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Inspirational quotes are big business online. At least, I assume they're making someone enough money to be deemed a "business," because if you spend so much as one single minute on social media, it's likely you'll be inundated with words said by famous people emblazoned over a picture of that person's face, or some mundane nature scene made to look extra dramatic through the crafty deployment of Instagram filters. Or it might just be over a picture of a fucking Minion for no discernible reason.


I made this one myself!

Unfortunately, attention to detail isn't exactly an asset most internet users can claim to possess. As a result, famous quotes get attributed to the wrong people approximately every 18 seconds online, according to research that doesn't exist. And you know what? That's fine. Why? Because sometimes, history's most awful people say things that, taken alone and completely out of context, are inspiring as shit. Since we've gotten in the habit of crediting the wrong people with famous words so regularly over the years, why not just start doing it intentionally as a means of getting some truly motivational quotes back into circulation? We talk about a few examples on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...

... where I'm joined by comic Vanessa Gritton and Cracked editor Alex Schmidt. I'll also talk about a few in this column here today. Here goes!

8
"Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."

How's that for a message the world could use right now? Hate is all the rage these days. A few well-placed memes with words as powerful as these plastered across them could go a long way toward healing a lot of the hurt that's permeating society right now.

Just joking. I'm not even sure an alien invasion could unite us at this point. But still, posting this would make people feel like they're doing something to help. At the end of the day, that's all we really want.

Who Said It?

iStock/EyeJoy

Unfortunately, those inspiring words were said by disgraced United States President Richard Nixon during his farewell address to White House staff shortly after the Watergate scandal forced him to resign. In fact, the last three minutes or so of that address are kind of amazing.

History hasn't looked back on Nixon's time in office fondly, to the point where it's hard to understand why anyone would have ever voted for this guy once, much less repeatedly. That speech makes it at least a little bit easier to understand. Still, nobody wants to share a picture of Richard Nixon's droopy face on their social media feed.

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

iStock/graZnar

Barry O. All day. I mean, sure, he's already said some pretty neat stuff -- enough that we'll be flush with Obama memes for years after he leaves office, provided Trump still allows such things. Nevertheless, how great would this quote look attached to his legacy? Pretty great, if you ask me.

7
"Women hold up half the sky."

You're goddamn right they do. If they lived under the rule of the man most famously credited with this quote, though, that job probably became increasingly difficult over the years.

Who Said It?

Wikipedia

Get it?!?!? Because that's a quote from Chairman Mao, founding father of the People's Republic of China and architect of a disastrous economic plan that led to the starvation deaths of an estimated 15-20 million Chinese citizens over the course of just five years.

Ha! We have a lot of fun in this column, don't we?

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

Easy choice. One of the most underrated aspects of Prince's legacy is that he was super duper supportive of women, even if it might have just been because he was trying to bone. That doesn't change the fact that Carmen Electra has dated a few musicians, but only one of them believed in her enough to give her a shot at recording a rap album, and it definitely wasn't Dave Navarro.

As if the guy who spent a year playing guitar for the Red Hot Chili Peppers can claim to be above joining forces with terrible white rappers.

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6
"Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your tomorrow."

Who can't relate to this one? No matter who you are, it's a near certainty that you've done something in your past that you regret. That doesn't make you a bad person; it just makes you human. What you've done doesn't matter. All that matters is what you do today and in the future.

Who Said It?

Wikipedia

Oops! Looks like those are the words of L. Ron Hubbard. Not only does that make it way less inspiring, but seeing as how he's the founder of the most prominent space-based "religion" since Mormonism, I don't even know if that stuff about how making mistakes just means you're human still applies. He could've been talking about fucking thetans for all I know.

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

Wikipedia

Sure, she's had some setbacks and difficulties in her past. Maybe there's even a skeleton or two in her closet -- and no, conspiracy theorists, I don't mean that literally. Still, here she is, on the verge of taking hold of the highest political office in all the land, if only she can convince America that her past is less sketchy than that of the man with quite likely the sketchiest past in the history of American politics. Who's to say a few memes won't help?

5
"If you want to shine like the sun, first you have to burn like it."

You hear that, lazy millennials (who actually work harder than baby boomers ever did)? Instead of expecting to get everything for nothing, how about a little sacrifice on your end? Whoever's responsible for this quote, I'm guessing they're one of those salt-of-the-Earth "Greatest Generation" types whom all of us could stand to learn a lesson or two from.

Who Said It?

Wikipedia

Oh goddammit, that's Hitler, isn't it? Sure is. So I guess, on second thought, don't listen to anything this man has ever said. Ever.

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Now here's a guy who knows about hard work. You don't become (arguably) the best player in the NBA any other way. As for sacrifice, well, he lived in Cleveland for most of his life, escaped to Miami for a few years, and then moved back to Cleveland. If that's not sacrifice, I don't know what is.

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4
"Equality means nothing unless incorporated into the institutions."

Have truer words ever been spoken? At first glance, you'd assume this originated at some point during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Or maybe sometime in the '70s, when women were fighting to get the Equal Rights Amendment written into law. Either way, it applies even better to the current state of equality in this country. Especially when you take into account that the two movements I just mentioned happened a long time ago, but equality is still a thing that's often in short supply.

Who Said It?

Wikipedia

Oh damn, this isn't about America at all. On the off chance the face isn't setting off the history alarms in your head, the man in that picture is Slobodan Milosevic, former president of Yugoslavia and alleged war criminal. Not exactly the kind of quote you'd expect to come from someone who so effortlessly mastered the art of ethnic cleansing.

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

Wikipedia

For starters, if you don't know who Killer Mike is, you can go right to hell. The short version is that he's one half of what is quite possibly the best rap duo in existence right now -- and yes I know that would include Outkast.

He's also taken on the sort of unlikely role as one of the most politically active personalities in all of music, rap or otherwise. He's appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher, spoken at campaign stops for Bernie Sanders ... he's as prominent a figure in modern politics as anyone else who isn't actually a politician. This quote would just sound so much better coming from him. Better than from a war criminal, anyway.

3
"The writer is the engineer of the human soul."

I wouldn't be at all surprised if at least one of my "writer" friends owns a coffee cup with this quote emblazoned on it. And why not? It's exactly the kind of thing pretentious writer types like to think applies to their work. It's the kind of thing internet photographers paint on a sidewalk so they can take a picture of it and upload it to Instagram. Everything about that quote implies that the person saying it has nothing on their mind beyond finding a Barnes and Noble to sit at for hours on end.

Who Said It?

Wikipedia

Yikes! You kids obviously don't need me to tell you, but that's Joseph Stalin. That quote takes on a moderately more sinister tone coming from a propaganda master with millions of deaths on his hands, yeah? It's borderline terrifying, to be honest. Especially the part where you didn't know that was Joseph Stalin until I told you.

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

Because why not, right? Kurt Vonnegut has a face and aesthetic that's perfect for memes, and he's way less alienating than some overrated piece of shit like Hunter S. Thompson. That said, if I'm being completely honest, I mostly picked him just to have an excuse to call Hunter S. Thompson an overrated piece of shit, like I did again just now. Fight me.

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2
"Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we've been bombing over the years been complaining?"

Defense spending is out of control in this country, and it has been for a long time now. The person behind this quote clearly understood the folly in wasting our resources on armaments for the people instead of taking care of the people. Good for them.

Who Said It?

Or on second thought, maybe they just wanted extra budget money to spend on oppressing black people. That quote comes courtesy of George Wallace, Alabama's notorious segregationist governor. You know, the guy who gave a speech in the doorway of a school, vowing that no black children would ever be allowed to enter. Turns out he hated fighter jets too, apparently. Who knew?

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

Bernie Sanders, obviously. Who else? Maybe Bill Maher? Nobody wants to share a Bill Maher quote, though. That's like sharing a Daniel Tosh joke. The quality of the content doesn't matter; you're gonna look like a douche no matter what. That goes double, maybe triple, if you're sharing quotes from super duper racist '60s politicians. However, none of this makes the quote any less awesome. Why not get it back in the game by slapping it on a picture of the man we'll all probably wish we elected someday?

1
"A man's gotta make at least one bet a day, else he could be walking around lucky and never know it."

Wow! This sounds like the kind of thing the Marlboro Man would say right before rescuing you from a the bite of a venomous snake by grabbing it around the neck and hurling it 500 feet away. With his dick. You want your heroes to be on this kind of shit when they show up to fix things, no exceptions. These words exude bravery, decisiveness, and all of the other qualities you want in a leader.

Who Said It?

Wikipedia

Right, maybe not. If you're unaware, that's Jim Jones, and unfortunately, I don't mean the rapper. That would be way more acceptable, seeing as how only one of the two convinced hundreds of followers to commit mass suicide by downing poisoned Kool-Aid. Jim Jones the rapper's biggest crime against humanity involves briefly extending the shelf life of Auto-Tune with that "Pop Champagne" song, which was kind of the jam.

Again, the other Jim Jones killed his flock with a refreshing beverage. That's dirty pool, man.

Who Should Get the Credit Instead?

YouTube

Was there ever any doubt as to who should be manning the controls when this vintage Cadillac of a quote pulls out of the garage? Even if he didn't say it first, I have no doubt that Matthew McConaughey has since said this exact same thing as a completely original thought, except in reference to taking an especially challenging movie role or trying a new restaurant in Manhattan Beach for the first time. These words deserve to be in an Oscar acceptance speech, not in the case files of the most heinous cult murder in the history of forever. Let's make this happen for Matthew McConaughey. We can do it. We have the internet now.

Adam has a Kickstarter you can donate to, a podcast you can subscribe to on iTunes, and a Twitter you can follow on Twitter. You should do all of those things!

Get more quotes from surprising places in 18 Unexpected (and Real) Quotes by Famous Figures and 39 Surprisingly Profound Quotes from Unexpected Sources.

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