The final group King addresses is white moderates, who have failed him immensely. He claims that they prioritize "order" above "justice," making it easier for the injustice of segregation to prevail. He feels that moderates are incapable of distinguishing between peaceful activity and oppressors' violence. Therefore, they have no choice but to support the former by sitting on the sidelines.
Moderates include both black and white people. King argues that blacks can't be expected to wait for whites to help them when they need it most. He also says that this would mean giving up hope of ever being treated as full citizens. This is not something anyone should have to do if they truly want to see change happen.
King's main argument here is one that many people today would agree with him on: That there is a difference between violence used by oppressed people against their oppressors, and violence used by oppressed people against each other. He believes that if blacks sat down peacefully and waited for whites to help them, this would only encourage more racism from whites. This is because they won't see blacks as equal members of society until they act like it, so they will continue to view them as threats instead of people. This is why King supports nonviolent action. It allows blacks to show their frustration at not being given equal rights, while still preserving their dignity.
Moderates think this kind of action is dangerous.
Martin Luther King Jr. called on white church leaders to address racism. His "Letter from Birmingham Jail" has elicited a response from an ecumenical network. In the letter, King expressed his dissatisfaction with white moderates who "see my peaceful efforts as those of an extreme." He said they were wrong to see him as an extremist because black Americans needed to be mobilized in order to achieve racial equality.
King argued that such people were not being completely honest with themselves or me. He said they could not see his efforts as nonviolent because violence was always necessary for change. Black Americans had been forced to use violence when other methods have failed, so it was not surprising that many white moderates rejected his plea for nonviolence.
In addition to writing letters to King, several white clergy members met with him in person to discuss their concerns. One of these men was Ralph Abernathy, who later became King's chief of staff. Abernathy recalled that King was thoughtful and polite during their meeting, but he also said that King was firm in his belief that whites should abandon their comfortable lives and become involved in the civil rights movement.
Abernathy remembered King saying that nonviolence required "a complete sacrifice of one's self," and he added that many blacks felt that white Christians were trying to get rid of King by removing him from the city jail.
In response to the label "outsider," King argues, "Injustice everywhere is a danger to justice everywhere." He goes on to say that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere because it gives people an excuse to violate the law.
Asking questions about morality and religion is important for anyone who wants to lead a good life. King did not shy away from such questions, which made him different from many other leaders at the time. This is why he has become an inspiration to many people around the world.
What suggests that the King is writing to a different audience than his fellow clergymen? He's also speaking to white moderates. His message is meant for everyone who believes the King and his adherents' acts are unjustified. Thus, the King is writing to a larger audience than just his colleagues.
The King addresses them as "My good friends." This shows that he is close to them and they are important to him. But at the same time, he treats them like others he has no connection with, such as "those vile men" and "that detestable company." Even though he feels comfortable enough to call them his friends, he doesn't hesitate to criticize them or tell them what they want to hear about other people.
He writes that it breaks his heart to think that so many of their race have been misled by some of their own kind. The King goes on to say that it makes him sad to imagine that even some of his own priests have been involved in these injustices. Finally, he admits that it hurts him to know that there are radicals among them who believe violence is an acceptable means of achieving racial equality.
These statements show that the King is not only writing to his fellow clergymen but also to everyone else.