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Apocryphal quotes on Taitz web site

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:

image

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.

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33 Responses to Apocryphal quotes on Taitz web site

  1. avatar
    Horus January 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Another quote conservatives often attribute to Jesus Christ is “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s not in the Bible. Sometimes it is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It was not originally from Franklin either, it was Algernon Sydney in 1698. The Bible teaches the opposite, “God helps the helpless”; Isaiah.

  2. avatar
    richCares January 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    it’s quite common for fake quotes to appear on right wing sites, especially religious right, it’s an appeal to authority. also involves fake titles
    .
    for a laugh note: foggy’s satirical use of Thomas Jefferson quotes.

  3. avatar
    Proud Obot January 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Doc:
    911 hits

    Wheels within wheels, man.

  4. avatar
    justlw January 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Another faux Jefferson I saw recently:

    “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”

    This was pretty obviously not real to my ear; as far as I’ve ever noticed, Jefferson was not one for epigrams, nor for talking about “them” taking things.

    Someone else called the poster on it; his response was a familiar one to anyone who’s spent any time on this site (or to Criswell fans): “can you prove he didn’t say it?” Well, yes; yes, I could.

  5. avatar
    justlw January 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Oh, and the fake Gandhi quote has always annoyed me, because it’s almost invariably used in the context of ridiculing your opponent; it’s self-canceling. Not to mention that comparing oneself to Gandhi is beyond smug.

  6. avatar
    Graham Shevlin January 24, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    None of this use of made-up quotes surprises me. I have had to correct at least 3 of these kinds of fake quotes on Facebook in the last 9 months. People are willing to believe any quotation as long as it appears to support their worldview.
    The interesting thing is what happens when I correct the posters, or point them to sources that explain the made-up nature of the quotation. The liberal and progressive people say something like “really? Thanks, I’ll go check it out”. The authoritarian and GOP partisans say “<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>”. Every damn time. I find that instructive.

  7. avatar
    Rickey January 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    justlw:

    Someone else called the poster on it; his response was a familiar one to anyone who’s spent any time on this site (or to Criswell fans): “can you prove he didn’t say it?”Well, yes; yes, I could.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that yours is the first reference to Criswell I have seen on this site. I have a copy of his first book, “Criswell Predicts.”

  8. avatar
    Scientist January 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    “First they ignore you” appears to come from an address by a US labor leader, Nicholas Klein, to the Amalagamated Clothing Workers in Baltimore in 1918

    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=firt+they+&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4TSND_enUS450US450&q=first+they+ignore+you+&gs_l=hp..2.0l4.0.0.0.5599………..0.&pbx=1

  9. avatar
    Lancelot Link January 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    As Benjamin Franklin said, “Quotes you read on the internet are often false.”

  10. avatar
    Keith January 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    The ‘other’ fake Jefferson ‘quote’ that is often falsely attributed to him has to do with describing majority rule as akin to mob rule (I don’t have it exactly now). Monticello cannot find it among Jefferson’s writings. The earliest reference anyone can located is a book by a sovereignist tax-protester.

  11. avatar
    Bob January 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    The unintentional use of fake quotes is quite fitting for Birthers and Birtherism in general.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Not quite, my friend:

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2012/05/new-jersey-purpura-appeal-filed/

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2012/05/new-jersey-purpura-appeal-filed/#comment-186765

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/quote-of-the-day/quote-of-the-day-volume-7/

    Rickey: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that yours is the first reference to Criswell I have seen on this site. I have a copy of his first book, “Criswell Predicts.”

  13. avatar
    aesthetocyst January 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Yessir, the Ministry of Truth has been crowdsourced, and the crowd has been busy!

    The fascination with appropriated opening quotes has a long tradition. Everyone loves a snappy line, all the better when attached to a Big Name. But when placed front and center … like benedictions? Greek plays open with’em. Athletic contests do the same. It’s appropriation of legacy. I remember the (now-embarrassing) ritual of picking just the right quote to kick off a paper with in college. Every paper had to have at least one. A great procrastination tool. Now, older and wiser, I just cut the sh*t and get to it.

    I’d like to think that most of the misquotes are mistakes. Honest misattributions, or, more likely paraphrases that lost their ‘para’s somewhere along the way. No one would just make something up, that would be lying, right? I wish.

    What’s really funny about the phenomenon is … there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the phrases, it’s the borrowing of the names that’s the problem! The ‘author’s are simply too cowardly to invoke their own authority. It’s an admission: “Hey, don’t blame me, I didn’t say it. It’s Gandhi’s/Jefferson’s/Yahweh’s Law man. I’m just the messenger!”

    There’s an endless book/blog project out there for someone, in outing misquotes. Once a misquote is published online, it’s out there, and spreads like crazy. The online quote dictionaries themselves are among the worst offenders! If it isn’t cited to a verifiable original source, let it lie, I says.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Truth
    http://ministryoftruth.dailykos.com/
    http://chinadigitaltimes.net/china/ministry-of-truth/

  14. avatar
    Rickey January 24, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Not quite, my friend:

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2012/05/new-jersey-purpura-appeal-filed/

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2012/05/new-jersey-purpura-appeal-filed/#comment-186765

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/quote-of-the-day/quote-of-the-day-volume-7/

    I should have known better!

    I’ll have to check and see if Criswell ever made a prediction about a black president.

  15. avatar
    Daniel January 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Another common but incorrect attribution is

    “I cannot tell a lie” George Washington.

    The whole Cherry Tree incident is a complete fabrication

  16. avatar
    Rickey January 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Here Loren Collins discusses one of the more ubiquitous phony quotations to be found on right-wing websites. It also has made its way into home-schooling textbooks, and P.J. O’Rourke (as Loren notes) used it in one of his books.

    http://www.lorencollins.net/tytler.html

    About a decade ago, before I was aware of Loren’s research, I exchanged a number of e-mails with a librarian at the University of Edinburgh. The university has a copy of pretty much everything that Tytler ever wrote, and she told me that she spoke with several members of the faculty who are knowledgeable about Tytler who told her that he never wrote anything like that.

  17. avatar
    justlw January 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    aesthetocyst: Athletic contests do the same.

    Oh gosh, “athletic contests” reminds me of one of my all-time favorite misquotes:

    Semi-governor Palin, in her wonderfully-named memoir Going Rogue (referring to elephants that go insane and trample friend and foe alike in their unreasoning frenzy), opens each chapter with an epigram. Former hoopster that she is, she couldn’t help but include a quote from the late, great roundball coach John Wooden:

    Our land is everything to us… I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it–with their lives.

    Yessiree; the floor of Pauley Pavilion is lacquered with the blood of our ancestors. Uh, what? This doesn’t sound very coach-y.

    Annnd… it isn’t. Turns out the quote was actually from Native American activist John Wooden Legs. Curse you, partial search match!

    The full quote:

    Our land is everything to us. It is the only place in the world where Cheyennes talk the Cheyenne language to each other. It is the only place where Cheyennes remember the same things together. I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it–with their life. My people and the Sioux defeated General Custer at the Little Big Horn.

    You betcha!

  18. avatar
    RoadScholar January 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    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 is 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 doing he does not wrong his neighbor. Persecution is bad because it is persecution, and without reference to which side happens at the moment 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, or substitutes hatred of men because they happen to come in a certain social category, for judgement awarded them according to their conduct.

  19. avatar
    Paper January 24, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

    -Neil deGrasse Tyson

    http://www.hbo.com/real-time-with-bill-maher/episodes/0/201-episode/synopsis/quotes.html

  20. avatar
    Paul January 24, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Daniel:
    Another common but incorrect attribution is

    “I cannot tell a lie” George Washington.

    The whole Cherry Tree incident is a complete fabrication

    THAT’S A LIE!@!#@!

  21. avatar
    Kris January 24, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    justlw: Oh gosh, “athletic contests” reminds me of one of my all-time favorite misquotes:

    Semi-governor Palin, in her wonderfully-named memoir Going Rogue (referring to elephants that go insane and trample friend and foe alike in their unreasoning frenzy), opens each chapter with an epigram.Former hoopster that she is, she couldn’t help but include a quote from the late, great roundball coach John Wooden:

    Yessiree; the floor of Pauley Pavilion is lacquered with the blood of our ancestors.Uh, what?This doesn’t sound very coach-y.

    Annnd… it isn’t. Turns out the quote was actually from Native American activist John Wooden Legs.Curse you, partial search match!

    The full quote:

    You betcha!

    Kinda reminds me of that other Repub brainiac, Michele Bachmann, who proudly announced that she and John Wayne were both from Waterloo, IA. Oops……..she forgot it was that other John Wayne. Ya know, the Gacy guy.

  22. avatar
    Keith January 25, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    Keith:
    The ‘other’ fake Jefferson ‘quote’ that is often falsely attributed to him has to do with describing majority rule as akin to mob rule (I don’t have it exactly now). Monticello cannot find it among Jefferson’s writings. The earliest reference anyone can located is a book by a sovereignist tax-protester.

    The actual quote is: “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.”

    Here is the Monticello discussion of the quote: Spurious Quotations: Democracy is nothing more than mob rule…

    It appears that the quote should be actually attributed to Ken Schooland in 2004, a Paulist Libertarian from Hawai’i. A looooonnnnngggggg way from Thomas Jefferson (and also no evidence of my original tax-protestor description – sorry if I offended Mr. Schooland).

  23. avatar
    Lupin January 25, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    Sadly the TR speech at the Sorbonne in 1910 is often (mis)used today by racist/xenophobes to mean “have more white babies if you don’t want the brown people to win” — or words to that effect.

  24. avatar
    Lupin January 25, 2013 at 3:15 am #

    Dear Dr. C:

    Why not use this Quote on your website:

    “If, after hearing one of my speeches, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while.”
    Orly Taitz.

    (The real quote says songs, not speeches, and is by Tom Lehrer, of course.)

  25. avatar
    The Magic M January 25, 2013 at 4:22 am #

    Scientist: “First they ignore you” appears to come from an address by a US labor leader, Nicholas Klein

    Orly can always fall back to Robbie Williams:

    First they ignore you
    Then laugh at you, and hate you
    Then they fight you
    Then you win

    (Robbie Williams – First they ignore you)

  26. avatar
    roadburner January 25, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    Lupin: Dear Dr. C:Why not use this Quote on your website:“If, after hearing one of my speeches, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while.”Orly Taitz.(The real quote says songs, not speeches, and is by Tom Lehrer, of course.)

    or to maybe be inspired to poison a pigeon

    :D

  27. avatar
    Lupin January 25, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    Maybe the Tom Lehrer quote should be transformed a notch further:

    “If, after hearing one of my speeches, just one white person is inspired to say something nasty to a colored person, or perhaps to strike one or burn a cross on their lawn, it will all have been worth the while.”
    Orly Taitz.

  28. avatar
    charlene January 25, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Taitz is mentally sick. Like the rethug party extremists that do no reconize the truth. She has built up a fantasy world based on nothing except her fantasies. This world dissolves like sugar in water when faced with real facts.

    Now, normal people see this and understand the different between fact and fiction. Taitz does not, neither do extremists. So they continue on with more and different extremists, losing credibility along the way.

    Several years ago she would have had a decent crowd standing with her. This week she had 2 and we aren’t even sure about the second person. No credibility, no respect. Her excuse is that Obama has kept her supporter away with threats. She doesn’t even stop to think how stupid that sounds.

  29. avatar
    The Magic M January 25, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    charlene: Her excuse is that Obama has kept her supporter away with threats.

    It’s kinda inconsequential how the Big Bad Obama Regime [tm] makes a lot of efforts to keep a handful of birthers from wandering the streets of DC, yet seems a-OK with a thousand birthers spreading the “truth” to millions of people on the interwebs.

    That’s the point that always puzzles me; even if you take a conspiracy theory as true in its core, it *still* doesn’t manage to be logical, consistant and understandable.

    Here’s a simple birther conspiracy theory that is compatible with most facts (though not all):
    “A Barack Obama born abroad (not necessarily Kenya) took the identity of a Barack Obama born in Hawaii and nobody has found out yet.”
    This theory does not require any vast conspiracy, or corrupt courts, or a conspiring Congress. Only some stretches of the imagination and the generic “you can never prove anything beyond even the most remote doubt”.

    This is vastly different from the actual birther theory “Barack Obama was born in Kenya, then somehow got a Hawaiian BC in 1961, then somehow still had to forge a Hawaiian BC in 2008/2011 although Hawaiian authorities were ready to vouch for him no matter what, yet still had to steal somebody else’s SSN and successfully used it with his own name, so the entire government must have been in on it from the moment of his birth (yet he still had to steal somebody else’s SSN and forge… oh, never mind already) etc.”.

    And that’s the point where you can distinguish a real conspiracy (Iran-Contra affair, Watergate (?) etc.) from nutjob ramblings. The former is internally consistent and falsifiable, the latter isn’t.

  30. avatar
    Rickey January 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Here is a fake Jefferson quotation which is making the rounds on Facebook: ” “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

    http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/strongest-reason-people-to-retain-right-to-keep-and-bear-arms-quotation

    When people I know post things like that I always ask them “Who would you take up arms against? The local police? The National Guard? The U.S. Armed Forces?” They never have an answer, of course.

    People who complain about “tyranny” in the U.S. government have no idea what real tyranny is.

  31. avatar
    Northland10 January 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    “People who complain about “tyranny” in the U.S. government have no idea what real tyranny is.”

    They keep giving the President mythical tyrannical powers yet he cannot stop the House from playing chicken with the economy.

  32. avatar
    donna January 25, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Rickey: When people I know post things like that I always ask them “Who would you take up arms against? The local police? The National Guard? The U.S. Armed Forces?” They never have an answer, of course.

    People who complain about “tyranny” in the U.S. government have no idea what real tyranny is.

    seriously!!!!!! can you imagine? so here you are with your assault weapons and 100 round drums “walking the perimeter” of your property unaware that a military sniper is one mile away with you in its sight – or an undetected drone overhead – this is the most ridiculous argument for protection against “tyranny”

  33. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny January 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    justlw:
    Another faux Jefferson I saw recently:

    This was pretty obviously not real to my ear; as far as I’ve ever noticed, Jefferson was not one for epigrams, nor for talking about “them” taking things.

    Someone else called the poster on it; his response was a familiar one to anyone who’s spent any time on this site (or to Criswell fans): “can you prove he didn’t say it?”Well, yes; yes, I could.

    Every Man has two Countries, his own and France.