Martin Luther King was a gifted wordsmith whose purpose was to choose just the right words to stir people’s feelings, logic, and ethics to support and add power to his cause. His words were explicitly used to communicate with his fellow clergymen and extensive allusions to the Holy Bible were made in attempt to reach out on parallel terms with his audience???who were, contrary to their beliefs, impeding the Negro progress. Martin Luther King presents facts that cannot be argued; they are accepted by all to be true.
He uses this technique effectively while explaining the difference between a just and unjust law. He uses simple logos at times and complex literary allusions at others. The whole letter flows along the lines of just and unjust laws. His use of logos in the letter is most obvious when he points out the four steps for a nonviolent campaign: “collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. Martin Luther King openly beliefs that “one has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. ” Throughout his letter, Martin Luther King mainly used logos when mentioning just and unjust laws. Logos is easier to follow and comprehend, since it directly addresses the “logical circuit” part of the brain???rather than having to break apart convoluted examples and explanations. King argues that an “unjust law is no law at all. This simple statement sums up both King’s incentive to protest and his motive to oppose laws. King, as this and many other texts manifest, does a very good job of directly addressing his audience???whether it be fellow clergymen or livid African Americans. The letter also tells a lot about King himself. King is a man of great faith and robust morals. He is a man who deems segregation politically, economically, sociologically wrong. He repeatedly addresses the “white moderate” as the man devoted to order rather than justice. one who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension rather than a positive peace which is the presence of justice. In my opinion, King used all three types of appeal very effectively throughout his letter and his use of other rhetoric devices directly suits his needs. Needless to say, he was “word-perfect. ” Additionally, he not only depended on appeal to make his point, but also moral, religious, and personal connections helped him make his point better. Even though the letter was lengthy and pedantic, it added a great deal of repute to his already graceful image.
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Martin Luther King symbolized hope, freedom, and equality to African Americans. In conclusion, if I were a priest who this letter was addressed to, I would support King and his Civil Rights movement in every possible way. I would embrace Kings nonviolent but yet controversial ideals and work to achieving them along with the church. The church, especially at the time both King and the Klu Klux Klan were around, was supposed to be a symbol of tranquility and harmony, not fiery crosses and bitter hatred.