From Tenth Grade AP English:
Elie Wiesel once said that anyone who witnesses an atrocity, or an act of inhumanity, and does nothing to stop it, is just as guilty as a person committing the act. Those who know and remain silent are guilty of the same offense. To stand by silently is to participate in the crime. Using support from the novel, show why the reader should agree or disagree with the above commentary.
Not having read Night, I can't really understand the context of this claim, but it begs the rather obvious Leviathan question of any peasant. If someone armed with a gun holds up a liquor store and you are one of the obedient citizens who has never owned a gun, nor presumed to take the law into his own hands, are you truly responsible for intervening?
It seems a simple matter of common sense that those who don't have the skill to accomplish a task should get some moral credit for a brave attempt. But should one's morality be called into question if your judgment goes against brave attempt? If you are convinced it would be foolish for you to try and stop an armed robbery, can you be blamed?
This is an exercise in determining guilt and glory by association. As I observe this, there seems to be a fairly lopsided amount of reasoning. Consider the following scenarios:
- You vote for Candidate A who loses. Candidate B is a total cockup. Should you be blamed?
- You vote for Candidate B who is a total cockup. You could not have known how bad he would be. Should you be blamed?
- You didn't vote for either candidate. Should you be blamed?
I bring my examples directly toward electoral democracy because I perceive that Wiesel's ethics are directed towards people more or less out of direct control of things that go on in their communities. Note that my assumption is that within the next two decades, electronic voting and democratic processes will be ubiquitous here in the West. When voting becomes something you can do in a moment, your share of the responsibility for what goes on diminishes significantly. Not because the act of voting itself is less demanding, but because of the context of advertising that will be simultaneously present in electronic voting. Concurrently with this assumption is that we will continue to, in America, stridently resist the elevation of qualifications to franchise as part and parcel of our continuing downward spiral into identity politics. The undead have always voted in Chicago, the mentally retarded and autistic will have more lobbies than they expect when their clicks count.
There is, as a paradox of the democratic 'empowerment' doled out to American peasants, a sense of responsibility to be held on the perpetrators of history. Which is to say as we witness in our discussion about Lincoln, the untested assumption that individuals of the day hold collective responsibility for good and evil done around the matter of slavery. As an egregious example, the agenda of Black Freedom Struggle must be born by anyone with enough brain cells to rub together and see that racial inequality is wrong.
I would suggest quite strongly that Elie Wiesel's admonition can only apply to elites. It trebles their responsibility in all cases.
A consequence of this logic is that 'The People' will do what they will and that nobody in particular is more or less responsible for The People. In other words, The People are a force of nature.