FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Manning Show Trial is Another Dreyfus Affair

Madness, hypocrisy and historical ignorance swirl around the military kangaroo court that has sentenced Pvt. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison. It’s a classic example of the old adage that, “Those who fail to learn history’s lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them in the future.”

Almost every facet of this latest episode of the American Empire’s wicked indifference to truth and justice is like an eerie replay of the infamous state show trial and political scandal that occurred in France, in 1894, with the framing and railroading of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer, who was imprisoned for life in the penal colony of Devil’s Island in French Guinea for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy.

During the state show trials against Dreyfus, some 120 years ago, high-ranking military and political officials suppressed all information that told the real truth that would have ultimately exonerated Captain Dreyfus. So for twelve years after his conviction, Dreyfus rotted in a Devil’s Island nightmare while word of the military court’s framing of Dreyfus, and cover-up of who the real criminal perpetrators and traitors were, slowly continued to spread throughout the world, thanks to the persistence of one of France’s most revered writers and philosophers: Emile Zola.

It was only because of a vehement open letter written by Emile Zola, and published by a brave editor of a Paris newspaper, that more and more pressure gradually was put upon the French government until it finally had no choice but to reopen the case.
The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued during the second trial ended up dividing French society between those who supported Dreyfus (referred to as Dreyfusards), and those who condemned him, who became known as Anti-Dreyfusards. “The Dreyfus Affair”, as it came to be known, embittered French politics to the point that eventually afforded the radical opposition an opportunity to come into power.

In the end, all the accusations against Captain Dreyfus were demonstrated to be baseless and Dreyfus was finally exonerated, given a pardon by the French government and reinstated as a major in the French Army.

A classic Hollywood film, released in 1937, and starring Paul Muni, was “The Life of Emile Zola”. Though supposedly focused upon Emile Zola’s life, the film actually does a magnificent job covering the trial, conviction and eventual pardon of Major Dreyfus and more accurately should have been entitled “The Dreyfus Affair”. Rather than focus solely on Zola’s life, the film spends more time depicting how the false conviction of Dreyfus was clearly a miscarriage of justice, falsely based upon charges of espionage and treason that were driven more, at the time, by a widespread hatred and fear of the German Empire.

One historian described “The Dreyfus Affair” by saying, “Its enduring significance lies in its manifest embodiment of multiple narratives and multiple strands of historical causality…It shows how long-standing beliefs and tensions can be transformed by particular circumstances and by particular individuals into a juggernaut that alters the political and cultural landscape for decades. In the interest of increasing our understanding of the past, present and future, the complexity of that transformation should be recognized and analyzed rather than packaged for moral or political usefulness.”

So “The Dreyfus Affair” remains today as a universal symbol of iniquity that was justified by reasons of State and a country’s national goals and ambitions, be they political economic, military or cultural. It remains a bellwether of a complex miscarriage of justice where a major role is played by the press and public opinion.

Yet now the world has another universal symbol of injustice and wickedness that rightly could also be dubbed “The Manning Affair”. Like Dreyfus, Manning has been made a scapegoat of an empire’s political-military-economic system’s inherent failings.
This time around it is the American Empire and its rigid, corrupt hierarchy that is on trial. The hatred and fear this time not fixated upon the German Empire but upon all whistleblowers, whomever and wherever they may be. Now it isn’t the gross degradations of Captain Alfred Dreyfus at the Military School in Paris, who was compelled to pass in disgrace before the troops, but the inhumane degradations suffered over the past three years by Bradley Manning at the Guantanamo Military Prison. Now it is not the military guards who were given strict orders never to talk to Dreyfus, in order to drive him to utter despondency, but military guards who constantly ridicule Manning for his moral, ethical, political convictions and now his newly revealed desire to become a woman and henceforth be known as “Chelsea Manning”.

The Manning Affair is a classic case of one lowly young honourable man being made a scapegoat for America’s failed international foreign policies. Just like the Hippie & Peace Movement’s were blamed for America’s ultimate failure during its war against Vietnam, Manning is being made a scapegoat for not only America’s failed War of Terror in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world, but for the moral and ethical panic that he and other whistleblowers like him have begun to everywhere set off.
Yet just like the French political-military-prison system failed to break the spirit of Major Dreyfus, so too do the recent statements made by Private Manning since his conviction suggest that President Obama, and all those to whom he gives orders, will inevitably fail in their attempts to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning. The French system of injustice set out to destroy Dreyfus in the most inhumane, degrading ways, yet Bradley Manning already has shown that depriving him of his clothing and forcing him to stand at attention every night in the nude will not have the intended effect sought by his captors. Like Major Dreyfus, in spite of the many years of categorical condemnation, harsh torture and punishment that he was forced to endure, he went on to eventually become an inspiring example of stellar courage which millions of French men and women sought to emulate. So, too, now will be the case with Bradley Manning!

It took nearly 12 years for the French Government to finally realize the gross error of its ways and grant a pardon to Major Alfred Dreyfus. But 120 years later it shouldn’t take President Barack Obama anywhere near as long to grant such a pardon.

If the President truly intends to demonstrate to the world the just democratic way of life he so often espouses, it shouldn’t take him more than a few days or weeks at the most to realize the universal truths, across the ages, that those like Major Dreyfus and Private Manning represent in the world.

Jerome Irwin is Canadian based writer. He can be reached at jerome_irwin@yahoo.com.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail