Request: Historically embarrasing quotes.

Hi all,

I’m looking for some quotes from famous and respected people that showed the inherent bias of their times. ie: women are inferior, blacks are inferior, gays are inferior etc.

I would like them to be as recent as possible and from RESPECTED people, not the ranting loony fringe.

Its to demonstrate just how much society has changed with respect to these issues.

I’m off to the library now to borrow “the mismeasure of man” so i should have plenty of meat for the race issue but I would appreciate any good quotes for the other categorys.


From “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*
But Were Afarid to Ask,” by David Reuben, M.D. (1969):

“If a homosexual who wants to renounce homosexuality finds a psychiatrist who knows how to cure homosexuality, he has every chance of becoming a happy, well-adjusted heterosexual.”

“Ich bin ein Berliner”

Or “I am a jelly donut”

Said by JFK at a speech in Berlin. The Germans of course knew what he was trying to say, but still it’s kinda funny.

No it has nothing to do with race or culture bashing.

I’m not sure what you mean by recent. 20th century?

“Three generations of imbeciles is enough.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Buck v. Bell, a Supreme Court case rejecting a constitutional challenge to a sterilization law for the “mentally unfit.” The plaintiff, a woman accused of being retarded, was sterilized. Researchers later discovered that she was not, and neither was anyone in the “three generations” Holmes referred to. Holmes has lots of juicy little things like this; you may want to look into him.

Another judge saying questionable things is Justice Harlan. His dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the “separate but equal” case upholding segregated schools, is famous for its theory of a colorblind constitution. But this colorblindness is buried in white supremacy rhetoric.

Those are both fairly old. Early 20th century and late 19th century, respectively.

You could probably find some great stuff about homosexuality by looking into the murder of Harvey Milk (IIRC) – the “Twinkie defense” case.

I don’t know about Kennedy’s quote. I’ve got two cites that say his grammar was correct. Given, they both reference the same original article (which, by the way, I can’t read), but lest I hear different from a German, I’m going to remain unresolved on this one. Anyone able to transliterate the phase?

Coileán is right, Kennedy’s grammar was correct. I am German, and I had heard that quote many times before I even realized that it could have a double meaning. That was when I heard this joke about it:
Why did they have to open Kennedy’s grave?
They forgot to put the jelly in.

But I’ve got a really embarassing qoute by the German President Heinrich Lübke (1959-1969):
“Meine Damen und Herren, Liebe Neger”, which means “Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Negroes”.
He said that 1962 in Liberia, adressing some of the most important African statesmen.

Arthur C. Clarke:

Richard M. Nixon (President): “The average American is like a child in the house of his father.”

Didn’t Chamberlain proclaim, “We shall have peace in our time”?
I think that’s what he said.

It’s tough to top Thomas Jefferson’s comments about blacks if you’re looking for some material that’s almost painful to read:

Earl Butz, who was Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon and Ford, and a supreme good old boy, ended his career with a stunning joke that is too offensive to post here.

But not offensive to link to.

Take a look at the Dred Scott case, where the US Supreme Court confirmed that “a slave is not a citizen.”

Or Plessy v. Ferguson, 1898, which confirmed that “separate but equal” was just peachy with the (white) Supreme Court.

I imagine you were looking for short, pithy quotes, and you may have to dig thru these sites to find them, but they sure are full of it.

"What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. "

—Dan Quayle

I did hear the Butz joke a long time ago, but I only remember the loose shoes part of it. Obviously, I read censored account.

Nelson Mandela calling Iraq a “black” nation is certainly absurd.

There are lots of tech-related quotes, some misquoted.

In our world, software has to be small, has to be debugged,
has to ship as part of a major initiative, has to avoid
compatibility problems, has to avoid end user calls. - Bill Gates

640K should be enough for anybody. - Bill Gates, 1981

…there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. - Ken Olson, President, Chairman, and Founder of DEC, 1977

I think there is a world market for about five computers. - Thomas J. Watson, chairman of the board of IBM, 1943

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously
considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. - Western Union internal memo, 1876

Not exactly answering the OP, but certainly historically embarrassing:
Gen. John Sedgwick’s last words… “Nonsense, they couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…”
(In response to a suggestion that he should not show himself over the parapet during the Battle of the Wilderness.)

Okay I really should look this up to get it right but I’m too lazy. Any fellow Texans out there to help me out?

We had a good 'ol boy whose name I think was Clayton Williams. He ran against Ann Richards for governor of Texas during the Bush administration. Anyway he was refering to something that was inevitable and he said, “It’s like rape, if it’s going to happen anyway you may as well sit back and enjoy it.”

Of course, he got raked over the coals by rape support groups and NOW and his campaign took a serious downward spiral from there. I wonder if he sat back and enjoyed it.