In "Letter from Birmingham City Jail," what does King find illogical about the claim that the actions of his followers precipitate violence?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What King finds illogical about this claim is that it blames the victims for the fact that others will commit violence to prevent them from getting what is rightfully theirs.  King offers three analogies to show why he feels that this is illogical.  He says that it is like blaming Socrates for being so committed to truth that people got tired of him.  He says that it is like blaming Jesus for being so committed to God that it caused others to hate him and execute him.  Perhaps the easiest to understand of his analogies is where he says that it is like blaming a person who has property if someone steals the property.  As King says,

Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?

We all have the right to keep our property.  Of course, at the same time, it is very possible for others to become jealous of our property and want to take it from us.  If they do so, we condemn the thieves rather than condemning the person who actually owned the property.

It is the same, King says, with his followers.  They have God-given rights.  As they demand these rights, it makes others angry and those people commit violence.  It is illogical to condemn those demanding rights, just as it is illogical to condemn the property owner whose property is stolen.


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