A half-century after his death, Winston Churchill remains a towering figure worthy of revere (which is kind of odd because Revere once urgently warned his neighbors that people of Churchill’s nationality would be arriving imminently).
So revered is Churchill that God continues to see fit to create many babies in Churchill’s image.
And Churchill said so much awesome stuff that it’s not uncommon for folks to quote him saying stuff he never said. Our very own beloved-by-a-majority-of-the-people-who-bother-to-vote governor did that very thing in a tweeted meme posted Tuesday at 1:10 a.m. And good on our governor for staying up late and tweeting while many of us are dreaming. Wisdom knows no bedtime.
Here’s the quote Gov. Greg Abbott misattributed to Churchill: “The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists.”
“Some insights are timeless,” Abbott noted in his tweet. Abbott labeled the quote as “Churchill on the leftwing.”
The governor detweeted the tweet about 10 hours after it was posted, when it came under fire from those nettlesome newsfolks who are so annoyingly picky and persnickety about things like facts and accuracy.
Abbott’s explanation: “Listen, what I tweeted was a sentiment that I have, and that is antifa is dangerous to society and antifa is the antithesis of safety and security,” he told reporters. “And they are antagonists to law enforcement, as well as to other people. It was irrelevant to me who may or may not have said that in the past. I didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism for saying it. If no one else said it, attribute the quote to me, because it’s what I believe in.”
Quick explainer: Antifa, according to a New York Times headline, is a “left-wing faction set to, literally, fight the far right.” Though it’s not, antifa (an-TEE-fah) sounds like an ointment. Ask your doctor if it’s far right for you.
Churchill experts report there’s no evidence Churchill ever said what Abbott said he said. And that’s no knock on Churchill, who certainly said lots of other neat stuff, though it must be noted that he perhaps confused the World War II effort by referring to Nazis as “Narzees.”
For the record, George W. Bush (a pre-turn-of-the-century Texas governor some of you may remember) took some heat back in May when, in a Washington speech, he quoted Churchill as saying, “America is indispensable for the world and the dangers of isolation loom.” Churchill experts said he never said that. A month later, perhaps to make up for the mistake, Bush (a 21st-century painter) unveiled his portraits of Churchill.
It’s possible Churchill is on a couple of Texas governors’ minds because Churchill has a Texas presence. San Antonio has a Winston Churchill High School. Motto: “Never, never, never, never give up,” something Churchill experts say he actually said. Churchill High’s alums include former Houston mayor and unsuccessful 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White.
Timothy Riley, director and chief curator at the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., says Churchill, posthumously, was made an honorary Texan on May 7, 1969, via a proclamation by then-Gov. Preston Smith.
Random note: Churchill also has been designated a Kentucky Colonel, putting him in a semi-exclusive cohort that includes Pope John Paul II, Bing Crosby, Norm Crosby (extra points if you remember his odd comedy act), Barry Manilow, Wayne Gretzky, both Smothers Brothers, Phyllis Diller, Ronald Reagan, me, Marie Osmond — but not Donny — and, inevitably, Harland Sanders.
Speaking of inevitability, Abbott’s misadventure with the phony Churchill quote opened the door for unflattering imitation.
Evan Smith, the Exalted Grand High Jefe/Poobah at the Texas Tribune, tweeted a Churchill photo and this alleged quote from the great man: “Buy tickets to the @TexasTribune Festival.”
Justin Nelson, the Democratic challenger to GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton, chimed in with a meme reminiscent of Abbott’s misguided one and added this: “’Ken Paxton is indicted for fraud. Don’t vote for him.’ – Winston Churchill (probably).”
Good job, governor. Way to get folks’ creative juices flowing.
So, to help prevent future Abbott misattributions, here are some other things for which there is no hard evidence that Churchill ever said:
“Lupe Valdez? I laugh in her general direction.”
“California really, really sucks really bad.”
Brief rumination: If California is as pathetic as Abbott constantly says it is why does his daughter go to college there?
Back to things Churchill never said:
“Democrats, by and large, want to eat your children.”
“Is Donald Trump awesome or what?”
“Hey, look out! You wacky Americans are driving on the wrong side of the road.”
“Yes, fellow Brexiteers, let’s find another continent to join.”
“I believe in separation of Churchill and state.”
“Is Dan Patrick awesome or what?”
One last quote, and this one is real. It’s in a retweet by conservative firebrand Glenn Beck of this Abbott tweet: “Our grassroots team is knocking the cover off the ball. Great work by #ImWithAbbott team.”
Said Beck: “#ImWithAbbott x10! The best governor in America. Strong, focused, kind. Am happen to also be the founder of ‘I’m with President Abbott 2024.’”
One more thing Churchill never said: “Greg Abbott for president.”