03 March 2015

Walking with Harry


I
nfinitely receding lines. Space and time incoherent. No turning back. I am writing words with the usual hope that somehow they will make sense—that I will hit on a theme of some kind. Something to justify the act of writing.
I went for a walk today with my dog Harry (as I do every day) and we took one of his favorite walks across Capitol Highway, up Galeburn, down a flight of 135 steps, across a middle school campus, and up Maricara to the Maricara Natural Area—a 17 acre park consisting of second-growth forest with a small stream running through it. It was a nice reasonably sunny day—very springlike—but I couldn’t enjoy it altogether as my head is hurting. Circling around on the paths in the park I wondered about how the hell we’re going to get money for next month’s rent, why David Barton would tell such an easily refuted lie as the one he told recently about an AIDS vaccine, why some other idiot would think that the US going after ISIL would offend Iran when Iran and ISIL are mortal enemies, and whether I couldn’t get some kind of entry out of that. (I couldn’t.)
Damn my head is hurting.
Shafts of light from the setting sun lit the trees sharply from one side, casting long evening shadows. There were other people out wandering along the paths between the trees, but they mostly didn’t concern us. Harry and I took the path along the east side of the park, where the neighboring houses are clearly visible through the evergreens, and I have to duck sometimes to avoid low-hanging parts of trees. There are roots pushing up through the path along in here, and it’s necessary to watch your footing.
Temporal worries thrust out meditations about forgotten texts, and all seem trivial compared to the horrors coming out of India, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. What difference does any of it make if barbarous thugs continue to triumph?
Harry and I came to the end of the park, going out the one legal north exit of the park onto some numbered street, graveled like a driveway. The rest of the trip back is comparatively dull; we’ll go alongside Huber back to Capitol, and then home. Even worries about finances and thugs abroad recede against the present menace of oncoming traffic. No point worrying about tomorrow if today ends abruptly with a tri to the emergency room or instant death. Incoherent time and space. Lines receding infinitely.

02 March 2015

If


I
f your god tells you to hack up some harmless human being for writing or drawing something, you’re probably worshipping the wrong god.
If your god tells you to deny the face of the universe and believe some nonsensical set of fairy tales instead, you’re probably worshipping the wrong god.
If your god tells you that suffering is a good thing, you are definitely worshipping the wrong god.
If your god tells you that making other people suffer is the right thing to do, then you’re not worshipping god at all, but some sadistic being from outside time and space.
If your god tells you to kill your child, and you don’t tell it to fuck off and die, then you flunked common humanity.
If your god curses a fig tree for not producing fruit in the wrong season, then your god is not a god but a petulant child. And it should go without saying that you shouldn’t worship it.
If your god wrote a book that is boring, repetitive, self-contradictory, abysmally ignorant, and vile, and commands you to read it—or worse yet memorize it—then I have news for you. That god doesn’t exist. It’s all a scam, and the priests and mullahs and rabbis and ministers and “scholars” who tell you that your god wrote it are laughing at you for being so gullible as to believe their bullshit. They know better, and you should too.
Selah.

01 March 2015

Derailed

S
till alive, I guess. Maybe I’ll have something or other to say fairly soon, but I don’t right now. I still have a place to live, apparently, but unless something changes quickly I’ll be out on the street by the end of the month. Under the circumstances, focus is hard.
Nonetheless, I don’t see any reason to let things derail me more than usual. I’ve got about a dozen unfinished entries, and the way things are going they’re probably going to remain unfinished. Even so…
Okay, I don’t have any words of optimism right this moment. Horrors abroad, horrors at home, and nothing to look forward to right here and now. I’m going to try to keep the words coming if at all possible, but no promises.
Sorry about the day; maybe the words will flow again tomorrow.

25 February 2015

Fat Product Information

W
ell, I’ve got to say that things aren’t really working out. My living arrangements have abruptly become extremely unstable again, and it’s hard to focus. What was supposed to be a single entry on a familiar fake quotation has expanded into a six-part series with no end in sight, and no guarantee than any of it will be posted. (I had set Washington’s birthday as the outside limit for getting it out, and that has now passed.) I’m feeling depressed and discouraged and trapped.
Not that any of this matters—I learned long ago that my internal emotional landscape has virtually nothing to do with the external world. My roommate just asked me what I was doing, and I answered that I’m writing an entry. Why? he says. I reply by reading what I’m writing to him. This is how desperate I am for material. Or attention, my roommate says. Anything is possible, I suppose.
Words continue to fail me, but I keep putting them out. It’s a narrow line, between the hideous monsters on the one side and the clashing rocks on the other. Output versus putting out. That can’t be right. Quality vs. quantity. Yahweh vs. the serpent. Yin vs. yang.
More will probably follow. Or maybe not. If there are no more words, consider this my farewell.

15 February 2015

And Yet, It Moves



T
his is the celebrated Galileo, who was it in the inquisition for six years, and put to the torture, for saying, that the earth moved. The moment he was set at liberty, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground, and, stamping with his foot, in a contemplative mood, said, Eppur si move; that is, still it moves, meaning the earth.—Giuseppe Baretti
[From The Italian Library: Containing an Account of the Lives and Works of the Most Valuable Authors of Italy (A. Millar, London, 1757), p. 52. This is the earliest surviving account of this incident, published 115 years after Galileo’s death. It’s not likely to be true, but—happy Galileo’s birthday anyway.]

11 February 2015

Another Fake Washington Quotation (What God Wants)


I
‘ve got to say that sometimes it feels like you guys aren’t even trying. While looking for fake George Washington quotations I lurched into this one at a site called Ignorant Fishermen:
Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do—then do it with all your strength.[a]
This is wretched. Pitiful. And no, it’s obviously not Washington’s. Mind you, I went through the motions of consulting the varied online repositories of Washington’s writing. Nothing turned up. I searched on synonyms, combinations of words, phrases. Still nothing. If it’s a paraphrase of something he said, I didn’t find it.
Oddly enough, the oldest posting of this saying I could find anywhere online was at Free Republic on 25 February 2010.[b] The poster called himself The Ignorant Fisherman. When somebody asked him for a source for his quotations (there were several) he replied: Google it.
Never trust a jerk who gives you a Google It instead of a citation.
Out of curiosity I took a look at some of his other (alleged) George Washington quotations. Many of them are familiar, and most of them are legitimate—up to a point. The same goes for his fakes—except for this one, most of them are familiar at any rate. Anyway, here’s a rundown, starting with those that are substantially genuine.
The Ignorant Fishermen (TIF) quotes Washington as saying (sans citation):
I earnestly pray that the Omnipotent Being who has not deserted the cause of America in the hour of its extremist hazard, will never yield so fair a heritage of freedom a prey to “Anarchy” or “Despotism”.
And this is in fact the closing of a letter to James McHenry (17 July 1788), allowing for a word or two being off and the substitution of quotation marks for emphasis. (As usual bold indicates the portion used in the quotation.)
I earnestly pray that the Omnipotent Being who hath not deserted the cause of America in the hour of its extremest hazard; will never yeild so fair a heritage of freedom a prey to Anarchy or Despotism.[c]
The next two items come from Washington’s first inaugural address of 30 April 1789. Presidential speeches, like other official pronouncements, have difficulties of determining actual authorship—many of them are written by, or at least contain significant input from, people other than the person who delivers it. Ghost writing is an interesting occupation; the actual writer is not writing as himself but as somebody else. It lies somewhere in the hinterland between editing and parody, in that the object is to express the (alleged) author’s ideas in a way in which he would have expressed them given the time and the ability without slavish fidelity (as in editing) or outré exaggeration (as in parody). The actual author of Washington’s first inaugural address is believed to have been James Madison. This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to attribute them to Washington; only that the situation is likely to be a bit more complicated than that. Anyway, here is TIF’s version of this next item:
No people can be bound to acknowledge the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.
Other than the omission of the words “and adore” it’s pretty much what the inaugural address actually had:
In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either: No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.[d]
And likewise from that same address (again uncited) TIF has Washington say:
The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.
And here is the first inaugural address a bit further on:
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the œconomy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. [d]
About this next one there are no (as far as I know) caveats or qualifications. TIF quotes Washington as follows:
I am sure that never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.
This one is practically dead on, except for a couple of punctuation differences. Washington in fact wrote in a letter to John Armstrong (11  March 1792):
I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency which was so often manifested during our Revolution—or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.[e]
Next The Ignorant Fishermen presents us with a handful of fragments, one taken from Washington’s General Orders, 9 July 1776, about chaplains, another taken from a routine reply to a church offering its congratulations (19 August 1789), and still another from his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 3 October 1789, written at the request of Congress.
A parenthetic note about military orders: I personally object to quoting them as the words of the officer involved, simply because they are often actually written by subordinates and merely signed by the guy in question. And they tend to be pragmatic instructions, not well considered expressions of opinion or the result of deep thought on a subject. You might as well quote interoffice memos or grocery lists. But anyway, TIF has a fragment (uncited of course) from Washington’s General Orders of 9 July 1776:
The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.
The subject of this section is chaplains; the full context is more or less self-explanatory:
The Honorable Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, with the pay of Thirty-three Dollars and one third per month—The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives—To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises: The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger—The General hopes and trusts, that every officer, and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.[f]
Another version of the text has “a Christian and soldier” in place of “a Christian Soldier”.
When Washington was elected the first president of the United States under the Constitution he received many congratulations from people and groups throughout the nation. It appears to have been his practice to reply briefly to each of these communications, recycling at least some of their content while putting his own spin on it. It is from one of these replies that TIF lifted the following phrase:
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.
A communication of 19 August 1789 from the Protestant Episcopal Church had concluded “We devoutly implore the Supreme Ruler of the Universe to preserve you long in health and prosperity, an animating example of all public and private virtues—the friend and guardian of a free, enlightened, and grateful people—and that you may finally receive the reward, which will be given to those whose lives have been spent in promoting the happiness of mankind.” George Washington picked up on this wish in his reply:
The satisfaction arising from the indulgent opinion entertained by the American People of my conduct, will, I trust, be some security for preventing me from doing any thing, which might justly incur the forfeiture of that opinion. And the consideration that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected, will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former, by inculcating the practice of the latter.[g]
Official proclamations (like presidential addresses) have the difficulty of determining actual authorship in any meaningful way. Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation of 3 October 1789 was ordered by Congress and is in the hand of William Jackson; how much of it is Washington’s is anybody’s guess. TIF gives this snippet from it:
It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.
This is from the first clause of the proclamation, which reads
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”[h]
I’ve dealt with this elsewhere, and I’ll probably write about it again some foul day. But anyway, the fragment is reasonably accurate, though it should have been presented as a fragment, not a stand-alone item. But whatever.
The next item is one of those “quotations” remembered by somebody else after a lapse of time. In this case the author is Gouverneur Morris, recalling something Washington supposedly said a decade before. TIF gives it like this:
If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The rest is in the hands of God.
Now historians differ as to its authenticity. I’m inclined to reject it, myself, for two reasons—first, the lapse of time makes it unlikely that Morris would remember the exact wording of the thing. And second, it comes from a goddamn funeral oration. In my observation, funeral orations rank with sermons as unreliable vectors for accurate transmission of quotations. It’s like the rules don’t exist at such times. You say something nice about the guy even if you have to make it up. Maybe Morris remembered something of the sort—or maybe he flogged his memory until it produced something suitable. Anywhere, here is the context:
Americans! let the opinion then delivered by the greatest and best of men, be ever present to your remembrance. He was collected within himself. His countenance had more than usual solemnity; his, eye was fixed, and seemed to look into futurity. “It is (said he) too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.” This was the patriot voice of Washington; and this the constant tenor of his conduct. With this deep sense of duty, he gave to our Constitution his cordial assent; and has added the fame of a legislator to that of a hero.[j]
The rest of the Ignorant Fishermen’s quotations are fakes. I have dealt with “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible” before, and am in the process of writing in excruciating detail on it again. This particular version goes back to Howard Hyde Russell, a lawyer and founder of an anti-saloon league, who published it in 1893. He gave no authority for it, and as he was born when Washington was cold in his Mt. Vernon grave can hardly have heard it himself.
You’d have to be an ignorant fool to believe that “What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ” was an authentic pronouncement of General Washington, and of course it isn’t. Its oldest appearance is in a 2006 book by Bob Klingenberg, entitled Is God with America? (p. 188). I’ve traced its course through a misunderstanding by David Barton of a passage addressed by Washington (though probably not written by him) to the Lenape in 1779 elsewhere, but as far as this particular fake is concerned, neither Barton nor Washington bears any responsibility for it.
The Weekly World News of 15 May 2001 is the only source I could turn up for this one, given by TIF in this form:
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
For the first sentence I turned up no earlier source. The second is a cliché, and it has been attributed (though on no authority I could determine) to Washington. It has also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln. The final sentence of this goes back at least as far as an 1887 anthology (Mile-stones of history, literature, travel, mythology, sculpture, and art) edited by Frank McAlpine. An anonymous piece called simply “Mother” quotes Washington as saying “I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education which I received from my mother.” Other sources indicate that this was a response from Washington when resolutions of condolence were passed on the occasion of her death, but still another account says that no such resolutions were passed.
And this brings us back to where we came in. TIF finally has something unique, a fake quotation that (as far as I can tell) originated with him:
Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do—then do it with all your strength.
It’s not great—but it’s something. Sources follow.

[a] The Ignorant Fishermen, “Christian Quotes from President George Washington,” The Ignorant Fishermen Blog, 4 July 2013.
[b] The Ignorant Fisherman, “A Few Quotes from George Washington,” Free Republic, 15 February 2010.
[c] “From George Washington to James McHenry, 31 July 1788,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series, vol. 6, 1 January 1788 – 23 September 1788, ed. W. W. Abbot. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997, pp. 409–410.
[d] “First Inaugural Address: Final Version, 30 April 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 2, 1 April 1789 – 15 June 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987, pp. 173–177.
[e] “From George Washington to John Armstrong, 11 March 1792,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 10, 1 March 1792 – 15 August 1792, ed. Robert F. Haggard and Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002, pp. 85–87.
[f] “General Orders, 9 July 1776,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 5, 16 June 1776 – 12 August 1776, ed. Philander D. Chase. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, pp. 245–247.
[g] “From George Washington to the Protestant Episcopal Church, 19 August 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 3, 15 June 1789–5 September 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989, pp. 496–499.
[h] “Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 4, 8 September 1789 – 15 January 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, pp. 131–132.
[j] Oration upon the Death of General Washington, Delivered at the Request of the Corporation of the City of New York On the 31st of December, 1799, by Gouverneur Morris.

10 February 2015

Fake History: George Washington's Prophecy

D
id George Washington foresee a United States of Europe modeled after the United States of America?
No. Not as far as we know, anyway. Obviously many things are possible, but all other things being equal, we have to stick with what the historical record shows. And the record shows that in this case the whole idea came from a common error—assuming that something put in quotation marks is actually a quotation.
I can’t help but feel that there should be a quasi-quotation mark or something—a way of indicating a degree of removal from the original, a warning that the material enclosed lies in the hinterland between the words of the present writer and those of the original. Evelyn Hall could have used it when she wanted to describe Voltaire’s attitude during a trying episode, and came up with that whole disagree and defend to the death bit.
For this story, however, we need to back up a little, if we want to keep things coherent. Specifically we need to set the wayback machine to 15 August 1786 when George Washington wrote Lafayette about the economic future of their two countries. “Altho’ I pretend to no peculiar information respecting commercial affairs,” he wrote, “nor any foresight into the scenes of futurity; yet as the member of an infant-empire, as a Philanthropist by character, and (if I may be allowed the expression) as a Citizen of the great republic of humanity at large; I cannot help turning my attention sometimes to this subject.” He goes on to reflect that commerce connects mankind “like one great family in fraternal ties” and suggests that “the benefits of a liberal & free commerce will, pretty generally, succeed to the devastations & horrors of war.” He doesn’t, however, have any particular thoughts about a potential United States of Europe.
This letter, however, is only one strand in our story. Another is a book written by Joseph Fabre, a French politician and historical writer: Washington, libérateur de l'Amérique: suivi de Washington et la revolution Américaine, published 1882. In Chapter XI, on the “Bienfaits Dus À La Constitution Américaine” Fabre writes:
Washington et ses amis disaient:
      « Notre exemple prouvera aux hommes qu’ils ne sont pas condamnés à recevoir éternellement leur gouvernement du hasard et de la force, et qu’ils sont capables de se donner de bonnes institutions par réflexion et par choix.
      » Nous avons jeté une semence de liberté et d’union, qui germera peu à peu dans toute la terre.
      » Un jour, sur le modèle des États-Unis d'Amérique, se constitueront les États-Unis d’Europe. »
Yes, there’s going to be French in this account. I couldn’t find an English translation, so you’re going to have to put up with my lame efforts. This translates something like this:
Washington and his friends were saying:
      “Our example will prove to men that they are not condemned to eternally receive their government by chance and force, and that they are capable of giving themselves good institutions by reflection and choice.
      “We have cast a seed of liberty and union, which will grow gradually through the whole earth.
      “One day the United States of Europe will be formed on the model of the United States of America.”
Now the key thing to note here is that the material above is not a quotation, despite being between quotation marks. The words are simply (and this should be obvious) Fabre’s rhetorical device for expressing his views of the significance of the American constitution. But the trouble is—and this is why it would be nice to have some alternate punctuation symbol for this situation—when people see something between quotation marks, they tend to assume that it is in fact a quotation.
In this case the guilty party was Gustave Rodrigues, in a 1917 book entitled Le peuple de l'action: essai sur l'idéalisme américain. On p. 207 he wrote:
Washington écrivait à La Fayette qu'il se condérait comme « citoyen de la grande république de l'humanité » et ajoutait : « Je vois le genre humain uni comme une grande famille par des liens fraternels ». Ailleurs il écrivait, prophétiquement: « Nous avons jeté une semence de liberté et d'union qui germera peu à peu dans toute la terre. Un jour, sur le modèle des Etats-Unis d'Amérique, se constitueront les États-Unis d'Europe. »
Fortunately this time I have a translation available, by Louise Seymour Houghton:
Washington wrote to Lafayette that he considered himself a “citizen of the great republic of humanity,” adding: “I see the human race a great family, united by fraternal bonds.” Elsewhere he wrote prophetically: “We have sown a seed of liberty and union that will gradually germinate throughout the earth. Some day, on the model of the United States of America, will be constituted the United States of Europe.” [pp. 209-210]
In both the original and the translation the notes (which I have omitted) refer back to Joseph Fabre’s book, and it will be observed that the first two quotations are in fact from the letter to Lafayette referenced above (as translated into French), while the “Ailleurs” portion is from the pseudo-quotation expressing Fabre’s own views of what “Washington and his friends” had accomplished.
I don’t know who it was who took the final step of combining this material into a single quotation and referring the whole to the letter to Lafayette, but it turns up so combined (and with a final sentence whose source I have not identified) in a number of French sources. Here it is quoted on page 421 of Christian Godin’s La totalité, Volume 6 (2003):
Je suis citoyen de la Grande République de l'Humanité. Je vois le genre humain uni comme une grande famille par des liens fraternels. Nous avons jeté une semence de liberté et d'union qui germera peu à peu dans toute la Terre. Un jour, sur le modèle des Etats-Unis d'Amérique, se constitueront les États-Unis d'Europe. Les États-Unis seront le législateur de toutes les nationalités.
And here it is in an English (translated?) article by André Fontaine, “Farewell to the United States of Europe: long live the EU!” (21 November 2001) at Open Democracy:
I am a citizen of the greatest Republic of Mankind. I see the human race united like a huge family by brotherly ties. We have made a sowing of liberty which will, little by little, spring up across the whole world. One day, on the model of the United States of America, a United States of Europe will come into being. The United States will legislate for all its nationalities.
George Washington envisioned (though disclaiming any insight into the future) a world in which increasing commercial ties among nations would make war too unprofitable to pursue—a prediction, given the fact of at least three world wars and a host of lesser conflagrations between his time and ours, that proves him as bad a prophet as Alfred Nobel. Joseph Fabre’s enthusiasm made him see the US Constitution as a model for a future Europe, something that (so far anyway) has failed to materialize, as André Fontaine’s article gleefully observed. It was only a misreading by Gustave Rodrigues that created the impression that Fabre’s vision was also Washington’s, a misreading made possible by Fabre’s use of a common rhetorical device. (Which again is one reason I think that a pseudo-quotation mark would be a useful addition to our punctuation arsenal.)
 So, anyway, no—George Washington did not envision a future United States of Europe. What he did envision—a world increasingly interconnected by ties of commerce—has indeed come to pass, and it has perhaps made war less profitable, as he thought. But sad to say “the devastations & horrors of war” have not been eliminated, and while the world may well indeed be in some respects “much less barbarous than it has been” (e.g. the elimination of slavery in many countries of the world) in others (Auschwitz, Nagasaki, ISIL) it is, if anything, more barbarous.
I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s description of the game Keep Tomorrow Dark, or Cheat the Prophet. Clever men explain what will happen in the future, and the “players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say”. And once the prophets have died the players “then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.”
[A blogger at race/history/evolution notes arrived at these same conclusions about the history of this pseudo-quotation on 30 January 2010.]
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