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An Urban Legend

November 1, 2007

A friend and colleague in the building trade who is, unlike me, a political moderate, forwarded the following e-mail asking whether I, an educated person, could deconstruct it:


This is the most interesting thing I’ve read in a long time. The sad thing about it, you can see it coming.

I have always heard about this democracy countdown. It is interesting to see it in print. God help us, not that we deserve it.

How Long Do We Have?

About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:

‘A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.’

‘A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.’

‘From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.’

‘The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence;

8. From dependence back into bondage.’

Professor Joseph Olson of the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Number of States won by:
Gore: 19
Bush: 29

Square miles of land won by:
Gore: 580,000
Bush: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by:
Gore: 127 million
Bush: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Gore: 13.2
Bush: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: ‘In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of this great country. Gore’s territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare.’ Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the ‘complacency and apathy’ phase of Professor Tyler’s definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation’s population already having reached the ‘governmental dependency’ phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

If you are in favor of this then delete this message. If you are not then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom. Thanks for reading.

I can of course deconstruct it but I would find it more entertaining to scrub my baseboards with a toothbrush. Fortunately, I discovered that it had already been deconstructed, at least in part. The book by the dead professor it “quotes” does not seem to exist, and the living professor it “quotes” did not write the text it attributes to him.

Of course, I could say a great deal more about the poor research and logic that inform this e-mail, which has apparently been floating through the ether for several years. But what interests me is that it made someone quite intelligent wonder. This is how propaganda jumps ridges like forest fires.

  1. Verging Writer permalink
    November 1, 2007 1:18 am

    Your concluding observations are quite sobering. Conservatism veiled in liberalism?

  2. Rent Party permalink
    November 1, 2007 2:21 am

    Or conservatism veiled in (pseudo) knowledge. The man who had received the message and forwarded it to me was in doubt because it (supposedly) quoted two professors.

  3. momo permalink
    November 1, 2007 1:25 pm

    Poor guy! He has to have a disclaimer on his profile saying that this Internet hoax has nothing to do with him.

  4. CountryDew permalink
    November 1, 2007 3:34 pm

    E-mail is a great thing, but the disservice done to the entire country as rumors run amok makes me wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without it. It would be one thing if the entire electorate could think, but I have unfortunately found that to be less likely to be so. Many take it at face value, forward, and then mention it to their friends. So sad.

  5. Kitty Glendower permalink
    November 1, 2007 4:58 pm

    Propaganda relies on seductive-specious reasoning. Abuse does too. Propaganda is abusive.

  6. Chris permalink
    November 4, 2007 10:25 pm

    I get emails like this, conspiracy theory emails, and “urgent” warnings of scams from my uncle all the time. I finally started replying to each one with a Snopes link disproving the email.

    It went quiet for a while but this past week he sent me one of Obama apparently standing with his hands twiddling thumbs while on a stage where the three other people are pledging the flag with their hands across their heart. I didn’t Snopes that one because it looked so photoshopped to me.

    I should tell him about how they took the word gullible out of the dictionary.

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