As the GOP grappled with hard evidence that Melania Trump incorporated verbatim portions of Michelle Obama's speech into her own, without acknowledging the source, it put forth the charge that Michelle's speech was plagiarized. It is the juvenile tactic of
trying to deflect blame for wrongdoing by accusing someone else of the same act.The claim is that Michelle Obama plagiarized a part of her speech from Saul Alinsky.
Here is the part of the speech that was said to be plagiarized:
Barack stood up that day and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about the world as it is and the world as it should be. And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two and settle for the world as it is — even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations.
3. As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be — it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.
Snopes investigated the claim against Michelle Obama and also found it abjectly and stupidly contrived out of malice, not fact:
A simplistic comparison of Alinksy and Mrs. Obama's uses of "the world as it is" and "the world as it should be" (phrases that were arguably exceedingly common in concept for policy speeches) suggested a surface likeness. But Alinsky's purportedly plagiarized half-sentence was part of a passage about adopting a realistic approach to "the world as it is" versus "the world as it should be." By contrast, Michelle Obama was paraphrasing her husband's lamenting acceptance of "the world as it is" when "the world as it should be ... reflect[ed] our values and aspirations" and was not expressing it as her own thought.
As such, the plagiarism claim applied to Mrs. Obama was weak on its face, given that it involved a mere eight common words supposedly lifted from the oft-invoked Alinsky and expressed a notion opposite to the one offered by Alinsky.
Politics has always had the willfully ignorant and malicious. In our time, cable news and the Internet have given them amplifiers. Those who circulate the charge of Michelle Obama plagiarizing Alinksy are members of that group and need to be identified as such. What they say rises from endemic untruthfulness and malice. And that is what defines defamation.