The Ends Justify the Means

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The violence shown in the film Mississippi Burning displays one of the most inhumane images. It shows the unconditional hatred by the Caucasian Americans toward the African American people living in Jessup County. Throughout the film, it is suggested by Agent Anderson (a fictional FBI agent) that those involved in the investigation of three missing children needed to use more guttural tactics. This is often referred to as a “do whatever it takes” philosophy. In the film however, Agent Ward is particularly against using such tactics and avidly tries to avoid using them. Agent Anderson finally wins the argument between them and the more aggressive technique eventually prevails. The question that looms however is whether or not it is justifiable to use such hostile tactics. Can one say that because of the violence that culminated against the Black Americans it is okay to deploy the same amount of violence against the aggressors? Philosophers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry Thoreau have written about such ideas and their concepts can be directly applied to the example presented in Mississippi Burning. Dr. King echoed nonviolent protest even through his greatest struggles. In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, King still evoked the want for nonviolence against those who committed acts of injustice. Even though he deplored the actions that the members of the white community were doing, he still stressed the need for a peaceful campaign. “It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.” (King) Dr. King was probably the most outspoken critic of the conditions in the South, mainly be... ... middle of paper ... ...if all peaceful means of solving the crisis at hand are unsuccessful and the resolution of this crisis is of utmost importance, than it is acceptable to use the means necessary to achieve that end. Works Cited Barnett, Horace. Interview by Henry Rask. Personal interview. 20 Nov. 1964. Hornsby Jr., Alton. "Martin Luther King, Jr. "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"." The Journal of Negro History Vol. 71.No. 1/4 (1986): 38-44. Print. King, Wayne. "FILM; Fact vs. Fiction in Mississippi." The New York Times [New York City] 4 Dec. 1988, sec. Movies. The New York Times. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. Thoreau, Henry. "Civil Disobedience." A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers (1866): 123-151. Print. ""You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself"." Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006. Paragraph 2309. Print.
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