Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day was a name that I recognized, though I couldn't have placed it exactly in context. I grew up Catholic in the Chicago area, and so I probably heard of her through some part of my Catholic schooling. But I didn't know very much about her. She was an activist and founded the Catholic Worker, a paper focusing on making the plights of the worker and poverty real for her readers.

The selection included in Available Means, "Memorial Day in Chicago," details the first incident in this book about brutality not explicitly tied to race. Steel workers and their families were protesting peacefully when the police attacked them with implements provided by the steel mills. Such a simple sentiment when stated so plainly. The eyes could almost elide the details of children beaten with clubs and fifty people shot.

Day emphasizes emotion in her rhetoric, eliciting empathy and sympathy for the workers.
Try to imagine this mass of people - men, women, and children - picketing as they have a right to do, coming up to the police line and being suddenly shot into, not by one hysterical policeman, but by many. Ten were killed and 100 were taken to the hospital wounded. Tear gas and clubs supplied by the Republic Steel Company were used.
She asks her readers to use their imaginations, drawing them into the narrative more deeply than a recitation of facts. As a witness of the events she describes, she knows very well what she wants her readers to feel. Her rhetoric requires feeling, demands it.

And that feeling is required in part because her rhetoric is also a rhetoric of guilt and shame, a Catholic rhetoric. Day first lays out the wickedness, the sin, of police brutality, and then engages in a Socratic series of question that leads the now emotional reader to place the blame squarely on themselves. 
In that case we are all guilty inasmuch as we have not 'gone to the working man' as the Holy Father pleads and repeats. Inasmuch as we have not inclined our hearts to him, and sought to incline his to us, so that we could work together for peace instead of war, inasmuch as we have not protested such murder as was committed in Chicago - then we are guilty.
Day's rhetoric demands action. She builds her audience's response until they cannot help but feel as if they must take action, or suffer the guilt of the brutality she describes. 

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