After Abraham Lincoln assigned the Emancipation Proclamation, the African Americans were finally freed of struggling from slavery. However, they are continued to be mistreated by the white peoples. In the article of “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression,” Martin Luther King writes to enlighten the African Americans to fight against “oppression” in a “non-violent” way (202). Although King’s article is based on simple text organization, there is no doubt that his point of views are unconvincing due to biasness that reflects in some examples and the incompleteness of some of his argument.
Firstly, there are several examples that King mentions that have signs of biasness. In the article, King personally thinks that “acquiescence”, the first way of meeting oppression, is not an executable and acceptable option of mitigating the pressure that is brought by the white people (203). Because of that, King describes the “fleshpots of Egypt” as a result of the slaves being tired and discouraged when pursuing their freedom (203).
It is to my belief that the “fleshpots” also brings strength to the worker, at the same time, giving them hope in the ruthless of enslavement. I think that people should be free to make a choice when they are faced with different paths in their lives. King fails to only labeling “easy” as one of acquiescence’s advantages (203); as, history tells people that luckiness is not to be trusted while so many African Americans died from fleeing from their masters with the faith that free life is awaiting at the north of the union.
Some or probably most of the slaves and later on African Americans may also held the belief that giving a chance to live is far more better than earning respect. Personally, King is biased when he presents that example. He ignores the positive mechanism of the “fleshpots”, only believing that things like the “fleshpots” are the only temptations that could hinder people to achieve their goals (203). King is also biased when he respond to “violence”, another way of fighting against oppression (204).
In the article, King strongly advocates against violence. He writes that using violence is “impractical and immoral” (204). He thinks that violence is a way to intensify the relationship among people in the society and that violence is never a way to approach a problem (204). King also believes that under the usage of violence, people who intends to harm others will eventually destroy themselves (204). However, King fails to explain that why there are so many violence that, manifest as war, contributes to the civilization of a modern country.
Personally, whether “violence” or “non-violence” are good or bad has never been argumentative within a few sentences from King or anyone else. When people in face of a society or era of slavery and oppression start to feel that there is still hope to express through a form of speech, assembly and association, they generally will not take the risk of using force in solving a problem. However, when an autocratic, authoritarian government is exploiting the people, depriving them from all freedom; people’s desire to violence almost becomes an inevitable choice.
It would be better that King could admit that violence does have some advantages, and that it is by only during some special circumstances that it could solve a problem. It will make the article more reasonable to agree with by saying that violence is a way of solving problems, but not a way for the African Americans when they pursue for justice. Secondly, the incompleteness of this article results from several arguments of King’s. King uses examples from Genesis when he tries to explain the weakness of acquiescence (203).
In the article King leads the readers into an unfamiliar term which is called “his brother’s keeper” (203). Personally, King fails to connect the term “his brother’s keeper” (203) with how acquiescence could be an act that is considered as a craven. If King could further introduce Genesis and his ideas in the article of “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression”, then the reasons may become more understandable. King’s argument is also incomplete when he rejects violence.
In the article, King writes “History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that failed to follow this command” (204). However, King does not continue to give reasons on that statement. It is not convincing to give a statement without any examples that supports it. In this case, the lack of example and further reasoning make this part of the article incomplete. In the last section of the article, King makes an argument of “nonviolent resistance” (204), which, is the path that the African Americans must follow.
King argues that African Americans should own ability to endure, to contest the enemy’s ability of creating suffering. He continues to state that people should use the power of their soul, to resist the violence and that people will not resorting to hate their enemy, and to acquiescence to the unjust laws. As King writes “It seems to me that this is the method that must guide the actions of the Negro in the present crisis in race relations” (205), he clearly thinks that “nonviolent resistance” (204) is the only way to free the African Americans.
However, how to apply the theoretical knowledge of “nonviolent resistance” (204) into action? Is this the only solution that would work against oppression? Does “nonviolent resistance” (204) have some disadvantages that the African American should be aware of? Are there perhaps other solutions that the African Americans should try? King failed to answer the questions above, thus, making the third argument of his incomplete. Personally, when violence occurs in this large party of the world, the reaction of the people, of course, is to strongly condemn it.
However, looking back at history, King’s provoke can also lead to a problem: this foreseeable “non-violent” (204) event might be followed by “violence”. Admittedly, the uproar made by King himself, may or (in this case) has met its victory in history. However, King did not state that victory may take considerable sacrifice of the people. Under his leadership, many young students of the African Americans who become main characters in the non-violent movement may decide to drop out of school.
While the violence and death continue, imprisonment may be seen as the highest reward of patriotism. King could also give examples of what the African Americans could do during their daily lifes. This incomplete statement of “nonviolent resistance” (204) may lead people into further doubt of the theory, which may certainly be unconvincing. All in all, while King’s argument may be interesting and enlightening during the time which he writes this article, the point of views are unconvincing due to the biasness that reflects in some examples and the incompleteness of some of his arguments.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression.” The Norton Mix: Boston University. Ed. Katie Hannah. New York: Norton, 2012. 202-05. Print.