In 1821 Napoleon was murdered--he was poisoned--while in the hands of his enemies, far away from home, just as Che was murdered in 1967. It took 19 years to bring Napoleon's remains back to France, compared to 30 years for Che. Napoleon's reburial took place on Dec. 15, 1840. People who should have known better found the ceremony moving. Victor Hugo, who stood among the crowd, dutifully recorded, in a poem on the occasion, that Napoleon had been wrong--that Napoleon had tried to conquer with the sword instead of with the mind. Yet a few lines later, Hugo wrote, his Bonapartist blood pounding:
May the people forever keep you in their memory, Day as beautiful as glory, Cold as the tomb!
So in the Cuban tropics, too, there has just now been a day as beautiful as glory, cold as the tomb. And because the cult of glory feeds on defeat and not on victory, we can be sure that, like the passion for Napoleon in the last century, the passion for Che will disappear no time soon. Not in this generation, not in the next.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.