Summary and Rhetorical Analysis
In the article “After Tragic Notre Dame Fire Came Ugly Empathy Shaming on Social Media”, Fedja Buric explores the reactions of social media users to the fall of the Notre Dame. The author uses different techniques to pass his message. The rhetorical elements that the author used can be understood based on the summary and rhetorical analysis of the article.
Fedja Buric’s article presents the author’s examination of his agony following the inferno that consumed the Notre Dame. The author uses the article to highlight his surprise following the criticism he attracted after showing his empathy to the people of France. Buric refers to Notre Dame as one of the recognisable achievements of humanity. The author also asserts that he shared a video on his Facebook page showing young people kneeling and praying for the Notre Dame during the inferno to empathise with the people of France. However, Buric observes that the reactions that he read after making his post surprised him. He notes that some of his friends asked him to consider the suffering of Syrians before sympathising with the people of France. Others replied to him using screenshots of a devastated city and reminded him that people in that city needed more empathy.
Buric interprets the reactions he received from his Facebook friends as a means of stopping him and others from empathising with France. In particular, in paragraph 10, Buric indicates that discouraging people from empathising with others has been common in Italy and Germany. People in these countries scolded others for sympathising with refugees and immigrants. The article is useful in analyzing rhetorical elements. Since the author shows a deeper understanding of the issues he discusses in the article, one can use the piece to analyse Buric’s appeal to ethics and logic. Therefore, a rhetorical analysis of the article can reveal how the author is efficient in using ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade the audience.
As mentioned in the section above, Buric’s article shows the author’s efficiency in the application of different rhetorical elements to persuade the audience. Similar to Ko’s observation, using appeals enable authors to alter the beliefs of the audience (114). However, persuasion can only succeed if the author uses rhetorical appeals. Buric meets this condition by using ethos, logos, and pathos to influence the audience to avoid shaming people that need empathy.
For instance, Buric uses ethos to appeal to the ethics of the audience to see him as an authority on the issues relating to Notre Dame and empathy shaming. For instance, he asserts that he is “a historian of modern Europe” who should feel distressed seeing Notre Dame go down (par. 2). By referring himself as a “historian of modern Europe”, Buric persuades the audience to see him as a credible individual who understands the role of Notre Dame in the history of France. The move ensures that the audience has confidence in reading his ideas as they will not doubt his credibility. By portraying his credibility, Buric manages to appeal to the audience to consider the reasons he empathised with France after the fall of Notre Dame.
Additionally, Buric uses examples of how the world has been shaming people who need sympathy to appeal to the ethics of the reader. According to Varpio, authors appeal to ethics when they present themselves as part of the audience (208). Buric uses examples that show he is not the only victim of empathy-shaming. He indicates that Italian populists used the word “do-gooder” as “a pejorative attribute” to define the people who sympathised with immigrants (Buric par. 10). The move influences the audience, especially those who sufferred empathy-shaming, to empathise with the author and as a result, trust his opinions. The use of examples also appeals to ethics by portraying the author’s understanding of the concept of empathy-shaming. Therefore, Buric is effective in using ethos to persuade the audience to agree with him.
Notably, Buric also applies logical arguments as part of logos to persuade the audience. For instance, the author argues that people should not be prevented from being empathetic. He supports this argument by stating that people should use tragic events to reflect on the universal achievement of humanity (Buric par. 14). He concludes that preventing others from empathising does not take one’s sad feelings away and hence emphasising the need to shun empathy shaming. According to Varpio, appealing to logic requires the author to convince the audience to see the logic in his arguments (209). Buric’s article meets this condition by presenting the author as condemning empathy shaming due to its discriminative nature that does not help those preventing others from empathising.
Moreover, Buric applies pathos to trigger the emotional reactions of the reader. For instance, Buric asserts that he cried after witnessing the inferno that consumed Notre Dame. Also, the author asserts that he saw a video of students kneeling and praying and singing “Ave Maria” (Buric par. 2). These assertions demonstrate the author’s intention to make the audience to think about the distress that faced France after the fall of Notre Dame. According to Varpio, appealing to emotions enables authors to convince the reader that the topic under discussion is essential. As a result, Buric’s use of pathos enables him to convince the audience that the fall of Notre Dame was an emotional event. As such, the world should let France and her friends express their emotions and empathy.
In conclusion, Buric’s article strives to caution the audience against engaging in empathy shaming. The author applies various rhetorical elements to achieve his goal. His use of examples and expression of emotional shows he understands the need for ethos and pathos in effectively persuading an audience. Also, the author appeals to logic by making conclusions that are based on his arguments and incorporating examples. Therefore, the article meets all the conditions of a persuasive material that can trigger reactions of the reader.
Buric, Fedja. “After tragic Notre Dame fire came ugly empathy shaming on social media.” Courier Journal, 22, April 2019, https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2019/04/22/notre-dame-fire-brought-empathy-shaming-social-media/3520190002/. Accessed on 6 May 2019.
Ko, Hsiu-ching. "Political persuasion: Adopting Aristotelian rhetoric in public policy debate strategies." International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 5, no. 10, 2015, pp. 114-122.
Varpio, Lara. "Using rhetorical appeals to credibility, logic, and emotions to increase your persuasiveness." Perspectives on Medical Education, vol. 7, no. 3, 2018, 207-210.