Government-Sponsored Systemic Character Assassination

Daniel Rothbart


Episodes of character association (CA) among political figures are ubiquitous in the current political landscape of the United States, where political campaigns routinely include ad hominem attacks of one’s opponent. Yet, another form of CA lies beneath the surface of political figures hurling insults at each other. CA is also situated within certain social-political systems that strategically deploy mechanisms to dominate a targeted population group by casting them inherently inferior to society’s so-called pure members. The primary objective of this article is to characterize systemic character assassination [SCA] within the United States as an insidious form of disciplinary control. After identifying certain features of governmental domination over segments of society (section 1), the author introduces the notion of SCA (section 2). A case study is provided of the systemic denigration of migrants seeking asylum in the United States (section 3). This case is followed by an analysis of SCA in terms of the power dynamics between governmental authorities and the targeted population group (section 4).  All of which indicates a fundamental tension between the state’s legitimacy as rightful rulers and its illegitimacy from the perspective of those subjected to the insidious manipulations of SCA.


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ISSN: ISSN 2398-5836

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