"The State of The World" Number 10
Complete Index Of All Issues
The Character Assassins
The English-language word "assassin" originated from a Arabic word, pronounced hashashin, that meant someone who murders when infuriated by hashish (The Consolidated Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary).
Human history is filled with heinous assassinations. Not all were committed by people stupefied by drugs, but most assassins experience the same psychological defect - an inability to cope with someone in a peaceful manner. Assassins feel impotent against their challenger, so they rise up by other means - the primitive crime of murder.
There is however another form of assassination that is much more common - character assassination. It involves defamation - attempting to destroy someone's public reputation and integrity with malicious misinformation, exaggeration and outright lies. While the victim of that sort of assassination is usually left alive, it too can, in effect, end a life - a career or a profession.
It's a very-old diversion tactic known as "ad hominem" (an abbreviation of argumentum ad hominem) - from a Latin term that means to attack the person - rather than facing the actual matter at hand.
Ironically, it has become most-evident in democracies where some politicians, those who have much to hide, seek to make themselves look respectable and good by making their opponents seem despicable. The perverted fiend Adolf Hitler's (Adolf Hitler was elected) tactic "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it" is, paradoxically, true - and very-often employed by politicians (and millions of other people from all walks of life) still today.
Such crude and dishonest tactics themselves are a plain indicator of weakness and bad character (someone who is truly good in character has no need to attempt to destroy others with dirty tricks and cheap shots), but it's usually lost, at least until the worst damage is done, on those who become mesmerized by a master of character assassination.
Like the fatal kind of assassins, character assassins feel powerless against the truth that their opponent speaks, so they use personal attacks in an attempt to make people deaf to what their opponent says by misleading people into ignoring ("ignorant" literally means to ignore) what is said. It's a form of "hide in plain sight" with words.
"Don't listen to what he says because he's just a ...." or "Don't believe anything she says because she used to ..." are all familiar examples of ad hominem.
Will you let yourself be deceived by it?