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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rand Paul's Fake Quotations

Many posts have discussed fake quotationsAt Buzzfeed, Andrew Kaczynski and Megan Apper write an open letter to Senator Rand Paul about his use of fake quotations:
Just this week you released a new book, Our President &Their Prayers: Proclamation of Faith by America’s Leaders, with co-author James Robison who “compiled and edited” the text. It too is full of fake quotations.
If you Google the language of the “National Prayer of Peace,” which you attribute to Thomas Jefferson, the first result is a page from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation debunking the quotation.
When we called Harold Holzer — who’s written 50 books on Abraham Lincoln and is the one of country’s foremost Lincoln scholars — to ask about a Lincoln quotation in your book, he replied, “Oh, not this again.”
You wrote that Lincoln said, “I know there is a God, and that He hates the injustice of slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and a work for me, and I think He has, I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but truth is everything. I know I am right, because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God.”
Holzer was clear.
“I hope Sen. Paul can find another Lincoln prayer to console him because Lincoln never uttered anything like this,” Holzer said. “It’s totally apocryphal. ‘Do unto others’ was more in Lincoln’s line. Not this.”
The quotation that leads off your chapter on George Washington — “let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ” — is also fake. The source comes from a prayer book, The Daily Sacrifice, commonly attributed to Washington by evangelicals and conservative politicians, despite the fact it’s been routinely discredited by scholars.

The book does contain a real quotation from Reagan's 1983 Evil Empire speech.
And finally, that shrewdest of all observers of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, put it eloquently after he had gone on a search for the secret of America's greatness and genius—and he said: "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness and the genius of America. . . . America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
But the real Reagan quotation includes a fake Tocqueville quotation.  As many posts have explained, the "America is good" line is totally bogus.