When someone you care about is in a relationship with a person who treats them badly, they are often unable to hear your critical assessment of that person. They will tell you that you don’t really know her or that you simply misunderstand his behavior. When you criticize the person your friend admires and relates to, you almost certainly secure their devotion them. If you persist in pointing out flaws, your friend may turn against you, though those flaws be severe or even dangerous. If your friend is to see the object of their affection the way you see her and assess her behavior with the standards used by everyone who isn’t in love with her, it will not be because you made a persuasive case about her shortcomings. It will more likely be because your friend got hurt and saw it for themselves. You won’t relish your friend’s injury, but your sympathy will be diminished by the hurt of being ignored and of having your motives maligned.

People who are enthralled with a leader are no more receptive to criticism of that leader than your friend. Pointing out graft, dishonesty, and incompetence–vices carried out in broad daylight and scrupulously documented–will only increase many peoples’ devotion. More than the leader’s vices, those people will be angered at you, and when it comes to choosing whom to believe the contest won’t be close. If the leader shoots someone on Fifth Avenue, loyalists will demand that you prove it was really him, and provided that evidence will question the source. The only way the shooting irritates the loyalist is if they’re the target, in which case you will remind her about all your warnings, though by that point you both will have much bigger problems to deal with.

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