The Biden regime seems hell-bent on celebrating and subsidizing the worst tendencies of human nature: not only every conceivable manner of perversion, but resentment, envy, the privilege of protected classes rather than advancement on the basis of merit, and so much more. It is not hard to suspect that Biden and his henchmen have some vested interest in encouraging Americans to become worse people, harder to get along with and more difficult to deal with. What could more effectively justify an authoritarian crackdown than a population that is as obstreperous as it is immature?
One outcome of all this will be that Americans will become worse people than they used to be. A government can’t expect to celebrate mental illness, demanding that everyone take it as normal on pain of ostracism, deplatforming and worse, and exalt skin color and gender over competence and expect that Americans will continue in large numbers to value being rational, competent, and capable.
There have been governments, however, that did what they could to make their people better human beings, rather than worse ones. “Empire of God: How the Byzantines Saved Civilization” details how, in the Byzantine Empire of the sixth century AD, a story circulated that could have come from our own day. The sixth-century Byzantine chronicler John Malalas reports that early in the reign of the renowned emperor Justinian, “some of the bishops from various provinces were accused of living immorally in matters of the flesh and of homosexual practices. Amongst them was Isaiah, bishop of Rhodes, an ex-praefectum vigilum [commander of the watchmen] at Constantinople, and likewise the bishop from Diospolis in Thrace, named Alexander.”
In Justinian’s realm, no month was set aside to celebrate such behavior. Instead, Malalas continues, “in accordance with a sacred ordinance they were brought to Constantinople and were examined and condemned by Victor the city prefect, who punished them: he tortured Isaiah severely and exiled him and he amputated Alexander’s genitals and paraded him around on a litter.” Justinian did not disapprove of these harsh punishments, and actually seized the opportunity to institute a strong measure against pedophilia: “The emperor immediately decreed that those detected in pederasty should have their genitals amputated.”
Justinian’s wife, the Empress Theodora, also considered it part of her duties to support the public morals. Malalas records that she acted against human trafficking:
Brothel-keepers used to go about in every district on the lookout for poor men who had daughters and giving them, it is said, their oath and a few nomismata [the coins of the day], they used to take the girls as though under a contract; they used to make them into public prostitutes, dressing them up as their wretched lot required and, receiving from them the miserable price of their bodies, they forced them into prostitution. She ordered that all such brothel-keepers be arrested as a matter of urgency. When they had been brought in with the girls, she ordered each of them to declare on oath what they had paid the girls’ parents. They said they had given them five nomismata each. When they had all given information on oath, the pious empress returned the money and freed the girls from the yoke of their wretched slavery, ordering that henceforward there should be no brothel-keepers. She presented the girls with a set of clothes and dismissed them with one nomisma each.”
Consider also, in contrast to Old Joe Biden, who wears his Catholicism on his sleeve but acts against its principles on all controversial matters, notably abortion and “LGTBQI+” issues, a later Roman emperor, the eleventh-century Michael IV. According to a historian of his time, Michael Psellos, Michael IV “was a pattern of piety” after he became emperor. He devoted “a considerable part of the imperial treasure” to “the foundation of monasteries and nunneries throughout the continent.” Monasteries and nunneries aren’t for everyone, however, and so the emperor also “devised a plan for the salvation of lost souls.” Instead of trying to convince Constantinople’s prostitutes of the error of their ways (Psellos asserts that “that class of woman is deaf anyway to all advice that would save them”), he built for them a grand house in the city. Then Michael had it publicly proclaimed that all prostitutes who were “willing to renounce their trade and live in luxury” could find a place there, provided that they would wear nun’s habits and not resort to their old profession. Psellos says that a large number of women took Michael up on this offer and that some “enrolled in the service of God.”
This was one of the oddest and most intriguing public buildings in the history of any state, and it presents an illuminating contrast between Emperor Michael IV and Joe Biden. One was trying to encourage virtue and lead people away from vice; the other has manifested contempt for the very idea of virtue and vice, and has begun to use the power of the state not just to encourage people to live in fantasy, delusion, and debauchery but to punish those who refuse to discard the values that have been held by every people in every place, with every culture and every religion, throughout history, in favor of newly devised fads and fantasies. How interesting it would be for America someday to have a president like Michael IV, rather than the ideological brethren (and sisters!) of Old Joe that we’re likely going to get.
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