Wednesday, January 20, 2021

On unjust laws......................................

 Playboy:  Perhaps.  But the kind of extremism for which you've been criticized has to do not with love, but with your advocacy of willful disobedience of what you consider to be "unjust laws."  Do you feel you have the right to pass judgment on and defy the law — nonviolently or otherwise?

King:    Yes—morally, if not legally.  For there are two kinds of laws: man's and God's.  A man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God, is a just law.  But a man-made code that is inharmonious with the moral law is an unjust law.  And an unjust law, as St. Augustine said, is no law at all.  Thus a law that is unjust is morally null and void, and must be defied until it is legally null and void as well.  Let us not forget, in the memories of six million who died, that everything that Adolph Hitler did in Germany was "legal." and that everything the Freedom Fighters in Hungary did was "illegal."

-as excerpted from the January 1965 Playboy interview with Martin Luther King, Jr., as reprinted in A Testament of Hope

Editor's Note:  What gives power to King's willful disobedience, as with Gandhi before him, was the willingness to nonviolently accept the consequences of disobedience, ultimately bringing shame, and then change, to the oppressor.

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