Drugs, a helpless baby, a hero cop. It was the story meant to tug at the heartstrings, to be the happily-ever-after that would unify Americans in the face of one their “biggest challenges”. But the way President Donald Trump told it during his first State of the Union address has instead divided them.
In the Republican’s telling, the story was about 27-year-old Ryan Holets, a married, god-fearing officer of New Mexico’s Albuquerque Police Department.
“Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin,” the President told Congress during Tuesday’s speech. “When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.”
Holet, Trump said, then received a message from above – “You will do it because you can” – and so the officer and his wife made the decision to adopt the child. Her name? ‘Hope’.
LISTEN: Everyone is celebrating the adoption of baby Hope, but what happened to her heroin-addicted mother? Mia Freedman and Amelia Lester discuss. Post continues after.
Some were satisfied with the tale, of course. It showed, in Trump’s own words, how “difficult challenges bring out the best in Americans”, and was hailed by others on social media as “inspiring” and “incredible”.
But the rest were left asking one question: what happened to baby Hope’s birth mother? After all, if this was a story about a commitment to “fighting the drug epidemic, to “helping get treatment for those in need”, should it not have been about her?
Instead, in Trump’s telling, she was just “a pregnant, homeless woman”. A nameless footnote in an otherwise-uplifting anecdote. A villain. A vessel. Not worthy of mention or attention beyond the delivery of a child.