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Come Together: A Rhetorical Analysis & Call to Action

Come Together
A Rhetorical Analysis & Call to Action

By: @Chris Farley

The article entitled “A Healthy Public Square” by Ken Robinson tells of a common tale in our current society. Although it was written in 2017, the issue at hand could not be more relevant today. That very issue is the fact that people are divided and tend to prefer to stay in their own divided bubbles rather than get together to talk about their problems, whether that be politically, racially, economically, or socially. The article shows that people generally feel more comfortable being among their own kind, where everyone’s views are the same than to be intermixed with an opposing group of people and their opposing views. Through directing it towards a certain audience, the use of talking about the issue, utilizing rhetorical artistic appeals such as ethos and logos, and the use of exigence, the author has made a fantastic argument that we the people should put down our proverbial swords and listen to one another. The people can do that by the use of public forums such as social media platforms, television, and written media that act as a “public square”.

The audience that the author is most likely trying to appeal to is both liberals, and conservatives; both democrats and republicans. Liberals tend to be pro-choice when it comes to abortion; support groups like Black Lives Matter; want to allow illegal immigrants to move into our country and wander freely with sanctuary cities; try to change or even in some instances, take away the true history of our country; legalize marijuana and perhaps even other drugs; be anti-capitalism; be pro-socialism, and possibly communism; deny state rights and instead let the federal government handle everything; be pro-gun control, and censor our speech through sources like television and social media. Meanwhile, Conservatives tend to be pro-life; recognize everyone’s freedom to life; want to stop illegal immigration, want to keep our history in education; be anti-legalization of marijuana; be pro-capitalism and democracy; be more for the states’ rights; and be pro-first and second amendments. While there is such a thing as a moderate, or in the middle type of person, this is not necessarily who he is speaking to. He is speaking to the people on both sides that are unwilling to see the other side’s position or point of view. His style of writing shows no favoritism towards any one particular group of people but focuses on trying to convince the audience of joining together to reach a common goal. That common goal is to be able to discuss each group’s sides in a mature manner.

The issue is that both groups of people tend to prefer to stay put amongst like-minded individuals. There is a sense of comfort in knowing that one’s neighbor has the same views or opinions as they do. The author says “many Americans like living in ideological silos”. The term “silos” is the perfect choice for describing how people like to close themselves off to anything they deem a dangerous idea. The author lists report statistics that lead to him saying “Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive than at any point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life”. Being that this article was written four years ago, it is arguable that these words are more true today than they were, even then. He goes on to talk about how this division has increased due to media and publications. This is definitely not wrong as many of today’s mainstream media outlets portray only one side as being right while denying the other side.

The author is a credible source due to the fact that he writes for a media outlet, himself. He uses the credibility of other sources as well, such as the Press-Register and Bret Stephens. He even goes on to refer to his own publication, The Lagniappe, stating that he has heard comments about it being too liberal by some while being too conservative by others. This also points to his credibility because he sees from both angles or points of view, all while trying to bring both sides together. He uses logos by including statistics gathered by a 2014 Pew Research Center study. The Pew Research Center is a valid nonpartisan think tank that specializes in everything from politics to religion. The author did a great job of using logos by stating facts, unlike a lot of the media that are out there today who go for a more emotional approach. People’s views and opinions are more likely to be changed by presenting facts versus just focusing on feelings.

Finally, the author uses exigence here as a call to action. As stated above, he is speaking to both liberals and conservatives, trying to bring them together to talk about their differences rather than fight about them and then close themselves off from one another. He paints a picture of the publication or news outlet as being like a “town square” where everyone can get together and just talk. He says that a good paper shouldn’t shut itself off from one specific group of people and only tailor to the likes of the other. He quotes Mr. Bret Stephens as saying “Intelligent disagreement is the lifeblood of any thriving society…”. It is important for people to get off of their own islands, quit blockading themselves, and meet for intelligent conversation and debate. Then and only then, can our country, and our democratic society succeed. If the people continue to hide away from what they don’t agree with, then they will just continue to divide themselves even further. Mr. Robinson even goes on to include a great quote from the first President, George Washington, basically saying that the United States of America can only fall from within by division among her people. This is not the only historical figure that has said something like this. Ariel Durant, a Russian-born American writer, once said “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within”.

The author achieved what he was seeking after. He effectively used several methods to reach his intended audience, both liberals and conservatives. He clearly delivered the issue in a very moderate way that promotes equality. He used his credibility and logic to persuade the audience of what he was trying to do. Mr. Robinson’s purpose for this article is very clear. It is for the audience to put away their stubbornness, get out of their comfort zone, and make a choice to not only be heard but to listen as well. It is only then when we as a society can fully come together.
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