the only good X is a dead X

The original, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”, has been attributed to American Civil War General Philip Sheridan, in response to salutations from Comanche chief Tosawi1, c. 1869. It’s not clear whether he actually said it, but whoever said it, it spread in this form. Indian seems to be the commonest X, but pig, racist, republican, fascist, abortionist, commey [sic], and chinaman also appear in this slot. X is not only limited to slurs, but it does tend toward people and items the speaker has great (real or tongue-in-cheek) contempt for, like the hipster, pabst, raver, clone, poodle, or barney.

1Tosh-a-way? Toshaway? I wasn’t expecting to come across the Indian name hyphenation problem here–but then, I didn’t know Indian was the original X.

7 responses to “the only good X is a dead X

  1. Authoritative information is hard to come by, but my understanding is that what Sheridan actually said was on the lines of “All the’good Indians’ I know are dead”, and referred not to the desirability of genocide, but to the undoubted fact that Indians who cooperated with whites were often killed by “hostiles” as traitors.

    This is quite irrelevant to this entry, of course. The only good snowclone is the traditional snowclone; damn the facts, full speed ahead!

  2. I like that version of the story much better!

  3. Something is wrong with the font size tag.

  4. Yep, didn’t close it. Thanks for catching that! It should be fixed now.

  5. Pingback: Clean Code Between Religion And Truth | Hackadelic

  6. The only good ex is a dead ex!

  7. Pingback: misquotations | The Snowclones Database

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