A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 15, 2013
“You cannot wake up someone who is only pretending to be asleep” (political proverb)

"You cannot wake up someone who is only pretending to be asleep” is a proverb that has been cited in many cultures—including India, Navajo (Native American), Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq, Tibet and Yoruba (Western Africa), “You can wake up a sleeping chap, but you cannot wake up the one who is merely pretending to be asleep” was cited in 1970 as an Indian saying. India appears to be the source of the saying, but it’s not known how old it is.

The saying means that if people wish to remain ignorant of certain facts, there is no waking them up with the truth. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh mentioned the proverb on his February 15, 2013 show, in a segment titled “America Has Its Head in the Sand.”


Google Books
Thought
Siddhartha Publications
Volume 22, Issues 27-52
December 12, 1970
Pg. 23: (This Google Books page number appears to be wrong and it appears to be page 4—ed.)
One does not have to be told that this Soviet parity should extend to the question of Kashmir as well. There is an Indian saying: You can wake up a sleeping chap, but you cannot wake up the one who is merely pretending to be asleep.

Google Books
The Moral Nation:
Humanitarianism and U.S. Foreign Policy Today

By J. Bruce Nichols and Gil Loescher
Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press
1989
Pg. 269:
The Oromo, the largest single group in Ethiopia, have a saying that describes well Western relief agencies’ response to the political dimensions of the recent famine in Ethiopia, “You can’t wake a person who’s pretending to be asleep.”

TamilNation.org
Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
The Cynicism of Real Politick

March 1994
(...)
And we are reminded of the late Sathasivam Krishnakumar, the charismatic intellectual and man of action of the LTTE, who sometimes quoted the words of his leader (Velupillai Prabhakaran—ed.) with a smile:

‘’You know, you can wake up someone who is asleep, but it is much more difficult to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.’’

Google Books
The Ecology of Commerce:
A Declaration of Sustainability

By Paul Hawken
New York, NY: HarperBusiness
2002
Pg. 208:
But you cannot grow out of a problem if it is embedded in the thing that is growing, or as the Somalians say, you cannot wake up a man who is pretending to be asleep.

Google Books
Letters to a Young Therapist:
Stories of Hope and Healing

By Mary Bray Pipher
New York, NY: Basic Books
2003
Pg. 290:
October 4
Dear Laura,
Iraqis have a saying: “You can wake up a sleeping dog, but not one who is pretending to be asleep.”

Google Books
Change Your Mind:
A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation

By Paramananda
Birmingham, Eng.: Windhorse
2005 ©1996
Pg. 147:
The Tibetans have a saying that puts this rather well. They say that you cannot wake up someone who is only pretending to be asleep. In a sense we are all pretending to be ignorant of the nature of reality.

Google Books
Triage Nursing Secrets
By Polly Gerber Zimmermann and Robert D. Herr
St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby
2006
Pg. 38:
As a Navajo proverb says, “You can’t wake up a man pretending to be asleep.”

Google Books
New Light
By Annette Gilson
Seattle, WA: Black Heron Press
2006
Pg. 237:
“The Yoruba have a saying that describes me. They say you can’t wake up someone who’s pretending to be asleep.”

Google Books
The Rigveda and the Avesta:
The Final Evidence

By Shrikant G. Talageri
New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan
2008
Pg. XXII:
There is a saying in various Indian languages: “you can wake up a person who is asleep, but you cannot wake up a person who is only pretending to be asleep”.

Daily Times (Pakistan)
Monday, April 21, 2003
Letters:
(...)
There is a saying in Punjabi that if a person is sleeping you can wake him up but if a person is pretending to be asleep you cannot wake him up,

RushLimbaugh.com
America Has Its Head in the Sand
February 15, 2013
(...)
RUSH: Well, one thing is true. You know, there’s an old Indian proverb. I heard this attending a Washington Redskins game. (chuckling) “You cannot wake up someone who is only pretending to be asleep,” and that’s essentially who and what you’re talking about. You can’t wake people up who are pretending to be asleep, and there’s another truth out there. If Obama can take away our guns—and there’s a Second Amendment that says he can’t, buts if he can—then why can’t he take away people’s wealth?

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, February 15, 2013 • Permalink