Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Many sides" in Late Antiquity?

On August 11-12, 2017, torch wielding, sieg-heiling, "Jews will not replace us" chanting, wanna-be Nazi nimrods rioted in the streets of Charlottesville, VA, culminating the the murder of anti-fascist activist Heather Heyer in a vehicular terrorist attack that also left at least 19 others injured. United States President Donald Trump responded by proclaiming: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides."

This kind of prevaricating obfuscation is designed, and quite obviously so, to absolve those genuinely responsible for violence by pretending that the victims of violence share, equally (at least), in the blame with those who perpetrated violence upon them. In the case of Trump's response to the events in Charlottesville, this refusal to focus on and hold accountable the swastika-sporting white-supremacists has been, correctly in my opinion, interpreted as symptomatic of Trump's own personal sympathy with the cause of those he cannot bring himself to reproach by name.

This scenario of victim-blaming exculpation should be quite familiar to those acquainted with the modern scholarly field of "late antiquity studies". Indeed, nothing is more characteristic of the period of history labeled as "late antiquity" than the state and church sponsored violence of Christians against Pagans, and nothing is more characteristic of the so-called "scholars" of this period than their Trump-esque (and ever-so-revealing) refusal to acknowledge this violence for what it is, and the perpetrators of the violence for what they are.