From The Mouths Of ? — Does Anyone Check These Things?

Theodore Parker

Image via Wikipedia

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

From the Washington Post comes information about another monumental FAIL of this administration.  Jamie Stiehm on Saturday, September 4, 2010 posted an article that reveals more than those of POTUS’ staff  or POTUS himself (?) desire to be made public.  The revelation shows that someone does not know their history or they have a reading comprehension problem.  Follow on:

A mistake has been made in the Oval Office makeover that goes beyond the beige.

President Obama’s new presidential rug seemed beyond reproach, with quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. woven along its curved edge.

According to the story by Stiehm, some reporters were smug in their self-assurance (as the administration surely was) the attribution of each quote was spot-on.  Well NOT.  Major mistakes are woven into the warp and weft of the rug.  No doubt the mistakes will be expensive to remedy and if the administration members responsible for getting the quotes correct,  got them wrong, we sap citizens will pay more for what may amount to vanity on the part of some ignorant soul who should have known better.

Let us see more of what the article reveals:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” According media reports, this quote keeping Obama company on his wheat-colored carpet is from King.

But, it is not from Reverend King … not even close.  The quote came from someone who had a long connection with people going back to long ago Boston and a grandfather who  led the Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington.  Stiehm provides the following to explain:

For the record, Theodore Parker is your man, President Obama. Unless you’re fascinated by antebellum American reformers, you may not know of the lyrically gifted Parker, an abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker who foresaw the end of slavery, though he did not live to see emancipation. He died at age 49 in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War.

Reverend King had a passing and worthwhile acquaintance with the words of Parker and used the quote on more than one occasion:

… Often he’d ask in a refrain, “How long? Not long.” He would finish in a flourish: “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

It happens that another black, described as eloquent in  his speeches, and given credit for being an accomplished orator, also used the words of Parker quoted above.  Neither he, nor his biographer, David Remnick in his book, “The Bridge,” managed to assign the correct attribution.  We speak of  President Obama and Jamie Stiehm further says:

… Early in the narrative, Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, presents this as “Barack Obama’s favorite quotation.” It appears that neither Remnick nor Obama has traced the language to its true source.

Parker said in 1853: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one. . . . But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

So, we lay one puzzle’s solution to rest, thanks to Ms. Stiehm, but we still have to wonder how this oddity managed to sneak past the guard at the quote gate.

You can read more and gain some sincere appreciation of Ms. Stiehm’s work on this matter.  She is far more gracious regarding this silly error than I  have been, but then she makes the bucks, while I might look for flattened pennies on a railroad track.  Flap of the cap to her in any event.

Click here for the complete story.  Oh yes, here’s a blog that indicates that because King took Parker’s quote and rearranged it a small amount, it is in fact, King’s quote.  That Cuckoo won’t lay in any victim’s nest.