I spent a few hours last night writing a response for the first reading assignment (Love, Law and Civil Disobedience), but I was getting kind of frustrated and I was confusing myself. I happen to live with the host of this blog so I stopped into his room last night to talk to him about it a little bit. He told me not to stress out too much about it. We talked a little bit and I decided to scrap what I wrote. Monday afternoon. Here goes nothing…

Initially, I was most attracted to the parts of King’s speech where he discusses the differences between “just” and “unjust” laws. I was drawn to this because I was trying to figure out how King would feel about our current immigration legislation (in other words, would he think it was a just or unjust system). While I was writing my first draft, I became frustrated because I feel like King would say the laws regarding immigration in this country are unjust; however, I was having a hard time proving it. As far as I know, he never spoke publicly about immigration. We also don’t know much about how he feels about nation states or their responsibility toward people who are not their recognized citizens.

We do know that King thought about what was happening outside our borders. In this speech, he cites Nazi Germany and South Africa under apartheid as international examples of unjust systems. He doesn’t; however, talk about the role of the rest of the world in regard to these examples. He says he would aid a Jew in Nazi Germany and he would encourage civil disobedience against white supremacy laws “if [he] lived in South Africa”. Long story short, I don’t know how King felt about our nation’s obligation to people who were born outside of our borders. I think he would probably say that closed borders are unjust because “the legislative bodies that made these laws were not democratically elected” by the people that are affected by them.

I am interested in seeing how other people interpret this question, but ultimately I am much more interested in looking at the similarities and differences between the environment that King worked in and the environment we as immigration rights activists are working in presently. I want to know how the other members of this discussion group feel about King’s description of negative peace (the absence of tension). Does a sort of negative peace exist in the immigration debate? King describes a conversation he had with a white citizen in Alabama who claimed that there was harmony in race relations before the civil rights movement disrupted the relationship with boycotts and protests. Are there people who believe that a sort of racial harmony exists between extralegal citizens and legal citizens? I don’t know why I found this interesting. I just did.

I am also curious how people feel about the fact that the civil rights movement had the support of the federal government and Supreme Court whereas the immigration crisis has no such support. Do people feel like non-violent protest can achieve justice on the border in the face of a non-supportive federal government? While I believe opening our borders is a good thing, I think it will require a fundamental shift in the way we conceptualize our nation.

Finally, I want to know how people feel about the “Myth of Time” as discussed by King. He describes a segment of the population that believed time would solve the inequality in the South and that all you could do was be patient and pray. I wonder how widespread this attitude was amongst people in the South and if people felt like there was a momentum from Brown v. Board that would further equality without direct action and civil disobedience. In terms of the immigration crisis, I feel like the momentum is moving in the opposite direction. I think very few people believe that immigration will open up if they just wait and pray. Is the “Myth of Time” applicable to the immigration debate? What motivation/urgency issues will this movement face?

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