The 10 most significant quotations from 2020 have been revealed by the Yale Law School library, and among the most memorable quotes is one many Americans have heard countless times: “Wear a mask.”
Fred Shapiro, an associate director at the Yale Law School library, complies the annual list for the “Yale Book of Quotations.” The book is updated each year and the quotations are often revealing of the times, Shapiro said, according to the Associated Press.
For example, one of the top quotes from 2017 was from presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, when she used the term “alternative facts.” Like “alternative facts,” the list of notable quotes from 2020 reflects what people talked about most this year.
1.”Wear a mask.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci, CNN interview, May 21.
After Fauci first told 60 Minutes in March that masks should largely be reserved for healthcare providers, the recommendations were broadened to include simple masks for the general public. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other lawmakers and healthcare officials have since uttered the term “wear a mask” countless times as the world continues to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its strongest mask guidance yet, calling for “universal mask wearing” in all activity outside of one’s home. The new recommendation comes at the end of a week when the U.S. saw its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with more than 3,100 lives reported lost on Thursday alone.
2. “I can’t breathe.” — George Floyd, plea to police officer, Minneapolis, May 25.
George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during an arrest in May. Chauvin was seen in disturbing video pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as the handcuffed Black man begged, “I can’t breathe.” The case drew national outrage and protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Many protesters, including several high-profile figures like LeBron James, wore the phrase “I can’t breathe” as a harrowing tribute to Floyd during the protests.
3. “One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear,” President Donald Trump, referring to the coronavirus in remarks at an African American History Month reception at the White House, Feb. 27.
At the start of the pandemic, President Trump appeared to downplay the virus, saying it would disappear. Journalist Bob Woodward later revealed that Mr. Trump admitted that he publicly downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus as it silently spread around the world, hoping to avoid a panic even as he recognized how “deadly” the virus could be.
The virus did not disappear. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there have been 67,217,934 global cases — 14,769,353 of them in the U.S., which has reported the most cases of any country.
4. “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” — Trump, in remarks at a White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing, April 23.
After Mr. Trump floated the erroneous and dangerous idea that injecting disinfectant might be a potential way to fight COVID-19, the quote soon went viral online and many medical experts and elected officials spoke out on social media to publicly correct the dangerous idea about disinfectants. The company that makes Lysol also issued a strong warning to consumers not to do this.
5. “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that.” — White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, at her first press briefing, May 1.
Although Mr. Trump’s press secretaries have a history of making false statements at the podium, Kayeigh McEnany, who took over the position in April, promised she would “never lie” to reporters. She made the remarks during a May briefing – the first formal briefing by a press secretary in more than a year. Former press secretary Sarah Sanders had held the last briefing in March 2019.
6. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, statement dictated to granddaughter Clara Spera, September.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the longest serving woman on the U.S. Supreme Court and a strong liberal voice on issues dividing the nation, died due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court announced on September 18. Ginsburg had told her granddaughter, Clara Spera, she did not want to be replaced until a new president took office.
However, her “most fervent wish” was denied when the president offered Judge Amy Coney Barrett the nomination to the Supreme Court three days after Ginsburg died. Barrett was confirmed by a vote of 52-48 in October.
7. “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” — Joe Biden, in an interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio program, May 22.
President-elect Joe Biden defended his legislative record in a May interview with Charlamagne Tha God. On the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” then-candidate Biden argued that his presidential campaign was doing enough to reach out to black voters. At one point, he said that black voters undecided on whether to vote for him or for President Trump “ain’t Black.”
Later that day in a phone call with members of the U.S. Black Chambers, a business organization, Mr. Biden sought to clarify and explain — but did not explicitly apologize — for the comments saying: “I should not have been so cavalier. I’ve never, never, ever taken the African American community for granted.”
8. “The science should not stand in the way of this.” — McEnany, referring to school reopenings in a news briefing, July 16.
During a White House press briefing in July, McEnany said Mr. Trump “said unmistakably that he wants schools to open.”
“When he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school,” she said. “The science should not stand in the way of this.” At the time, many health officials were urging people to say home and practice social distancing – as science determined these were two effective ways at slowing the spread of the virus. Many teachers were also worrying about the feasibility of returning to in-person learning, with fears that the new school year would cause a spike in cases.
9. “You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.” — Biden, in a remark to student at campaign event, Hampton, N.H., Feb. 9.
During a February campaign event, the former vice president was asked by a college student about his poor performance during the Iowa caucus. He asked the student if she had ever been to a caucus, to which she replied, “yes.”
“No you haven’t. You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier,” Mr. Biden said – a reply that quickly went viral. In a tweet, his campaign press secretary Remi Yamamoto explained the response was a joke that was met with laughter. “It’s from a John Wayne movie and he’s made it plenty of times before. Sorry to ruin the fun twitter!” Yamamoto wrote.
10. “We are all Lakers today.” — Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, in a remark to reporters after the death of Kobe Bryant, Orlando, Fla., Jan. 26.
2020 has been a long year with seemingly endless bad news — so long that it’s almost hard to fathom that the death of Kobe Bryant occurred this year.
The NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on January 26. As the world mourned Bryant, 41, and celebrities and athletes paid tribute to the formerr Laker, Doc Rivers’ message stood out among the rest: “We are all Lakers today.” Regardless of where one’s basketball fandom lies, the death of Bryant, Gigi and seven others made an impact.
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