“The cool thing about the internet is that you can write anything and quote anyone.” — Abraham Lincoln
Obviously, this notion isn’t true, especially if you’re in the public eye and regularly fact-checked.
As President Trump arrived in Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted a wise and timely quote.
“Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.” -Chinese Proverb
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 11, 2018
Upon further investigation, however, this quote doesn’t actually appear to be a Chinese proverb at all. In fact, no one quite knows where it comes from, and it is often attributed to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, but there is no evidence supporting that either.
Quote Investigator suggests that it first appeared in 1903, in a periodical called The Public, from Chicago, and referred to the innovations taking place during that time.
In 1962, another periodical, Adult Leadership, printed the quote using the familiar and politically incorrect joke setup “Confucius say…” Jokes that began that way would be grammatically incorrect and often vulgar.
The quote that Ivanka Trump used is also raising a few eyebrows in and of itself. No one has said that meeting with the dictator of North Korea couldn’t be done, but there have been plenty of questions as to whether it should be done.
Ronny Chieng, a correspondent on The Daily Show, tweeted, “This is NOT a Chinese idiom,” and he’s not the only one to call out Trump on her quote.
Three minutes of googling suggests this is a fake Chinese Proverb. It seems in fact to be American from the turn of the 20th c.—which makes sense, since its spirit is can-do Americanism. But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit? https://t.co/bqjbZhXlQr
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 11, 2018
Not a Chinese proverb. Try harder.
— John Lusins MD (@DRJOLT) June 11, 2018
Something I just came up with:
"Ivanka Trump can't Google."
— Ghost of Joad (@Ghost_Of_Joad) June 11, 2018
Maybe next time, she will fact-check herself before she tweets — a lesson we all have to learn at some point.
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