trying to cash in on the presidency, Trump supporters whine “Leave the kids out of it!” even when you don’t mention kids at all. It’s the sacred cult of motherhood that somehow didn’t matter when Michelle Obama or Hilary Clinton were living in the White House.

Ivanka is useful because she married a Jew (with nefarious Russian business connections). Forget about the Nazis and supremacists in the now-aptly named White House; how could the Trump administration possibly be anti-Semitic when Ivanka has a Jewish husband?

But nowhere is Ivanka’s duplicity more subtly dangerous than on her website https://ivankatrump.com/, a soft, feminine, pastel world of menu items like “Style,” “Work,” “Home,” “Play,” “Travel,” “Wise Words,” and “Shop,” where she sells the fantasy that all women are impeccably dressed with high-paying jobs.

Let’s start with “Style.” Under this menu item are articles about jewelry, work wardrobes, and active wear featuring Ivanka’s products.  Click on the individual images and you’re taken directly to the retailers that carry them. (See https://grabyourwallet.org/ to boycott them.)


Nothing unusual so far, except that all the products say “Imported” under the item description. Ooh, sounds exotic, right? Sure, except that “Imported” actually means made in China by workers earning as little as $62 for a sixty-hour workweek. http://time.com/4755069/ivanka-trump-factory-conditions-g-iii-apparel/

Remember Trump’s campaign promises about making America great again by buying American and hiring Americans? While he spews this rah-rah rhetoric at his Pepe rallies, Ivanka is out there doing exactly the opposite.

I guess Ivanka’s personal style is scamming Americans and cheating foreign workers?

Ironically, the Chinese worship her anyway, calling her “Goddess Ivanka,” and describing her as “very amiable, with a tender disposition, and not like her father who is quite unpredictable.” http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ivanka-trump-has-huge-chinese-fan-club-worshiping-goddess-ivanka-n748296.

“Work.”   In the “About Us” section of the site, you’ll read “This site is a celebration of the many different ways in which women work.”  Well, no, actually it’s a celebration of one kind of woman doing one kind of work: elegant, well-dressed, overtly feminine women in positions of authority as business owners and managers.  These are women who might be interested in reading articles like “How to Scale your Business” and “7 Seven Ways to Inspire your Direct Reports.”

But where are the representations of the millions of blue-collar workers, unskilled laborers, and middle-class wage earners who delivered the presidency to Trump? I guess the work they do isn’t pretty or important enough to be featured on a website celebrating working women.

Another article in this section is “How to Return to Work after Maternity Leave.” After maternity leave? Virtually no one in America is even eligible for it. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ritarubin/2016/04/06/united-states-lags-behind-all-other-developed-countries-when-it-comes-to-paid-maternity-leave/#38b0e5a58f15.  Sure, we’ve all heard ad nauseum about Ivanka’s supposed role in making paid family leave part of Trump’s new budget http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/22/politics/trump-paid-leave-ivanka/, but we also know Republicans are going to shoot it down.  Make no mistake, Trump knows it too.  It’s all for show, a way of perpetuating the ludicrous myth that Ivanka is a moderating force in the White House and that Trump cares about women.

Ivanka herself has a history of insensitivity regarding the issue of maternity leave, telling an employee in 2013, “Well, we don’t have maternity leave policy here; I went back to work one week after having my child, so that’s just not something I’m used to.” http://www.businessinsider.com/ivanka-trumps-history-on-maternity-leave-2017-5

“Home.” Under “Home” you’ll find an article titled “7 Habits of Healthy People.”  Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure the most important habit of healthy people is to actually have affordable health care, something the Trump administration is going to obliterate for millions of people. This article includes priceless nuggets of advice like “Eat real food.” Yeah, try living on fruits, vegetables, and “high-quality animal products” on minimum wage. Hey, Ivanka:  Unlike your father, most hard-working families don’t even have the option of ruining steak with ketchup.

In “How to Buy Your First Home,” we’re given this helpful advice: “If the property is $500,000 and you’re offering $350,000, the seller won’t even counter back and take you seriously.” What a revelation! I’m such a dummy! The next time I buy a $500,000 house, I’ll make sure not to offend the seller.

The truth is, it’s going to get harder and harder to afford a home under the Trump regime http://www.businessinsider.com/how-trump-will-affect-home-prices-and-mortgage-interest-rates-2017-2, and predatory lending will be out of control. Millennials, keep eating all the avocado toast you want: You’re screwed no matter what.

“Play.” Under this menu item is an article about celebrating Earth Day 2017. Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. Trump has gutted the EPA. He actively promotes the narrative that climate change is a hoax so he and his rich fossil fuel cronies can profit, and his base believes every word of it.

This article says, “Learn about environmental issues. Watch the trailer to Leonardo DiCaprio’s captivating and powerful documentary on climate change.” Of course, no one who voted for Trump is going to watch a documentary made by an uppity Hollywood liberal, which leads us to the real danger Ivanka presents: her website isn’t necessarily for Trump fans; it’s for elite liberals who are willing to overlook her implicit support for Trump’s fascist policies because, well, she’s just so elegant, pretty, and she really has her life together.

There’s also an article about “6 Steps to Planning the Perfect Proposal.” Maybe Ivanka has forgotten that dear old Dad is waging war on same-sex marriage because he’s in bed with Evangelicals who own his ass? http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-trump-lgbt-religious-freedom-pence-20170209-story.html. There’s an entire sector of the population who will never have the luxury of planning the perfect proposal or the legal rights that come with marriage.

“Travel.” The section includes articles like “Plan a Winter Getaway” and “Plan the Perfect Winter Vacation.” Forget about the fact that most families in America can’t even afford a vacation, Trump has tried to impose a travel ban twice now and his fear-mongering has actually discouraged tourism and resulted in millions in lost revenue. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/03/29/trumps-travel-ban-could-cost-18b-us-tourism-travel-analysts-say/99708758/

Leisure travel just isn’t a reality for most Americans, and if you’re a Muslim, an undocumented immigrant, or someone who is confused for a Muslim or immigrant, travel is dangerous. We’re living in an America in which citizens are being bullied by thuggish immigration officers into showing their “papers” every day, but you’d never know it from looking at the fantastical alternate history world of ivankatrump.com

Finally, there’s a menu item called “Wise Words.” Here we see a repository of “inspirational” quotes, many of them insipid. You could have a lot of fun with this section of the website by imagining how the quotes could be changed to more accurately reflect Ivanka’s role in the Trump administration. For example, Katharine Hepburn’s quote “If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun” could be changed to “If you obey all the rules, you miss all of the treason.”

But seriously, I’m pretty sure Dr. Seuss, Rosa Parks, Tina Fey, Maya Angelou, Meryl Streep, Charles Bukowski, and Laverne Cox wouldn’t be too happy about having their words used to bolster the Trump agenda – even indirectly.

And remember when Trump posted a fake Lincoln quote and Republicans retweeted it?  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2017/02/13/trump-posts-fake-abraham-lincoln-quote/?utm_term=.d9a8abfc7af8. Ivanka has one too: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Only someone who has never read a damn word Lincoln wrote would be ignorant enough to believe he said that.   Like father, like daughter.

Talking with my Mom the other day, I told her what I was writing about and she said, “You know, I thought Ivanka was different.” My Mom is a lifelong Democrat, and no dummy, yet she’s been duped too.

And therein lies the real danger of The Cult of Ivanka: Each time she does something that makes herself look like a humanitarian (like securing a $100,000,000 donation from the Saudis for her World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs — while her family takes advantage of the presidency to do business deals in the Middle East), we take another drink from the Lethe.

How long before we’ve forgotten the way things used to be altogether? How long before we stop fighting for the way things are supposed to be?

The only thing that can kill a cult is reason.  Let’s start using it.

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