Read the excerpts from speeches by civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. (below). In the speeches both men refer to early 1960s bombings of black churches in Alabama where people were injured and children killed. The bombings were committed by white racists. Although both men address the same subject–violence and racism–both address the topic with very different rhetorical approaches. It is interesting to note that both men were close in age and both had fathers who were preachers. You can definitely see the influence of traditional sermons in both speech styles. For this exercise, briefly discuss which man’s techniques you personally find more persuasive, and why. Mention how the speaker uses ethos, pathos and/or logos to persuade his audience (See the handout The Rhetorical TriangleActions in this week’s module). Then, provide one example of a line from each speaker that you find particularly compelling, and explain why the line works for you as a reader. This exercise is meant to help you into the rhetorical mode of thinking when finalizing your paper. Try to constantly ask yourself, “am I being convincing here?” or “how can I make this more persuasive or believable?” Always consider how the reader might react to what you write.As long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people, but when it comes to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls murdered, you haven’t got any blood. You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark. I hate to say this about us, but it’s true. How are you going to be nonviolent in Mississippi, as violent as you were in Korea? How can you justify being nonviolent in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed, and your little girls are being murdered, and at the same time you are going to get violent with Hitler, and Tojo, and somebody else you don’t even know?If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black ‘women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.–Malcolm X, Speech excerpt, Nov. 1963, New York CityI believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.”– Malcolm X, Speech Excerpt, Dec. 12 1964, New York City————————————————————————The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. You may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. You may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate, nor establish love. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.–Martin Luther King, Jr.”Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” 1967I cannot make myself believe that God wanted me to hate. I’m tired of violence, I’ve seen too much of it. I’ve seen such hate on the faces of too many sheriffs in the South. And I’m not going to let my oppressor dictate to me what method I must use. Our oppressors have used violence. Our oppressors have used hatred. Our oppressors have used rifles and guns. I’m not going to stoop down to their level. We have a power that can’t be found in Molotov cocktails.– Martin Luther King, Jr.I contend that non-violent acts exert pressure far more effective than violent acts, for the pressure comes from goodwill and gentleness.– Mahatma GandhiI firmly believe that the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolent resistance is the only logical and moral approach to the solution of the race problem in the United States.–Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957The Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos
Ethos, pathos and logos are terms Aristotle identified in his discussion of rhetoric.
Aristotle taught that a speaker’s ability to persuade is based on how well the speaker
appeals to his or her audience in three different areas: ethos (appeal from authority),
pathos (appeal to emotions), and logos (appeal to logic or common sense).
Ethos, pathos and logos are terms Aristotle identified in his discussion of rhetoric.
Rhetoric simply refers to adjusting your argument based on an awareness of the
audience’s needs. Aristotle taught that a speaker’s ability to persuade is based on
how well the speaker appeals to his or her audience in three different areas: ethos
(appeal from authority), pathos (appeal to emotions), and logos (appeal to logic
or common sense).
Why is it essential any writer be aware of these avenues of persuasion?
Knowing how people are persuaded promotes self-awareness as well as an increased
ability to analyze text. Knowing the three avenues of persuasion allow you to use them
effectively in writing anything, from a business proposal to an argumentative/persuasive
research paper.
Ethos (Greek for ‘character’) refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer
or speaker. Ethos refers to the speaker/writer’s attempt to project his/her own
authority and credibility as a wise, experienced, ethical, or practical person. It can be
strengthened, or made weaker, by the writer’s reputation as it exists independently
from the message–his or her expertise in the field, his or her previous record or
integrity, and so forth. We might believe a meteorologists’ weather prediction more
than the weather prediction of a fashion designer. Ethos is an appeal based on the
character of the speaker, not the strength of the idea or argument itself. An ethosdriven document relies on the reputation of the author.
As an example, commercials often use actors dressed as authority figures, such
as doctors or scientists, so that the commercial’s message takes on the ethos we
grant to those in such professions.
Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the internal consistency of the message itself,
independent from its proponent(s)–the clarity of the claim, the logic of its reasons,
and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. The impact of logos on an audience
is sometimes called the argument’s logical appeal. Logos is appeal based on logic or
reason. Many advertisements appeal to a viewer’s sense of logic by using statistics
or common sense to convince: as when an ad for toothpaste declares “four out of
five dentists recommend our brand,” or “90% percent of people studied did not get
cavities for five years after using our brand once a week for a month.” Of course, the
ads never mention the study where 90% percent of the people did not get cavities
consisted of ten subjects, six of whom wore false teeth, so would not be able to get
cavities even if they wanted to. Similarly, the ad makers never tell you those four or
of five dentists were offered free trips to Hawaii if they recommended that particular
brand of toothpaste.
Pathos (Greek for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience’) is often associated with emotional
appeal. An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but
to identify with the writer’s point of view–to feel what the writer feels: to share
emotions empathically. Perhaps the most common way of conveying an appeal by
pathos is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into
something an audience can feel on an emotional level. Pathos is appeal based on
emotion rather than logic or common sense, although they need not be senseless
(and usually aren’t). Advertisements tend to be pathos-driven by speaking to our
material desires or emotional needs. A life insurance ad might, for example, ask, “Do
you care about your family?” implying that if you don’t buy life insurance you are a
bad parent.
Ø Ethos is Rhetoric’s persuasive appeal of one’s character.
Ø Logos refers to the writer/speaker’s use of logic or reason, the actual
arguments he/she puts forth. Logos is Rhetoric’s persuasive appeal to
Ø Pathos refers to the speaker/writer attempts to persuade, to win the
assent or sympathies of his/her audience, often by playing on the
audience’s emotions and desires. Pathos is Rhetoric’s persuasive appeal
to emotion.

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