The Dreyfus Case is still relevant after 125 years

Dreyfus, A Family Affair, 1789-1945 by Michael Burns, Harper Collins, 1991.

More than two thousand books and articles have been written about the infamous court martial of French Jew Captain Alfred Dreyfus in 1894. While most histories focus on the case itself, Michael Burns provides a broader view, chronicling the emergence of the Dreyfus family as wealthy cotton manufacturers in Alsace, examining the case in great detail, and then following up on the roles the Dreyfus family and his supporters played in both world wars.

The Dreyfus family story has as much relevance today as it did at the turn of the century––not just in France where anti-Semitism has never gone away and has resurfaced recently in deadly fashion, not just in Europe––ditto its presence, but in the United States as well.

For those who forgot the short mention of the Dreyfus affair in their European History class, it is important to recall that at a young age Alfred Dreyfus became dedicated to France and to the French military, and he never waivered in that dedication. Despite his loyalty, Dreyfus was convicted of spying for France’s bitter enemy Germany, which had humiliated France in 1870 and taken part of Alsace as its reward.

The Dreyfus case coincided with the growing antagonism to Jews in France, as a result of their increasing integration into mainstream French society in general and in the ranks of the French military in particular. The plot, hatched by clerical and nationalist elements in the military and supported by vocal anti-Semites, led to Dreyfus spending five years on Devil’s Island off the coast of French Guiana. Dreyfus endured incredible deprivation, which Burns details, and barely survived. Yet, as a result of a campaign led by his brother Mathieu and the strength he gained from the support of his wife Lucie, Dreyfus survived to face a second court martial. Although he was convicted a second time, as the facts of his innocence had begun to emerge, he was eventually pardoned and his military rank was restored.

Jews world-wide know of the Dreyfus case because a Hungarian journalist who covered the initial trail cited it as an influence in his decision to join the nascent Zionist movement. Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) was apparently influenced not just by the case itself but also by the massive public outcry he witnessed against Dreyfus and against French Jews. Chants of “Death to Jews,” he wrote, were heard throughout the country.

The irony of the Dreyfus case was that the Dreyfusards––those who believed in Dreyfus innocence, downplayed the anti-Semitic motivation of his framers. The Dreyfus family had taken advantage of France’s emancipation of the Jews to become wealthy and to take advantage of the open doors to French society. Along the way, their Judaism was reduced to the equivalent of a regional family affiliation. At family funerals even Kaddish, the prayer cited for the dead, had to be recited in French.

The consequences of the Dreyfus’ family’s unwavering devotion to France was that several young men of the next generation including Mathieu’s son Emile, went to their deaths fighting for France in the first world war, and Alfred, who never fully recovered his health, insisted in returning to his post and put his life in danger defending Paris.

Despite the contributions of the Dreyfus family to that war, they were again victimized by French anti-Semite allies of the Nazis who helped send tens of thousands of French Jews, including those with medals for valor in the First World War, to Auschwitz.

Burns does not offer conclusions based on his thorough research, nor should he. That’s not the historian’s job. Conclusions based on the Dreyfus case are nevertheless the domain of reviewers.

In this reviewer’s humble opinion, the lesson of the Dreyfus case is that the promise of the French Revolution for Jews––emancipation and unrestricted opportunity––was never fulfilled. Yes, there were periods where Jews prospered and made inroads, but always at the expense of their commitment to Judaism, and always in the face of an undercurrent of resentment and hostility from those who needed a scapegoat for failures personal and national. Again and again, the undercurrent of resentment came to the surface whenever conditions justified the need for someone to blame.

Earlier I suggested the Dreyfus case offers lessons for Jews in the United States as well as in Europe. Recent history backs me up. When college students are bombarded by professors with accusations against Israel, when they are afraid to wear a Jewish star or kippah, and when members of Congress blame the Jewish Lobby (with a capital L) for buying their colleagues’ votes, events like the murders in Pittsburgh become all too likely.

Herzl’s vision came none too soon. Unfortunately, however, millions of Jews who might have benefitted were brutally murdered in the Holocaust or died as soldiers fighting the Nazi menace. What’s different today is that the state of Israel exists and at the moment one can be a practicing Jew and an American. Who knows whether both will last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazon Deal Reveals What Socialism Means to Ocasio-Cortez and her Ilk

By now everyone knows that Amazon decided not to go ahead with a plan to build a new headquarters (H2) in New York City due to local political opposition. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez applauded the decision as a victory for New York, which gives us an opportunity to understand how her kind of socialism works.

Rep. AO-C suggested New York was saving $3 billion which could be used for teachers salaries and other benefits. Good idea? Well, it would be except there is no $3 billion. New York was not giving Amazon $3 billion to build in New York, they were getting a $3 billion tax break. So much for the value of a degree from Boston University in economics. She doesn’t know the difference between a tax break and a gift.

But you may be saying, a $3 billion tax break is still a bad idea. It’s too much. Except Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio forgot to explain that the $3 billion tax break was a deduction from the $30 billion Amazon promised to pay into New York City and New York State coffers. In other words Ocasio-Cortez refused $27 billion for New York because Amazon wasn’t going to have to pay the full $30 billion they promised. Does that make any sense?

But what does that have to do with socialism? Socialism is about putting in power representatives of “the working class” who will decide what’s best for everyone. It’s not about redistributing the wealth. That’s a myth. It’s not about giving everyone a job. That’s also a myth. Those are the things they say it means, but history tells us that never happens, and it never can.

They rejected Amazon because they were going to get a 10% tax break. As a result, they threw away 25,000 good paying jobs––jobs that will now go to people in other parts of the country––and lost the multiplier effect on the local economy in terms of people buying housing, home furnishings and appliances, clothing, electronics, going out to eat, etc.

Socialism is about making ideological decisions at the expense of the needs of the citizenry. Amazon is big. Amazon is bad. Socialism is inherently undemocratic. Elections are used to gain power followed by corruption of the electoral process in order to retain power. If Americans want to understand how socialism would work in America, we’ve just seen a perfect example.

Identity Politics Gone Insane: The Case of Elizabeth Warren

More evidence of Elizabeth Warren’s fraudulent claim that she is Native American has come to the fore in recent days. She self-identified as Native American thirty years ago on her Texas Bar Association application and also later on her official listings at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. Some accept her excuse that she thought she was Native American, but why didn’t she attempt to verify whether she was or wasn’t? The fact is she would continue to be getting away with a lie today had not others challenged her.

It appears that Warren sought to use this myth to enhance her status and advance her career. She wanted to be seen not just as a woman, but as a Native American woman. There is an academic construct called ‘intersectionality’ that increases a person’s status if she is a member of more than one oppressed minority. It appears that Warren’s use of her fake identity, rather than the merit of her academic accomplishments, earned her prestigious jobs and high salaries. She then built on that resume to gain the nomination of the Democrat Party for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts––a position she holds today, a position some might argue she does not deserve. She further has the gall to think she should be the Democrat Party candidate for President in 2020!

Focus on the distinction between identity and merit as the basis for hiring and promotion. While minorities and women were discriminated against in the past, that doesn’t justify giving them a free pass today. When equal opportunity is no longer the standard for advancement in a society, the door is wide open to new forms of discrimination. There is strong evidence that has been the case in academia for decades. People who hold conservative views have an inordinate hard time getting jobs in the social sciences. Some people have admitted they had to hide their beliefs until they had tenure track jobs because they knew prejudice, not merit, determines hiring in academia.

Identity Discrimination Now Found in the Business World

Favoritism based on identity has now been extended to the business world as well as in the news media where to be charged of an act of malfeasance by a minority is tantamount to guilt, especially if the person is a white male.

To be very clear, I also would challenge the notion that a non-minority—i.e., a male Caucasian––cannot be objective, impartial and fair in the fulfillment of his duties whether as a policeman, school and college instructor, or as president of the United States.

Democrats who wish to preserve the notion of equal rights for all citizens—something embodied in our Constitution––ought to make it clear that they do not support Warren’s candidacy for president or that of any other candidate who feels qualified because they are a member of a minority group or because they believe minorities deserve special treatment apart from merit.

The Green Energy Plan: How Will It Affect Average Americans?

Everyone is in favor of green energy—the idea of replacing energy created by burning fossil fuels with renewable energy. Some people believe we must move aggressively, and that the planet will become uninhabitable in the next few decades unless we do so. That sounds ominous. There are, however, two problems with that scenario: 1) Which doomsday estimate should we accept? Some say the transition out of fossil fuels has to be done by the end of the century, others as soon as twelve years. 2) What will it cost our society to implement? I can’t shed any light on the timetable, other to say that past predictions have all been wrong, but I can shed some light on cost.

In order to get off energy created by consumption of oil, coal and natural gas, we would need a two-pronged approach: heavy investment in renewable technology and radically increasing the price of continued use of fossil fuels with heavy taxes to help pay for the conversion. The cost of heavy investment in renewables cannot be borne by energy companies alone given that we will be suppressing use of existing fuels, which would reduce their income and profits, leaving little for capital investment. Therefore, new personal income taxes as well as increasing the taxes on gasoline and heating fuel, would be necessary to finance massive public investment in renewables. Nothing less would accomplish the timetable of getting this done by as early as 2050. While the rich would be expected to pay heavily, the middle class and even poor people would feel the financial pain.

Let’s use a middle class family of four as an example of how the cost of green energy might be reflected. Say both parents work earning $50,000 a year each. They have two cars and currently spend $1,000 each in gasoline. Under a green energy plan, those costs would double as a result of an increase in the gasoline tax and the rising cost of traditional fuels. Their annual heating bill of $2,000 would also double as utilities would have to pay more for traditional fuels as well as bear the cost of switching over to renewables. That’s an extra $4,000 a year in living expenses. Not fun, but bearable. The real problem comes when we calculate the likely impact on food and healthcare under a green energy system.

Food prices would most likely also double in short order as the rising cost of energy would impact those producing and processing our food, transporting it to the markets and offering it in stores that consume large amounts of electricity to keep products at temperatures necessary to avoid spoilage. So, if our average family spends $200 a week on food now, their new annual food cost would remove $10,000 from their disposable income, threatening their vacations, savings and even mortgage payments.

Dramatically higher energy prices would also result in massive unemployment. The restaurant industry, for example, would crumble, as the higher cost of food would result in dining prices that would force middle class families to stop eating out entirely. Supermarkets also survive on very thin profit margins. The higher cost of electricity and food would force them to close markets in poorer communities, resulting in layoffs and malnutrition, if not starvation.

Higher energy prices would also adversely affect the healthcare industry. Hospitals consume huge amounts of electricity. Any increase in their costs would have to be passed on to customers, but the same people who are advocating implementing a green energy policy immediately also want to offer free health care. Free healthcare would have to be paid for out of taxes and with skyrocketing energy and healthcare costs, taxes would also have to skyrocket.

What if one of the parents in our example worked as a nurse at a hospital. Since she or he would be experiencing huge increases in the cost of living, they would demand raises necessary to cover those costs. Hospitals would have to pay higher wages or close their doors.

What if the other spouse managed a restaurant? Restaurant managers would be among the newly unemployed. This family which once felt secure earning $100,000 a year, would be reduced to poverty as their income is cut in half and their daily living costs—electricity, gasoline and food––double.

You might say that my cost estimates are an exaggeration and I’m only suggesting those costs to scare people, but that ignores the simple fact that green energy proponents tell us failure to implement their policies invites the end of human life. They will tell you it’s time to stop eating out, to stop owning cars, and to stop buying all those electronic gadgets. They will also tell you it’s time to grow your own food, and to sew your own clothes. Live local will be the new password.

Oh, there’s one more necessary ingredient in the green energy plan: compulsion. Since all human life is at stake we can’t afford malingerers. People will have to watch their neighbors and report anyone using excess energy, such as taking long showers, running an electric dish washer or watching more than two hours TV a day. The good part of turning in your neighbor for such violations is that we can re-establish work farms and put energy violators to work growing food for the rest of us.

If you’re not ready to find out what subsistence living is like, you have only one choice. Study the claims being made by green energy advocates to determine whether their doomsday predictions are sound. If you find they are not, then you must tell candidates who support green energy policies you won’t get their votes. If you do believe their dire predictions, then why not be the first in your community to move back to the countryside and learn shoot game and grow beans and corn to live on!

 

Masculinity Under Attack

Gillette, the makers of shaving products, is trying to win over millennial and younger males by attacking masculinity. A recent video advertisement disparages the notion that boys should be boys, and Gillette is not alone. Much of the entertainment and news industry follow the same formula: white men, business owners (capitalists), and the United States are the source of the world’s problems. All women, all non-whites, and all people whose sexual preferences are not heterosexual are victims.

Beyond the stupidity of alienating millions of existing customers, Gillette’s throwing in with the victimized political movement should serve as a warning sign. The price of overthrowing nature with regard to gender can only lead to the decay of the overall society, to the undermining of natural human attributes––the desire to compete, the desire to achieve, the desire for comfort, and the desire for shared progress.

There is a necessary biological difference between males and females, and I’m not referring solely to the reproductive function.

The vast majority of male children approach life differently. They interact with the physical world differently. They learn differently. That is not to say there are not males who, for biological reasons, have feminine tendencies, which society should accept and not ridicule, but they are the exception.

One danger of a feminized culture is that normal males will believe themselves the source of pain to women and minorities and try to become what they are not. That is what Gillette is preaching and it must be challenged.

Victimology is being taught at all levels of our educational system. Why is it so prevalent even in elementary school? One reason is the power that is gained by women and racial minorities. Today minorities and women receive favored treatment in admissions and hiring throughout American society. Today to be a woman means you are automatically favored to win an election if your opponent is a male. Yet women and minorities continue to claim they are disadvantaged, treated unfairly and damaged by their status.

Sadly, those practicing victimology are hypocrites for affiliating themselves with real victims. Real victims, such as women and gays in Muslim countries, are ignored while phony victims use their victim status to gain unfair advantage in our society. Black Africans are also ignored victims of Islam––in the Sudan and Nigeria for example, but Muslims in the U.S. and Europe see the benefit of claiming victim status and attempt to join the pity party under the label of “intersectionality” the notion that all victims have in common the same oppressors.

Parents must challenge teachers who make boys feel their natural boyish behavior is bad. They must not allow their children to attend colleges where victimology is the underlying educational philosophy. The Ivies are among the major offenders in that regard. We must stop making donations to such institutions.

Companies like Gillette and its parent Proctor and Gamble must be boycotted to show the majority of Americans oppose the victim ideology that makes natural maleness an evil, and candidates who run on victim platforms must be defeated at the polls.

There are bad men in the world, but there are also bad women. There are bad whites, but there are also bad Blacks, bad Hispanics, bad Asians, and bad Christians, bad Jews, etc. Bad actors are not confined to one group and membership in any group should not automatically consign someone to possessing certain characteristics. That is the kind of thinking we fought against 50 years ago when we attacked segregation and opened the doors to women and blacks as equals.

The United States is still the land of opportunity––a beacon and a model to the rest of the world. That status, however, is under attack by practitioners of victimology, by those who would repress masculinity, and by those who would replace free speech and free enterprise with constrained speech and socialism. The war is escalating. Who will win will be determined by each of us.

Peace should not be the Goal. It can only be the Result.

We all pray for peace, but beyond our prayers, there is the practical truth that when peace is the goal, the result is often war, suffering, and death. The most obvious example is Neville Chamberlain’s giving away part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, proclaiming he had achieved “peace in our time.” Chamberlain’s trading lives for peace emboldened Hitler, and before it was all over sixty million were dead. The Oslo Agreement between Israel and the PLO is another example of a disastrous deal made for peace.

The Oslo Agreement is Israel’s nakba––the name the Palestinian militants give to the formation of the state of Israel. It means day of catastrophe.

In return for “peace,” Israel gave Yasser Arafat control over millions of Muslim Arabs, converting them overnight into Palestinians. Israel’s leaders naively thought Arafat would settle for the ability to rule over the so-called West Bank, but he did not. He accepted Israel’s giving him an arm and a leg, but getting those parts only motivated him continue his quest for the entire body, a goal that continues to drive his successors.

Why Peace Deals Fail

The reason seeking peace often results in the opposite is that people naively believe peace is the means to an end. As a result, they give up too much to achieve the appearance of peace, often sacrificing the substance. To claim one has achieved peace without providing for the security and well-being of your people is an invitation to nakba.

The goal of any negotiation between opposing parties must be security, not peace. Giving the PLO the ability to rule Territory A was a security disaster. It has led to the death and injury of hundreds of Arabs and Jews because it made it easy for the PLO to promote lone-wolf acts of terrorism while taking in millions of dollars of aid from the West. Giving financial aid to terrorists is just plain stupid. It has allowed the PLO to establish absolute control over its own population denying them freedom of thought in part by disseminating school books that teach hateful untruths about Jews and lies about the history of the region.

What the world needs now . . . is Identity and Freedom

No less person than the refusnik, Natan Sharansky, the only non-American to be honored with both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, opposed the Oslo Agreement. Why? Sharansky was shocked to learn after being released from a Soviet prison that the West was abandoning “identity and freedom”––the values that brought down the Soviet Regime. “The liberal world . . . decided that the highest liberal value is peace,” Sharansky said at a recent event, “but that’s exactly what the communists were saying.”

Speaking of the downfall of the Soviet Union, Sharansky said “ . . . our victory showed the world how freedom and identity go together.” He believes people can only wage a successful fight against dictatorships when there is something more important to them than their physical survival. “It’s people’s identity, national identity, religious identity” that motivates them to rebel.

No matter what terms President Trump’s team proposes when they finally get around to presenting them, Israel must focus on long-term security, not peace. Its leaders must assume the Palestinian Authority will take any concession as permission to violate the terms of the agreement and to pursue its ultimate goal the destruction of a Jewish state.

Israel’s Unique Role

Natan Sharansky believes “Israel has an absolutely unique role [to play] in today’s world . . . to connect two basic desires of people and to keep them together. National identity and freedom.” To abandon that role would be a disaster not just for Israel and the Jewish people, but for the world.

 

Adding LGBTQ to Baltimore’s Minority Set-Aside Program Raises Important Questions That Ought to Concern Us

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh recently signed an executive order adding LGBTQ businesses to those eligible to receive special consideration in the awarding of city contracts. Although the Baltimore Sun criticized Pugh for the way she went about it––failing to conduct a study first to justify the need, this incident is a good opportunity to re-examine the justification for these programs.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court declared such programs unconstitutional if they are not based on a “disparity study,” showing each group is actually being discriminated against. In that decision Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote “The dream of a Nation of equal citizens in a society where race is irrelevant to personal opportunity and achievement would be lost in a mosaic of shifting preferences based on inherently unmeasurable claims of past wrongs.” Her concern speaks to what has happened since––namely, programs run on slim justification haunted by occasional cheating and a burden on taxpayers

Business ownership is fungible. Instances have been uncovered where a woman or minority was named owner of a company solely for the purpose of being placed on the approved list when the true owner was neither. One infamous case involved a man who identified as Navajo moving from Arizona to Maryland for the express purpose of becoming the “owner” of a company that he never owned. (See https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/27/minority-contract-set-aside-program-exploited/)

In addition to minority set asides, some states have small business set-asides. Combining all these programs leaves few opportunities for older companies that might have more to offer on the basis of experience and capital. The result is likely to mean work not done on time or at the desired level of quality and it can cost taxpayers more.

Another potential problem with these programs is setting the percentage of contracts that are to be awarded to minority-owned companies. The rational for a specific percentage ought to be based on current practices as well as the percentage of minority and women owned companies that are eligible to participate. Those numbers are likely to change from year to year and thus regular testing seems to be necessary to avoid favoritism and the exclusion of companies from bidding simply because they are not minority owned.

What O’Connor questions is whether the jurisdictions that offer these programs have the resources to evaluate the qualifications of the applicants and the quality of their work. Does adequate vetting taking place to determine whether a minority company has the management leadership, workforce experience, and capital to undertake the project?

Do they properly monitor minority contract winners to determine that they are carrying out their work in a proper manner, successfully achieving the expected results in the mandated time period?

There are dozens of opportunities for these programs to fail. The intent may be good, but does the results match the expectation?

Finally, do these programs bring us any closer to the day when such programs are no longer needed? I have my doubts. It seems that government bureaucracies generate built-in inertia in matters such as this. It is to the advantage of the employees in the offices that manage these programs to justify the need for their continuation and to overlook any discrepancies in a company’s application in order to give the mayor or governor numbers to show she or he is doing a good job.

A good way to avoid exchanging problems based on discrimination with ones reflecting poor oversight and poor work quality would be to sunset the programs, requiring a diversity study every two or three years before they are renewed.