(JTA) — Months before a Miami-area mother persuaded a local school to restrict access to an Amanda Gorman poem, she was posting antisemitic memes on her social media page.
Now, Daily Salinas is apologizing for one of those things — and unrepentant about the other.
“I want to apologize to the Jewish community,” Salinas told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday. She was saying sorry for a post she shared in March offering a summary of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a notorious antisemitic forgery written more than a century ago in Russia.
“I’m not what the post says,” Salinas said. “I love the Jewish community.”
The post came to light this week after the Miami Herald identified Salinas as the Miami Lakes, Florida, mother who petitioned her children’s school to ban students’ access to the Gorman poem. Gorman read the poem, called “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Salinas also petitioned the school to restrict children’s books about the Black poet Langston Hughes and about Black and Cuban history. After a committee reviewed her challenges, the Miami-Dade County school district opted to restrict all but one book about Cuba from grades K-5, while leaving them available to middle school students.
Salinas challenged the Gorman poem — which she says she hasn’t read in its entirety — on the grounds that it contains “indirect hate messages.” The review committee said it “erred on the side of caution” in deciding to limit students’ access.
The Miami Herald did not mention Salinas’ social media activity. But after the story about her was published, a left-wing group, Miami Against Fascism, called attention to a social media account it identified as hers. The account, which JTA reviewed, features a flood of political posts reflecting right-wing ideologies — and the antisemitic Protocols.
Salinas’ post about the Protocols included a list of steps depicting how “Jewish Zionists” would achieve world domination. The graphic included stages such as “Place our agents and helpers everywhere,” “Replace royal rule with socialist rule, then communism, then despotism,” and “Sacrifice people (including Jews sometimes) when necessary.”
Reached by JTA on Wednesday, Salinas confirmed that the post about the “Protocols” was hers and apologized for it, saying she hadn’t read it beyond the word “communism.” Salinas said her aversion to communism stems from her Cuban identity. She added that English is not her first language.
“I see the word ‘communism,’ and I think it’s something about communism,” she said. “I didn’t read the words.”
Salinas said that her heart became “tight” with pain when she thought that people would see her as antisemitic for sharing the Protocols post. After speaking with JTA, Salinas deleted the post.
Salinas said she was speaking with JTA after declining to talk with other media outlets so that she could apologize. She said she is Christian and added, “We are super protective of the Jewish people.” She added that she has Jewish friends and is a fan of the Israeli series “Fauda.”
She said the books about Cuba that she challenged “don’t tell the whole story about Cuba, communism, the dictators, their people that are dying and trying to come to America.” The significant population of Spanish-speaking immigrants from countries with a history of communism, many of whom tend to be politically conservative, has played a growing role in the region’s culture wars.
Salinas’ social media feed reflects the kinds of right-wing memes that continue to circulate widely, although she told JTA that she did not post everything on it herself. Miami Against Fascism also shared video of Salinas with the Proud Boys, a far-right group with ties to antisemitic activists, as well as a video of her attending a school board protest last year with Moms For Liberty, a “parents’ rights” group active in pushing for book removals across the country. Such groups have been instrumental in leveraging laws signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that enable parents to challenge the presence of any book in school libraries. In some instances, those challenges have led to the removal of books about the Holocaust and Jewish culture.
Salinas told JTA she was not a member of either group and said she had just been in attendance at protests where they were both present. A Moms For Liberty media representative also told JTA Salinas was not a member of the group and said, “We denounce antisemitism in all its forms.”
Asked why she wanted the books removed in the first place, Salinas said she had just been expressing her “opinion” that they did not “support the curriculum” but declined to elaborate.
She said she had only read parts of the books. “They 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.”
A representative of the school district told JTA in a statement that “no literature (books or poem) has been banned or removed,” and that “it was determined at the school” that Gorman’s poem was “better suited for middle school students.” In publicly available meeting minutes, the review committee said the “vocabulary” of Gorman’s poem was “determined to be of value for middle school students,” and similarly that the “content and subject matter” of the Hughes poems were determined to be for middle school readers. The district did not respond to JTA’s queries about Salinas’ social media activity.
Gorman said online that she was “gutted” by the removal in Salinas’ children’s school. “Often all it takes to remove these works from our libraries and schools is a single objection,” she wrote.