Elie Wiesel

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Elie Wiesel-"The Perils of Indifference"-Why does he think indifference on the part of America endangers the entire world?

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marilynn07 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with akannan's post to your question. I want to add that the kind of indefference that is being discussed by Elie Wiesel is the kind of head turning that the German people did during the early days of Hitler's rise to power and the beginning of the Third Reich. The good German people did nothing to stop Hitler's round-up of German Jewish people into Ghettos or terrorizing the German people in the streets. No one had the stamina or intestinal fortitude to say, "This is wrong."  People were afraid.

A quote is attributed to Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing." which I think examplifies the type of "head turning" and silent nod that many have given to genocides in the world around us. We have our own problems, and perhaps, the world's problems are too much for America to handle.  It is a type of rationalization that we use to justify our inaction. However, it does allow the evil to flourish by simply doing nothing.

Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction.  (http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/wiesel.htm)

I think that in many ways, the expectation is that the persons being victimized will rise up and overthrow the agressor, but in so many liberty/revolution situations, the oppressed need help to overthrow the oppressor. America is seen as the great liberator or the policeman of the world. Our values are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...and we willingly share those values with any who request our aid.


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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wiesel draws upon his own experience as a survivor at Buchenwald, one of the Nazi death camps, to prove the...

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