Mom Who Challenged Amanda Gorman Accused of Posting Antisemitic Memes
Daily Salinas, the Miami-area mother whose poorly reasoned complaint about “The Hill We Climb,” Amanda Gorman’s poem for Joe Biden’s inauguration, got it restricted in an area elementary school, is now defending herself against claims of antisemitism. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that Salinas posted a meme to her Facebook citing “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a piece of virulently antisemitic Russian propaganda from over a century ago that falsely claims “Jewish Zionists” could take over the world by promoting socialism, communism, and despotism.
“I want to apologize to the Jewish community,” Salinas told the JTA on Wednesday. “I’m not what the post says. I love the Jewish community.”
Salinas, who said that English was not her first language, defended the post by saying she stopped reading when she saw the word “communism.” The Agency wrote, “Salinas said her aversion to communism stems from her Cuban identity.” “I see the word ‘communism,’ and I think it’s something about communism,” Salinas told the Agency. “I didn’t read the words.”
The JTA reported that Salinas’ Facebook feed contained several right-wing memes, and that another group, Miami Against Fascism, found video of Salinas with the Proud Boys and of her attending a protest with Moms for Liberty, a group known for attempting to ban books. Salinas denied being a member of either group but admitted she had attended the protests. (Moms for Liberty told the JTA that Salinas was not a member and issued a statement denouncing antisemitism.)
Salinas’ objection to Gorman’s poem (“The Hill We Climb,” which she ham-fistedly claimed “is not educational and have indirectly [sic] hate messages”), as well as poetry by Langston Hughes and books about Cuba, remains somewhat hazy since she said she hasn’t fully read any of them. She told the JTA that the books about Cuba “don’t tell the whole story about Cuba, communism, the dictators, their people that are dying and trying to come to America.”
Salinas told the JTA she was simply telling her “opinion” that the books don’t “support the curriculum.” But she admitted that her knowledge of both the books and the curriculum is questionable. “[People] have to read for me because I’m not an expert,” she said. “I’m not a reader. I’m not a book person. I’m a mom involved in my children’s education.”
The Miami-Dade County school district ultimately removed all but one of the books from the elementary school but kept them available to middle schoolers. A rep for the school district told The New York Times “no literature (books or poem) have been banned or removed” but that it had moved “The Hill We Climb” to “the middle school section of the media center” in its library. Miami-Dade County Public Schools district ranks number four for enrollment in the United States, according to the Times.
Gorman, who was the National Youth Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2018, wrote on Twitter that she was “gutted” by the controversy. “And let’s be clear: most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” she wrote. “The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices. I wrote ‘The Hill We Climb’ so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since. I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by ‘The Hill We Climb’ to write their own poems.
“Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech,” she continued. “Together, this is a hill we won’t just climb, but a hill we will conquer.”