In his Letter, Martin Luther King Jr. argued that civil disobedience has to be done “lovingly, openly, and with a willingness to accept the consequences” . In the context of his writing, “lovingly” seems to mean non-violently and with patient deliberation. I think that’s a fair description of what sets ethical civil disobedience apart from terrorism and general criminality. It certainly separates Timothy McVeigh from those who pulled down a statue. King also goes into a fair bit of detail about how one can untangle just and unjust laws.
Bricker seems to suggest that this is brand new territory–that the question “how can we determine which laws are just and which are unjust?” has never been trodden, that anyone attempting to do so will be stumbling in the dark, because there’s no ethically sound way out of this quagmire. It’s a complicated ethical question. That’s why there’s tons of work on the subject: philosophers have been grappling with it for centuries. This is not a new observation. It seems disingenuous to pretend the well-known arguments of King and Thoreau never happened. It’s taught in high school classes.