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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Favorite Assassinations

Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson has suggested that the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, might be a good candidate for assassination (per NewYorkTimes.com), although he's far from the first public figure to say so.

The word "assassin" has its roots in Crusader accounts of a heretical Islamic order called the "Hashshashin" - so named because their fighters, according to medieval historians, would get high on hashish to summon courage for suicide missions (although anyone who has ever used hashish will tell you that the "get up and go" one would need for a suicide mission can become a little blunted).

Assassinations can change the course of history at a stroke. Here are 10 of my Favorite Assassinations, presented in chronological order:

  1. Gaius Julius Caesar (44 B.C.) - the part where he looks over at his trusted friend Brutus and says "Et tu, Brute" - the whole assassination is worth that one moment
  2. Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus aka "Caligula" (41 A.D.) - there are lots of great Roman assassinations, but I especially love the way John Hurt dies in "I, Claudius"
  3. Thomas a Becket (1170) - assassinated not by Hashshashin, but by the knights of Peter O'Toole - er, I mean Henry II
  4. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1914) - his assassination started one of the most aesthetically interesting wars of the 20th century!
  5. Leon Trotsky (1940) - done with an ice axe - how cool is that!
  6. Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi (1948) - that such a man of peace should die in this way - ironic, no?
  7. Sonny Corleone (1948) - a fictional assassination, but a really good one!
  8. John F. Kennedy (1963) - the "Gone With The Wind" of assassinations!
  9. Lee Harvey Oswald (1963) - the "Wizard Of Oz" of assassinations!
  10. Malcolm X (1965) - gangland-style shooting meets high-profile political assassination - very sophisticated!

There are so many, many more good assassinations. I would love to hear what your favorites are.

Of course, as we know from our history studies, some of the best assassinations are those that don't appear to be assassinations at all. Sure, it's great to leap onto the world stage and shout "Sic semper tyrannis!" every now and then, but often you just want a bothersome individual removed with the minimum of hoopla. I think those less flashy - more workmanlike and humble - kinds of assassinations are the best kind. Unfortunately those "anonymous" assassinations don't qualify for consideration on my list (it's a Rule Book/Standards & Practices issue - it would take too long to explain), but I encourage you to look into them yourself.

Studying assassinations is informationful and fun!

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