Lara Trump made herself look ridiculous with a bogus Lincoln quote

Lara Trump made herself look ridiculous with a bogus Lincoln quote

One of the ridiculous and misleading claims that Republicans make in support of President Donald Trump is: we are the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. It's ridiculous because the 2020 GOP has a lot more in common with the old southern Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party than it does with the Republican Party of the past. But that doesn’t stop Trumpistas from trying to link themselves to Lincoln, which Lara Trump (who is married to the president’s son, Eric Trump) did when she spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention. And to make matters worse, as journalist Ed Mazza notes in a HuffPost article, the president’s daughter-in-law didn’t even quote Lincoln accurately.

Lara Trump, an adviser on Trump’s reelection campaign, told viewers, “Abraham Lincoln once famously said: ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.’”

But Mazza notes that “Lincoln never said it, famously or otherwise.” Although attributed to Lincoln as a Facebook meme, Mazza points out, the United States’ first Republican president didn’t use those words.

Lara Trump’s blunder has been noted by a variety of fact-checkers, from CNN’s Daniel Dale to reporters at the New York Times and USA Today.

Mazza points out what Lincoln did have this to say at his Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois speech in 1838: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever (reaches) us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Michael Burlingame, a professor at the University of Illinois, Springfield and expert on Lincoln, offered Politifact come context on what the future president said in 1838 — explaining that Lincoln “was denouncing mob violence which would lead to chaos, provoking the public to demand law and order — which would be provided by an ambitious leader who would rule tyrannically.”

The “law and order” part is important. One of the things that authoritarians do in order to push an oppressive agenda is obsess over violent mobs and use that as an excuse to crack down on civil liberties — which is what President Trump and his allies are doing when they try to paint George Floyd protesters in general as violent rioters. Authoritarians all over the world, from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, tout “law and order” while committing human rights abuses. And Lincoln, in his day, was well aware of how a law-and-order message could be used abusively.

“Lincoln is among a number of famous historical figures to whom various quotes are often erroneously attributed, including President Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain and Winston Churchill,” Mazza notes in his HuffPost article. “Or, as Yogi Berra once remarked: ‘I really didn’t say everything I said.’”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.