[Originally posted 30 June 2010]
ver at my other blog, Fake History, I get a certain amount of traffic, and even an occasional commenter. Yesterday some guy calling himself “David d” left a comment on my entry about a quotation falsely attributed to George Washington:
What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.
I pointed out there that the fake is based on something George Washington did say during a difficult meeting with a delegation of Delawares intent on preserving the peace with the Euro-American colonists:
You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ.
Nothing here about students, American schools, or the like of course. As I pointed out in my entry it would be an unlikely topic for George Washington to have commented on, given the circumstances of his time and place. I noted that as the “American schools” quotation is fake, and apparently recent, I felt no need to research its actual provenance, beyond noting that the earliest source Google Books could come up with was a 2006 book by a guy named Bob Klingenberg.
Now this David d got all bent out of shape about this simple declaration, and he showed up crowing:
You really need to learn to perform some due diligence before you write of things you no [sic] very little about.
You misleadingly wrote, “The fake quotation is very modern, probably twenty-first century in origin. I’ve made no special effort to run down its history; the oldest reference Google Books turned up was from 2006, in a book called Is God with America? by Bob Klingenberg (p. 188)”
That set off the “truth alarm”. So I did just a little research NOT using google which many believe has a liberal bias programmed into its search engines. And found a reliable source going back over 70 years. Nice try.
Now I have to say that that would have been interesting. Not impossible by any means, but interesting. Some fake quotations do indeed lurk for long periods of time in obscure corners of the intellectual web, before springing out to ensnare the unwary. And reliable sources sometimes do transmit unreliable information.
But this was not such an example, alas. No, David d was so colossally inept that he got caught in a trap of his own making. His reference for the fake quotation? It was Fitzgerald’s edition of Washington’s papers, the very source I linked to in my entry, and it did not contain the fake quotation at all, but only the genuine one, as I’d already explained ad nauseam.
What the hell was David d thinking (assuming that that isn’t giving him too much credit)? Did he suppose that nobody would check up on him? Fitzgerald’s edition is actually online, so there is no difficulty in checking it out. I can only assume that our clueless clown was just making things up and hoping nobody would actually call him on his bluff. Clearly his claim to have done “just a little research” was a vast overstatement, unless his definition of “research” is “bullshitting”.
Now David d adds a crowning touch to his display of ignorance and incompetence. Allow me to let him hang himself with his own words:
You know a big problem I have with many skeptics and naysayers is their willful ignorance on many topic that they pretend to know something about.
Read the facts man!
Ah, yes, the infamous Wallbuilders site, the source of so many lies and misinterpretations. That’s really convincing.
But—and this is the cream of the jest—David d apparently never bothered to check out his own link. Because Wallbuilders does not back him up on this fake, not in the least. What’s given at his link is the same genuine quotation given by Fitzgerald and by my own site, and not the fake quotation at all.
Epic fail, David d—and, by the way, I don’t believe for a moment that you are really the homeschooling advocate whose name and email address you’re using. I took a brief look at his site and I doubt that he’d be either as incompetent or as, well, illiterate as your comment is.
Peace off, man.
[Ed Darrell added this comment to the original post:]
And the rest of the story . . .
Various Delaware tribes fought on both sides of the American Revolution, in the Ohio Valley. Washington was constantly working, as the leader of the Continental Army, to secure agreements with these tribes that would either keep them from aiding the British, or get them to help out the rebels.
Several of these tribes had converted to Christianity in the previous 100 years. One group wished to avoid attack by the colonists, the rebels, and so struck a bargain with the Americans. The bargain was sealed, the Delawares thought, with their sending their first-born sons to live and learn with the colonists.
The sad coda is this: Despite the agreement (and perhaps with some provocation, but probably not), the colonists set on this village of Christian Delawares in about 1782, and wiped them out—every man, woman, child, horse and dog.
Some Christians, those colonists. Some example to follow.