Nothing has summed up Ben Carson’s perplexing presidential bid better than his closing address at the Republican debate on Saturday, which included a fake quote from Joseph Stalin.
“This is the first generation not expected to do better than their parents,” Carson began. “Some people say it’s the new normal. But there’s nothing normal about it in an exceptional America. I, like you, am a member of we, the people, and we know that our country is headed off the cliffs.”
Everything is still fine at this point, but Carson couldn’t help himself and let a little bit of Stalin slip out.
“Joseph Stalin said if you want to bring America down you have to undermine three things—our spiritual life, our patriotism, and our morality,” Carson confidently stated.
The only problem with this quote from Stalin is that it is apparently completely made up.
Any quick Google search of the quote’s origins would lead Carson to discover that the line comes from an image that was passed around on Facebook and in the chain emails grandparents send around to family members.
“America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within,” the fake quote goes.
This is not the first time Carson or his supporters have shared literature from prominent figures that ended up being figments of someone’s imagination. Members of National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee passed around leaflets at CPAC in 2015 with a line falsely attributed to French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville. He also slightly misspoke the Preamble to the Constitution in a January debate.
“You know, we have this manipulation by the political class and by the media telling us who we’re supposed to pick and how we’re supposed to live,” Carson said on Saturday night, pivoting away from dictators. “We, the people, are the only people who determine that. And if you elect me as your next president, I promise you that you will get somebody who is accountable to everybody and beholden to no one. Thank you.”
Beholden to no one, that is, besides conservative Internet memes that misquote major historical figures.