The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald has a characteristically comprehensive post up at slate, demolishing the fakery behind a supposed quotation from Abraham Lincoln (see also Carpetbagger and others). Here’s what
Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.
Sound familiar? No surprise, it has been galumphing around the conservative noise machine for some time now. Frank Gaffney used it as an epigraph for his latest column in the
This "quote" was first attributed to
The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.
There’s an admirable review of the whole business at Factcheck, including also a discussion of the question whether
Factcheck does leave one curious fact in evidence but uncommented-on. Specifically, they quote an email from Waller:
Oddly, you are the first to question me about this . I'm surprised it has been repeated as often as you say. My editors at the time didn't think it was necessary to run a correction in the following issue of the magazine.
But per Factcheck, the article first appeared on December 23, 2003. The Insight piece broke on August 25, 2006. Factcheck recounts that the quote was used in a National Press Club Speech on May 24, 2006, as a slam against Democratic Congressman John Murtha, then a candidate for reelection. I wonder if Waller ever troubled himself to consider blowing the whistle on himself? Or why his editors “didn’t think it was necessary to run a correction”—until, that is, Factcheck showed up at their door with the goods.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
Heady stuff, but indisputably bogus. It was written by one Ted Perry, apparently then at the
In the winter of 1971/72, Ted Perry, a screenwriter working for the Southern Baptist Convention's Radio and Television Commission, used Chief Seattle's speech as a model for the script of a film on ecology called _Home_. The film's producer wanted to show a distinguished American Indian chief delivering a statement of concern for the environment, so Perry wove such wonderful lines as "The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth" among pieces of Chief Seattle's 1854 oration. Perry expected to be given credit for writing this film script, but he made the mistake of including the Chief's name in his text. According to Perry, the producer didn't credit his screen writer because he thought the film might seem more authentic without a "written by" credit.
Note some common themes here: in each case the writer acknowledges the writing, but says the misattribution wasn’t really his fault. But in each case, the bogosity seems to take on a life of his own.
Crap Detector Footnote: In each case, there are clues that ought to give the reader grounds for skepticism. “Chief Seattle” (Perry) says:
I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.
In fact, there are no