Allen West's New Book-Shaped Object Full Of Slavery And Fake Founding Fathers Quotes
Allen West's terrible new book is finally out, although the cover photo has beenkicking around since November. Frankly, when we saw articles about West's "new book" we thought maybe this was a rushed sequel. But no, it just turns out that West's exciting memoirfesto, Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin's Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom, only slithered onto bookstore shelves on April 1. Somehow, the anticipation between the release of the cover image and the actual collection of typed pages managed not to kill us. So now that the rough beast has slouched into Amazon, what is in this tome? Would you believe "fake quotes from the Founding Fathers" and "stupid slavery analogies"? We bet you would!
The Palm Beach Post found that the book is just chock-full of quotes that are often attributed online to various Founders, but which turn out to be bogus. This should be a good lesson for anyone writing a term paper or a blog post: Almost nobody actually said anything the internet thinks they did, especially if they were Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, or George Carlin. Among the bogus quotes the paper found:
“Thomas Jefferson said it first: ‘A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it away,’” West writes.
The quotation doesn’t appear in Jefferson’s writings, according to researchers at the Charlottesville, Va.-based Thomas Jefferson Foundation. But variations of it have appeared on coffee mugs and T-shirts with Jefferson’s name and have ricocheted around the Internet enough that the foundation included it in a “Spurious Quotations” list of popular sayings misattributed to the Declaration of Independence drafter and third president.
The Post also found three other fake Jefferson quotes from that list. Astoundingly, the paper was unable to get any comment from West, his co-author Michele Hickford, or Crown Publishing about these and other inaccurate quotations found in the book.
West isn't the only politician to be fooled by a dubious quotation; Barack Obama and John McCain have both used a supposed George Washington line that also made its way into West's book:
"the willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
Protip: if the language sounds modern and snarky, that increases the likelihood that it's not a real quote. For the Washington one, you might well ask why our nation's first general would have had a great deal to say about the treatment of previous wars' veterans.
And guess what? Lincoln never said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” But West says he did. At least in this case, it's a sort of paraphrase of something Lincoln did say, only he said it like some kind of mid-Nineteenth-Century kind of guy would have, in an 1838 speech:
All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years...
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
But the other version fits a lot better on a bumper sticker.
West also includes a fake quote from Alexis de Toqueville about majorities always voting for candidates who give them free stuff (the fake version at least tries to sound old-fashioned), and a fake quote from Patrick Henry, who definitely did not ever say "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government,” though it sure sounds good and Patrick Henryish.
When it comes to his own ideas (with the ghostwriting help of Michele Hickford, of course), West definitely sounds authentic, at least, like when he doubles down on what slavery means. He begins with yet another Presidential Quote, a real (but out of context) one for a change:
“When Booker T. Washington talked about education, self-reliance and entrepreneurship, he was describing economic independence. But the Great Society has left a legacy of economic dependence, a new form of slavery, and to me, a far more dangerous one, because it destroys the will and determination to excel. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, welfare is “a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.”
The Great Society has turned out to be a big lie, and sadly, those in my community who bought into it are stuck on the twenty-first-century plantation.”
Of course, if you look up the actual speech in which that Roosevelt line appears, you find that Roosevelt isn't talking about throwing people off of relief, to make do on their own -- he's talking about the government providing jobs instead of a dole, "for the United States to give employment to all of these three and one half million employable people now on relief, pending their absorption in a rising tide of private employment." Kind of a difference there.
So sure, the Great Society was terrible, because it helped people eat, and made out-of-context Roosevelt cry. But that's not all, you see. It also was slavery, very literal slavery:
“The Left and its black gatekeepers went absolutely apoplectic some months ago when I used the word enslavement. But you tell me a better description for what social welfare dependence breeds. To me it’s worse than physical enslavement, because it enslaves human spirit. It destroys the will and determination to seek improvement and a better life.”
Yep. Literally worse than actual slavery. We'd find that a lot more convincing if West had maybe thrown in a fake Frederick Douglass quote for support. Surely he could find one online if he tried.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.