Advertisement
Identity

Trump Accidentally Said America’s Great Success Was the ‘Abolition of Civil Rights’

He misspoke, obviously. But still.

by River Donaghey
Feb 7 2019, 7:27pm

Photo by Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images

On Thursday morning, Donald Trump swung by DC's annual National Prayer Breakfast to give a speech to a room full of high-profile religious leaders about the importance of faith, family, and the, uh—hold on, let me check my notes here... Yep, that's correct: The great American achievement that was the "abolition of civil rights."

“Since the founding of our nation, many of our greatest strides—from gaining our independence, to abolition of civil rights, to extending the vote for women—have been led by people of faith and started in prayer," Trump said, clearly failing to read his teleprompter correctly. "When we open our hearts to faith, we fill our hearts with love."

Yes, this really happened. See for yourself:

Obviously, Trump didn't actually mean to praise the longstanding American tradition of denying people their fundamental rights. Trump was was reportedly supposed to credit faith leaders for "the abolition of slavery and civil rights," according to David Frum, and this is just another example
of him mixing up his words at very inopportune moments. But it's a whopper of a mix-up, considering some of the moves he's made in his presidency.

Let's take a quick stroll back through Trump's tenure in the White House, shall we? There was his xenophobic travel ban, the Education Department's dissolution of protections for transgender students, and, of course, the time he refused to speak out against neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, instead claiming "many sides" were to blame for the violence at Unite the Right. Meanwhile, reports of hate crimes have skyrocketed since he took office, and he's still locked in a battle to bar transgender troops from the military.

Trump may not have meant to praise the erosion of civil rights in his speech, but he's been quietly and not-so-quietly hammering away at them from the get-go, lending that particular slip-of-the-tongue an ironic, deeply fucked tinge of truth. Maybe the guy should stick to shit-talking Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Prayer Breakfast speeches from now on—at least he's never managed to mess that one up.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.