Abstract

This essay is about calumny as a rhetorical device. It is a case study of the false and malicious misrepresentation of the character and judgment of the social critic Hannah Arendt, calculated to undermine the legitimacy of her thought, which favored reconciliation with Germans after the defeat of the Third Reich and secular pluralism in the Middle East. The calumny about Arendt—that she was more German than Jewish and more sympathetic to rehabilitated Nazis than to the Jewish people—arose in reaction to her pluralistic criticism of Israeli militarism and international policy, but it touches upon her familiarity with German culture and people and her reconciliation with her teacher and one-time lover, Martin Heidegger. This essay confronts the calumny against Arendt's integrity with the evidence of documents, letters, political writing, and other primary sources and accounts; it also calls attention to the destructive function of character assassination that chills free expression in human rights discourse.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-794X
Print ISSN
0275-0392
Pages
pp. 86-119
Launched on MUSE
2006-02-10
Open Access
No
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