Character Assassination

 

It’s ugly. No one will deny the intensity and revolting events that have taken place since the election of Donald Trump. In one sense, destroying another’s reputation is not new; but the collaboration in order to take down the President and his administration is a process I’ve not seen in my lifetime. It’s character assassination. I’d like to define that term, provide a few examples of the ways it’s been practiced historically, and how is different in these times.

Character assassination is slandering a person with the intention of destroying public confidence in that person. Further, I believe it is an evil act. Dennis Prager explains that these actions actually violate the Ten Commandments, specifically the Eighth Commandment, “Do not steal.” After explaining how stealing a person (enslaving) is prohibited, as is taking away a person’s property, he talks about the most egregious type of stealing:

Stealing a person’s good name—whether through libel or slander or gossip—is a particularly destructive form of theft. Because unlike money or property, once a person’s good name has been stolen, it can almost never be fully restored.

There are many methods for assassinating peoples’ character:

Discredit them, showing their arguments and decisions are weak and they are incapable in their work.

Use defamation, damaging the good reputation and name of others.

Demonize them, turning them into bad people that everyone hates, such that anything they do will be considered bad.

Dehumanize them, treating them as a ‘thing’ and framing them as non-human with negligible values.

I believe we have seen all of these tactics widely used against Donald Trump. If we are to approach this subject honestly, we also have to look at the attacks that have been made by the right against Trump’s opponents. If we are relying on facts, without the strategies listed above, and refraining from hyperbole as much as we possibly can, we may or may not be assassinating a person’s character.

There are countless examples of character assassination in our history. Abraham Lincoln may have sustained the worst verbal and written onslaughts. The media frequently called him an ape, a baboon, a monster, a Negro, an idiot, and a buffoon. His actual performance allows us today to see his greatness and how disgusting these attacks were. So the passing of time can eventually mend the damage of one’s reputation.

Several differences set our times apart from past actions of character assassination. One is the role of the media. The media have demonstrated an overwhelming left slant for many years; they have always denied this label, trying to show their unbiased credentials. Today, the media blatantly, almost proudly, flaunt their liberal bias and declare their willingness to distort the truth. Attacking President Trump by demonizing and discrediting him in any way becomes a badge of honor. I think it is fair to say that they want to destroy him. There are those who believe that the media, not the Left or the Democrat party, are driving the rhetoric about Trump.

The far left and the Democratic Party also have no qualms about destroying Trump. The lies, distortions and demonizing that they have attached to Trump are too numerous to mention here. In spite of actions and proof to the contrary, his mental and physical health have been questioned; in spite of his support of the middle class and tax breaks, they deny these benefits have gone to the American people; in spite of his promise to de-regulate government and trying to eliminate Obamacare, he has been accused of essentially calling for death sentences for the American people. The media, of course, publicize these attacks.

Organizations that have been celebrated for their ethics and non-partisan work until now, appear to be working with the media and the Democrats. The FBI, and potentially the DOJ, have joined the fray.

The difference in these times for those engaging in character assassination is the level of coordination and complicity by the media, the Left and the Democrat Party, and the intelligence community.

Maybe we should have seen these extreme efforts coming for a long time. Or maybe it just needed a controversial, obnoxious, non-politically correct presidential nominee, now President, to strip off the masks of greed, hatred, and evil.

I think a key reason that the groundwork was laid for these attacks is the decay of the moral fiber of this country. Secularism and its rejection of Judeo-Christian values show how easily we carry out our desire for revenge, for winning, for destruction and how incapable we have become of demonstrating respect and compassion.

I don’t mean to suggest that people shouldn’t be subject to criticism; that’s not the point. We do, however, need to look at our motives, at the tone of our language, the amount of facts vs. hyperbole, and whether we are maintaining our own integrity when we write or speak.

My final message is this: I have found myself disparaging people in ways that are truly hateful and hyperbolic. It has become easier over time, as I act out my rage against forces that I can’t control. I want a scapegoat, someone to blame, to hold accountable. But if I’m not careful, I will turn into the very people and institutions I despise.

I need to be stronger. I need to be more conscious. I need to be true to my beliefs and values. I am the one who wants and expects to be held to a higher standard.

What about you?

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  1. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    I wouldn’t feel so much rage if people were actually held accountable for their actions. Lois Lerner retired with full benefits, even though she appears to have broken the law. She wasn’t even charged with anything. Hillary Clinton break countless laws. Anyone doing what she did would currently be in prison. We know this because there are people in prison now who did far less than she did.

    • #1
  2. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    It’s not exclusively a problem on the left.  The organizers of CPAC are doing it right now to the founder of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft.

    • #2
  3. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    The media will do anything to support statism and big leftist political personalities.

    • #3
  4. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Eh… I’m fine with assassinating Trump’s character. As the Bible tells us, those who live by the sword die by the  sword. Trump has engage in this behavior unabashedly, and likewise his biggest supporters. How often am I told on this site that we have to use “their” tactics against them. Seems a bit late to lament it all now.

    As I said during the election if we are being fair and level headed about Trump, we have to be fair and level headed about Hillary too, and so that on the whole it didn’t much matter who won. Both are crummy for different reasons but in absolute terms neither seemed more patriotic, less egotistical, or more inspired.

    For most of us the hate we project on to politicians we don’t like is really meaningless because all we can ever do to them is just not vote for them (assuming we are even in a position to vote for them). We for the most part will never have to seriously sit in judgement of them in such a manner as would require unbiased reflection (like judging them in a criminal matter as a juror).

    Politics has become a sport and its always fun to boo the other team. Sometimes they even deserve it, but most times they don’t.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):
    Anyone doing what she did would currently be in prison. We know this because there are people in prison now who did far less than she did.

    Absolutely true. I think we have the right to be outraged and disgusted. All of that is an inside job, Max. What we actually say and do as a result of how we feel is what matters.

    • #5
  6. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    How often am I told on this site that we have to use “their” tactics against them.

    On them.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    It’s not exclusively a problem on the left. The organizers of CPAC are doing it right now to the founder of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft.

    Unbelievable. CPAC is the organization that invited Milo Y last year. Oh, of course, they rescinded that invitation when he was accused of pedophilia. I don’t follow Gateway Pundit, but many people here do, and often quote them. Jim Holt must feel sick.

    • #7
  8. George Townsend Member
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Susan Quinn: I need to be stronger. I need to be more conscious. I need to be true to my beliefs and values. I am the one who wants and expects to be held to a higher standard.

    This is a truly beautiful piece, Susan, and I congratulate you for it. And really salute your humility. I am proud of you.

    I just want to take slight issue with something: I totally agree that people are undermining Trump’s character, and assassinating it. However, you really do not mention how he has done this. Just to mention three things…

    1. He has suggested that Cruz’s Father had something to do with JRK’s assassination.

    2. He suggested a judge can’t be fair with his Trump University case, solely because of his heritage.

    3. He implied that no one would vote for Carly because of her looks.

    I actually do question – which people hate for me to do – how much character there is there to assassinate.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Eh… I’m fine with assassinating Trump’s character. As the Bible tells us, those who live by the sword die by the sword. Trump has engage in this behavior unabashedly, and likewise his biggest supporters.

    I think this is a tragic misuse of that Bible quote, @valiuth. Then you are happy to violate the Bible by assassinating his character. Then you say

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Politics has become a sport and its always fun to boo the other team. Sometimes they even deserve it, but most times they don’t.

    So which is it–serious enough to assassinate Trump’s character by quoting the Bible. Or do is it just a game?

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I need to be stronger. I need to be more conscious. I need to be true to my beliefs and values. I am the one who wants and expects to be held to a higher standard.

    This is a truly beautiful piece, Susan, and I congratulate you for it. And really salute your humility. I am proud of you.

    I just want to take slight issue with something: I totally agree that people are undermining Trump’s character, and assassinating it. However, you really do not mention how he has done this. Just to mention three things…

    1. He has suggested that Cruz’s Father had something to do with JRK’s assassination.

    2. He suggested a judge can’t be fair with his Trump University case, solely because of his heritage.

    3. He implied that no one would vote for Carly because of her looks.

    I actually do question – which people hate for me to do – how much character there is there to assassinate.

    So does Trump’s bad behavior justify your acting as badly as he does? I could list the things for which he demonstrates character, George, but I won’t take the time. Thank you for the kind words.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It’s an interesting question: do the horrible attacks from the Left justify our attacking them in the same immoral and hateful way? Do we really want to do that? Are we capable of criticizing them in a way that is pointed, incisive and even painful without it being an assassination? Are we even interested in trying?

    Edit: what do you think of the Michael Josephson quote in the body of the OP?

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn: Further, I believe it is an evil act. Dennis Prager explains that these actions actually violate the Ten Commandments, specifically the Eighth Commandment, “Do not steal.”

    Prager U’s series on the Ten Commandments is must-listen-to podcasting.

    Susan Quinn: The far left and the Democratic Party also have no qualms about destroying Trump.

    Don’t let the Republican Party off the hook.  As much as I couldn’t stand John McCain, I eagerly cast my vote for him in the losing cause in 2008.  Fast forward to the 2016 election, and look at the number of Republicans who not only refuse to support Trump, but actively work against him.  Character assassination is not limited to the Dems.  I don’t expect the elected officials in my party to like Trump, but I expect – no, demand – them to work with him to implement his agenda.

    As for conservative pundits, you don’t have to like the guy either, but be honest.  Trump being better than Hillary was a given.  However, aren’t you at least willing to say his performance exceeded your expectations?  It did mine . . .

    • #12
  13. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    It’s an interesting question: do the horrible attacks from the Left justify our attacking them in the same immoral and hateful way? Do we really want to do that? Are we capable of criticizing them in a way that is pointed, incisive and even painful without it being an assassination? Are we even interested in trying?

    Edit: what do you think of the Michael Josephson quote in the body of the OP?

    I’ve changed my mind about this stuff. Critical theory, the Frankfurt school, Alinsky tactics, Cloward and Piven, all of that it is real. David Horowitz, and a  GOP activist in MN, John Gilmore (@shabosgoy) were my biggest influences’

    Look at DEMOCRAT representative Jan Schcowsky’s husband Bob Creamer. He got busted in one of those Project Veritas sting’s big time. He was in the Obama White House 49 times.

    ***EDIT***

    And once the left seizes ground, they are very sophisticated about keeping it. Plus throw in the natural bureaucratic / dependency inertia.

     

     

    • #13
  14. Frozen Chosen Member
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Rage is all the rage nowadays.  Both those for and against Trump are in full tilt spittle flecked crazy mode.  I think if a politician causes you to fly into a rage you’ve probably got other issues in your life.  Everyone needs to just calm down but I know that isn’t going to happen.  I don’t believe in assassinating someone’s character even if they make it easy to do as Trumps does.  If we don’t start treating the “other” with respect we’re going to get more shootings and mass killings from mentally and/or emotionally unstable people who are driven to action by the toxic nature of our society.

    “And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” D&C 45:27

    • #14
  15. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    This is related to what we are talking about.

    • #15
  16. Frozen Chosen Member
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Further, I believe it is an evil act. Dennis Prager explains that these actions actually violate the Ten Commandments, specifically the Eighth Commandment, “Do not steal.”

    Prager U’s series on the Ten Commandments is must-listen-to podcasting.

    Susan Quinn: The far left and the Democratic Party also have no qualms about destroying Trump.

    Don’t let the Republican Party off the hook. As much as I couldn’t stand John McCain, I eagerly cast my vote for him in the losing cause in 2008. Fast forward to the 2016 election, and look at the number of Republicans who not only refuse to support Trump, but actively work against him. Character assassination is not limited to the Dems. I don’t expect the elected officials in my party to like Trump, but I expect – no, demand – them to work with him to implement his agenda.

    As for conservative pundits, you don’t have to like the guy either, but be honest. Trump being better than Hillary was a given. However, aren’t you at least willing to say his performance exceeded your expectations? It did mine . . .

    Sorry, Stad, but this is a huge strawman.  Both Mcconnell and Ryan are doing everything they can to enact the conservative parts of Trump’s agenda even though Trump makes it much more difficult to do so with his immature behavior.  Those conservative pundits who point out Trump’s failings or are against him don’t move the needle with anyone.  Their refusal to support him doesn’t hurt him one bit.  Nobody who matters is “working against him”.

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    To me, the worst character assassination attacks were on Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.

    Palin was a woman who worked her way up in politics.  Yes, it was rather fast, but she did it.  Her folksy, rural demeanor was a refreshing change from the stuffed-shirt sophisticates of the beltway.

    Romney was a bit of a stuffed shirt himself, but he was a decent human being with a long history of accomplishments in business and politics.  While not always a conservative stalwart (until he got “fierce” about it), he was significantly better than the alternative – four more years of “Hate America First” Obama.

    Trump is different.  He’s been in the public eye for quite a while, as well as the tabloid press.  Most, if not all, of his dirty laundry has already been made public.  That’s why hidden video surfaced (the Billy Bush tape), or things wholly manufactured (the dossier).  Even the true stuff (like the Bush tape) has been taken out of context and used to deface Trump, even by conservatives.  However, given all the previous stuff made public (Thrice divorced!  Only dates beautiful women!  Uses bad language!), no normal voter really gives a damn any more.  Trump was 1) better than Hillary – a given, and 2) someone who voiced opinions our tone-deaf Republican “leadership” failed to hear.

    Given these two things, it’s no wonder voters ignored the anti-Trumpers and voted him into office anyway . . .

    • #17
  18. Jim Beck Member
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Afternoon Susan,

    The problem is how is one to reply to slander.  We can look back at W and see that not responding to media slander and thinking that in the long term the historical record will right itself does not work, especially in the short term where actions of the government are said to be flawed or corrupt.  By not responding to slander the slanderous message stands unchallenged.  Recall the death hopes that artists and others  cast on W see VDH https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/progressive-art-metaphorical-killing-republican-presidents/.  Also reacting to slander by countering that I am not an Xist, does not erase the stain of the slander and leaves the slanderer untouched.  Here is the temptation Trump poses, I love the way he has exposed the media as an openly leftist Democratic mouth piece, and whether he has caused the media’s collapse in public trust or was incidental to it, I love that the media has lower approval ratings than most institutions.  I think his presidency has exposed the media’s loathing of our country, a loathing which has been there all my life time (I am 70), however we all would prefer another Reagan.  Maybe we live in a time where Reagan could not emerge from the political arena.  I wish that we could successfully reply to the slanderers with reason, but we have been dehumanized and the slanderers and those who believe the slanders (that we are the Xists that we are said to be) believe that we are bad and our intentions are bad.  We are not going to persuade this group, those who believe that they are saving the world by crushing us, by debating against the assertion that we are evil. Maybe the first step is to publicly identify the slanderers as slanderers and not honest observers, Trump is good at that.

    • #18
  19. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Eh… I’m fine with assassinating Trump’s character. As the Bible tells us, those who live by the sword die by the sword. Trump has engage in this behavior unabashedly, and likewise his biggest supporters.

    I think this is a tragic misuse of that Bible quote, @valiuth. Then you are happy to violate the Bible by assassinating his character. Then you say

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Politics has become a sport and its always fun to boo the other team. Sometimes they even deserve it, but most times they don’t.

    So which is it–serious enough to assassinate Trump’s character by quoting the Bible. Or do is it just a game?

    First off I don’t think I have assassinated his character (though I haven’t been shy to say I don’t think much of it based on his known public behavior). But I am fine with other people doing it, because to throw another quote out there.”This is the life he chose”. Trump and his entertainment right backers all chose to participate in politics as a sport and entertainment, where character assassination and hyperbole is par for the course, and throwing red meat to the audience is the name of the game. How can I feel that bad for the man when this is what he has chosen to engage in? He isn’t a victim he is a prime contender.Which is why I thought his fans loved him?

    But the things that moves the nation, society, the economy are bigger than this daily spectacle forever trapped in a 24 hour news cycle. Ultimately all the ink spilled about Trump or Hillary being the devil will not really be remembered 20, 30, 40, 100 years out (especially if there is no there there to it). Which sadly is why people can feel so free to engage in reckless hyperbole. The Super Bowl is not a serious event, in 200 years its existence may hardly be remembered, but to those engaging in it today it is serious, but arguably it is meaningless in the long run of human history.  Same with politics. I ask you how much of the vitriol and political ink spilled in the 19th century still matters today? Some matters still but most of it doesn’t even rise to the level of trivia.

     

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    And once the left seizes ground, they are very sophisticated about keeping it. Plus throw in the natural bureaucratic / dependency inertia.

    This. Thanks, @rufusrjones.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Frozen Chosen (View Comment):
    Rage is all the rage nowadays. Both those for and against Trump are in full tilt spittle flecked crazy mode. I think if a politician causes you to fly into a rage you’ve probably got other issues in your life. Everyone needs to just calm down but I know that isn’t going to happen. I don’t believe in assassinating someone’s character even if they make it easy to do as Trumps does. If we don’t start treating the “other” with respect we’re going to get more shootings and mass killings from mentally and/or emotionally unstable people who are driven to action by the toxic nature of our society.

    “And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” D&C 45:27

    You are so right, @frozenchosen! I put in bold a point that I didn’t make, and I suspect this applies to a number of people. I realize that the country’s future is at stake, and there are other things in life that call for our attention.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    This is related to what we are talking about.

    I’m not able to look at this right now, but my husband was just looking over the latest NRA magazine, and he’s very concerned about how much rage is directed at the left by Wayne LaPierre. (I haven’t seen it, but if hubby says it’s a lot, trust me–it’s a lot. Is that what you were referring to?

    • #22
  23. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    And once the left seizes ground, they are very sophisticated about keeping it. Plus throw in the natural bureaucratic / dependency inertia.

    This. Thanks, @rufusrjones.

    What it comes down to is, how is government captured, and then how does this change the economy, society, and people’s character ? Throw in Fed easy money, and it’s the feedback loop of doom. That’s why I think now is not the time for all of that Ben Sasse stuff.

    • #23
  24. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    This is related to what we are talking about.

    I’m not able to look at this right now, but my husband was just looking over the latest NRA magazine, and he’s very concerned about how much rage is directed at the left by Wayne LaPierre. (I haven’t seen it, but if hubby says it’s a lot, trust me–it’s a lot. Is that what you were referring to?

    IMO, it was a wonderful integrated speech about how the left operates and the state of the country, government, etc. I think he uses a lot of realistic and appropriate language and labels that even Talk Radio holds back on. In my opinion it makes a better picture of reality.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    We are not going to persuade this group, those who believe that they are saving the world by crushing us, by debating against the assertion that we are evil. Maybe the first step is to publicly identify the slanderers as slanderers and not honest observers,

    This is one step in the right direction. You’re right, @jimbeck, we’re not going to change their minds. Another concern is that the left will let them attack us, but if we attack them back, we’ll be attacked by the media. It’s a very difficult situation.

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Frozen Chosen (View Comment):
    Both Mcconnell and Ryan are doing everything they can to enact the conservative parts of Trump’s agenda even though Trump makes it much more difficult to do so with his immature behavior.

    Really?  How does Trump’s “immature behavior” cause Republicans to not vote for a straight repeal of Obamacare when they did so under Obama?  If you ask me, Trump’s character is significantly better than Obama’s.  Besides, you’ll never see Trump wearing mom jeans . . .

    Frozen Chosen (View Comment):
    Their refusal to support him doesn’t hurt him one bit.

    I agree.  However, it’s their lack of support that hurts him – and his agenda.  All I’m asking is for Republican and conservative support of Trump’s agenda, not the man.

    • #26
  27. George Townsend Member
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    So does Trump’s bad behavior justify your acting as badly as he does? I could list the things for which he demonstrates character, George, but I won’t take the time. Thank you for the kind words.

    Susan, you know I like you a great deal. And admire you. But we differ strongly on Trump. To answer the question: Of course his behavior does not justifies his attackers. I never said it did. But – and forgive me for saying so – your unwillingness to cite Trump’s bad behavior says to me that your piece, as good as it was, could have been improved if you had mentioned that Trump’s lack of decency precipitated some – not all – of the attacks on him.

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    It’s not exclusively a problem on the left. The organizers of CPAC are doing it right now to the founder of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft.

    My lord. Wow.

    I’m stunned.

    I hope and pray there is a movement by donors to stop funding this organization.

    • #28
  29. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    ***JUST REPORTING***

    Some say Hoft has been inaccurate and conspiratorial for years.

    • #29
  30. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Stad (View Comment):
     

    Frozen Chosen (View Comment):
    Their refusal to support him doesn’t hurt him one bit.

    I agree. However, it’s their lack of support that hurts him – and his agenda. All I’m asking is for Republican and conservative support of Trump’s agenda, not the man.

    Suppose you vote for his bills and then criticize the man for his behavior? Then you are Jeff Flake. I don’t recall you being that docile about Jeff Flake and admiring his wisdom of supporting Trumps agenda but not supporting Trump the man.

     

    • #30

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