On January 13, 1898, the noted French writer Émile Zola used the front page of L’Aurore, one of France’s leading newspaper, to publish an open letter to the French President. He accused the military and the government of framing Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer, of spying. Dreyfus went to jail but was eventually exonerated. Zola was prosecuted for libel. He fled to England. The Dreyfus affair became a classic example of government running amok. In France, people still talk about it.
I’m no Zola, but I want to follow his lead. I want to accuse the President of this country of sedition, libel, and possibly treason.
I want to accuse the people of this country of terrifying laziness, what the French would call j’m’en foutisme, which can loosely be translated as, I don’t give a shit.
I want to tell FB and other media users that writing, Fuck Trump once a week on their pages is aggressively and meaninglessly stupid.
I want to know why the streets are not daily thronged with protesters, as they were during Vietnam. Why our elected representatives are so cowardly that they dare not speak out? Why did the Million Woman March turn into a selfie event? Pussy hats. Pussy hats? Is this what it came down to, the ability to say pussy without snickering?
How and why do Americans tolerate the dismantling of this beautiful nation, the annihilation of rights fought for over decades and centuries?
What happened to national pride? We are the laughingstock of the world right now, not the Ugly Americans, but the Stupid Americans, walking head down and feverishly texting and instant-messaging but not really doing anything to remedy the situation.
When did we go from protecting the rights of the unpopular to speak, to doing our best to prevent them from speaking? How in the world did this happen?
We believe small victories presage a change. They do not. The replacement of a rabid Republican by a timid Democrat is meaningless when the administration packs the appellate courts with morons who will spend a lifetime altering laws, persecuting the poor and the dispossessed so they can build the wealth of the already rich.
Righting the wrongs of the older generation—Trump’s and mine—is the work of the young. It has always been thus. Where are the young? And what are they doing?