Source: Catholic Union and Times
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Anent the Word Assassin”
City of publication: Buffalo, New York
Date of publication: 12 September 1901
Volume number: 30
Issue number: 23
|“Anent the Word Assassin.” Catholic Union and Times 12 Sept. 1901 v30n23: p. 4.|
|McKinley assassination (personal response); assassin (etymology); anarchism (personal response).|
|Leon Czolgosz; Alexandre Dumas (père); Emma Goldman; Hasan ibn al-Sabbāh [variant spelling below]; Johann Most; Lucy E. Parsons.|
Anent the Word Assassin
One week ago Czolgosz might have chalked his
crooked name on the gate of Lincoln Parkway, and no one but the keeper might
have cared to notice it. Today that name is known in every civilized quarter
of the globe, but with it is coupled the hated epithet of assassin. Before the
commission of his dastardly crime the wretch Czolgosz was but an atom in that
vast aggregate of millions called the people; today his name is one for lawless
folk to conjure with; a name which makes crowned heads shake with palsy and
presidents of republics look to the doubling of their bodyguard.
A nobody—Nieman is his alias—he fires a shot truly “heard ’round the world,” plunges 70 millions of people into grief, and passes into history. For, with the record of the President whom he tried to kill, and whom may God preserve! will be coupled the name of the meanest assassin yet hatched by the brood of anarchistic vipers.
The etymology of the word assassin is of peculiar interest at present in view of the great calamity that has befallen our Chief Executive. Webster tells us that it is derived from the Arabic word “hashishin,” meaning one who has drunk of the hashish. The latter is a narcotic derived from common hemp and has long been used in the East because of its intoxicating effect. Readers of Monte Cristo will recall how Dumas employs the well-known use of this drug among Orientals to heighten in one of his chapters the vividness of his romantic story.
“The Old Man of the Mountain,” a title occurring in Oriental history, designates the Iman who founded a powerful dynasty in Syria towards the so-called close of the eleventh century, and who was chief of a band of assassins, because he first plied them with the pernicious drug, hashish, before sending them out to kill some selected enemy.
Doses of hashish are still administered, but mostly by medical prescription under the name of cannabis Indica. There may be those who, knowing its powerful effects, degrade themselves by its use after the manner of opium or cocaine fiends, but no one thirsting to become an assassin need drink (or eat) beforehand the drug of the Iman Hassan Ben-Sabbah. He has only to listen to the ravings of such pests of society as Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Herr Most (or Herr Least), to inhale an intoxicant which will, if encouraged, produce more baneful effects than any recorded of the hemp juice which Sabbah dispensed to his bloodthirsty henchmen.
A fleck of foam from the chops of a mad dog, if introduced into one’s veins, will not bring on the horrors of hydrophobia more quickly than the frothings of these maniacs will madden cowards into the perpetration of deeds whose boldness and wantonness fill the prince of devils with envious rage. We kill mad dogs, if we can, before they have spread their rabies, but we wait until the hashish of anarchy has done its dreadful work and then—?