Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), apparently responding to recent news reports involving left-wing anti-fascist protesters, on Tuesday tweeted a quote attributed to Winston Churchill: “The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists.”
“Some insights are timeless,” Abbott commented in a since-deleted tweet sent at 1:15 a.m. local time.
In spite of that ostensible timeliness, there is no evidence that Churchill ever spoke or wrote the “anti-fascist” quote attributed to him in the 9Gag meme shared by Abbott.
Historian Richard Langworth, a senior fellow at the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College in Michigan, told HuffPost via email that the phrase does not appear in a scan of the British leader’s 15 million published words ― including books, articles, speeches and letters ― nor does it appear in 50 million words about him, including colleagues’ memoirs.
Churchill “uses ‘anti-fascist’ frequently toward the end of WW2 about the Yugoslav Anti-Fascist Coalition and the Italian Anti-Fascist Council,” Langworth said. “But in 97 occurrences of the word in his canon, there is nothing resembling this alleged prediction.”
“It doesn’t sound like him, really,” he added. “Too pat. He thought deeply about and feared the future, but not in that way.”
HuffPost’s request for comment from Abbott’s office went unanswered Tuesday. The governor told a Dallas News reporter that it’s “irrelevant” whether the quote is real.
“If no one else said it, attribute the quote to me because it’s what I believe in,” he said.
Anti-fascists appeared at a far-right rally in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend to counter-protest white nationalist groups. The event turned bloody, and police officers were accused of protecting right-wing protesters at the expense of the left-wing ones. Police Chief Danielle Outlaw announced Sunday that her officers’ behavior would be reviewed.
Anti-fascist protesters were also reportedly behind an incident at a Philadelphia restaurant Monday morning in which conservative activists Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens were eating when protests erupted outside.
This article has been updated to include Abbott’s comment.