In recent months, perhaps a year or more, I have found myself very curious about the ancient Romans. Could they see the end of their empire? Were there those among them who could see that their empire, their way of life, was inexorably drawing to a close? Did they know that they had gone past the tipping point, away from civilization and into decay? Did it hurt them to the core of their very being, or did it just sit there in their bellies, a vague malaise, a sense that something just wasn't right? These questions haunt me. I'm not bothered by the fact that I will never know the answer. I'm bothered by what I see on the news.
America is a nation based on an idea. What happens when that idea dies? What happens when those who would lead us pervert those ideas to justify the indefensible, or worse, ignore them altogether? What happens when those who would teach the next generation abdicate their responsibility to the next generation in the name of some nebulous "greater good"? What happens when those who would lead us and teach us, those who shape today's world and have the power to shape the future of our nation, cite the sins of those who came before to "justify" equally monstrous acts against the innocents of today?
Am I talking about Michelle Malkin's bizarre support of internment camps? Am I talking about racist reporters and "professors" who insist that "something happened" at a lacrosse party in Durham on March 13, 2006, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Am I talking about virtually anything that comes out of the mouths of Ann Coulter, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or Bill O'Reilly? The answer to these questions is a resounding "Yes!" Juvenal had a term for the dumbing down of the Roman people: bread and circuses. When you find that people are more worried about the fate of a rich heiress and the latest styles and music than they are about the fate of our nation, when what would have been another Watergate (the Libby affair) is barely a blip on most people's radar, this frightens me. No, scratch that. This scares the living shit out of me.