Essay #1: Analysis of an Argument

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Essay #1: Analysis of an Argument
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a profound and persuasive written argument that captures emotion encompassing rigid life experiences, educated observances, and deeply rooted spiritual beliefs. In this letter King freely expresses his position concerning the injustice that blacks faced. This injustice was segregation, "the system of laws and customs separating blacks and whites that whites used to control blacks after slavery was abolished in the 1860s" ("Civil Rights…"). While imprisoned in April of 1963 King directly responds to "Letter from Eight White Clergymen" using a variety of argumentative techniques. King's devotion to "justice for all" is the consistent energy expressed in his letter. In an attempt to appeal to reason, King states, "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law"(234). King illustrates this appeal through definition by proving the basis for a just law. He further explains that a just law can be unjust when it is designed for only one group in society. "An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This difference is made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal"(235). Through inductive logic King draws a conclusion about unjust laws by his personal observation: "Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance, which requires a permit for parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain...
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