The Free World Club
Notes on a momentous speech.
Earlier this morning, Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a moving address to the U.S. Congress. I have notes.
First, before I get to the substance, an icebreaker of an observation. I channel-surfed after he concluded his remarks, and one commentator after another made this super-insightful observation: Zelensky “tailored his remarks for an American audience.”
I don’t have any objection to the observation itself for the simple reason that it’s obviously true. But I thought the gravity and solemnity of it was pretty funny. The talking heads said it like the average viewer might have missed this apparently very clever rhetorical strategy when it was more of a “well, duh” point. It would have been really weird if he hadn’t tailored his remarks to the audience.
When Zelensky spoke to the Canadians earlier this week, he asked Parliament to imagine if Toronto or Vancouver were being attacked the way Ukrainian cities are. While that might have gotten vigorous applause from Lauren Boebert, I’m pretty sure most American legislators wouldn’t like to see that kind of carnage north of the 49th parallel. But more to the point, that would be a weird line for an American audience. Similarly, invoking Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech or Pearl Harbor wouldn’t make too much sense speaking to the British.