Martin Luther King – a Non-Violent "Extremist"
Compared to the various factions of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. is not an extremist; however, in response to being labeled an extremist by "fellow clergimen", King considers himself an extremist of love and equality (King 1). In his letter written from the Birmingham Jail, King argues in favor of non- violence, placing his extremism in the context of religion, history and sociology. His ideology is the only outlet for a positive and peaceful outcome because the "do – nothinghism of the complacent" will fuel "the hatred and despair of the black nationalist" (King 7).
Throughout the letter, King advocates non - violence. Rather than fight the clergy's accusation of extremism, King uses reason to make them understand his position, and redefines extremism. King explains his actions to the clergy and treats them as equals, as part of his belief that all men are created equal under God. Without the non – violent actions, what King comes to term extremism of love and justice on response to being called an extremist, "many streets of the South would, I [King] am convinced, be flowing with blood"(King 7). In spite of the clergy's accusation of extremism, King doesn't judge them for that created opinion about him, but tries to make them understand his fight for the racial justice , by explaining his actions and treating them as equal, expecting the same treatment and patience toward the black race. King uses love and non – violence, considered the basics of Christianity, to appeal to clergymen's emotions. Just as Jesus, a proponent of love, peace and fraternity wasn't indicted for loving; King a proponent of basic moral and religious goals, is negatively being termed an extremist. As a preacher, King advocates that human actions need to be in accordance with God's laws, and the clergy's "complacency" drives the degradation of the Blacks (King 7). Under King's logic, no one can subvert God's law that...
Cited: King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Boston University Website. The Institute on Race and Social Division at Boston University. 8 Feb. 2008. .
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