Letter From Birmingham Jail Q&A
How does King feel about the Moderate White?
King finds the silence of the moderate white to be more frustrating than the hatred of the racist group that supports segregation. He argues that the moderate white is more invested in the idea of order than the idea of justice. Some moderates have also claimed that the protests are untimely, but King believes that the people of Birmingham have already waited for too long, just like all the other black people in America. He is certain that the non-violent protests will disrupt law and order, but they will also create an atmosphere of constructive tension that will lead to the desired change.
How does King address the criticism that he is an outsider who came to Birmingham?
King agrees that he is an outsider, but he explains that this fact does not mean that he doesn’t have a vested interest in the conditions of the African American population of Birmingham. King describes the Alabama city to be one of the most heavily segregated societies in America and lists numerous instances of racial injustice that occur regularly in the city. King’s fundamental argument is that injustice in Birmingham threatens justice in the rest of America. He also cites instances from the bible that involved outsiders fighting for righteous causes.
Who is the Letter’s intended audience?
The letter is addressed to the right clergymen who penned “A Call for Unity,” which criticized the protestors in Birmingham. However, it is obvious that the letter’s audience includes all people of the nation, as King attempts to explain why segregation is not just a political issue but also a moral and religious issue.
How does King differentiate between just and unjust laws?
King explains that just laws are those laws that agree with the moral and natural law of God. He establishes segregation as an unjust law since it is not only immoral but rather sinful. King further explains that unjust laws are applied to the minority by the majority but they do not bind the majority. He believes that segregation laws are unjust because they apply to black people and white people differently. Lastly, unjust laws are created undemocratically just as Segregation laws were not enacted with the consent of the black population.