Misquotes: “At your throat or your feet”

Misquotes: “At your throat or your feet”

"Woodcarvings: A Streuthsayer or Prophet of Doom," Punch, 12Sep34.
“Wood­carv­ings: A Streuth­say­er or Prophet of Doom,” Punch, 12Sep34.

The Huff­in­g­ton Post reports that the Nation­al Memo’s Joe Cona­son crit­i­cized Joe Scarborough’s ambiva­lent atti­tude toward the Clin­tons by mis­quot­ing Churchill: “It’s what he said about the Hun, which is, ‘They’re either at your feet or at your throat.'”

“You just used a Win­ston Churchill quote to com­pare me to a Nazi because you don’t like the facts,” Scar­bor­ough replied.

“No, I didn’t com­pare you to a Nazi,” said Cona­son. “He wasn’t talk­ing about the Nazis, he was talk­ing about World War I. [The Huns] were not Nazis.”

Ah, all Huns are not Nazis, but in Churchill’s con­text, most Nazis were Huns! What joy­ful com­bi­na­tion of red her­rings this is…

Scar­bor­ough and Cona­son were both wrong. It was dur­ing World War II, not World War I (Churchill’s speech to Con­gress, 19 May 1943). but Churchill was quot­ing some­one else—regarding the Ger­man Army, not the Nazis:

The proud Ger­man Army has once again proved the truth of the say­ing, “The Hun is always either at your throat or your feet….”

A great line, but no cig­ar for either pun­dit. Ref.: Churchill in His Own Words, 62.

4 thoughts on “Misquotes: “At your throat or your feet”

  1. Sor­ry, no. Clos­est I can come is about Mus­soli­ni: “The organ grinder [he meant Hitler] still has hold of the monkey’s col­lar.” 1941, 30 DECEMBER. PRESS COFERECE, OTTAWA.

  2. Did Churchill say this about Hitler……..?
    “The fur­ther up the tree a mon­key goes, the more you see of his arse.”

    I’m think­ing about Trump in this context.

  3. The phrase was like­ly used ear­li­er (after all, he put quotemarks around it), but there is no record of Churchill hav­ing done so. Nor have I been able to track it to anoth­er source on the web or in Ralph Keyes’s excel­lent The Quote Ver­i­fi­er. I’d be inter­est­ed to know the source. While Churchill may have described the Ger­mans as “Huns” in WW1, his fre­quent use repop­u­lar­ized the term in WW2.

  4. Churchill WAS refer­ring to the Ger­man army in WW2; how­ev­er this was an old say­ing known in WW1 or before, it seems to me. So it could be accu­rate to say it was said about the Ger­mans in WW1 also. Even though there may not be a attrib­uted writ­ten source to his I would say it high­ly like­ly that Churchill had said it before and was mere­ly quot­ing him­self or oth­ers. And the “Hun” was pri­mar­i­ly, though not exclu­sive­ly, a WWI term.

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