Eliezer Wiesel called for a community of seeing against the machine of war when he wrote “Night,” a biography of his youth—a book that several of my colleagues have told me was a tragedy that I never read in grade school as they had. I began reading the book for the first time on a plane from Atlanta to New York, on my way to accept an award for an essay; I was honored to learn that Dr. Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, read and chose my essay. I was very sorry to hear that he would not be attending the 2012 Norman Mailer Gala, for I wanted to thank him in person for his bravery to recount the years of trauma he spent in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
“Night” is a guide to what it really means to not bear witness to the violence of war and the consequences thereof. I was shocked to learn that the plight of Hitler reached as far as Sighet Transylvania, but where I am only seeing it now there were those that saw it, that were there, and were silent. The people in Sighet that watched their Jewish neighbors forced into ghettos were silent. The German people that watched the transport-trucks carry them away to Auschwitz like cattle. To Buna like cattle. To Buchenwald. They were all silent.
For all those silent to the devastation that US drone attacks are causing on foreign countries, read my essay “Float Like A Plane, Sting Like A Bomb: The Ethics of US Drone Attacks.” We can bear witness, speak up, and emerge from this “Kingdom of Night” together.