The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

Some of the most memorable historic quotes

Compiled by Thea Halo

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.
— Winston Churchill 1874-1965

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
— George Orwell

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
— William Arthur Ward.

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
— Abraham Lincoln

… the greatest regret that I have as I look back on my administration is the fact that when the awful Adana massacre occurred, this government did not take steps against the outrage on civilization!1
— Theodore Roosevelt

I think that the people that were bringing these decisions to me felt that the Congress was still reeling from what had happened in Somalia, and by the time they finally– you know, I sort of started focusing on this and seeing the news reports coming out of it, it was too late to do anything about it.  And I feel terrible about it because I think we could have sent 5,000, 10,000 troops there and saved a couple hundred thousand lives.  I think we could have saved about half of them.  But I’ll always regret that Rwandan thing.  I will always feel terrible about it.2
— Pres. Bill Clinton  (May, 2003)

We could have actually saved hundreds of thousands. … Nobody was interested.3
— Gen. Romeo Dallaire, U.N. Force Commander, Rwanda, (1994)

There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends.4
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
— Albert Einstein

Some people change when they see the light, others when they feel the heat.
— Caroline Schoeder

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
— Upton Sinclair

Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst.
— Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis)

Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.
— Benjamin Franklin   

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.
— Benjamin Franklin, (1706-1790)

A person usually has two reasons for doing something: a good reason and the real reason. 
— Thomas Carlyle, (1795-1881)

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. 
— George Santayana, (1863-1952)

…and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music…  
— F.W. Nietzsche

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.5
— William Butler Yeats

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.6
— Oscar Wilde

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.
— Aldous Leonard Huxley

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
— George Bernard Shaw

It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blame facts because they are not to our taste.
— John Tyndall

All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
— Mark Twain

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be defeated, but they start a winning game.
— Goethe

The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.
— Aristotle

You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.
— Beverly Rubik

Nothing capable of being memorized is history.
— R. G. Collingwood

History repeats itself.
— Plutarch

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
— Karl Marx

History is little else than a picture of human crimes and misfortunes. —Voltaire

History is written by the victors.
— Winston Churchill

History is a vast early warning system.
— Norman Cousins

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.            
— Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. — Napoleon

 History is more or less bunk.              
— Henry Ford

Not to know what happened before one was born is to remain always a child.
— Cicero

History is a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past.
 — E.H. Carr

Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.
— Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything…. Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.7
— Donald Trump

The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.8
— Donald Trump

People never lie so much as before an election, during a war, or after a hunt.
— Otto von Bismarck, (1815-1898)

They promise you the sun, the moon, and all the stars before they’re elected. But once they are elected, Poof! All the promises fade away.
— Sano Themia Halo

Imagine all the people livin’ life in peace.9
— John Lennon

Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing.
—James Tate

When envy turns to hatred, it’s not about you. You are just the symbol of what they know they can never achieve.10
— Thea Halo


  1. The Adana massacre of Armenians occurred in the Ottoman Empire Vilayet of Adana in April 1909 by orders of Sultan Abdülhamid II. However, the Young Turk regime was suspected of being behind the massacres. Anti-Armenian pogroms were later expanded throughout the province.
  2. US warned about Rwanda genocide. Declassified U.S. documents show the Clinton administration refused to label the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda as a genocide. One State Department document read: “Be careful … Genocide finding could commit U.S.G. to actually ‘do something.’” BBC News, August 21, 2001.
  3. Ken Shiffman, As genocide raged, general’s pleas for help ignored. BBC News, December 10, 2008.
  4. President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis when he stopped and reversed the invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel. In a memorable speech on October 31, 1956 to the nation in support of the rule of law and the United Nations.
  5. The Second Coming.
  6. Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), Lord Darlington, Act III.
  7. Rachael Revesz, Full transcript: Donald Trump’s lewd remarks about women on Days of Our Lives set in 2005. The presidential candidate talked about groping women and the right to do ‘whatever he wants’ as a ‘star’. Independent, October 7, 2016.
  8. Donald Trump’s Speech Responding To Assault Accusations. October 13, 2016.
  9. From John Lennon’s song: Imagine.
  10. On December 8, 1980, a deranged young fool, shot and killed John Lennon, hoping it would bring him fame.

Thea Halo is the author of Not Even My Name; a former news correspondent for WBAI in NYC; and a former member of both the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INOGS). Ms Halo’s historical papers are published in a number of Academic books: Genocide in the Ottoman Empire; Sayfo 1915: An Anthology of Essays on the Genocide of Assyrians/Arameans during the first World War; and an upcoming anthology on the Genocide of the Pontic Greeks (during the first World War in Ottoman Turkey). You can view one of her presentations at the Boston State House @

One thought on “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

  • December 8, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    The breadth and depth of these truisms is both compelling and chilling.


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