Martin Luther King, Jr. And Lewis Van Term Paper

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Martin Luther King, Jr. And Lewis Van Dusen, Jr. state their respective positions on the feasibility of civil disobedience. Each argument is eloquent, well-organized, impassioned, and thorough. Martin Luther King, Jr. asserts that civil disobedience is an absolute necessity to achieve the aims of the civil rights movement, while Lewis Van Dusen, Jr. claims that civil disobedience subverts the democratic process and can potentially lead to violence. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find weaknesses in King's actual argument: his position is supported with historical fact, personal experience, and ethics. He challenges the status quo, which is always irksome, but his argument is sound. Van Dusen, while he has a point about the destructive consequences of mob mentality, fails to understand the ingrained prejudices in the democratic system he holds so dear. Martin Luther King, Jr. And Lewis Van Dusen, Jr. disagree on several levels, the most fundamental of which is the assumption that the democratic institutions of America are effective in eliminating racism. Both parties account for opposing viewpoints and try to refute objections; to do so, both employ logical and emotional rhetoric. These men present their cases skillfully, and it is easy to accept and understand both....
...includes powerful personal experiences and specific references to African-Americans, his position appears stronger than Van Dusen's.

From prison, Martin Luther King Jr. writes to a clergyman critic, refuting the notion that the civil rights movement and the marches in Birmingham are "unwise and untimely." In a systematic yet emotionally poignant manner, King outlines why the demonstrations are both wise and timely. He reminds his audience that the African-American has "waited 340 years for our constitutional God-given rights." There is no justifiable cause for more patience, for patience only equals complacency. Anyone attempting to find fault in King's argument could only request that slow legal action replace street marches and demonstrations that break the law. In response, King reminds his critics that direct action is the only means to invoke change. Freedom must be demanded because otherwise, the people in power will not willingly hand it out. Van Dusen disagrees with this fundamental fact, instead placing explicit faith in the American system of justice. In fact, Van Dusen believes that breaking the law to achieve the goals of the civil rights movement is an insult to democracy. While he is correct in saying that "mass demonstrations often trigger violence," he fails to recognize the constructive force of such demonstrations. This is one of the major issues on which the two men disagree.

Van Dusen beings his essay by alluding to classical literature (Antigone) and the Boston Tea Party. Interestingly, Martin Luther King, Jr. also employs…

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