“Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a famous open letter written by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963. Ethos, the appeal to credibility, is used to cement King's credibility as a respectable but commanding presence, as he dispels notions of "outsiders coming in," by noting his associations with the Southern Leadership Conference, the Alabama Christian Movement, and more. Pathos is used by Martin Luther King, Jr., to appeal to the audience of “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” connecting their religious loyalty and sense of honor to his campaign to end segregation and racism. King links the suffering of his people at the behest of the Birmingham police force to his audience’s praise at their actions, making them feel horrible for applauding such an act. Metaphors such as Biblical references and other such allusions appeal to their sense of Biblical loyalty by painting his crusade as similar to other righteous Biblical crusades, using pathos to play on their sympathies toward these religious figures. Furthermore, King’s use of logos and logical appeals is performed by reminding the Christian leaders that they, not so long ago, were called "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators" for entering a town; therefore, it stands to reason that if they could be proven wrong, so too could the Christian leaders be proven wrong in their ignorance and discrimination (King).
Jim Hightower's essay "Rebellion is what Built America", Hightower extols the virtues of rebellion, stating that what people seem to abhor in the modern age for 'ruining' America is exactly what created it in the first place. Hightower's use of ethos extends to his status as a normal American; he does not come from a place of authority, but a place of kinship - he is merely writing to his contemporaries about what they should do. In terms of pathos and emotional appeals Hightower states that we are all important, because we are what “not only democracy counts on but we are what democracy is.” He also rails against the "grab-what-you-can" culture that makes people feel like they are "drowning" (Hightower). The logos of his essay, his logical arguments, stem from the aforementioned precedent that the same rebellion that built this country should be continually encouraged rather than shut down. If that were to happen, America would no longer wish to try to make our country better, since “striving for democracy is bone-wearying, agonizing, frustrating, cruel, bloody, and often deadly work" (Hightower).
Roy's essay "Come September" uses somewhat more informal language than the previous two, indicating a speaking to the audience on a more personal level. Roy's use of ethos comes from her status as a writer, and someone who lives as a citizen in the middle of the India and Pakistan conflict, she brings both artful expression and firsthand knowledge of these conflicts to her audience. Ethos is provided through her descriptions of the horrors of war, and the oppression of terrible states on a terrified populace. She speaks of the "paranoia and ruthlessness of power," and that the idea of the free market being able to solve everything, likening corporate globalization with John Lennon songs, is a "canard" (Roy). By showing the outright absurdity of these perspectives, she manages to demonstrate the weakness of the opposing position. Finally, she uses logos to demonstrate the truth of her statements by noting the continued abuse of citizens by the state and by the free market. Citing actual examples of oppression and bigotry in India and Pakistan, as well as the limited freedoms that continue to be curtailed in these countries, provides the basis for a logical argument that these things have to be stopped. The failure of Soviet-style communism is chalked up to being "flawed," as will market-capitalism.
All three of these authors use similar methods to get across a similar message: that people need to act in order to protect themselves from an increasingly greedy and cynical government or culture. Ethos is used to demonstrate that they are both firsthand experts in these subjects and on the same level of humanity and kinship as their audience. Pathos is used to demonstrate the horrors of opposing their position (namely government restriction on freedom and emptier lives), and logos is used to show how things can be better (since this strategy worked/failed before, it can work/fail again).
Hightower, Jim. Rebellion Is What Built America.
King, Martin Luther. Letter from Birmingham city jail. Birmingham: American Friends Service Committee, 1963. Print.
Roy, Arundhati. Come September. Lensic Performing Arts Center, 2002.