Quotations about   treason

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We may then lay down this rule of friendship — neither ask nor consent to do what is wrong. For the plea “for friendship’s sake” is a discreditable one, and not to be admitted for a moment. This rule holds good for all wrong-doing, but more especially in such as involves disloyalty to the republic.

[Haec igitur lex in amicitia sanciatur, ut neque rogemus res turpes nec faciamus rogati. Turpis enim excusatio est et minime accipienda cum in ceteris peccatis, tum si quis contra rem publicam se amici causa fecisse fateatur.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship],” ch. 12 / sec. 40 (44 BC) [tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Let this law therefore be established in friendship, viz., that we should neither ask things that are improper, nor grant them when asked; for it is a disgraceful apology, and by no means to be admitted, as well in the case of other offenses, as when any one avows he has acted against the state for the sake of a friend.
[tr. Edmonds (1871)]

As to friendship, then, let this law be enacted, that we neither ask of a friend what is wrong, nor do what is wrong at a friend’s request. The plea that it was for a friend’s sake is a base apology, -- one that should never be admitted with regard to other forms of guilt, and certainly not as to crimes against the State.
[tr. Peabody (1887)]

Therefore let this law be established in friendship: neither ask dishonourable things, nor do them, if asked. And dishonourable it certainly is, and not to be allowed, for anyone to plead in defence of sins in general and especially of those against the State, that he committed them for the sake of a friend.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

Therefore, let this law be established for friendship: that we should neither ask for foul things nor fulfill requests for them. For this is a foul excuse and ought not be accepted for any crime, but especially not if someone is shown to have placed themselves against the Republic for the sake of a friend.

Added on 26-Apr-21 | Last updated 26-Apr-21
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How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that when it is finally exposed, its principals shall forever be deserving of the maledictions of all.

Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957) American politician, attorney
“America’s Retreat from Victory: The Story of Gen. George C. Marshall,” speech, US Senate (14 Jun 1951)

Part of a 65,000 word speech given by McCarthy, attacking Sec. of Defense George C. Marshall (and, by proxy, Harry Truman), alleging a string of sinister post-WW2 US diplomatic and military failures, culminating in Truman's firing of Douglas MacArthur.
Added on 14-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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The hard line, which has always been arguable in theory and which has had some success in practice, views the imperatives of the cold war as an ineluctable challenge, has encouraged a skeptical view of the limits of negotiation, and has placed its primary trust in ample reserves of strength.
The pseudo-conservative line is distinguishable from this not alone in being more crusade-minded and more risk-oriented in its proposed policies but also in its conviction that those who place greater stress on negotiation and accommodation are either engaged in treasonable conspiracy (the Birch Society’s view) or are guilty of well-nigh criminal failings in moral and intellectual fiber (Goldwater’s).

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“Goldwater and Pseudo-Conservative Politics,” sec. 4 (1965)
Added on 20-Jan-21 | Last updated 20-Jan-21
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Treason is merely a question of dates.

Charles Maurice, Prince de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838) French statesman
Comment to Tsar Alexander (1815)

Variant: "Treason is merely a matter of dates."

Both versions of the line are quoted in different biographies of Talleyrand, apparently derived from a passage in his Memoirs (ed. Albert de Broglie, tr. De Beaufort (1891)). He relates while at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), Tsar Alexander referred to Saxony as "Those who betrayed the cause of Europe" for joining with Napoleon, to which Talleyrand replied (mindful that Alexander had at times been allied with Napoleon), "Sire, that is a question of dates."

In the movie Die Hard 2 (1990), the quote is misattributed to Cardinal Richelieu in Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers (1844). Variants on the line actually have been used in movie editions of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (but not in the actual book).
Added on 1-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-20
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A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor — he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation — he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city — he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. The traitor is the carrier of the plague. You have unbarred the gates of Rome to him.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher

This text, widely passed around on social media, was made up for Cicero in Taylor Caldwell, A Pillar of Iron (1965).
Added on 24-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Aug-20
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The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.

David Lloyd George (1863-1945) Welsh politician, statesman, UK Prime Minister (1916-22)
Added on 11-Sep-14 | Last updated 11-Sep-14
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Traters, I will here remark, are a onfortnit class of peple. If they wasn’t, they wouldn’t be traters. They conspire to bust up a country — they fail, and they’re traters. They bust her, and they become statesmen and heroes.

[Traitors, I will here remark, are an unfortunate class of people. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be traitors. They conspire to bust up a country — they fail, and they’re traitors. They bust her, and they become statesmen and heroes.]

Artemus Ward (1834-1867) American humorist, editor, lecturer [pseud. of Charles Farrar Browne]
“The Tower of London,” The Complete Works of Atermus Ward (1898)
Added on 4-Mar-14 | Last updated 4-Mar-14
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Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Papers of the Adams Family, Part 6 “Two Fragments from a Suppressed Book Called ‘Glances at History’ or ‘Outlines of History'” (1939)
Added on 14-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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