Anyone who’s been online in their lifetime has probably heard the adage, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” But apparently not Lara Trump.
Even before this age of rampant misinformation, the warning not to take online quotes at their word was true. It’s so easy to doctor a photo, fudge a quote, and blur the line between fact and fiction. This is why fact checkers are essential.
Well, true to the Trump Administrations brand of rarely adhering to facts, Eric Trump’s wife Lara didn’t fact check her RNC speech on Wednesday night. Lara cited a fake Abraham Lincoln quote that’s a popular meme with conservatives: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Trump goes on to say that while those words were said over 150 years ago, they’ve never been more relevant.
If you’d like to see it for yourself, Trump says the quote around the four minute mark of this video:
Perhaps this Lincoln “quote” seems oddly relevant to today because it’s fake. As the New York Times RNC fact check pointed out, President Lincoln never uttered those words. Snopes even debunked it…in 2019. Lincoln’s original statement was made during the Lyceum Address of 1838, and it has been botched and manipulated over time. Here is the quote as Lincoln said it:
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach 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.
So how did Lara Trump come to use those twisted words and wrongly attribute them to Lincoln? Why, memes of course — lots and lots of memes. Right-wing organizations like PragerU have shared memes of the fake quote to their social media accounts:
PragerU notes in tiny little text at the bottom that this is “paraphrased,” but the quote is distorted from Lincoln’s actual words (note that he didn’t say “destroyed” or “freedom”). If you google the false quote, you see a plethora of memes as well, coming from sources such as the pro-Trump newspaper Epoch Times.
As Lara Trump should know, memes aren’t historical documents or an especially good way of conveying accurate truths.
Just another reminder to check your sources — and please, don’t believe every meme you see on your Facebook feed.