Who are the barbarians?
By Dr. Robert Owens
The comparisons between Rome and America are legion. Recently I listened to a Bible scholar declare that Revelation Chapter 18 which has traditionally been associated with a veiled prophecy of the fall of Rome is in reality a direct reference to the fall of America. Google "Compare Rome and America" and it reveals a cottage industry dedicated to perpetuating or debunking the premise. Every segment of American society the church, education, business, Hollywood and main street have been warned that the enemy is within the gates paraphrasing a Roman, Marcus Tullius Cicero who said, ""The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend."
Most of us have a picture of the fall of Rome shaped by Hollywood and encouraged by the fact that even a well-rounded education today covers the first 6,500 years of Western Civilization in one semester. The words, "Fall of Rome" conjure up visions of oafish men the size of pro-wrestlers dressed in skins with horned helmets bursting through the gates and ravaging the effeminate Romans and their buxom women. The truth is by the time Rome "fell" hardly anyone noticed and few cared. The Barbarians had been running the place, manning the frontier and managing the government for so long when they finally decided they didn't need a powerless Roman Emperor for a front man anymore it probably seemed like honesty in government to proclaim Odoacer King of Italy.
Among the direct causes of Rome's demise were constant wars and foreign military interventions which sapped the strength and the resolve of the Roman population. Unchecked immigration allowed masses of people to enter the Empire who had no interest in becoming Romans instead intent on maintaining their own culture and language while appropriating Roman property and civilization. A debased currency brought on runaway inflation and undermined the economic system. The rule of law was repealed by the expansion of executive power. The legislature fell into the hands of self-serving aristocrats who sought their own benefit and were willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder. A declining birth-rate combined with the avalanche of immigration eventually made the Romans a minority in their own country. And to these self-imposed secular weaknesses Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire adds a spiritual dimension when he advances the idea that the adoption of a new religion, Christianity contributed to the fall.
Does any of this sound familiar? Today the United States is a country at war with itself. Some have called it the culture war. Pat Buchanan has tried to warn us for decades. His well written and well documented books have given anyone interested enough ammunition to hold the beaches but instead we have surrendered the high ground and retreated to the couch. America is not being murdered we're committing suicide.
In his farewell address George Washington warned us to avoid overseas entanglements. This advice is still read to the Congress at the opening of every session. However, this advice has been ignored so often that a constant drumbeat of intervention has sapped our strength and eroded our will. Ronald Reagan among others have shared such obvious wisdom as, "A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation." Our self-absorbed leaders tell us we are fighting a war against terror and leave the back door open. Today the cacophony of hyphenated Americanism descends into arguments over which kind of American deserves more pity or power. Does a Norwegian-American with a limp and a bad case of the shingles trump a Welsh-American with pink-eye? Teddy Roosevelt said, "There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism" and "Our allegiance must be purely to the United States."
The serial stimuli and billion dollar bail-outs our economically challenged leaders keep handing out like door-hangers in a campaign are building a mountain of horded cash that's eventually going to come crashing down on our economy burying us in hyperinflation. The already accepted federal obligations exceed the GDP of the entire world. This is unsustainable. The level of America bashing and outright anti-American propaganda that is foisted on our youth and called education today is beyond belief. As a teacher of Political Science and History I often feel as if I am in an occupied country when I see and hear what is force-fed in classrooms today. Executive orders, signing statements and the constant proliferation of shadow-government Czars are examples of an executive branch that is out of control. Both parties operating as twin heads on one bird of prey constantly nibble away at the idea of a balance of power. Craven legislators abdicate their authority to special interests and betray their trust for thirty pieces of silver. The birthrate among native-born citizens while the highest in Western Civilization is barely at replacement levels as a government unable to pull their constituents to the left import voters accustomed to third world economics and third world politics. And what of a new religion sapping our strength and resolve? The Cult of Global Warming leads us to declare economic war upon ourselves through the imposition of Cap-N-Trade while the rest of the world watches in disbelief as the greatest economic power of all time hobbles itself in a race for life.
Some point to the Blame America First crowd and echo the words of Jean Francois Revel, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself." Or as Pogo said, "I have met the enemy and … he is us."
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, Religion, and Leadership for Southside Virginia Community College. Contact Dr. Owens. © 2009 Robert R. Owens. Dr. Owens is available for speaking engagements.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!