One of the best ways to present an argument is to find people that are not usually in your camp and quote them back to your opponent.
Too many writers I know spend most of their energy quoting people that are identified as in their camp. I tell them to stop using our guys to make a point. It’s better to find support material from the other side of the ideological fence.
For example, I love to quote the evolutionist Richard Dawkins against other evolutionists. Sometimes my opponent will say that Dawkins doesn’t represent all evolutionists. I agree and then go on to say, “Until one of your books reaches best-seller status, Dawkins represents the face of modern-day evolution advocacy.”
Here are a few politically incorrect quotations that I’ve collected that might not find acceptance today among the liberal gate keepers. They might even make a liberal’s head explode.
President Harry S. Truman
“The most important business in this Nation — or any other nation, for that matter — is raising and training children. If those children have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong. I don’t think we put enough stress on the necessity of implanting in the child’s mind the moral code under which we live.
“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.
“If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”1
Chief Justice Earl Warren
“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. . . . Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia. . . or to the Charter of New England . . . or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay . . . or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut . . . the same objective is present: A Christian land governed by Christian principles. . . .
“I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people. . . .
“I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”2
Ted Koppel of Nightline
“What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions. They are commandments. Are, not were. The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify in a handful of words acceptable human behavior, not just for then or now, but for all time. Language evolves. Power shifts from one nation to another. Messages are transmitted with the speed of light. Man erases one frontier after another. And yet we and our behavior and the commandments governing that behavior remain the same.”3
This isn’t to say that these men actually followed through consistently with their statements, but it is interesting how even liberals realize that morality is neither arbitrary or man-made.
- Harry S. Truman: “Address Before the Attorney General’s Conference on Law Enforcement Problems” (February 15, 1950). [↩]
- “Breakfast in Washington,” Time, February 14, 1954, 49. Quoted in Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die: Ten Warning Signs of a Culture in Crisis (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), 253. [↩]
- Ted Koppel, The Last Word, Commencement Address at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (May 10, 1987). Quoted in Robert H. Bork, The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law (New York: The Free Press, 1989), 164. [↩]