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Alleged Mussolini quote originally from Tipu Sultan...

Reader comment on item: There's a Name for Trump's Brand of Politics: Neo-fascism

Submitted by Daniel Bamford (United Kingdom), Jul 25, 2016 at 11:37

Dear Dr. Pipes,

I took this article seriously until the bit where you compare Trump's body language to Mussolini and show a photo of Trump's supposed "fascist gesture".

If someone is waving their arms about on a stage, then it is almost always possible to take a photo of them apparently making some kind of Fascist or Nazi salute if you choose the right moment.

As for this particular gesture, I thought it's what you Americans do when you sing the Star Spangled Banner, usually with the other hand over the heart...?


When Mussolini said "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep", he was also quoting someone else:

Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1750 - 1799), who is famous for his belligerence towards neighbouring Indian rulers and the British East India Company. Some versions of the quote have 'tiger' instead of 'lion' and Tipu famously had a mechanical toy made of a tiger savaging an East India Company soldier.

There is even a Wikiquotes page making it clear this is where Musolini got these words from, perhaps unwittingly, as it is the sort of thing anyone could make up on the spot:

Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep. Attributed in "Duce (1922-42)" in TIME magazine (2 August 1943)

Also quoted by Generale Armando Diaz in "Il pensiero dei leoni" in Il Carroccio. The Italian review (1922) attributed to graffiti by an unknown soldier [1]

Though not precisely a repetition of any of them, this is somewhat resembles far earlier remarks attributed to others:

An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep. Attributed to Alexander the Great, in The British Battle Fleet : Its Inception and Growth Throughout the Centuries to the Present Day (1915) by Frederick Thomas Jane

To live like a lion for a day is far better than to live like a jackal for a hundred years. Tipu Sultan, as quoted in Encyclopedia of Asian History (1988) Vol. 4, p. 104

It is far better to live like a tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years. Tipu Sultan, as quoted in Tipu Sultan : A Study in Diplomacy and Confrontation (1982) by B. Sheikh Ali, p. 329

I should prefer an army of stags led by a lion, to an army of lions led by a stag. Chabrias , as quoted in A Treatise on the Defence of Fortified Places (1814) by Lazare Carnot, p. 50

He has been frequently heard to say, that in this world he would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep. Tipu Sultan, as quoted in A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun; Comprising a Narrative of the Operations of the Army under the Command of Lieutenant-General George Harris, and of the Siege of Seringapatam (London, G. and W. Nicol, 1800) by Alexander Beatson, pp. 153-154. [2] [3].


Regarding Trump's dismissive response claiming that it doesn't matter who originally said these words, well, he does have a point in this case, since the imagery and the sentiment is so banal and generic.

Ater all, I seem to think that Adolf Hitler was in the habit of saying things like "smoking is bad for you" , "I like cream cakes" and "I love my pet golden labrador".

This does not mean that anyone else making these banal statements automatically must be a Nazi, just because Hitler may have said these things.

More pertinently, there is a British Army regimental badge (18th / 21st Lancers?) with a death's head skull and the regimental motto 'death or glory'. This may remind some people of the Waffen SS death's head badges, but this does not mean that this particular regiment of the British Army is full of Nazis.

As for all this re-tweeting of things from dodgy sources: It is very easy to do this and some extremists groups deliberately post more moderate stuff to get people sucked in.

For example, here in the UK there is a paramilitary group called Britain First that get people following them on social media by posting innocuous things like protests against cruelty to animals.

Trump is clearly a rather vulgar fellow, who has said some worrying and thoughtless things, but at least he is responsive to moderating influences - not least his wife and his son-in-law.

He has also not seriously endangered national security or been criminally neglegent about the safety of his subordinates to the point where they have been murdered by Islamic terrorists - both fo which things are sadly true of Hilary Clinton.

So, ultimately, I think your personal hostility towards Trump has more to do with your own intellectual snobbery than your grab bag of poorly substantiated accusations.

Still, I'll keep subscribing to your mailing list for the time being, as I value your expertise on the Middle East, but I won't rely on you for an impartial analysis of US politics.


Daniel Bamford.


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