Evaluation of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” & “Resistance to Civil Government”
Evaluation of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” & “Resistance to Civil government” Both passages “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “Resistance to Civil government” have the same general purpose which was the idea of Civil disobedience, not agreeing with the law because it violates one’s morality or inner conscience belief. In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King explains his reasoning for why he retaliated the law and the idea of protesting without violence. Henry David Theoreau recognizes the unjust ways of the government and the issues of slavery.
The tone that Theoreau uses seems to be more aggravated and anger driven than that of King, who expresses the issues using a less harsh tone and not as many witty comments. In King’s passage, his tone is more deep and personal, speaking on a level representing the African American community and the hardships that they go through. In Theoreau’s passage, he uses a less personal approach and uses more factual based things and the use of grim irony explaining that what is being done is the opposite of what America was founded on, he goes on to say “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward” This is similar to King’s quote “The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust.
I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”. King also explains his reasoning for his actions, for the revolutions and rebellion for the sake of the rights that all men are created equal and should be treated that way in America, because that is what is stated in the constitution and what the Christian faith is.