English 1102 TR, 8:25
2 February 2013
A Time to do What is Right
In Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence” (1967), Dr. King asserts that the war in Vietnam is totally immoral and has far reaching negative implications not only for Vietnam, but for The United States and the rest of the World as well. Dr. King’s purpose is to make the church leaders he is speaking to aware that the time has come for them to speak out loudly in opposition of the war in Vietnam. He offers many practical reasons for the opposition, as well as spiritual and moral reasons. He then outlines the history of the war in Vietnam, showing that he is not simply preaching about religious ideals. He also makes an …show more content…
Dr. King further discredits the United States’ intentions in Vietnam by comparing us to Germany in World War II saying, “What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe?” (21). This comparison is very sobering. Nothing could be lower than being placed parallel to the senseless violence of Nazi Germany. Showing his knowledge of the history of the war and using it to discredit the United States’ reason for being there is crucial to Dr. King in developing his position.
Perhaps the most convincing part of the speech is the emotional appeal. Dr. King paints a vivid, heart-wrenching picture of the devastation in Vietnam. In a solemn tone, he talks about their crops being destroyed and their water being poisoned, presumably referring to Agent Orange. He talks about the innocent people killed in the crossfire, mostly children. “They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals” (20). Nothing evokes a more emotional response than the image of children suffering or being killed. These emotionally charged images would seemingly convince anyone that the cause for this war could not possibly be just.
All of Dr. King’s arguments are very effective. His pleas are first to the audience’s