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English: Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935). Circa 1894. Author Aron Gerschel (1832–1907). This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or fewer.

By Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine, June 21, 2024

Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. He is president of the Center for Family and Human Rights in New York and Washington DC. He is the author of several books including, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic (Crisis Publications). He can be reached at austinruse@c-fam.org.

 

The division in French society over Alfred Dreyfus and the events that led to his conviction bear an eerie similarity to what is happening to American society over the crimes charged against Donald Trump.

Austin RuseCaptain Alfred Dreyfus served as an artillery officer in the French army at a time when France and Germany were at daggers drawn. A French officer delivered war plans to the Germans. Dreyfus was charged with treason. He was an outsider. He was a Jew. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison on Devil’s Island off the coast of South America in the year 1894. He was innocent.

These events utterly divided French society at all levels for years. The debate pitted the left vs. the right, elites vs. elites, elites vs. the common man. Newspapers, bishops, generals, novelists, and the man on the street fought viciously for years over the conviction of Alfred Dreyfus. The heart of the matter was that elites in the army lied about Dreyfus from the very beginning. While the fight was about Dreyfus, to be sure, his guilt or innocence, it also became about the very identity of the French nation. …

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