Human Rights in Speeches of Elie Wiesel and Susan B. Anthony

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Human rights are an issue throughout the world, causing social injustice to people of every ethnicity and gender. Our response to the violation of human rights needs to be held to the utmost importance. Two speeches that provide examples of injustice and calls for change are “The Perils of Indifference” by Elie Wiesel and “On Women’s Right to Vote” by Susan B. Anthony; both express their emotional personal experiences and the wrongs done to them and how they feel the world needs to change. It’s hard to blame indifference entirely on a lack of humanity when fear is also a likely motivation. Many people choose to look at history as something separate from their own experiences, when that happens, it’s easy to forget the lessons of the past and make the same mistakes again.

On April 12, 1999 Elie Wiesel delivered his speech in front of then President Bill Clinton, Mrs. Clinton and members of Congress (Wiesel, 1999). Mr. Wiesel’s speech tells us of his time as a prisoner in a Jewish concentration camp during WWII, he tells us of his sorrow and how the indifference of other countries caused him to feel forgotten. His speech makes the listener want to weep and we share in his emotions. Speaking of President Roosevelt, he expresses how he couldn’t comprehend that a president could show indifference towards the Jewish people but be a great leader to Americans; this left him with an overwhelming feeling of pain and anguish.

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Susan B. Anthony spoke of indifference in her speech in 1872, in front of the Congress and friends, after being arrested for casting an illegal ballot in the Presidential election (Anthony, 1872). She spoke of how as a human and a citizen of the United States she has the right to vote. She addressed her right to humanity as a citizen by reading the Constitution and informing the people of equality for all, not just men, that have the right to vote.

In Mr. Wiesel’s speech he talks about countless innocent victims and how they had hope that one day someone would come to help them. But no one did and discovering that America knew what was happening and did nothing to help the Jewish people in these concentration camps, Mr. Wiesel calls this the indifference. Susan B. Anthony speaks about equality and not having the right to vote and to decide the fate of a nation. What Anthony speaks about did not cause death, which is where the speeches differ in topics.

With Anthony demanding equality for women and Wiesel advocating for all humans to be treated the same we can see the similarities and at the same time the biggest difference. But ultimately, they are both calling for human rights. There are still people today that have been denied the privilege to be proud of their heritage and culture, still we persecute others for their gender and sexual preference. Anthony’s speech reminds us how we still are encountering acts of women’s rights being infringed on, such as equal pay in the work force or even sexual harassment. Wiesel ends his speech with “And so we walk towards the millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope” (Wiesel, 1999), he is acknowledging the fact that the world is learning from the experience and has hope for the future.

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Human Rights in Speeches of Elie Wiesel and Susan B. Anthony. (2022, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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