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A Plea To A Nation Essay

1344 words - 6 pages

William C. Young II
English 101-19
February 15, 2012
Essay #1
A Plea to a Nation

A Plea to a Nation

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister and a civil rights activist during the 1950’s through the 1960’s. On April 4, 1967, he delivered a very moving speech at Riverside Church in New York City. This speech later became known as “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This speech was given in front of more than three thousand people, including clergy and laity. During this time, the Vietnam War was in full swing with over 400,000 troops deployed. The United States public was polarized with supporters of the war and those who wanted peace. Up until then Dr. King had ...view middle of the document...

Dr. King gives several examples of damage to morale, total destruction of families, and loss of lives. Lastly he outlines steps that the United States must take to end the war. He outlines this with “five concrete things our government should do to begin the long and difficult process of extracting ourselves from this nightmarish conflict.” These areas are the driving purpose of Dr. King’s speech.
1. Ethos
Dr. King’s ethos might be his greatest propaganda technique of all. “Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit,” King stated. He uses this in the beginning moments to establish how highly he is respected as preacher. Next, Dr. King said, “Since I am a preacher by calling…” Again, he stresses his character by reminding the audience that he is a proficient preacher that was destined to speak to other believers. Lastly, he states that “and I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "’the brotherhood of man.’" This shows how society views his character. All of these achieve the purpose that he is a man of great character and allows his beliefs to carry more weight.
2. Glittering Generalities
Glittering Generalities are the most common type of propaganda. However, King uses these to further his ethos. “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice,” he said. Using the words “no choice”, stresses that this was the only option available to express his views. This once again reinforces his quality as a speaker. King said, “The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call is a most difficult one.” Using the words “mission” and “most difficult one” suggest that this movement is more difficult than the Vietnam War itself. By using Glittering Generalities, he draws the audience’s attention to listen to his words because of their importance. These help establish direction for the purpose of opposing the war.
3. Pathos
Pathos is often used to evoke emotion within the audience. This happens numerous times throughout the speech. “We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village,” King said. As an audience, this makes us visualize some of our greatest fears. Again, he states “In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways.” Bombings remind the audience of the destruction and “endanger the waterways”, evoke thoughts of survival. Finally, King said, “We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee...

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