DISCLAIMER: Let me state that this is the extreme case. I do not believe that American citizenship is anything near this bad insofar as the condoning of evil people like the Nazis. This is merely using the most awful possible instance to illustrate the evil that lies with the constructs of man.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler took the reins of power in Germany. What followed was the worst possible outcome, an international nightmare. To give this nightmare some scope: over six million men, women and children were killed in the period of 12 years. At the camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where some figures estimate as many as 1.5 million entered, and approximately 6% survived. These atrocities occurred in the backyards of so many German citizens. One example of this is the story (linked here) of Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton’s visit to Ohrdruf and Buchenwald concentration camps. So horrified were the men when they saw what had been perpetrated that Ike ordered all the citizens of the nearby town from which the camps were visible to tour them indescribably horrendous sites of genocide. The mayor and his wife, wrought with such guilt over what they had tacitly condoned with their willful ignorance, returned to their home and hanged themselves.
Emerson said, “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness,” (Emerson, Self Reliance). This is an example of how citizenship let people stand by while their government murdered countless millions of Jews, homosexuals, and Romani. Citizenship can be, as we discussed in Emerson, a force from external perspectives that manipulates what people believe. While I differ with Emerson on numerous different doctrines and ideologies, such as ‘finding God within oneself,’ which I believe to be false, he and I do convene in belief when it comes to the ills of seeking recognition from the people. Emerson goes on, “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s parlour,”(Emerson, Self Reliance). This seeking to conform leads to a problem of an unwillingness to act. It places people strongly in Morone’s pet peeve of complacency regarding the reformation of government. Citizenship can lead to complacency, it can lead to inaction. If the goal is a state of being, a standing of recognition, you will fear the alienation and loss of that standing.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Citizenship as defined as a state of standing can lead to the acceptance of evil. Let me again state that I don’t believe there is anything wrong with American citizenship. This to which I am referring is taking the valuing of citizenship to the extreme. I merely wanted to make the point that normal people are capable of condoning evil when they value standing given by others.