Aberdeen’s Dana Randall, delegate to the thankfully concluded Republican National Convention, must have been infected with Donald Trump’s inability to admit when he’s wrong. He tells Victoria Lusk that Melania Trump did not plagiarize her convention speech:
Randall also doesn’t think the “50 or so words” in Melania Trump’s speech that have garnered intense attention amount to plagiarism.
“You can only say so many things about your parents. You were either raised good or bad,” Randall said.
Additionally, he said, “You say certain things, write certain ways. It’s always going to be your style” [Victoria Lusk, “Aberdeen GOP Delegate Doesn’t See Convention as out of the Ordinary,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.07.21].
I don’t want to keep beating this horse—Mrs. Trump’s plagiarism isn’t nearly as politically important as Mr. Trump’s fascism—but when a leading light in my community refuses to recognize a clear case of plagiarism, I, out of loyalty to all teachers who must confront plagiarism in the classroom and teach our kids to use words and sources properly, must say, “No, Dana, really, it was plagiarism.”
Melania Trump didn’t just say how she was raised by her parents. She used words lifted directly from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech about how she was raised by her parents. She didn’t say the passages in question in her style: she said them in Michelle Obama’s style and order.
Trump speechwriter Meredith McIver admitted that Mrs. Trump’s speech included plagiarized passages. Even the team for which Randall is excusfying admits that there is no excuse, that the action was plagiarism, and that the action was wrong.
The next time I teach English, I will use Melania Trump’s speech as a clear, instructive example of plagiarism. Mr. Randall, please stop getting in my way or the way of any other teachers who will use this moment to make our students better at using sources responsibly. You can run political interference for your atrocious nominee on all sorts of other issues; surrender this one issue (a losing issue), admit the unpleasant fact that your candidate’s wife made an error, and let teachers teach that error.