Fact checkers have had their work cut out for them during the Republican National Convention this week, with Trump administration officials and supporters making false claims both big and small about everything from the coronavirus pandemic to who signed the Declaration of Independence (we see you, Madison Cawthorn). But it was Lara Trump — Eric Trump’s wife and former campaign adviser to the president — who really stole the show on Wednesday night when she misquoted Abraham Lincoln thanks to a meme.
When it was Lara’s turn to fearmonger about the socialist boogeyman, she enlisted the help of Lincoln, who according to Trump once “famously said” that “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
But we’re very sorry to report to Lara and all her fans (are you there?) that Lincoln never actually said that. The best part: it seems Lara Trump sourced this quote, that she said at the official Republican National Convention — full stop — from a meme. The very famous and definitively inaccurate Lincoln quotation went viral in right-wing circles last year as a meme portraying progressive Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar as a threat to democracy.
Fact-checking websites debunked the meme at the time, noting that the quotation paraphrases Lincoln’s actual comments “denouncing mob violence which would lead to chaos,” Michael Burlingame, a chair in Lincoln studies at the University of Illinois Springfield told PolitiFact at the time. Burlingame added that Lincoln argued such violence would provoke “the public to demand law and order, which would be provided by an ambitious leader who would rule tyrannically.”
Lara Trump’s falsehoods didn’t end with Lincoln, though. Trump also celebrated the passage of the 19th Amendment, which she said granted "the right to vote to every American woman." But Black women, who also organized on the frontlines for voting rights, remained disenfranchised until 1965.
But some viewers commented on the misquote, pointing out that the Trump administration doesn’t care much about facts. The president made more than 20,000 false claims over a 14-month period, after all.
Still, Lara Trump should have taken her seventh grade English teacher Mrs. Bee’s advice before sourcing content for her RNC speech from a Facebook meme. According to her, Mrs. Bee once said, “believe none of what you hear, half of what you read, and only what you’re there to witness firsthand,” but it seems she unfortunately believed the wrong half.
And while her comments about Lincoln and voting rights were among some of the more egregious false statements in Lara Trump’s speech, I also fail to believe her description of the Trump family as “down to earth.”