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When in Doubt, Blame It on Napoléon

11/20/2013 03:49 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

If everybody loves Raymond, who does everybody hate? No, not Ted Cruz. Napoléon!

The French emperor and dictator has long been the subject of hatred and ridicule.

As he should be -- this great man of diminutive size is exactly the type people love to hate. Even after all these years.

(I should mention that I personally love and adore Popoleon, as we affectionately call our great Emperor in France.)

Why exactly do you hate Napoléon? At this point, for anything and everything. But let me be more specific. I can tell you that Napoléon is responsible for all the affliction, torment and suffering of today's world.

When in doubt, blame it on Napoléon.

- Why do we drive on the right and the Brits drive on the left?

Blame it on Napoléon. During the Napoleonic conquests, Napoléon, who was a lefty, forced his entire army to lead charges on their horses from the right, holding their weapon in their left hand. As he conquered most of Europe, the whole continent adopted his horse-riding style, with the exception of the Brits. 200 years later, we still hold on to this schism.

- Why do men think they are superior to women?

Blame it on Napoléon. As you know, Napoléon was an emperor, a warrior. But he is also the man who promulgated the Napoleonic Civil Code, the civil code that still today is used in the majority of countries throughout the world. Article 212 of the Code Napoléon legislates the rights and duties of spouses. Right before the code was proclaimed, Napoléon insisted that a line be added. In 1804, the new Code Napoléon proclaimed the legal inability for married women. The Emperor famously said at a State Council meeting: "What is unfrench, is to give authority to women." Which is slightly ironic when you know that Napoléon's own sister, Elisa Bonaparte was a bona fide ruler, Princess of Piombino from 1805 to 1814 and Grand-Duchess of Tuscany from 1809 to 1814.

- Why Arab Muslims hate us?

Blame it on Napoléon. First, Arab Muslims don't hate us. But, if we're trying to understand the complex relationships between Arab Muslims and the Western Christian world, here's to Napoléon: in 1798, Napoléon realized that the French Navy was not quite ready to face off the Brits in the English Channel. Instead, with his Foreign Minister, Talleyrand, he decided to launch a little stroll through Egypt. His goal was to forge alliances in Egypt and Syria to reach India and get in the way of England in their possession. Nothing worked the way it was planned but nevertheless, Murad, the Egyptian ruler who led the Mameluks, engaged in a series of battles with the rigorously trained troops of Napoléon. Murad suffered a terrible and bloody defeat at the battle of Abukir, under the pyramids. The loss was crushing and humiliating. The Mameluks, who had expressed the greatest contempt for Napoléon when he arrived, realized the extent of their own weakness and their ignorance of 'modern' European military capabilities. They developed immense resentment for that humiliation, which historians credit as the root of today's hostility.

- Why do you have your Facebook timeline polluted by ads for Rosetta Stone, which makes you feel like a cretinous moron because you have not yet mastered Swahili and Pashto during your last summer vacation?

Blame it on Napoléon. See paragraph above. Napoléon invaded and conquered Egypt. While at it, on his way to Cairo from Alexandria, he discovered the Rosetta Stone!

- Why do you suffer heartaches and believe that you should marry someone you love?

Blame it on Napoléon. You might think it's a progress to marry for love, but actually, it causes so much heartache that some argue it is cruelty. In any case, before Napoléon, people married to forge alliances and to protect patrimonial assets. But our great Emperor met a lovely lady, a widow with bad teeth. And he fell for her - his large- head over his heels, which was not too bad because he was short. He fell in love and he decided to pursue the object of his love. Breaking with French monarchs before him, he married Josephine despite her less than perfect pedigree, sending a message that marrying for love was utterly acceptable, even commendable. If you can't find a man, if your heart is bleeding because she left you, just blame it on Napoléon.

- Why do you read about scandals in magazines at the nail parlor or at the barbershop?

Blame it on Napoléon. Napoléon invented the scandal. Let's say more accurately that he was the victim of the first full-fledged tabloid scandal. While trying to conquer Italy, his heart was aching from being so far from Josephine. He begged her to join him in Milan but she was reluctant. Many rumors arose that Josy was having fun while her man was fighting for the grandeur of La France. He became suspicious and jealous. To get her pissed off, he took a mistress (or two), then decided he did not love her anymore. He wrote a letter to his brother confessing to his change of heart. The letter was intercepted by the Brits and published on the front page of the newspaper. If you don't like tabloids, don't blame Murdoch. Blame it on Napoléon.

- Baldness?

Blame it on Napoléon. Previous French kings were wearing wigs. Napoléon abolished this practice, revealing his calvicie. Without Napoléon, Phil Collins would never have achieved rock star status! If you're a fan of Phil Collins, you probably don't mind. But for all of you who do like men with a full crop of hair...

- Hemorrhoids?

Blame it on Napoléon. Or more exactly, Napoléon should blame hemorrhoids. He did not invent them. But he suffered a very bad case of the disgrace. Some historians go around spreading the word that he lost the battle of Waterloo because of a bad case of piles.

- Finally, you could have been elegant, refined, smart and superbly arrogant French, rather than being rough around the edges, unsophisticated, stodgy and superbly arrogant Americans.
Blame it on Napoléon, who sold Louisiana in 1803. Sly Jefferson went ahead with the transaction, although it was probably unconstitutional. Pause for a second and imagine: Bobby Jindal as a frogs-leg eater.