MIAMI — Months before a Miami-area mother persuaded a local school to restrict access to an Amanda Gorman poem read at the Biden inauguration, she was posting anti-Semitic memes on her Facebook 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 says, referring to a Facebook post she shared in March offering a summary of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Semitic 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 last week after the Miami Herald identified Salinas as the Miami Lakes, Fla. 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, Miami Against Fascism called attention to a Facebook account it identified as hers. The account features political posts reflecting right-wing ideologies — and the anti-Semitic 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.”
Regarding the Protocols, Salinas says 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 anti-Semitic for sharing the post. Salinas deleted the post.
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 Netflix 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 has played a growing role in the region’s culture wars.
Miami Against Fascism also shared video of Salinas with the Proud Boys as well as a video of her attending a school board protest last year with Moms For Liberty, which pushes for book removals across the country.
Salinas says she is 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 confirmed Salinas is not a member of the group and said, “We denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms.”
Salinas 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 said 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.
Gorman said on Twitter 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.