Sometimes I have to take a moment to sit back and marvel at just how committed American conservatives are to being awful. Their thorough attention to detail in this regard is incredible. They don’t miss a beat!
It’s not just them selfishly doing everything they can to make the world a worse place, to despoil everything they come into contact with; it’s that they take so much obvious pleasure in doing so. For these people, it seems, their greatest source of joy is causing pain.
However, this is nothing new. We can look all the way back to Rome to see their type at work. Roman patricians at the Coliseum, watching people tortured to death by the dozen, then going home to rape their slaves. Pillars of their community, these people. Fine, upstanding Romans all, who spoke of family, duty, and religion.
We might look back at those Romans, at what they did and what they regarded as entertainment, and ask ourselves: how could they have done that? Who were those people?
Well, they weren’t so different from some of ours. They just didn’t bother hiding who they were. They made a show of it. Took pride in it. Used their cruelties as a stark warning to all who would stand against their might.
Our rulers are a little less honest about it. Our cruelties are done behind closed doors. The bloodletting takes place out of sight, with the output packaged neatly in cellophane for thoughtless consumption. Our slavery institutions are systematized in more subtle ways: through corporate capitalism and the criminal justice system.
Our patricians speak of family, duty, and religion, too. They speak of their faith in Jesus as their friend; taking license from him to do what they want. Ignoring his words that make it clear they and their works are the antithesis of what he preached. That their kind of people were the ones who put him to death.
That their plebeian followers would have been in the crowd cheering the Christians martyred.
No, nothing new, these people. Just different symbols. Different spectacles for the plebs.
At its heart, the world is the same as it ever was.
We are the same as we ever were.