Letter from Birmingham Jail (Rhetorical Strategies)
Since ancient times, promoters of justice have brought into play rhetorical strategies to persuade their opponents. On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter regarding the criticism several clergymen made, stating that the movements of nonviolent resistance to racism from Dr. King were “unwise and untimely”. In this letter King uses several rhetorical strategies but mainly he makes use of 3. In the first one, King uses an outside authority (Religion), given the fact that he is trying to persuade Christians. Second, Dr. King appeals to emotion (Ethos), he tries to appeal to their human and goodness side. Third, King employs analogies to emphasize his argument against racism. With these three rhetorical strategies he tries to persuade the clergymen to take action on the injustice that is upon Birmingham against the Negroes.
As stated previously, outside authority was used by Dr. King to appeal the clergymen of the racism taking action. Religion has the power to move such an enormous amount of people and this has been proven since the dawn of time. He know that this man obey the laws of God, knowing this he mentions he came to Birmingham for a good reason by saying
Just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. (King, 819)
With this quote he is making a religious analogy to make the clergymen understand that he is there for a good cause, a cause that is as good as Apostle Paul’s.
Later on the letter, King compared his actions with Jesus Christ’s when he was called an extremist.
But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love? (826)
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