Oval Office Rug Really Ties The Room Together

The new Oval Office rug misattributes one of its quotations to Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, MLK was himself merely quoting an abolitionist who died over a century earlier:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” According media reports, this quote keeping Obama company on his wheat-colored carpet is from King.

Except it’s not a King quote. The words belong to a long-gone Bostonian champion of social progress. His roots in the republic ran so deep that his grandfather commanded the Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington.

For the record, Theodore Parker is your man, President Obama.

According to a recent biography, this is Obama’s favourite quotation. Divining the metaphors here is left as an exercise for the reader.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.


  1. Teresa says:


  2. Darcy says:

    This was really quite an embarrassing snafu. Wowee.
    I love exercising my metaphors. I like flexing my proverbs maybe a bit more, though.
    A stitch in time saves nine.

  3. Tano says:

    Actually, the precise quote if from King. Parker originally came up with ideas and the words but put them together in a different order and a longer sentence.
    Interestingly, the same is true for the “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” quote attributed to Lincoln – originally articulated in a slightly longer form by Parker.

  4. Dave says:

    I’m not so sure…
    “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.” – Theodore Parker
    …would havre fit quite as well on a rug.

  5. Herb says:

    According to a recent biography, this is Obama’s favourite quotation. Divining the metaphors here are left as an exercise for the reader.

    This is a bit petty, no?  A misattributed quote on a rug?  Talk about trivia!  Especially when you consider that MLK and Lincoln really did use the quotes, didn’t attribute them to Parker themselves, and both are vastly more famous than Parker.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    Not quite Whitewater, but I guess it will do for now…

  7. John Burgess says:

    Petty? How much do you think that rug cost? Equal to a down payment on a house, I’ll bet.