08 March 2017

Imbecilic Sayings Attributed to Abraham Lincoln [1991]


[8 March 1991]
W
hen I was riding home on the bus from downtown a lady about three seats back from me started reading from the paper some wise words from Abraham Lincoln—at least that’s what she said. Actu­ally they are some maxims penned by a minister during World War I to discourage workers from becoming socialists or going on strike. It is filled with imbecilic sayings:
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class ha­tred.
You cannot establish sound social security on borrowed mon­ey.
and so on. During World War II some home-grown right-wing groups, for reasons best known to themselves, revived this thing, and attributed it to Abraham Lincoln. Although it seems like it would be obvious to the meanest intellect that Lincoln never came within shooting distance of the thing, it has been reprinted and reprinted as his in periodicals ranging from Look magazine to Analog Science Fiction. This most recent appearance turned out to be in a piece by an advice columnist, Ann Landers. I may add that it has been repeatedly refuted, so that it seems to me that there is no excuse for continuing this fraud. If these people really think this crap is worth printing, then I think they should reprint it with its author’s name attached (William Boetcker, or something like that). Nobody ever does. Personally I think the only reason this crap seems worth repeating is that Lincoln supposedly said it.

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