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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.


As Lies My Teacher Told Me kept selling, Loewen began to find quotations from it popping up all over the web. Initially he was most pleased to find “Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat the eleventh grade,” quoted widely, because he meant it as a joke and as a way to pop the pretentious balloon of the Santayana quotation, often repeated but never thought about. He was also pleased when two Kiswahili words, “sasha” and “zamani,” made their way into the English language in the United States because readers of LMTTM found them useful. Eventually, entire commercial websites brought forth Loewen quotes for posters, computer “wallpaper,” even T-shirts.

Websites that Compile Quotations by Loewen

Here are Jim Loewen’s selections of other things he wrote or said that he wished would get quoted but never did.

There is a reciprocal relationship between truth about the past and justice in the present. Telling the truth about the past helps cause justice in the present. Achieving justice in the present helps us tell the truth about the past. – Up a Creek, With a Paddle.

When the topic is shameful or controversial, oral sources are typically more accurate than written sources. – Up a Creek, With a Paddle.

History should be an occasion for cerebration, not celebration.

History must rest on evidence, not on opinions. – Up a Creek, With a Paddle.

When authors wrote about Lincoln influenced what they wrote about Lincoln. – Up a Creek, With a Paddle.

The Nadir of race relations is that terrible era between 1890 and 1940 when racism grew ever stronger, North and South. – Up a Creek, With a Paddle.

See more quotations.