At a glance this quote is rather appalling because one’s instinct is to think that this quote can not be farther from the truth. In fact, if someone was to approach you and ask you what were the most heinous crimes of the 20th century, I would think that the Holocaust would be very close to the top of your list. That fact is indisputable and that is not what King was addressing. His point, as it’s well explained in the linked article, is that actions are only illegal if the government makes them so; since the Nazis were the government, there was no crime in it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans had to die before it could become illegal.
The important point that Dr. King was trying to make was that morals and political forces can be incongruous. And with his example we can see harm that this can cause. This notion is interesting to me because when I think about Nazi Germany my mind tends to subconsciously wander to a sense of security that atrocities like that could never happen in or by the hands of our country. There are so many reasons why this type of thought is illogical, but the two main reasons that I can think of at the moment are the context in which Dr. King said the above line, and what this means to me. First the MLK quote.
He delivered this quote during the Civil Rights Movement, an era that could justify skepticism in blind security of American morality all on its own. Of course progress has been made, but the point remains that problems can occur and ignorance is unacceptable- which reminds me of my second point:
The link to the GQ list of the 50 Most Powerful People in DC showed me how little I do know about the goings on in Washington. I was able to recognize a significant amount of the people, but I have no idea what their agendas are and where they are coming from. I guess I should get on that.