Textual Analysis Final [Walz]

Reading with an analytical eye for a rhetorical analysis requires understanding the purpose in which the author is writing for and seeing how they write in order to achieve that goal. It takes into account the language, evidence, structure and much more that is included in the text. We are reading with intent to not just see what is being told but the process behind it. Why the author chose to write this way and look into their mind deeper to see the thought process. The piece “An Open Letter to Bill Bennet” by Milton Friedman was written in 1989 in regards to the subject of drugs being legalized in America. Friedman published this article in the editorial section of the Wall Street Journal where it will catch peoples eyes and be surrounded by other conservative views. Although both Milton Friedman and Bill Bennet are in the same party, they differ on views of how to handle the matter of drugs in the US. Bennet is more of a social conservative and believes more policies need to be placed in order to crack down on the use of drugs, more specifically cocaine, in the United States. Friedman believes in a free market and that the government should have as little influence on the economy as possible. He disagrees with Bennet’s approach to making it illegal to even be in contact with the drugs and if anything thinks the government should completely legalize them like alcohol and tobacco.

Bennet makes claims to logic to explain this view. He uses alcohol and tobacco as an example, bringing up the prohibition in the 1920s. Friedman claims that alcohol and tobacco cause just as many if not more deaths than drugs do and that the prohibition of drugs is the same as with alcohol. It is widely known that the illegality of alcohol in the early 19th century was a failure with proof being that is now legal again to drink. He uses logic to show to the audience that Bennet’s approach will not work. Imposing these strict policies will just hurt innocent people, when alcohol was illegal it became more desirable and people still found ways to consume it. He hints that drugs should be made legal like alcohol and tobacco with regulations that it should not be accessible to children or advertised, but at least made open to the market.

He uses tactics specific to the target audience where he knows he will make an impact. The Wall Street Journal is very commonly known as a business type of newspaper and Friedman knowingly played that into his piece. In paragraph 3 Friedman uses the approach of using business terms like “demand” and “monopolize” speaking language the usual readers of the newspaper would understand and commonly use. By using this language he is relating to his audience, they are used to reading about the job market and economy so by using these words he is relating it to terms they would see on a daily basis. He is showing how the drug market works similarly to any other market. Where there is a demand supply will find a way to satisfy it. Another way Friedman is displaying his intelligence and credibility is at the very beginning where he opens of this piece with a quote from a well known author. This shows he is an educated man that the public can trust. 

Friedman also does a very good job of uniting his audience with himself. He uses the words freedom and liberty, values that the United State’s foundation was built on. In the first paragraph Friedman states that the imposition of these new policies would take away basic human rights, turning American’s against Bennet’s proposal immediately. He then goes on into other reasons as to why he disagrees with Bennet’s views but relates back to the reader in the last paragraph with the mention of freedom yet again. This tactic reminds the reader that they are unified with Friedman, they started off together and he reminds them at the end they are still together on fighting for liberty. Using language that directly targets the person reading his open letter Friedman uses the phrase “you or I” stating that they are unified in fighting the opposition.

With the basic structure of Milton Friedman’s “An Open Letter to Bill Bennet” you can see he has a clear purpose in writing it. Instead of sending a direct letter to Bill Bennet he writes an open letter that will be published in a paper for the public to read. This allows him to build a following, one that is more convincing to invoke a real change in the war on drugs. Friedman’s precise use of language and appeal to his audience allows him to draw people to his side. When closely looking at the context in this open letter you are able to see the skills that went into this and how he executed his intentions of creating an anti-Bennet group.


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