Voltaire isn’t source of a popular conservative meme, critics claim

A popular conservative Internet meme commonly attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire is being questioned for its authorship after the Paris terrorist massacre – and liberals are pointing the finger at a white supremacist tract from 1993.

The quote is a favorite among conservatives – for obvious reasons. Remember those glowing days of 2009 when late-night TV hosts were afraid to make fun of the newly elected fraud from Illinois?

And that popularity makes it a target for the left. On Sunday, Mediaite published a column questioning whether Voltaire ever said the words, though it sounds enough like him.

Instead, the quote is attributed to Kevin Alfred Strom longtime leader of the white supremacist movement who served 23-month prison sentence for possession of child pornography.

OK, maybe that’s not nearly as cool as if it came from some world-renowned figure from the French Enlightenment, and it’s not even clear how it got attributed to Voltaire in the first place. Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein and a whole host of geniuses get attributed quotes all the time. (That “definition of insanity quote” from Einstein, for instance, is neither an Einstein quote, nor the definition of insanity.)

But does the source change the truth of the statement one bit?

Here’s the suspected source of the quote, according to Mediaite’s Evan McMurry.

From Strom 1993 essay, “All America Must Know the Terror that is Upon Us.”

(Note the “cop-killing” in the last sentence.)

To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize? We all know who it is that we are not permitted to criticize. We all know who it is that it is a sin to criticize. Sodomy is no longer a sin in America. Treason, and burning and spitting and urinating on the American flag is no longer a sin in America. Gross desecration of Catholic or Protestant religious symbols is no longer a sin in America. Cop-killing is no longer a sin in America – it is celebrated in rap “music.”

Does Strom’s background matter as to whether that’s all true?

Willie Sutton was one of the most famous criminals of the 1920s – an age chock-a-block with famous outlaws. He spent more than half his life in prison, and was nobody’s idea of a model citizen.

But when he said he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is,” nobody called him a liar.

Truth is like that.

 

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