Readers comments 12-12-14
[Editor’s note: We had a speech in 1933, then another in 2014. But somewhere between, things got muddy. It was a misquote, then an incorrect correction to the misquote and now some correct corrections to the double misquote. Let me simplify it by saying, “We really flubbed this one up.” Apologies to Ambassador Marks and to our readers. As always, thanks for keeping us on our toes but, mostly, thank you for reading. —KD]
In his December 5 letter, Claremont resident Don Fisher corrects the COURIER’s attribution of the famous “nothing to fear but fear itself” to John F. Kennedy, noting that Ambassador Edward Marks, speaking at Temple Beth Israel last month, had correctly attributed it to Winston Churchill.
I wasn’t there, so I don’t know whether the Ambassador had it right or not, but the quote (“the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself”) is from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933. This being Claremont, I’m sure others will write on this as well. This being Claremont, it’s important to get it right.
Don Fisher is correct (“A misquote,”December 5) that it was not John F. Kennedy who said that we have nothing to fear but “fear itself.” He is not correct, though, in attributing those words to Winston Churchill.
Instead, we owe that memorable turn of phrase to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who uttered them at the beginning of his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933. “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper,” he said on that occasion. “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
Susan McWilliams Barndt
It was Franklin Roosevelt who said in his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He swiped it from Francis Bacon, who, 310 years earlier, wrote, “Nothing is terrible except fear itself.”
As a member of the steering committee of the Brenda Rosenfeld Shabbat Scholars Series at Temple Beth Israel, I would like to set the record straight regarding the quote referenced by Ambassador Edward Marks during his recent talk.
Ambassador Marks correctly attributed the quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was not JFK as your reporter noted, nor Winston Churchill as was suggested in last week’s letter to the editor. This now famous phrase was part of FDR’s First Inaugural Address given on March 4,1933.
Look. I’m generally a tolerant guy, usually willing to overlook any number of foibles and just plain errors, but the madness has to stop!
First, Sarah Torribio, in a November 28 article about a lecture by former ambassador Edward Marks at Temple Beth Israel, tells us, quoting the speaker, that there is little hope for a peaceable two-state solution between Israel and Pakistan.
I am willing to accept that this is technically true though, I suspect, it has less to do with politics than with the fact that the countries are over 2000 miles apart. Then Ms. Torribio attributes the statement that, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” to John F. Kennedy. This is not true, technically or otherwise, unless “Ich bin ein Berliner” has been retranslated. (The quote is actually, “The only thing we have to fear is…fear itself” but, as I said, I’m generally not a quibbler.)
Finally, Don Fisher writes a letter, published the following week, to correct the record, at least as to the quote. He tells us he was at the lecture and clearly heard Ambassador Marks attribute the statement correctly in Mr. Fisher’s opinion, to Winston Churchill? What? Really? Are you kidding? People, we can do better than this. The quote is not from JFK or Churchill (nor is it from Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Will Rogers or Benjamin Franklin, though these are always good guesses and might earn you at least partial credit on a test even if you’re wrong). No, the quote is from Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his first Inaugural on March 4, 1933.
You may have heard of him: Great Depression, World War II, New Deal, elected president four times, has his picture on the dime. Trust me, I’m not making this stuff up. Watch it on YouTube if it will make you feel better. This used to be called common knowledge but is, apparently, no longer. I suppose, as Ronald Reagan (or was it Will Rogers?) liked to say, “Trust but verify.”
The good news is that there will a retest next week and all the old scores will be thrown out. I trust everyone will do better.
I was surprised and disappointed to learn that there are at least four individuals (Don Fisher, Ambassador Marks, the author of your article, and the person who printed Mr. Fisher’s letter) that did not know that the very well known statement “all we have to fear is fear itself” was the high point of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address delivered in 1933. It is arguably his most famous and quoted statement.
For those of you who weren’t around in 1933 he was referring to fear in the hearts of the American people, caused by the Depression, that led them to distrust not only the government but the banks and other businesses that were keys to the recovery of our economy.
In the Readers’ Comments for December 5, a letter mentioned a misquote, but the misquote was misquoted! The quotation “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” is actually “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and it was spoken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933. Neither Kennedy nor Churchill is the source of this quotation.
With all due respect to my friend Ambassador Ed Marks, and to Don Fisher’s letter in the December 5 edition of the COURIER, the true source of the famous quote “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” is neither Winston Churchill nor John F. Kennedy. The famous statement came from first Inaugural Address by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 4, 1933, according to Samuel Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Volume 2: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York, Random House, 1938) pp. 11-16.
Contrary to a recent article and a recent letter, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is correctly attributable neither to John F. Kennedy nor to Winston Churchill, but to Franklin Roosevelt in his First Inaugural.
James Van Cleve
COURIER reporter, Ambassador Marks and Mr. Fisher are incorrect about the famed origin. PM Winston Churchill is said to be the second-most (and incorrect) guess.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (first) inaugural speech on March 4, 1933 contains the line, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
An Internet search easily reveals the full speech and recorded audio/video of the FDR delivery. The line is near the speech’s beginning.
Turkey trot a success
The members of the Claremont Sunrise Rotary want to thank all who participated in our seventh Annual Turkey Trot. It was another huge success with nearly 2,300 runners and picture-perfect weather. It was a great start to the Thanksgiving weekend!
We couldn’t have done it without the help of over 100 volunteers and Rotarians and their family members. It was great to see members of many of the different teams and players that our Claremont Youth Sports Scholarships (CYSS) program support, help make our day safe and successful.
Leo Bister has, again, given many voluntary hours this year sharing his valuable experience in the area of running events.
We also thank the city of Claremont and, in particular, Loretta Mustafa, Maria Tipping and DeLisa Bryant in the engineering department. And, thanks to Lori Davenport and all of her colleagues in the Claremont Police Department for helping to make the Turkey Trot one of the safest runs in California.
When we started this Turkey Trot, the economy was in the midst of a financial meltdown. Claremont Sunrise Rotary members went out into the community and still found willing sponsors to support our cause. Many of those sponsors have continued to support us and new ones have joined us to increase our budget over previous years.
Every dollar raised goes directly to our support of the many projects and programs that Claremont Sunrise Rotary and Rotary International support. We will spend over $15,000 this year on the CYSS fund that started with this run seven years ago and on other community youth sports scholarships and activities. Since our inception we have granted over 1,000 scholarships to local teams and athletes to pay for registration fees. Including this year’s effort, we have raised over $100,000 in total funding of youth sports and academic scholarships within our community.
Claremont Sunrise Rotary is also part of a world community. We provide books to a girls’ school in Tanzania, remove land mines in Cambodia, and install water tanks in Africa. And, Rotary International is fast closing in on the complete eradication of polio from the world.
The Turkey Trot is now a personal and family tradition in Claremont which continues to be enjoyed by so many and gives back so much to our community.
Fury over Ferguson
Douglas Lyon and Hayden Lening (COURIER, December 5) fail to understand the basic point of the Ferguson protests.
Mr. Lening says “Three separate agencies investigate this shooting and clear Officer…” There has, in fact, been only one legal venue: the grand jury proceedings. Moreover, the officer could not be “cleared” there—that can only happen by a not guilty verdict at a trial and a grand jury proceeding is not a trial. There is no judge to rule on matters of law and there is no opposing attorney to contest witnesses and testimony.
A grand jury is completely a prosecutor’s show and the aim is to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed so that a trial can be arranged. This particular prosecutor, known in advance to be a notorious police advocate (and who refused to recuse himself), did everything he could to make sure that no charge was brought against Wilson: he perverted the point of grand jury hearings by acting as the officer’s defense attorney.
Mssrs. Lyon and Lening have been conned exactly as the prosecutor conned the grand jury.
Note: Mr. Lening thinks it cute to refer to progressives as regressives. But that is a fool’s game—it can easily be turned on the perpetrator as in “We shall no doubt be hearing more from Mr. Lemming.”