Malcolm X Letter From Birmingham Jail Analysis

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In their writings on the civil rights movements of the 1960s, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King make quite divergent arguments as to how to combat racial injustice. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King espouses the ideals of civil disobedience in his impassioned rebuke of those who criticize his methods by touting the virtues of nonviolent resistance to unjust laws. Conversely, Malcolm X, in his text The Ballot or the Bullet, takes a more radical stance by arguing that African-Americans ought to defend themselves from violence proportionally and that -- since a political conspiracy exists against the African-American population -- they should lobby the United Nations under the pretenses of human rights in order to dismantle the segregationist system. While Martin Luther King makes a sober and cogent case, Malcolm X’s arguments are impractical and undeveloped. Martin Luther King begins his letter by outlining what exactly his methods are, those of non-violent struggle and civil disobedience. He openly concedes that the goal of his methods is to “create a crisis and foster such a tension” in order to bring white leaders …show more content…

I highly doubt that he actually believed what he was writing when he stated that the United States could be brought before a “world court” for its intransigence. The US held far too much clout globally for there to have been any substantive effort by the United Nations’ judiciary in order to punish its violations of the UDHR. Even in the face of massive, systemic political pressure from African-Americans (something which did not happen), I believe the UNGA would have only been able to issue toothless condemnations (similar to the ones the General Assembly issues on a yearly basis regarding the US embargo of Cuba) of the United States -- and forget about the Security Council, a body which the US holds veto power over. (X 640,

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