21 March 2008

A Good Friday Thought

If today's conservatives lived in yesteryear's Judea, some of them would have criticized Jesus for failing to acknowledge that the Roman Empire was the greatest nation in the world. It wouldn't be enough that he told people to render unto Caesar what was Caesar's (after all, that meant paying taxes). He would need to show that he appreciated the civilization and security that Rome had brought to the Middle East, and that Romans had done more to spread both civilization and security than any other nation or empire. Furthermore, who was in any position to pass moral judgment on the Roman Empire? Persians? Barbarians? And if Jesus didn't comply with all this, proved himself unpatriotic, either to Rome or Judea? "Crucify him!"

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Of course, today's conservatives will try to convince you that, were they transported back in time, they'd be among the first converts. They'll also tell you that, if they lived in the U.S. 150 or 200 years ago, they'd oppose slavery. Maybe they're right, but then they wouldn't be conservatives, at least by the standards of the past. This is just another proof of the uselessness of "conservative" as an ideological label. What defines an ideological conservative is not his instinct to conserve, but that which he wants to conserve. If we started to call things by their true names, we might be less easily bamboozled by brand names and labels. It would help if we knew their true names, but we're working on that.

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