- A quote shared by Rep. Thomas Massie on Sunday was the subject of a USA Today fact-check last year.
- Massie attributed the quote to Voltaire, but experts trace it back to Kevin Alfred Strom.
- Strom, an American white nationalist, founded the group National Vanguard.
On Sunday, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky tweeted out criticism targeting Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, containing a political cartoon superimposed with a quote that has been often misattributed to the French philosopher Voltaire.
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize,” the quote said.
—Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) January 30, 2022
USA Today fact-checked the quote’s attribution in May of last year as it gained traction on Facebook. It found no trace of the phrase in Voltaire’s correspondence from 1742 to 1777, which is logged in the University of Southern California’s digital library.
The etymologist Barry Popik traced the quote — with slightly different wording — back to a 1993 radio broadcast with the white nationalist Kevin Alfred Strom, USA Today reported.
The outlet noted that Strom, who founded the neo-Nazi group National Vanguard, took credit for the quote in 2017.
In 2007, Strom was arrested in Virginia and charged with possessing and receiving child pornography, enticing a minor to perform sex acts, and intimidating a witness, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
He pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 23 months in prison, causing National Vanguard to break apart, the SPLC said.
While Massie has not addressed or removed the quote from Strom, he has posted additional messages to his Twitter account, including a link to a newsletter on liberal censorship and a congratulatory message to the Cincinnati Bengals following their playoff win.
Representatives of Massie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.