Today marks the 59th anniversary of India’s Republic Day, when the nation transitioned from a British colonialist state to an independent republic. But for animal rights activists, it’s just another day in Quotation Fantasyland. It looks like another one of their favorite lines, allegedly by Mahatma Gandhi, cannot be authenticated.
We’re not surprised. After all, PETA ripped off Leonardo da Vinci and chiseled the fictional quote into its lobby. Activists have also claimed (falsely) that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. condoned violence on behalf of animals. Abraham Lincoln has been wrongly portrayed as an animal emancipator. And some physicians told us recently that a quotation about vegetarianism by Albert Einstein is bogus as well.
Now we have one more quotation, supposedly by Gandhi, to add to this growing list:
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
How widespread is this reference? You can get it on a shirt, a mug, a tote bag, and just about any other kind of bunny-hugger paraphernalia. PETA routinely uses the quotation as a stepping stone to promote vegetarianism. President Obama’s new regulatory czar (an animal rights activist) cites it in his book, Animal Rights. And a Google search pulls up over 94,000 hits! You get the idea — people are convinced that Gandhi said or wrote it.
We weren’t so sure. So we contacted one of Gandhi’s grandsons, Mr. Arun Gandhi, to hear his thoughts about this alleged quotation. He kindly responded:
I am sorry I cannot help you in your quest. I do know he said this but I am not sure if the words you used are correct. I would suggest you try contacting www.mkgandhi.org It is an India based organization and I am sure they will be able to find the source for you. Sorry.
Following Mr. Arun Gandhi’s advice, we reached out to the experts at MKGandhi.org. They responded:
We are sorry to inform you that we have gone through ‘Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi’ and was unable to find the source or correct quotation.
After varying the quotation multiple ways and searching original documents on GandhiServe, we couldn’t find it either.
But the strongest indication that this is a bogus Ghandi quotation comes from a 1985 book called The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought, by editor Jon Wynne-Tyson. He attributes it to a 1931 lecture, The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism. But we looked, and it’s not in there. Given Wynne-Tyson’s track record in publishing apocryphal quotations (as we showed with DaVinci and Lincoln), it wouldn’t be out of character for him to have published a fake one by Gandhi, too. In fact, we’re not the only ones who found the quotation unverified.
So there you have it. Da Vinci, MLK, Lincoln, Einstein, and now Gandhi. In characteristic fashion, animal rights activists are bypassing facts and exploiting history’s greatest figures to push their extreme agenda. Animal rights nuts are so untrustworthy that, at this point, even if we saw someone sporting a shirt with a Pamela Anderson quotation about saving baby seals, we’d still be skeptical.