Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Final Solution: Orator

Orator is a work on rhetoric by Cicero, in fact his last say on the subject. An orator is literally someone who, according to the dictionary, “makes formal speeches in public.” Barack Obama is particularly skilled in this area, as is Bill Clinton, whose nomination speech for Hillary was memorable. However, there are many politicians who are skilled orators and among the spouses of famous presidents Eleanor Roosevelt and Michele Obama stand out too. Martin Luther King was a great orator along with Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and most recently Greta Thunberg, who at the ripe age of 17 unleashed an unforgettable jeremiad on climate change to the European parliament which basically held a whole generation accountable for the depredations which their children would face. But in an odd way public harangues are a value-free phenomenon. There are many speakers who have been capable of moving crowds to bad ends. Hitler was of course one and now there’s Trump whose increasingly high "tyranny quotient" allows him to wax for particularly long periods of time. It's characteristic of tyrants that they're both repetitive and capable of brow beating their opponents in an almost incantatory way with the perseveration which might seem obvious to those who resist the calls to oppression becoming almost hypnotic to supporters. It’s a paradox that those who would put a lid on freedom of expression might be most capable of prolixity. Vladimir Putin is a tyrant, but being a former KGB agent, he tends to be relatively taciturn compared to his counterparts in Brazil, Hungary and elsewhere.

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