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Analyze the audience to whom Wiesel is addressing in his speech, "The Perils of...

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yanie8888 | Student, Grade 12 | Salutatorian

Posted February 14, 2013 at 1:33 AM via web

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Analyze the audience to whom Wiesel is addressing in his speech, "The Perils of Indifference."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 17, 2013 at 9:46 PM (Answer #1)

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The original question had to be edited down.  I think that the audience Wiesel is addressing in his speech is a unique mix of individuals. On one hand, Wiesel is clearly mindful that part of his audience is the modern individual.  This particular individual is one who is recognizing that the Cold War has ended and the demise of the Soviet Union has resulted in a new world focus where ideology is not as important as political power.  Wiesel's audience is one that inherits this world, a world in which the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo along with other atrocities that have the same underlying cause of indifference:

These failures have cast a dark shadow over humanity: two World Wars, countless civil wars, the senseless chain of assassinations -- Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Sadat, Rabin -- bloodbaths in Cambodia and Nigeria, India and Pakistan, Ireland and Rwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sarajevo and Kosovo; the inhumanity in the gulag and the tragedy of Hiroshima. And, on a different level, of course, Auschwitz and Treblinka. So much violence, so much indifference.

For Wiesel, part of his audience are the inhabitants of this modern world in which genocide has become so rampant after the Cold War.  Another part of his audience are those who remember the Holocaust.  Wiesel seeks to make clear that the indifference that enabled the Holocaust to happen is the same ethical position that allows the modern atrocities to occur.  Wiesel is skilled at making this leap between the modern individual and the individual of the past.  He recognizes that as time passes, the collective attention to the Holocaust also fades.  In presenting the Holocaust as the result of callous indifference and making this same connection with the modern day atrocities, Wiesel is speaking to the historical audience, as well as the modern one.  It is here where the ethical point of view compels Wiesel to speak to both the audience of the modern setting, warning them of what happens when indifference becomes socially accepted.  At the same time, Wiesel is speaking to a historical audience that understands that indifference was morally responsible for the worst of crimes in the Holocaust.  It is here where Wiesel's audience is both in the present and in the past and galvanizing both into action over what is seen today.

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