Dick Cavett’s recent article in the New York Times, “Real Americans, Please Stand Up” uses the standard array of rhetorical devices common to most opinion pieces. Cavett appeals to the aspects of logos, pathos, and ethos, and he does this using an assortment of techniques. Although there is a mixture of extremity alongside claims that are likely to be widely accepted, it is easy to deduce that the author is writing primarily for the population that is opposed to building the mosque several blocks from Ground Zero. A possible supplementary audience might be those who are not necessarily opposed, in the interest of bolstering their perspective with some extra logic or immunizing them against claims from the other side.
The author seems to portray himself as a “common” American in order to appeal to those who may feel that building a mosque is somehow “un-American.” He uses relatively colloquial language throughout the piece (including phrases such as “I’ve tried real hard”), and he is careful to mention that he is from Nebraska. He uses anecdotes from his childhood that many in his audience are likely to share (he was a “war kid”), and after he’s used some language that might begin to alienate those he’s trying to convince, he makes sure to appeal to the pathos by demonstrating that he shares some of their feelings (“No one is untouched by what happened on 9/11.”).
Logos is probably the most emphasized focus of the article. Cavett makes many comparisons between the situation with the mosque and other, hypothetical situations; for example: “Maybe we shouldn’t have Christian churches in the South wherever the Ku Klux Klan operated because years ago proclaimed white Christians lynched blacks.” He also emphasizes the difference between myths of popular opinion and the facts, for example, that most Muslims oppose the events of 9/11, that their faith is not representative of terroristic acts against America, and that many Muslims were also killed in the attacks. Probably the most important overall message of the piece is Cavett’s claim that if we oppose the mosque’s construction, we are espousing the very ideals we condemn.
Cavett, Dick. “Real Americans, Please Stand Up.” New York Times 20 Aug., 2010.