I am firmly convinced that most Americans today are philosophically incapable of comprehending the following statement regarding law, which was made by Dr King 50 years ago. His entire movement was based upon natural law, which is what America was founded, judicially, upon, at it’s beginnings. And without the philosophical anvil of natural law Dr. King would have been unable to hammer-out the rights which were due him and others of his race under natural law: equal civil rights for black Americans.
Today, were I to pen the exact same statement as Dr King, I would be pilloried as a small-minded, egotistical control freak who is trying to force my morality upon people, as well as a religious “nutjob” with scary neo-fascist and theocratic tendencies, when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. To the folks who have called me all of these things, I ask: Can you comprehend the brief, following statement by Dr King regarding law and justice? Or can you not? If not, do your homework, as Dr. King and I have done.
From Dr King’s “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963):
“One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.