Two weeks ago I asked readers to submit their favorite quotations on the subjects of peace and dissent. I was inundated by some wonderful contributions on those topics, and related ones such as patriotism, politics, tyranny, and George W. Bush himself. The submissions are still flowing in, and I encourage you to keep sending your favorite bits of wisdom, especially now as we seem to be on the eve of an ill-conceived war and need all the intelligence and thoughtfulness we can muster. I will be publishing them on a continuing basis, along with some of the great political posters and handbills of the last century.
As Günter Grass said, "The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open." Here's to all the great citizens, past present and future.
WAR & PEACE:
"Let us not look not back in anger, or forward with fear, but around in awareness." -- James Thurber
"You can't shake hands with a clenched fist." --Indira Gandhi
"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it." --Dwight D. Eisenhower
"In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children." -- Herodotus
"War does not determine who is right but who is left." -- Chinese Proverb
"Entangled by the bonds of hate, he who seeks his own happiness by inflicting pain on others, is never delivered from hatred." -- Buddha
"Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures, peace is our gift to each other. -- Elie Wiesel
"I can think of no faster way to unite the American people behind George W. Bush than a terrorist attack on an American target overseas. And I believe George W. Bush will quickly unite the American people through his foreign policy." -- Henry Kissinger, in 2000
"Today the world faces a single man armed with weapons of mass destruction, manifesting an aggressive, bullying attitude, who may well plunge the world into chaos and bloodshed if he miscalculates. This person, belligerent, arrogant and sure of himself, truly is the most dangerous person on Earth. The problem is that his name is George W. Bush, and he is our president." -- Jack M. Balkin, Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School
"The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative nature of the whole world." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." --John Adams
"Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn't stand on the doorstep with toothbrush mustache and swastika armband -- it creeps up insidiously step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realizes that it is gone." --Baron Lane
"Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us?" -- William O. Douglas
"Lately, I feel like the loneliest man in America. Frankly, I've never worn red, white, and blue that well. I grew up during the Vietnam War and whenever I see a flag decal I subconsciously superimpose the caption: AMERICA--LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT across the bottom stripe. Back then, as now, it was suggested by some that second-guessing our leaders in a time of crisis was unpatriotic if not downright treasonous. ...In spite of our worst intentions and ignorance of our own history, our Constitution has, thus far, proven resilient enough to withstand anything that we throw at it, including ourselves. ...It was framed by men whose names we are taught to remember by rote: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Aaron Burr. ...In times like these, it is also important to remember the names of John Reed Emma Goldman, Abbie Hoffman, Bobby Seale, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King ... those who defended those same principles by insisting on asking the hardest questions in our darkest hours. God bless America, indeed." -- Steve Earle
"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." --George Bernard Shaw
"There would never be a moment, in war or in peace, when I wouldn't trade all the patriots in the county for one tolerant man. Or when I wouldn't swap the vitamins in a child's lunchbox for a jelly glass of compassion." -- E.B. White
"The very existence of the State demands that there be some privileged class vitally interested in maintaining that existence. And it is precisely the group interests of that class that are called patriotism." --Michael Bakunin
POLITICS & TYRANNY:
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." -- H.L. Mencken
"There is no crueler form of tyranny than which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." -- Baron de Montesquieu
"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth." -- Adolf Hitler
Thank you to everyone who sent in quotes, especially Michael Nellis, Frances Tait, Fred Jakobcic, Trina Semorile, Michelle Bright-O'Russa, Dorothy Martirano, and Melissa Julius.
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