Zombie Quotes

zomby1Here is our official list of zombie quotes: fake quotations that have no real life of their own, but still shuffle hungrily about the Internet, preying on unsuspecting authors. We started this page to give ourselves and other editors a quick place to check on famous quotes that are just too good to be true.

Some quotes are repeated so often on blogs and bumper stickers and even books that you can hardly be blamed for thinking they’re the real, living things. So, editors, before you let a quote stumble through into publication, remember to check its pulse.

Supposedly by George Washington

“I didn’t fight George III to become George I.”

Supposedly by Abraham Lincoln

“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace, and it conspires against it in times of adversity. It’s more despotic than monarchy. It’s more insolent than autocracy. It’s more selfish than bureaucracy.”

zombies2

Supposedly by Benjamin Franklin

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”
(Indeed, the word “lunch” probably first appeared in this sense in the 1820s.)

Supposedly by Samuel Adams

“It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

Supposedly by Thomas Jefferson

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
(This one may actually originate in a 1961 Quaker text, The Use of Force in International Affairs.)

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations which grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

“I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a money aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”

“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but the newspapers.”

“The best government is the government which governs least.”

Supposedly by Thoreau, in response to Jefferson

“Then the very best government would govern not at all.”

Supposedly by Mark Twain

“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”
(This one has over a million hits on Google, but it’s still a low-down dirty fake.)

Supposedly by Alexis de Tocqueville

“America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
(This probably originates in the September 6, 1922, editon of the Herald and Presbyter.)

Supposedly by George Orwell

“He who mounts a wild elephant goes where the wild elephant goes.” (For a detailed dissection of this zombie, click here.)

Supposedly by Napoleon Bonaparte

“We often get in quicker by the back door than by the front.”

Supposedly by John F. Kennedy

“I want to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
(This quote is first found in a New York Times article from 1966, three years after JFK died. Zombie Kennedy wants braaaiiiinnns!)

Supposedly by Allen Dulles (supposedly discussing the Warren Report)

“But nobody reads. I don’t believe people read in this country. There will be a few professors that will read the record … the public will read very little.”

Supposedly by Mahatma Ghandi

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
(This one might originate with Nicholas Klein, a trade unionist who said something very similar in 1918.)

Supposedly by WWII-Era Japanese Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

“You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

Supposedly by Thomas Sowell

“There are no solutions, only tradeoffs.”
(Many people say he says this, but it’s nowhere in his writings. It’s possible he said it in an interview somewhere.)

Supposedly by Joseph Goebbels

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


Killed any literary zombies lately? Let us know in the comments!

For a detailed exposition of one undead quote and one trick for identifying these horrors, check out Mike’s “Beware of Zombie Quotes” post.

8 responses to “Zombie Quotes

  1. Pingback: How to Recognize a Zombie | Invisible Order

  2. How about all the Benjamin Franklin misquotes supposedly attributed to the seldom-heard “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.”:

    They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.
    He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.
    He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.
    People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.
    If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.
    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
    He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.
    Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither.
    Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.

  3. Here are some fakes that our fellow libertarians like to push around:

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    ~ Not Gandhi

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

    ~ Not Franklin

    America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

    ~ Not Tocqueville

    The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace, and it conspires against it in times of adversity. It’s more despotic than monarchy. It’s more insolent than autocracy. It’s more selfish than bureaucracy…. Corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow.

    ~ Not Lincoln

    No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

    ~ Not Twain

    You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.

    ~ Not Yamomoto

    And these gems from Not Jefferson:

    Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

    If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations which grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

    I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a money aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.

  4. Oh yeah, one I forgot:

    It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.

    ~ Not Samuel Adams

  5. Pingback: 9/11 at 13: No Big Deal | The Libertarian Liquidationist

  6. The “while the legislature is in session” quote isn’t from Twain, but I believe it is real. I believe the source is Judge Gideon J. Tucker of New York, c. 1866, and the quote actually starts “No man’s life, liberty or property … .”

    That was my conclusion researching it a very long time ago, but I’m afraid I no longer have the relevant references. A quick search, however, found information on it in the Wikipedia entry for Tucker.

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