Oy. You’d hope that the Rabid Right would learn after a few dozen of these errors that they should try to verify stuff before they claim events of history, or sayings of famous people are gospel — especially stuff involving our patriotic founders.
Sometimes their failure to check sources can produce amusement, though, like this one which they misattribute to Tom Paine in propaganda supporting rent scofflaw Cliven Bundy and other land management issues:
“The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government.”
Someone mildly familiar with Tom Paine and his life and other writings might suspect the supposed attribution from the start. Paine was a great advocate of governments to protect the rights of citizens, especially citizens like him, who were often on the outs with popular opinion and avoided the Guillotine in France and mob violence in the U.S. only through interventions of government officials who told mobs the law did not cotton their wishes to see violence on Mr. Paine.
Wikiquote notes Paine didn’t say it. A simple check would have found that.
But other sites claim it was written by Edward Abbey, the author of Desert Solitaire and The Monkeywrench Gang.
“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
Why is that delicious?
The quote — the image above, for example — is being used by pro-militia groups who have defended Cliven Bundy’s trespassing on public lands in Nevada, and by Texans who, upset that they don’t have such a good target as massive Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings in Texas, have ginned up a faux controversy, claiming falsely that BLM is seeking to seize lands in Texas.
Edward Abbey? He didn’t much like BLM, and he was particularly ticked off at the Bureau of Reclamation and the imposition of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River with the drowning of Glen Canyon. Abbey’s disdain of federal land managers and grand dam schemes may have been exceeded only by his contempt for developers, miners and ranchers who took advantage of the desert for profit.
Would Abbey have supported Bundy’s overgrazing on public lands, or Texas Republicans scrambling to make a false issue to mismanage lands? Oy. Oy. And oy.
See this brilliant poster at Americans Who Tell The Truth:
Wall of Fame (people and sites who got the cite right):
Wall of Shame (people and sites who got the cite wrong):
- 2012 Patriot
- RobJohn at SodaHead
- The Quotations Page
- (Probably the Heritage Foundation; there’s a graphic with the Heritage.org logo on it, but I can’t pin it down on their site)
- Quotes Wave