If anyone should know better, if anyone should have his guard up, you’d think it would be Elie Wiesel. “I should have learned,” he said, “that a human being is capable of anything.”
Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor, does know what a human being is capable of. He put the nature of good and evil into words in ways others cannot, and won the Nobel Prize for it. “A messenger to mankind” is what the Nobel committee called him. And yet, when, many years ago, a wealthy friend introduced him to Bernard Madoff, Wiesel’s imagination failed him. “I have seen in my lifetime,” the Auschwitz survivor told a Conde Nast roundtable on Madoff this week, “that the problem is when the imagination of the criminal precedes that of the innocent.” Even Elie Wiesel could not recognize what he considers a criminal imagination right in front of his face.