Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Christian clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Likewise, Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese opposition politician, and prominent leader in the movement for democracy in Burma (also known as Myanmar). Both King and Suu Kyi are well-known for leading government protests, and also for presenting effectual arguments in support of freedom. Two written works in particular provide insight into their cogent method of argument. One text is from King, Letter from Birmingham Jail; the other is from Suu Kyi, In Quest of Democracy. In both writings, the freedom fighting authors’ effectively justify their arguments by using logical reasoning and appeal to common religious beliefs.
While incarcerated for civil disobedience, King pens Letter from Birmingham Jail. Leading up to the writing of his letter, King has been arrested for organizing and participating in a mass demonstration in protest of segregation in Birmingham. A group of eight clergymen—that support the cause of civil rights—oppose King’s methods. Therefore, they write a public statement reproving King and his demonstration. The clergymen believe that King, being an outsider (from Atlanta), should not be involved in local matters. They also believe negotiation with city government is a more appropriate—and effective—method than public protest. Subsequently, King writes his letter as a counterargument to the clergymen’s criticizing public statement. The letter’s primary audience is the eight clergymen. However, more significant is its secondary audience, the American people. To change the status quo King has to make an extremely compelling argument.
In Letter from Birmingham Jail, King effectively presents his points in a logical and reasonable manner. He states, “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation;...