Skip to comments.Obama Stopped Using MLK's Oval Office Rug Quote After Notified in 2008 of 'Borrowed' Origin
Posted on 09/04/2010 10:50:00 AM PDT by kristinn
The news of Barack Obama's new Oval Office rug containing a favorite quote used by Obama that he attributed to Martin Luther King was taken from a sermon by 19th century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker has taken an interesting twist with research by Freeper Enchante (and Hot Air)showing that in 2008 Obama stopped using the quote in stump speeches after his presidential campaign was informed its origin by Unitarian Rev. Matt Tittle:
In April, during the presidential primary season, I perked up from the usual din of campaign rhetoric when I heard then-candidate Barack Obama say (referring to Dr. Martin Luther King's words):
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
I perked up because over a year earlier, in January of 2007 on MLK weekend, I wrote and delivered a sermon titled, Keepers of the Dream, in which I researched the origin of that very phrase, which Dr. King did use often, but which was not original to him.
Unitarian Universalists have long known that the original author of "the arc of the moral universe" was nineteenth-century Unitarian minister, Theodore Parker. The problem was that very few people knew the published origin of the phrase. Indeed, if you search the internet, you will find more attributions to Dr. King and uses by Barack Obama, than Theodore Parker.
Parker's actual quote was this:
I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.
Theodore Parker, "Of Justice and Conscience," in Ten Sermons of Religion, (Boston: Crosby, Nichols, & Company,1853).
Fast forward to April 2008, when I heard Barack Obama attribute the quote to Dr. King...I immediately emailed the Obama Campaign the actual citation in the interest of accuracy. Just a point of information.
I have no way of knowing if the Obama Campaign ever attended to my email. I'd like to think so. What I do know is that I cannot find an instance of Barack Obama using "the arc of the moral universe" after April 2008....until the evening of November 4th in his victory speech at Grant Park in Chicago, when he said (referring to the historic election):
Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
Maybe the Obama Campaign did get that email! They changed the arc of the moral universe to the arc of history and bent it toward hope instead of justice.
NPR interviewed a King scholar who said he's not aware of any instance where King acknowledged the quote as being borrowed from Parker.
Also of note is that a contemporary of Parker's, Abraham Lincoln, also borrowed from Parker. Lincoln's "of the people, by the people, for the people" also featured on Obama's Oval Office rug originated with Parker.
Good find! Gotta run...
Shades of the little guy on laugh in, holding the cigarette between thumb and first finger, saying ‘Veeeery interesting.’
“....My investigation into this error led me to David Remnick’s biography of Obama, “The Bridge,” published this year. 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.”
Thanks for sharing your research! Very interesting.
Not surprising. The jerks in this Admin and their minions are incapable of an original thought.
Since clearly the Ivy League can't even do a google search.
The jerks in this Admin and their minions are incapable of an original thought.
Now then, hasn’t Biden ‘borrowed’ quite a few of them?
He also had an original thought here:
No else EVER came up with that thought!
Wow, never invite that guy to a party. He’ll insult all your guests.
MLK used the phrase and there was no copyright on it so attributing it to MLK is no big deal.
It does prove that Obama is an idiot, but we knew that already.
Copyright or not, failure to attribute is wrong. You'd think someone like our president who claims all those legal and scholarly credentials, not to mention a Nobel Prize, would be a bit more fastidious, if out of scholarly habits learned at Columbia and Harvard if nothing else.
He stole a speech from Duval Patrick but Patrick being such a good guy told him.......no problem!!!!
Ha ha ha, actually David Axelimprod gave the same speech to Obambi and Patrick.
Or is it Patrick Duval?
In a legal “copyright’ sense no violation, but as to plagiarism, that is a differnet story.
Have you seen the new link on Drudge that is questioning an incorrect Roosevelt quote, too? The link is bad, unfortunately.
Barry can’t even draft his carpet correctly without the aid of his former ghostwriter Bill Ayers. Bill would have caught the error if he were still Barry’s closest advisor/mentor.
There are some phrases that begin to embed themselves into the culture. After a time everyone knows them and no one knows where they came from.
One of the remarkable things about internet search functions is that it makes it possible to trace a phrase to everyone who has ever used it. Even at that, I’m surprised when someone is able to find who originally used it. Good job.
I’d like to think something I wrote was plagiarized; I got off what I thought was a pretty good zinger one day on a thread here in FR, and a couple of hours later the very same zinger was in a speech during the convention... it made me sit up in my chair. Then I thought, first, the speech had to have been written days before. And, secondly, in retrospect, it was a pretty obvious joke, probably a lot of people thought of the very same thing. Still, I enjoyed giving myself credit.
That actually happens from time to time, it makes me think people beyond our circles actually read FR and steal “inspiration” from some of the things we write. I enjoy thinking so, in any case.
There’s an article on Drudge that insinuates that the Roosevelt quote may be incorrect, also. The link is dead, though. Do you know anything about that?
This douche can’t seem to do anything right - not even buy a freakin’ rug.
good thread, thanks for the ping!
when will someone ask Obama at a press conference why he can’t do elementary research on his quotations?
oh, wait, he’d need to actually hold a press conference and then we’d need someone in the servile WH press corpse to ask the question
ain’t gonna happen
Every pearl of wisdom ever uttered by a human being probably originated from the Scriptures.
I don't consider throwing out old antiquated sayings without attribution to be plagiarism.
At some point they simply become Maxims.
Example: the apolitical will likely never hear this story though a google News search reveals some MSM mention -- including the Las Vegas Review-Journal! Warning! Warning! Stop thinking about this story you'll get sued . . . .
Also doubting your blanket “scriptures” claim, maybe some, but “ever uttered”, Jeez.
The second mistake is a Teddy Roosevelt quote taken completely out of context. President Obama had the Oval Office renovated. Good for him. But there is a controversy. Naturally. It concerns a quote on the rug by Teddy Roosevelt: The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally on the welfare of all of us. Over at the Huffington Post, the quote is considered an endorsement of socialism. But Susan Shelley at America Wants To Know said the quote is taken out of context. Great detective work by a great thinking American. We know the speech today as the The Square Deal speech. Readers may decide for themselves: Don Surber has posted the transcript of the entire speech, which ends with this: The death-knell of the Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.
I didn’t even know Value City Furniture sold rugs like that one.
The only type of justice referred to in a Biblical context is one of eternal justice, not justice in an earthly context. There are many bad things that happen in this world that are never “justiced.”
If Obama wanted a quote from a black preacher for the carpet, it would have been much safer to have quoted Jeremiah Wright—Wright’s not likely to have plagiarized from a 19th-century white guy.
He stole a speech from a CARTOON for God’s sakes!!!
and no one complained.
Didja see the political cartoon and Obama’s words lined up side by side???
Didja see the video where he had to start his “quote” over, to get it right ???
Very very interesting moment from early 2008 ...
Or Anyone who can answer this: Now whenever Obama leaves the W.H. for Chicago (or wherever they move at the end of his reign), is he planning to take that Rug with him? (I can’t imagine another Pres. on the face of this Earth who would want to look at it day after day. Can Obama do that? If so, he’d better damn well pay for it!
Teddy R. was something of a “progressive” for his day but certainly did not believe in the socialist-communist redistributionist schemes of the Obamanation
ridiculous to tear that TR quotation out of its legitimate historical context and make TR out to be a supporter of Obama’s schemes
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