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Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Misquoting the Founders is a Political Epidemic

It’s no secret that the GOP has made a routine out of misquoting the Founding Fathers in support of their political agenda. According to The Washington Post: “Republicans have used incorrect quotes to portray the founders as sympathetic to modern conservatism. Knowing that people derive hope from the words of our founding fathers, Republicans frequently use and misuse their words to garner support for their positions.” Here are just a few of these counterfeit quotations:

“Thomas Jefferson wrote that government is best that governs least.” – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

“Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) claiming to quote George Washington

“As Jefferson said, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)

“Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, said this, ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’” – Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)

“President George Washington said that the right to keep and bear arms is ‘the most effectual means of preserving peace.’” – Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

“The democracy will cease to exist, when you take away from those who are willing to work to give to those who would not.” – Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), claiming to be quoting Jefferson

None of these quotes were said by their attributers yet the Republicans continue to misquote them again and again. Personally, I don’t know what is more embarrassing for these folks, getting tangled in their own misquotes or regurgitating piss-poor research contributions from their staff. Either way, we are on to them. Edward Lengel, a UVA professor who edited George Washington’s personal papers spoke on the irony of this practice. According to him this is the exact type of political propaganda that would have infuriated the Founders: “It’s a betrayal of Washington’s legacy. It’s a betrayal of who he was. He would have been outraged to find people manipulating his words, or making things up, to indicate that he supposedly believed this or that thing.”

I will add that it is also a betrayal of the American voter.

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 9:52 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2011 7:39 AM EST
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