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An Analysis of Martin Luther King's Speech on The Us Involvement in The Vietnam War

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Dr. Martin Luther King, a remarkable man who was notoriously known for speaking out against society’s problems, once addressed a crowd of hundreds about the problems the Vietnam War created. King delivered the speech on April 4, 1967, with intentions of stopping what the government wanted to continue, and he did just so by using a certain approach that persuaded his audience. By applying negative connotation, cruel irony, and logical reasoning in his speech, King proved to the crowd that American Involvement in the Vietnam War was unjust to all Americans, and it helped persuade everyone in that crowd to follow his beliefs as well.

King’s views on the Vietnam War weren’t positive, and so to describe his feelings, he used negative connotation as his opening lines. King defined the Vietnam War as “some demonic, destructive suction tube…” and “some idle, political plaything of a society…”, which illustrated his true feelings for the War (King, 1). However, the beginnings of his speech tell of him describing something with positive connotation as well. When King used the positive connotation on this different matter, he illustrated to his audience that he felt totally different about the two subjects, creating opposite opinions for both cases. Once King distributed his opinions about the War, he, then, presented facts to confirm his opinions. So, in a way, King uses the negative connotation as a foundation for his argument, which allowed his claim and evidence to be on top (King, 1). Without the negative connotation, however, King’s argument wouldn’t be strong enough to convince his crowd that his claims were true.

Throughout the body of King’s speech, King uses cruel irony to relate to his audience emotionally. During his lecture, King addressed it as “A tragic recognition of reality…”, and referred to it by listing all of the reasons why the Vietnam War may be a huge case of cruel irony (King, 2). Although it may just seem like King pointed out the wrongdoings of our government, he actually connected to the crowd by talking about the subject. King, along with the cruel irony, mentioned racism, which is how he had connected and attracted the attention of many in the crowd (King, 2). John Corcoran, an attorney and a former Clinton White House writer, once wrote an article about connecting to an audience. He stated that “A speaker (has) to make a connection with their audience so that they’ll be more receptive to actually accepting and retaining your message… Do that, and your audience will never forget you, or your message” (Corcoran, 11). Just like Corcoran mentioned, King connected with his audience through the use of cruel irony, which caused them to become more accepting of whatever he had to say.

King used numerous amounts of logical reasoning to prove his points in the midst of his speech. He successfully convinces his audience that his claim is right with logic reasoning, just like one would convince their audience with supporting evidence. To support most of his arguments, he uses evidence that (most likely) all of the audience would’ve witnessed themselves. For example, to support his claim for the cruel irony, he uses the fact that the war is broadcast on national television, and that anyone has the freedom to see it for themselves (King, 2). Another example of logical reasoning in his speech is when he supports his first paragraph claim by watching the change in the communities from good to bad (King, 1). Some people in the audience may have saw the change for themselves as well, which contributes that he used logic to reason with the audience. King even states once in his speech that he has an experience with working with ghettos in the last three years (King, 3). That hints to the audience that King knows what he’s talking about when he comes to this situation. Due to King’s logical reasoning, I believe that it confirmed his claims and opinions, and ultimately solidified his argument.

So, now what? Why exactly is King’s Vietnam speech still a big deal to this day? To clarify, King used certain techniques to appeal to his audience that resulted in his audience believing his claims. These “certain techniques” are exactly the same techniques that politicians and famous lawyers use to persuade their audience. King’s techniques are still being used as ways to convince any person, and to date, these techniques are successful too. So in fact, King proved his audience that American Involvement in the Vietnam War was unjust, and he did so by using negative connotation, cruel irony, and logical reasoning to confirm his case.

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An Analysis of Martin Luther King’s Speech on the US Involvement in the Vietnam War. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
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