R.I.P. Elie Wiesel

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Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate, and author of Night, his memoir of being a prisoner in the Holocaust, died this weekend.  Mr. Wiesel, besides being an extraordinary writer, whose work brought the experience of the evil of the Holocaust to the forefront of many readers, was also one of the most powerful moral voices of our time.

I read Mr. Wiesel’s book Night as a teenager, and I was deeply struck by the power and the messages it contains.  I made a connection with the horror of the Holocaust and the hope of humanity through this text.  I will keep the discussion of my personal impact of this book short, because it is so deep and so complex that I could write forever on it.  But, it was another lesson that we are all connected and must remember this joint humanity–always.

Mr. Wiesel argued powerfully that it is not enough to simply not do evil, but that it is the moral responsibility of people to oppose it wherever it exists. He said, “Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, we must always take sides.” and “As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs. (From his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.)

elie wiesel

President Obama, in speaking of him, said of Mr. Wiesel, “Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.”

We should honor his work and commitment to justice, and we should remember, especially in our turbulent times, often filled with hatred and bigotry, that we are morally compelled to oppose injustice and bigotry.

Rest In Peace, Elie Wiesel.  The world will miss you.

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30 thoughts on “R.I.P. Elie Wiesel

  1. What an example to follow in life. I like the quote about being passive is helping the oppressor. And still today it’s the few who risk their lives to go against the mainstream opinions or even dictators

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out,
    swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…
    And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
    And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still
    red, his eyes not yet extinguished.

    Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
    “For God’s sake, where is God?”
    And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
    “Where He is? This is where–hanging here from this gallows…”

    E.W.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have been out of town (Canada) and just saw this post and just had to re-blog it on Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads. Hatred, fear and bigotry are without doubt three of the most destructive forces in the world. A destructive force that only humans can wipe out, like any disease, if we try. Elie Wiesel, a wise and brave man, who will be so very missed in a world that really needs him now. Thank you for a very important post, Professor French.

    Liked by 1 person

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