Theholocaust was a time in history that brought great suffering, injustice, painand indifference.
Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust knows this all toowell. In April of 1999 Mr. Wiesel was invited to the White House by HillaryClinton to be a participant in the Millennium Lectures. There, in the East roomhe delivered his well-known speech, “The Perils of Indifference.” His speech,directed at more than just the President and members of congress, was anopportunity for him to take his own experience and appeal to the conscience ofhis audience about the “indifference” still present in the world. He addresses thepeople with facts and logic; but more than anything, his emotional accountmakes Aristotle’s idea of pathos easily identifiable.
Mr.Wiesel was the perfect speaker for this topic. His narration was so personal asit included his own history. He uses his own examples to emotionally persuade theaudience and to attempt to gain some sympathy for the atrocities of the world. Hisopening statement alone is a perfect example of pathos. He uses a memory of hisown to gain the attention of the listeners.
He states ” Fifty-four years agoto the day, a young Jewish boy from asmall town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe’s beloved Weimar, in a place of eternalinfamy called Buchenwald (Wiesel).” Hesets the scene and then goes on to include the emotional tie by saying “he wasfinally free, but there was no joy in his heart (Wiesel).” Wiesel’s speech was an emotional argument becauseof his extremely personal narration he chose to deliver on his own history. Heused these accounts to illicit sympathy from those in attendance in his attemptto make his audience recognize and care for the issues he presented in the way hedoes. He utilized his personal examples to compare them to present day issuessuch as Kosovo as a means of emotional persuasion. Wiesel closes out as he hadbegun with a recount of the child liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, buttook it a step further to aspire for a greater future. He left the audiencewith stirred feelings and a deeper connection to his plea.
Mr.Wiesel’s persuasive speech not only utilized the concept of pathos, but he encompassedAristotle’s other concepts of ethos and even logos as well. Ethos, establishesthe credibility of the author and whether or not this particular individual isappropriate or educated enough on the topic on which they are presenting.
Inthis case, Mr. Wiesel’s use of pathos directly and simultaneously demonstratesethos. His opening statements of his own accounts show that he himself hadexperienced indifference first hand and can use his own history to relate tomodern day problems in the world. Mr. Wiesel’s experience during the holocaustmade him a credible speaker for the topic. Whileethos and pathos tied into one another and were clearly identifiable in thepiece, the less noticeable concept, but still present in his speech was logos.Logos, addresses the logical appeal aspect of a piece and Mr. Wiesel was ableto speak to the reasoning of the audience by including some facts into hisspeech.
Wiesel speaks on a specific incident during the Holocaust in whichcargo of Jews was not allowed into the United States, to display a rationalargument for the injustices of that time. He states “The depressing tale of St.Louis is case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo — nearly 1,000 Jews– was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht,after the first state sponsored program, with hundreds of Jewish shopsdestroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps.And that ship, which was already in the shores of the United States, was sentback (Weisel).” He goes on to name a few other times in history in which injusticeis present.
His hope is that by pointing out the injustices of the past thatattention will be brought to the injustices of the present and prevention ofinjustice in the future.Thetheme of Mr. Wiesel’s piece, injustice, came as no surprise. He made the speechpersonal for the audience instead of just preaching to them about theindifference the world has shown to numerous issues.
He pleads to not confuseindifference and innocence, he stresses the failures of the past to encourage afuture where history does not repeat itself. His speech was well organized andtested the morality and character of all. He closed out as he had begun with arecount of the child liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, but took it astep further to aspire for a greater future. In his powerful closing statement,he said “together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fearand extraordinary hope (Wiesel).”