Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Lincoln quote

Much has been made by those on the Right recently (and continues to be made) about the Lincoln "quote" advocating death to those who criticize in time of war. However, as is so often the case... it's all lies and [UPDATE:] long ago debunked.

As Glenn Greenwald said:

Frank Gaffney, one of the country's most influential and well-connected neoconservatives, has a column in today's Washington Times in which he argues that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason. Gaffney specifically argues that the condemnations of Douglas Feith from Sen. Rockefeller Levin "really should be a hanging offense."

Gaffney begins his column by purporting to quote Abraham Lincoln. Gaffney claims that Lincoln said:

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.
This quote has become a favorite weapon for those who want to criminalize criticism of the Leader and the War. Jack Murtha's opponent in the last election, Diana Irey, cited this quote while discussing Murtha's opposition to the war.

But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This "quote" was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits, the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to (h/t William Wolfrum):

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.

UPDATE: Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska just cited the "Abraham Lincoln quote" as part of his remarks on the Iraq Surge Resolution being debated in the U.S. House of Representatives. Link and (hopefully) You Tube clip to follow; though I did not hear it myself, I have heard it from enough people to feel confident stating it.

So, The Washington Times continues to keep the falsified quote up on its site, and a pro-war Congressman now enters it into the Congressional Record in order to argue, presumably, that his anti-war colleagues are commiting treason. That is a fairly significant fake quote to knowingly keep disseminating.

It's clear that they do not care if the quote is true or false. They will just keep using it and it will eventually become true -- that Abraham Lincoln advocated the execution of anyone who opposed wars (even though he himself did exactly that -- see Item 2 above). But Amanda Marcotte used bad words about a religion she does not believe in, and so that is where our real outrage should be focused.


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