The new Dreyfus affair

In the aftermath of the presidential elections, many American families are now divided by a deep chasm. Due to their sharply contrasting views of the Trump legacy, they are not on speaking terms anymore. And this phenomenon is often intergenerational, pitting liberal college-educated children against conservative parents, or vice-versa.

But this particular situation is not unprecedented. In France, in 1894 amid rampant antisemitism, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused and convicted of selling military secrets to Germany.  A French officer of Jewish descent, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and deported to Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

The French population became deeply polarized and this situation generated countless editorials and cartoons.

Caran d’Ache (Le Figaro, February 1898)

The most famous of them (February 1898) was called “un diner en famille” (a family dinner). The first frame depicts a family gathering with a caption saying “surtout ne parlons pas de l’affaire Dreyfus” (above all, let’s not talk about the Dreyfus affair).

The second frame shows all the guests at each other throats with the caption saying “Ils en ont parlé” (they talked about it).

This case brought France to the brink of civil war.

After serving 5 years in Devil’s Island and after a ceaseless campaign spearheaded by his family and by (future Prime Minister) George Clemenceau and novelist Emile Zola, Dreyfus was ultimately found innocent of any crime. He was reinstated in the French Army with the rank of artillery major.

This episode pretty well summarizes what is presently happening in the United States. A deep cleavage separating Trumpists and anti-Trumpists. An unhealthy climate likely to last for a few years…

The subsequent question is: can you remain friends with buddies and relatives despite your sharp political differences?

It depends on the degree of polarization of both parties. Hardcore and vocal devotees of any cause are unlikely to change their colors and the break might be irrevocable. No use to argue with fanatics.

But with reasonable people, it might be different. It can be politely agreed by both parties to disagree and to never bring up that subject again… just like the uncle who spent 5 years in prison for undisclosed reasons.

Life is too short to waste time with distasteful negativity.

Alain

Spoiled brat

“In every neighborhood, on every block, a spoiled child (brat) can be found.” Donna Jones

And they can be spotted on sporting fields as well.

Pétanque is not a contact sport, far from it… but under certain conditions, a game can become contentious, even heated.

In a tournament, any disagreement is usually settled by an “arbitre” and everybody abides by his ruling; but a casual game is somewhat different. Since no referee is present, some people (inspired no doubt by a Trumpian size ego) take it upon themselves to pronounce… self-serving rulings. They are accustomed to having their way and if they don’t, they wail and whine like spoiled brats.

They lack emotional maturity… and are prone to display bratty behavior. This flaw usually affects very young children, but it also impacts many “adults” who neglected to grow up. Regardless of the circumstances, they are very likely to argue and have tantrums.

Childishness usually stops around 18, but sometimes, due to a freak of nature, it extends to adulthood… And as recently seen in the news, it is disturbing… and pathetic.

“Learning to control your reactions, saves you a lot of explaining, regretting, and apologizing.” Remez Sasson

Even when he tries, the spoiled brat can’t change his spots. He is condemned to misbehave and antagonize whoever he comes in contact with. Once in a great while, he shows contrition, but this repentance lasts as long as a pole-vaulting jump.

In every team sport, there is a playmaker, usually an experienced “shooter” who best knows what to do. He uses a quiet authority to lead his team and few people quibble about his decisions… but a spoiled brat will. He cannot help it; he has to sound off.

Many people have seen or experienced this unpleasant situation, and it is their prerogative to boycott such individuals. I, for one, won’t hesitate to do it.

“all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless… sniveling brats.” P. J. O’Rourke

Alain

A real president

Joseph Biden, 46th President of the United States.

Alleluia, we now have a new president… a real president! After 4 long years of wandering in the desert, we just entered the Promised Land. Bells are ringing all around the world.

Yes, I watched the inauguration of Joseph Biden, and I am happy (and hopeful) with what I saw and what I heard. Our new commander-in-chief looks presidential, talks presidential and acts presidential. He conducts himself like a real president.

And for a man who once afflicted with a painful stutter, he gave a flawless, passionate, magnificent acceptance speech. A presidential speech calling for unity and hope, instead of empty grandiloquent promises.

“I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify.”

Joe Biden never pretended to be a “very stable genius”. As a matter of fact, according to Wikipedia, he was a poor student; but he managed to be “class president in his junior and senior years”. A poor student maybe, but a personable, trusted fellow.

Contrarily to our former “leader” he was not born into money. He was raised in a blue-collar environment and understands the plight of the common man.
Instead of surroundings himself with a bunch of fawning stooges, he has already put recognized professionals in key positions.  And one of his top priorities will be fighting the pandemic.

“On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as Transition Advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on January 20th, 2021.
That plan will be built on a bedrock of science.”

Joe Biden is an experienced politician who knows his way around Washington. A very useful consideration for somebody who plans to unite instead of disparage his opponents.
A real president is not afraid to praise and share the limelight with his wife and collaborators, and Joe has already proved it. Something extremely refreshing.

Without using a plethora of superlatives, he pledged to be a president for all Americans and restore the world’s respect for our once leading democracy.

I believe him and for our sakes, I wish him all success in all his future endeavors.

Alain

PS: Lady Gaga performed magnificently