This is so Orwellian.
On his Facebook page, self-styled “America’s premiere historian” posted this quote attributed to George Orwell.
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
From Barton’s Facebook page:
I searched preview copies of Orwell’s diaries, a book of letters, and 1984 on Google and Amazon. I have a digital copy of 1984. Most of the time, if the quote is sourced, 1984 is the source. The quote is not in there. Otherwise, the quote is simply attributed to Orwell without a source.
I then wrote the Orwell Society for their opinion. Neil Smith, Secretary of the Society wrote back to say:
We do not believe this is an Orwell quote, although the argument is one roughly used in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
It seems that there are lots of quotes circulated without reference that are picked up by others without them checking independently so thanks again for checking.
Thank you Neil.
To be fair, this quote is all over the place with no questions asked as far as I can see. Barton joins a long list of people who have used it without a source. And perhaps, Orwell did say or write it but there is no evidence he did, and the source most often given doesn’t have the quote. My guess is that this is like the fake Bonhoeffer attribution frequently used by Eric Metaxas.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
This quote isn’t in Bonhoeffer’s works and all major Bonhoeffer scholars say he didn’t say or write it. However, it sounds like it fits him so it refuses to die.
If readers have evidence or a source for the quote, please contact me. I will correct my post and beg forgiveness if an Orwell source can be found.
Orwellian Doublethink Lives at Wallbuilders
There is something Orwellian about “America’s premiere historian” criticizing academic historians for not using primary sources when he spreads a quote without a primary source. It is doubly Orwellian that Barton misattributes the quote to Orwell and, if history is any measure, will leave it up on his page with Orwell’s name attached without acknowledgement that he doesn’t have a primary Orwell source for the quote. We could go full triple Orwellian because much of Barton’s work often proves the quote, just not in the manner Barton believes it does.