It bothers me when a quote which is truthful is doubted just because the “famous person” the quote is attributed to may not have ever said it.
Truth isn’t propped up by the person who says it; people are raised up by the truth they speak.
It doesn’t matter at all whether Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said: “You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.” At the time, it was a true statement, no matter who said it. If a guy pumping gas at some crossroads in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming said it, it is still true. Even if no one knows for sure who said it, it is true. Someone said it sometime, because there it is, right up there near the beginning of this paragraph. That’s good enough.
Anti-liberty bigots quibble about who said what, because the truth of what was said is inconvenient to their cause. But if they can make the argument about who said it, and make you believe that if Famous Person X didn’t say it, it’s not relevant, then they can fool some people into rejecting the truth. Truth is damaging to the anti-liberty bigot’s cause, because truth is pro-liberty.
So, the next time some anti-liberty quibbler whines that George Washington never said “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” let them know YOU said it. The truth doesn’t rely on who said it, it remains true regardless. Claim all true “spurious quotes” as your own and shut down the bigots.
Oh, but it does matter, because the attribution to a famous person is usually followed by, “And if he said it, it must mean that he was in favor of X (which is something beyond what the quote implies), so X must be a good thing not because I think so, but because he thought so.” Take the Washington non-quote in your post — Washington certainly believed that the right to bear arms was an important civil liberty, but it is doubtful that he approved of armed revolt as a FIRST resort to a perceived abuse of liberty or even… Read more »
I love this post. I have thought the same thing. Apparently, Voltaire never said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That is now attributed to one of his biographers who attributed it to Voltaire, if I remember correctly. Regardless, it’s still a great quote. (No “safe spaces” required!) Apparently, what Voltaire actually wrote was, “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” Nice, but it lacks that Patrick Henry quality.