Textual Analysis Final [Berger]

Before analyzing a text it is important to know what our subject is. The letter was written by Milton Friedman who was an American economist and statistician best known for his strong belief in free-market capitalism. Also, he was a professor at the University of Chicago, who developed many theories that opposed the views of modern Keynesian economics. His purpose of writing this letter is because he is concerned with the economy and the effects that the war on drugs. He is also concerned about how the current strategy being used by Bill Bennett, the recipient of the letter and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under George H. W. Bush, and President Bush will hurt the economy.

Throughout the letter Friedman uses ethos, pathos and logos to try to convince the reader, Bill Bennett, to take a different approach on the war on drugs. The letter opens up with a quote from Oliver Cromwell and integrates these words in a strong opening for the letter which reads, ‘”I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs’. Friedman then continues to write using a strong and assertive voice. Boldly, he then claim their current measures will “make a bad situation worse”. This strong language closes out the opening paragraph and lays the ground work of the letter.

The use of ethos can be seen throughout the letter as a way to convince the reader that he, Milton Friedman, is qualified to write this letter. The clearest example of ethos in this essay is when Friedman writes, “I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on “Prohibition and Drugs.” The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America.” This is a clear example of ethos because Friedman is showing the reader he is qualified to talk about drugs because he wrote a piece on drugs that got published in a column. Based on this expertise he has established, it makes the reader view what he is saying as credible, because his work had been published on this same topic. Ethos is an effective strategy that Friedman uses to convince the reader to believe in his point of view by showing the reader he is credible, and therefore to be trusted in what he is writing.

The use of pathos can be clearly seen throughout the letter as a means of convincing the reader by evoking an emotional response. For Friedman, it seems as if he heavily relies on pathos to get his point across. Some examples of pathos can be seen when he writes, “Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never had been invented…”, “Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror…” and “The lives of thousands, perhaps hundred of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the US.” As can be seen in these examples phrases such as “would never”, “not be suffering”, “innocent victims” and “saved” make the reader invoke emotions that could persuade them in siding with the Friedman. These pathos quotes make the reader feel anger, pity, sadness and more. This is an effective strategy used by Friedman to get his point across.

Lastly, Friedman uses logos to convince his reader by giving the reader facts and statistics to validate his points. Logos can be seen in when Friedman says, “Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs”. Another example can be seen when Friedman writes, “Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims,; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials ; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.” These are clear examples of logos because Friedman is using facts to persuade the reader to believe his point of view. Words that evoke logos that can be seen are “cause”, “far more”, and “more”. Logos is an effective strategy that Friedman uses because it validates his claims by providing facts and statistics to prove his point(s) made.

Overall, Friedman uses ethos, pathos and logos to convince the reader to agree with his point of view. The main purpose of this letter was to convince Bill Bennett to take a different approach on the war on drugs by showing he is qualified in writing this letter, provoking an emotional response, and proving facts and statistics. With the use of these rhetorical devices Friedman is able to create a highly persuasive essay on the war on drugs and the position that needs to be taken to get the best result.

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