When how Kennedy understood people’s bitterness and

When Robert F. Kennedy landed in Indianapolis for his campaign speech, he was informed that Martin Luther King was shot and killed. In this critical time, Kennedy still insisted on delivering his speech without police even though the mayor of Indianapolis urged him to leave because of the riots breaking out. Kennedy successfully appeased the angry audience and instilled hope to energize them towards social justice. His speech was one of the most praised and well-written one for his eloquence and his charisma. Robert F. Kennedy used appeals, parallel structure, either-or fallacy, and restatement, as he convinced his audience to replace bitterness and hatred toward the assassination with compassion and understanding, and he successfully saved Indianapolis from riots and devastation.      One of the most effective and skillful rhetorical devices he used was the either-or fallacy. After Kennedy announced the news of the assassination, he stated that “we can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization… Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend… with compassion and love”. By providing the audience with two choices, Kennedy manipulated them to choose the latter one by comparing it to the former choice which was undesired and repulsive. This strategy was particularly critical to convince the audience because it was used right after Kennedy delivered the news about the assassination. The either-or fallacy emphasized how Kennedy understood people’s bitterness and “the desire to revenge” toward the assassination of Martin Luther King. He soothed the audienced by claiming that it was acceptable for people to feel bitter about this incident, and they should feel that way about this terrible assassination but the country had to move in another direction without hatred and bitterness. Also, he enhanced the statement by using restatement in the either-or fallacy. “Understand” and “comprehend” have similar meanings, and Kennedy put them together to emphasize the other choice would be a better solution to deal with the assassination.       Adding to his use of either-or fallacy, Kennedy analyzed his audience really well with the use of allusion and emotional appeal. The allusion mentioned in the speech was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy convinced his audience that he knew how they felt toward this incident by illustrating how closely he can related to the audience because he had similar experience of losing someone he loved and respected. This allusion boosted up Kennedy’s chance of calming the restless audience and convincing them to “go beyond these rather difficult times”.       The use of emotional appeal throughout the speech helped Kennedy relate to his audience to a great extent. Kennedy mentioned later in his speech that “but the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country… who abide in our land”. He flattered his audience of being understanding and compassionate. The phrases he mentioned such as “together”, “improve”, and “justice” directed people to break the tension, and be positive and confident about their own country. The effective use of emotional appeal here encouraged people to imagine the peaceful and prosperous future of America.       In addition to the strong emotional appeal throughout the speech, Kennedy used parallel structure to organize his statements clearly and concisely. “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness”.  This statement describes Kennedy’s determination to fight against racial discrimination and move the country in a positive direction. The parallel structure established a strong rhythmic beat in Kennedy’s speech, and it echoed what has been brought up before, such as “hatred”, and “violence”. By putting the similar elements together, Kennedy emphasized what United States needs in this difficult time is definitely not “division”, “hatred”, “violence”, and “lawlessness”.         It is widely believed that Kennedy’s speech saved Indianapolis from riots and devastation. People now perceived Kennedy’s speech as a great success because of his skillful use of emotional appeal, either-or fallacy, parallel structure and restatement. However, his speech was unfortunately covered by Martin Luther King’s funeral and the overwhelming riots at that time. Kennedy’s speech is still used today as an influential statement dealing with racism and social injustice.


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