Saturday, September 25, 2010

Another bogus quote: "It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government."

This quote has long since gone viral, plastered all over the WWW and mistakenly attributed to Thomas Paine. You won't find it in any of Paine's works because he simply never said nor wrote it. The actual quote is (drum roll, please) .....

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” Edward Abbey A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis en Deserto) : Notes from a Secret Journal (1990) ISBN 0312064888


24 comments:

  1. Teabagger Nation, in my experience, tends to be less educated than the general population. Or, in other words, less than moderately educated.

    my 2 cents worth.

    regards,

    Sauerkraut @ litterbox blog.

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  2. Awesome! Thanks for giving credit to Cactus Ed!

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  3. Curious. I heard the quote, attributed to Paine, in my high school American history class. I graduated from high school in 1972

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  4. WHO here is uneducated..? Several have made similar statements:

    http://www.thequotefactory.com/quote-by/edward-abbey/a-patriot-must-always-be-ready/67119

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  5. To "anonymous" ... the most recent one, that is ... the other quotes on that page are also falsely attributed to Paine. He didn't say or write any of them.

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  6. I suppose the faculty at George Mason University are uneducated as well......

    http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/quotes/govt.html

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    1. That page is written and maintained by an economics professor, not a historian...

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  7. Besides, regardless of WHO wrote it, it's the truth.

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  8. With all due respect, Mr. Smith, that would be a "yes" in the case of the individual who reposted this erroneous "quotation" :

    "argument from authority (argumentum ad verecundiam): using the words of an "expert" or authority as the bases of the argument instead of using the logic or evidence that supports an argument. (e.g., Professor so-and-so believes in creation-science.) Simply because an authority makes a claim does not necessarily mean he got it right. If an arguer presents the testimony from an expert, look to see if it accompanies reason and sources of evidence behind it."

    I claim that this quotation appears NOWHERE in any of Paine's works, letters or writings of any kind whatsoever. If you believe I'm in error, then kindly post the citation.

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  9. Even if you are correct, Mr. Burchell, aren't you picking at straws? The meanings of “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” and "It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government." are really pretty much the same. So the point being made by that post is valid, despite your liberal objections to a group that is trying to prevent the country they love from being destroyed by liberalism. Jim F.

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    1. Jim F. Thanks for your comment. No, I don't believe it is "picking at straws" to object to Thomas Paine being listed as author of either of these quotes. The fact is that he neither said nor wrote them. And I have provided, moreover, the actual source. Edward Abbey, as you may perhaps know, was noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views. It's interesting that you evidently share his views on government and "patriotism," though I would question the credibility of an anarchist on the subject of patriotism.

      For me, the fundamental issue is the accuracy of the attribution of those quotations to Paine. And I believe I've settled that once and for all.

      With regard to my own political views, it seems that you are making the characteristic "Rightie" assumption that anyone who disagrees with you is a Liberal. I describe myself as a constitutional conservative with 45 years of credentials and track-record to prove it. On social issues I am somewhat libertarian or progressive in the respect that I believe personal conduct should not be regulated except insofar as it affects the lives of one's fellow citizens or children. In economic matters I favor a mixed economy with a balance of free market and regulation to protect it from monopoly, predatory speculation and other destructive and anti-social practices.

      For my part, I don't see the so-called Tea Party as "trying to prevent the country they love from being destroyed by liberalism." I see them generally as a somewhat reactionary mass unwittingly manipulated by wealthy corporate plutocrats.

      Thank you again for your comments.


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  11. Being well-educated does not preclude one from being being misled. You should know, look at the President liberals chose.

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  12. Absolutely true, "anonymous." It IS, however, much easier to mislead the ignorant -- just look at the Right in this country.

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  13. Why fixate only on the Right? Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do represent the ignorant Left, do they not?

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    1. Believe me, I am no fan of the Democratic Party or its leadership. The offending (to my mind anyway) Paine misquotes have been, however, predominantly from Right Wing, Tea-Party type sources.

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  14. But didn't Thomas Paine say this:

    ".......it is the nature and intention of a constitution to prevent governing by party, by establishing a common principle that shall limit and control the power and impulse of party, and that says to all parties, thus far shalt thou go and no further. But in the absence of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle governing party, party governs principle. An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

    –Thomas Paine, A Dissertation on the First Principles of Government (1795)

    http://harpers.org/blog/2007/07/paine-on-the-mistreatment-of-enemies/

    I know this was Paine on the mistreatments of enemies and he even mentions the revolution of France in it, as an example. But I believe this (atleast to me) identifies with what Edward Abbey is saying about protecting ourselves against a government without principle, which, according to Thomas is a party that governs principle instead of principle governing party. However, I know that in the immediate context Thomas is indeed speaking on revolutionary acts that are ran by part instead of principle. Be that as it may, I see the principles ruled by parties instead of principles ruling the parties as something happening now?

    Tell me your thoughts on this Kenneth. Thanks

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  15. Thanks for your thoughtful note. The second half of the first quote is one of my favorites. The question is, first and foremost, whether Paine actually wrote or stated the quote in question attributed to him all over the internet and in other print materials. That issue has been indisputably disposed of in the negative.

    Would Paine have agreed with the sentiment? Probably.

    For my part, I see parties AND governments ruled by economic power. IOW, from my viewpoint your question about "the principles ruled by parties instead of principles ruling the parties" is a false dilemna -- both parties AND government have been usurped by adverse economic power.

    Thanks again for your note.

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  16. I can agree on that. It was indeed a mis-attribution to Paine. However the context of the content wasn't far off at all. Both were advocates against tyrannical governments. By saying this I'm not giving the misquote a pass but I am saying if people wanted to use Thomas Paine, they must quote him correctly because it would seem to me that he would be a great person to use to support their cause against a government one may precieve as tyrannical. Thanks for your thoughts Kenneth!

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  17. Sounds like of bunch of folks are ready to have the government be their masters in order that they may be taken care of.

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  18. Ok ... to all who have protested my use of the term "tea-bagger" in the original post, it has been duly expunged.

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  19. A truth that depends on something some dead guy said is not "self-evident" to the person seeking the truth.

    Liberals have a better understanding of what constitutes "freedom" than a person who tries to control the lives and behaviors of his neighbor (i.e., a conservative) ever will.

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