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By Jesse B. Russell, Crisis Magazine, January 22, 2019

The Internet is haunted by readily memeable misquotes and misattributions of quotes. Among the ever growing detritus of fabricated and seemingly sagacious sayings is a quote wrongly attributed to the eighteenth-century French radical Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, which reads something like this: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This quote, which was actually invented by one of Voltaire’s biographers, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in the early twentieth century, nonetheless encapsulates the seemingly noble idea of freedom of speech, which, for better or worse, was one of the foundation stones of not only the emergent French Republic, born at least partially from the pen of Voltaire, but one of the key cornerstones of that odd and wild child of the Enlightenment, the United States of America.

While the first French Republic was born in “rivers of blood,” and would only last as long as a brief whisper—France would go through several monarchies, dictatorships, and republics before settling on their current Fifth Republic, ushered in by Charles De Gaulle in 1958—the great republic of the United States would survival one ugly civil war and several culture wars without a major formal change in government, perhaps suggesting, in comparison, a sturdier foundation….Read entire article, go to: