Essay on Rhetorical Analysis : The Ballot Or The Bullet

Essay on Rhetorical Analysis : The Ballot Or The Bullet

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The use of a variety of rhetorical strategies help to strengthen a speaker’s argument. In the speech “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Malcolm X uses the basic premises of the rhetorical situation, stasis theory, and the rhetorical appeals in order to emphasize the mistreatment and discrimination that African-American citizens have experienced. Throughout the speech, Malcolm X encourages black citizens to demand their right to vote as well as inspire them to be ready to take up arms if the government continues to deny their human rights. In this paper I will show that (X) through highlighting the hypocritical nature of American democracy, (Y) Malcolm X provokes feelings of anger (Z) in order to inspire his audience of African-American citizens to fight for their human rights.
The elements of the rhetorical situation contribute to the historical context of the speech. Malcolm X delivered the speech on April 3rd, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio in order to discuss one important issue: that the American values of democracy and freedom are not inclusive to African-American citizens. This issue functions as the speaker’s exigence, or the urgent situation that he wants to address. He says, “Everything that came out of Europe, every blue-eyed thing, is already an American. And as long as you and I have been over here, we aren’t Americans yet.” The exigence is that American democracy is hypocritical because only white Americans are granted their basic human rights. African-American citizens, such as Malcolm X and his audience, have been fighting for the equal rights and opportunities that America promotes. This also contributes to his argument’s constraints, or the people, events, and objects that have the power to constrain decision and action neede...


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...s anger amongst his audience in order to influence them to support his policies.
Through a detailed evaluation of the hypocrisy of American democracy, Malcolm X uses anger to provoke his audience of African-American citizens to fight for their basic human rights.
By using the rhetorical situation, stasis theory, and the rhetorical appeals, Malcolm X is able to define the main issue at hand: that the American government continues to oppress African-American citizens. By emphasizing the mistreatment and discrimination that these citizens have experienced, Malcolm X encourages black citizens to either demand their right to vote or be ready to take physical action if needed. Through using a variety of rhetorical strategies, Malcolm X effectively criticizes American democracy as well as inspires his audience to continue to fight for their rights as American citizens.

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