Wednesday 18 January 2017

1898 - scapegoating a minority - and the alternative.

At another time (1898) in different circumstances, Emile Zola was asked about what he thought of the hysteria being whipped up against a minority at that time - the Jews. When it was extremely unpopular and dangerous for him to stand up against this he said:

"We are trying to wipe out the frontier of nations, we are dreaming of the community of people, we draw together into congresses the priests of all religions so that they might fall into each other's arms, we feel ourselves the brothers in the common sufferings of humanity, and we wish to work for the relief of all from the pains of existence by raising up a single altar to Human Pity. And a handful of madmen, cunning or idiotic, come and shout in our ears every morning, 'Let us kill the Jews. Let us devour the Jews. Let us massacre them. Let us exterminate them. Let us get back to the days of the gibbet and stake.'"

Zola himself was regularly threatened with lynching as, for example, when the newspaper 'Libre Parole' ('Free Speech' (!) wrote:

'The truth is marching along and Zola is in flight, although, there are in the neighbouring woods, such lovely branches... natural gibbets.' 

(Taken from pp. 217-223 my book 'The Disappearance of Emile Zola, love, literature and the Dreyfus Case' (Faber and Faber))