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 August 23, 2010
“To the right of Ivan the Terrible/ Attila the Hun/ Genghis Khan”

There is a political right and a political far right. To be politically “to the right of Ivan the Terrible” (or “to the right of Attila the Hun” or “to the right of Genghis Khan") means to be very far to the right. The three warrior kings did not necessarily share the same “politically right” philosophy of government. The phrase means that these famous people are extreme (and certainly not moderate), and a person to their right would be even more extreme.

The phrase is often associated with Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (1909-1998), but it is not clear when he first used it. The “Ivan the Terrible” version is cited in print from 1961, the “Genghis Khan” version from 1965, and the “Attila the Hun” version from 1969.


Google Books
Reaction and revolution in Latin America; the conflict society
By Kalman H. Silvert
New Orleans, LA: Hauser Press
1961
Pg. 173:
My opinion is that the Argentine’s definition of a reactionary is that of a person just a trifle to the right of Ivan the Terrible.

Google Books
Notes on Costa Rican democracy
By James L. Busey
Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Press
1962
Pg. 74:
From this point of view, one may suggest, and not altogether whimsically, that Marxism stands rather to the right of Ivan the Terrible.

Google News Archive
1 September 1965, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “(Jack) Kemp Keeps Playing—For Money,” pg. 27, cols. 3-4:
And, oh yes, he used to work for Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Says he: “My political views are a little to the right of Genghis Khan, but I’m proud of it. Why shouldn’t I be? People tell me some of their best friends are conservatives.”

Google Books
The sinking of the Lollipop:
Shirley Temple vs. Pete McCloskey

By Rodney Kennedy-Minott
San Francisco, CA: Diablo Press
1968
Pg. 217:
A well-known San Francisco society matron with political views somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan succeeded in reaching a friend and McCloskey volunteer at one of the headquarters.

Google News Archive
5 February 1968, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Letters To The Editor, pg. 14A, col. 4:
In the Senate, the “Wizard of Ooze,” Sen. Everett Dirksen is finally back in the Republican saddle, which means supporting every reactionary measure the party’s radical right element comes up with. The Republican House leadership is slightly to the right of Ivan the Terrible!
(...)
RICHARD ANDERSON
St. Petersburg

14 February 1969, Jefferson City (MO) Post-Tribune, pg. 8, col. 9:
He said that three Mississippians “whose positions are somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun” hold the power.

Google Books
New York magazine
Vol. 4 - 1971
Pg. ?:
“Pat Buchanan,” says one White House reporter only half-kiddingly, “is to the right of Attila the Hun.”

Google News Archive
12 July 1973, Owosso (MI) Argus-Press, “The Lowell Thomas story goes on and on” by Tom Tiede, pg. 4, col. 5:
There are some who feel, actually, Thomas’ impartiality is a synonym for conservatism. His critics, especially his younger contemporaries, believe the broadcaster is a “little to the right of Atilla the Hun.” The charge is that THomas, an institution hmself, is soft on institutions.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, August 23, 2010 • Permalink