If you’ve ever visited Orly Taitz’ web site, you may have noticed a quotation attributed to Mahatma Gandhi on the masthead:
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you,
then you win.
That quote struck me as odd the first time I saw it, not like Gandhi, but I didn’t know for certain that it was a fake until I read about it in Loren Collins’ book Bullspotting. In the chapter, “Quotations,” Collins notes:
…the quotation cannot be found in any of the works or records of Gandhi.
So I left Orly a note to let her know about the problem:
Of course I never intended for her to let that out of moderation; it’s just a quick way of communicating, nor did I intend to write an article about a rather common misattribution until…
On the way out the door, so to speak, I glanced at another quotation from her masthead, this one attributed to Thomas Jefferson:
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.
When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
— Thomas Jefferson
This one also struck me as strange. Jefferson was no Federalist, but I hardly thought that Jefferson thought the government should be afraid of the people, and so I checked out this quotation, this time at the Jefferson web site, Monticello.org. They can’t attribute this to Jefferson either, saying:
We have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny,” or any of its listed variations.
The third quotation on the Taitz masthead is attributed to George Orwell, and sounds like something he might have said in one of his books:
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
You can find this quote, attributed to Orwell, all over the Internet, but most of the references give no source. One web site attributed it to Orwell’s book 1984, only a search of that book’s text for “revolutionary act” at Amazon.com didn’t return any hits, nor is it from Animal Farm, nor from Keep the Aspidistra Flying. It was also attributed to 1984 on a bumper sticker. I looked high and low for a source. It’s not in Bartlett’s Quotations nor Respectfully Quoted. I tried Google Books and found it many, many times (911 hits) sometimes in scholarly works, but all unattributed. One book reference narrowed it down to “after the Bolshevik revolution.” Ironically, I found during this futile exercise in checking sources the quotation used, unattributed, in a book titled: An Introduction to Critical Thinking! An excellent collection of attributed quotations from Orwell doesn’t list it. GeorgeOrwell.org lists it, but without attribution except to say that it was “on 1984.” It’s not in the Orwell Diaries. I have also been searching the George Orwell Digital Archive at University College London without success so far. At this point, I’m drawing a blank.
Finally, there is a long quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
This one really sounds like TR, and it is 100% authentic, taken from a speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910. I prefer this citation from the same speech:
The good citizen will demand liberty for himself, and as a matter of pride he will see to it that others receive liberty which he thus claims as his own. Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country in the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so he does not wrong his neighbor. Persecution is bad because it is persecution, and without reference to which side happens at the most to be the persecutor and which the persecuted. Class hatred is bad in just the same way, and without regard to the individual who, at a given time, substitutes loyalty to a class for loyalty to a nation, of substitutes hatred of men because they happen to come in a certain social category, for judgement awarded them according to their conduct.