Inspirational Quotes by Timothy D. Snyder

By | September 29, 2019

Fascism says what you and I experience as facts or what reporters experience as facts are irrelevant. All that matters are impressions and emotions and myths.

Timothy D. Snyder

The 20th century shows that the form of government that we take for granted, a constitutional democratic republic with checks and balances and a rule of law – that form of government is usually temporary.

Timothy D. Snyder

Very often, when leaders repeat things over and over, they are preparing you for when that meme actually emerges in reality.

Timothy D. Snyder

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.

Timothy D. Snyder

It is unclear how much money Trump has, but it is not enough to matter in Russia. If he keeps up his pose as the tough billionaire, he will be flattered by the Russian media, scorned by those who matter in Russia, and then easily crushed by men far richer and smarter than he.

Timothy D. Snyder

Totalitarianism is not about some state that appears out of nowhere and suddenly is all-powerful. There can’t be any such thing. Totalitarianism starts when the difference between your public life and your private life is effaced.

Timothy D. Snyder

Trump’s Twitter flood of late-night mendacity is an unhindered celebration of fragile manhood, a ceaseless summons to the millions for affirmation, a proclamation to vulnerable men across the land that endless preening and stroking is a normal and imitable way of life.

Timothy D. Snyder

Brittle masculinity, in the right setting, becomes political atrocity. Strength brings problems; weakness brings others, but weakness posing as strength is the most dangerous of all.

Timothy D. Snyder

Every day you don’t do something, it makes it less likely that you will ever do something. So you’ve got to get started right away.

Timothy D. Snyder

We think about democracy, and that’s the word that Americans love to use, ‘democracy,’ and that’s how we characterize our system. But if democracy just means going to vote, it’s pretty meaningless. Russia has democracy in that sense. Most authoritarian regimes have democracy in that sense.

Timothy D. Snyder

Get the screens out of your room and surround yourself with books.

Timothy D. Snyder

The aspiring tyrants of today have not forgotten the lesson of 1933: that acts of terror – real or fake, provoked or accidental – can provide the occasion to deal a death blow to democracy.

Timothy D. Snyder

The Constitution is worth saving, the rule of law is worth saving, democracy is worth saving, but these things can and will be lost if everyone waits around for someone else.

Timothy D. Snyder

Getting out to protest, this is something real and, I would say, something patriotic. Part of the new authoritarianism is to get people to prefer fiction and inaction to reality and action.

Timothy D. Snyder

If you want to avoid criticism, then you shouldn’t be a historian, because historians are trying to understand and explain. If you’re trying to please people, then you should go into the fashion business, or the candy business.

Timothy D. Snyder

Americans do not want to think that there is an alternative to what we have. Therefore, as soon as you say ‘fascism’ or whatever it might be, then the American response is to say ‘no’ because we lack the categories that allow us to think outside of the box that we are no longer in.

Timothy D. Snyder

What we ended up with, from Bill Clinton onward, is a status quo party and an ‘undo the system’ party, where the Democrats became the status quo party and the Republicans became the ‘undo the system’ party.

Timothy D. Snyder

Mr. Trump is primarily a television personality. As such, he is judged by that standard. This means that a scandal does not call forth a response; it calls forth the desire for a bigger scandal.

Timothy D. Snyder

One thing that I would like to get across is that even the most horrible events do have explanations that we can understand. And it’s not always comfortable for us to understand, because in order to understand, we have to see how we’re not so far away from the people in question.

Timothy D. Snyder

In rhetoric and action, the Trump administration has aggrandized ‘radical Islamic terror,’ thus making what Madison called a ‘favorable emergency’ more likely.

Timothy D. Snyder

It is aspiring tyrants who say that ‘civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins.’ Conversely, leaders who wish to preserve the rule of law find other ways to speak about real terrorist threats, and certainly do not invent them or deliberately make them worse.

Timothy D. Snyder

In the descent from a world of factual discourse into a world of emotions and alternative realities, the first step you take, whether you’re the Russian media, whether you’re Breitbart, is that you manufacture lots of stuff that isn’t true. The second step is that you claim that everyone is like this.

Timothy D. Snyder

If we can’t have exchanges with our friends and family, with loved ones that won’t at some point be made public, then we can’t have private lives. And if we can’t have private lives, then we’re not really free people.

Timothy D. Snyder

People who lived in the 1920s and ’30s and ’40s were not so different from us. In some ways, they were probably better citizens than we are. They had longer attention spans, for example. Educated people tended to read a bit more than we did.

Timothy D. Snyder

Interestingly, a number of the people I know – probably you do, too – who predicted that Trump would win were precisely Russians and Ukrainians who found the political style familiar and just asked, ‘Well, why couldn’t it work there?’ They were the ones who turned out to be right.

Timothy D. Snyder

I think, whatever ideological coloration we think actually applies to Trump, we can be pretty confident that he sees the American state as a mechanism to make sure that people called Trump are rich forever.

Timothy D. Snyder

When a terrorist attack comes, you will not necessarily know who did it. What you can know is that certain kinds of leaders will use that to suspend your rights.

Timothy D. Snyder

If we don’t have access to facts, we can’t trust each other. Without trust, there’s no law. Without law, there’s no democracy.

Timothy D. Snyder

I thought I was going to grow up and become a diplomat and negotiate nuclear arms.

Timothy D. Snyder

There’s a basic problem with the history of the Holocaust. The people who do it don’t know the necessary languages.

Timothy D. Snyder

Modern tyrants are terror managers. Do not allow your shock to be turned against your freedom.

Timothy D. Snyder

Courage does not mean not fearing or not grieving. It does mean recognizing and resisting terror management right away, from the moment of the attack, precisely when it seems most difficult to do so.

Timothy D. Snyder

Maybe I am naive, but I don’t think talking about the Holocaust with total and complete cynicism is possible for Israeli politicians. It’s inevitable that the Holocaust is part of Israeli politics.

Timothy D. Snyder

It’s easy for us to congratulate ourselves on our own moral superiority when compared to the 1930s, but I’m not sure that we’re actually right about that. In most of the West, we simply haven’t been tested in the same way. And when we are tested, we often fail.

Timothy D. Snyder

For the Russians, the displacement of the Holocaust is calculated and cynical. It’s not emotional; they don’t care about the Holocaust one way or another. They only care about it insofar as they can use it to manipulate a German sense of guilt.

Timothy D. Snyder

I worry about global anti-Semitism – not just as a bad idea that originates from bad people, but also as something that arises as a challenge to global order.

Timothy D. Snyder

Democracy only has substance if there’s the rule of law. That is, if people believe that the votes are going to be counted, and they are counted. If they believe that there’s a judiciary out there that will make sense of things if there’s some challenge. If there isn’t rule of law, people will be afraid to vote the way they want to vote.

Timothy D. Snyder

If it turns out that there are emotions and values that are more numerous and more vibrant than indifference and hatred, things are going to be okay. That depends on us.

Timothy D. Snyder

We can only see as much and we can only go as far as our languages take us.

Timothy D. Snyder

People in the West tend to identify with western victims. So even when they think about the Holocaust, they really think about the German or French victims; they’re not thinking about the Polish, Hungarian, or Soviet victims.

Timothy D. Snyder

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

Timothy D. Snyder

Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

Timothy D. Snyder

Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of ‘our institutions’ unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

Timothy D. Snyder

When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism.’ Be alive to the fatal notions of ‘exception’ and ’emergency.’ Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

Timothy D. Snyder

It is not hard to see why Trump might choose Putin as his fantasy friend. Putin is the real-world version of the person Trump pretends to be on television.

Timothy D. Snyder

The premise of Russian foreign policy to the West is that the rule of law is one big joke; the practice of Russian foreign policy is to find prominent people in the West who agree.

Timothy D. Snyder

The minor choices we make are themselves a kind of vote. Our words and gestures, or their absence, count very much.

Timothy D. Snyder

Think up your own way of speaking. When we repeat the same words and phrases that appear in the daily media, we accept the absence of a larger framework.

Timothy D. Snyder

Most Americans are exceptionalists; we think we live outside of history.

Timothy D. Snyder

Republics, like other forms of government, exist in history and can rise and fall.

Timothy D. Snyder

Americans can accept that the American Dream will not work out for them; what has been heartbreaking for so many is the sense that their children will have it even worse.

Timothy D. Snyder

Trump bankrupted six companies but succeeded on the biggest of stages. He is the champion of failures.

Timothy D. Snyder

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