Not holding back any punches, the White Rose leaflets expressed contempt for Hitler, Nazi polices, and an apathetic public (excerpts below). Their words, however, are relevant to many cultures--both past and present. For example, while not on the same level of moral depravity that existed in Nazi Germany, in America we have allowed super-wealthy Americans to purchase our democracy and turn it into an oligarchy - an oligarchy where white collar crime typically goes unpunished, wages stagnate or drop while the super-rich increase their fortunes by the billions, student loan debt reaches unsustainable levels, infrastructure crumbles, wildfires & pollution ravage the land, the number of homeless children reaches record numbers (see, e.g., here and here), personal profit drives perpetual war & mass incarceration, health insurance is withheld from the poor, regressive taxes, tolls, fees, and fines multiply, and drug-testing & public humiliation is advocated for low-income Americans who receive government assistance - but not for rich Americans who receive government assistance (e.g., public money bailouts for wealthy financial institutions, lower tax rates for the super-rich, and government subsidies for multiple homes and mansions).
But despite all the above (and outside of a few small movements) most of the American public remains in a state of apathy or, worse, stand ready to vote for political candidates who will grant even more gargantuan tax breaks to the super-wealthy Americans who have perverted our democracy, rigged the economy to their benefit, and engaged in a level of fraud, greed, and white collar crime that boggles the mind. So, while the words of the White Rose are harsh on Germans, we should not necessarily think ourselves immune from the thoughts expressed in those leaflets. Here are some of those thoughts:
"Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be 'governed' without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct."
"The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations; and of course they do so."
"Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, a state which secures the freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole" (emphasis added).
"Why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you...until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state presided over by criminals and drunks?"
"Every word that comes out of Hitler's mouth is a lie...His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell..."
"We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience."
The White Rose and the Roosevelts (and many New Deal policymakers) understood something fundamental about humanity that many do not: We need individual rights, but we also need a common good ("Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, a state which secures the freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole"). Indeed, the two go hand in hand. The Founding Fathers understood this as well, which is why they included individual rights and the words "general welfare" in both the preamble and Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In Nazi Germany, however, individual rights were trampled by the state. And in America today, the common good is being trampled by a fanaticism for individual rights - a fanaticism that is so extreme that it essentially says, "If I need to pollute the environment to make a personal profit, too bad for everyone else. If more and more children become homeless as I grow richer and richer, too bad for them. If huge tax breaks for me causes our nation's infrastructure to fall apart, tough luck."
I believe the warnings of the White Rose are warnings to us all.
(All quotes above are from the book "The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943," Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1970, 1983.)