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J’Accuse!

Emile Zola, 1898


In response to the trial and conviction of Alfred Dreyfus, and it’s accompanying anti-Semitism, the French writer Emila Zola published an open letter to the French prime minister accusing the state and the army of a cover-up, protesting Dreyfus’ innocence, and warning that the “appeal to this odious anti-Semitism will destroy freedom-loving France.” The editorial on the front page of the newspaper L’Aurore thrust Zola into the role of an advocate for tolerance, acceptance, and openness. His editorial forced the issue of of anti-Semitism out into open debate in France. Sued for libel and defamation against the army, Zola had to spend a year in exile in Britain in order to avoid jail time.

The appeal to this odious anti-Semitism will destroy freedom-loving France.