And I Quote……. (1 cent)

In 1942, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. published the first edition of its “A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles from Ancient and Modern Sources”, selected and edited by H.L. Mencken. The books has 1347 large pages. And the year is 1942 (that’s important to what follows).

I looked up “Jew”. I found four pages of quotes. They include the following:

“It lifts forty sins from the soul to kill a Jew.” (Ukrainian proverb)

“Cheat a Jew and he will kiss you; kiss a Jew and he will cheat you.” (Russian proverb)

“The peasant earns the money, the noble sends it and the Jew gets it in the end.” (Polish proverb)

“When a Jew smiles at a Moslem, it is a sign that he is preparing to cheat him.” (Moroccan proverb)

“It doesn’t matter; the Jew is burned.” (German proverb)

“When you baptize a Jew, hold him under water for five minutes.” (Bulgarian proverb)

“Anti-Semitism means hating the Jews more than is necessary.” (Anonymous)

“Anti-Semitism is the final consequence of Judaism” (Nietzsche)

Now, to be fair, these are not the only quotes, but I would say that at least 3/4 of the quotations in this section are pejorative. 1942. Heart of the holocaust. Year of the Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution.

The use of these quotations as examples of “Historical Principles from Ancient and Modern Sources” is shocking. Perhaps you would expect this from Mencken, but from Knopf? For an interesting discussion on Mencken and anti-Semitism, see http://libertyunbound.com/archive/2003_02/bradford-mencken.html.

There are many fewer listings under “Christian”. Most of them are positive quotes, only a few being negative (such as quotations by Voltaire, as you would expect). But the most negative is probably this one: “Nothing is thicker than a Christian’s head.”. Its source? You guessed it: (Yiddish proverb)

One of the reasons why the shorter listing of quotations about Christians (which would seem to make no sense, for obvious reasons) is that there are a good number of items listed under “Christianity” [There is only one quotation under the “Judaism” category, and that by a not too friendly Christian bishop.] Again, although mixed, most are quite positive, and those which are negative have a humorous bent: “A shipwrecked sailor, landing on a lonely beach, observes a gallows. ‘Thank God’, he exclaimed, ‘I am in a Christian country’.” (author unidentified).

And what about the quotes under the term “Negroes”? I won’t even go there.

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