Executing Jesus was OK; murdering civilians isn’t

When a military occupation by a Western power (the US, or the Romans) of a poorer country (modern Afghanistan, ancient Palestine) takes place, the occupying troops will kill people. Even after the situation settles down, there will be ongoing resistance.

Murdered child - killed in his sleep by Americans on Sunday.

Neither ancient Jews nor modern Afghans like being ordered around by large, well-fed, heavily-armored men who don’t speak their language, don’t adhere to their religion, don’t wear their clothing, and don’t respect their culture. A pig-eating, beard-shaving, uncircumcised military is an insult to them. Ongoing resistance is natural.

So when, every 20 or 30 years, there was a Zealot uprising in Galilee or Judea, or an attempt by Jesus to take control of the Temple in Jerusalem and have himself proclaimed King, they knew they were facing execution by the Romans if God failed to intervene actively on their behalf.

We may not condone Roman imperialism, which was mostly driven by trade – the need to suppress piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean, to connect Egypt to Syria, to build a reliable harbor at Caesarea Maritima, to protect the trade routes to India, to defend against the Persian Empire – but we can respect it. It tried to integrate all local gods into the Empire, it gradually extended Roman citizenship to local populations, and it brought peace and infrastructure development and an improved standard of living.

American imperialism appears to have less justification, and to be more based on pure exploitation. And when an Army sergeant (acting alone or not) goes on a killing rampage in the night and murders women and children in their sleep, he should not be protected by the occupying forces, but should be turned over to the local authorities for appropriate execution.

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6 comments on “Executing Jesus was OK; murdering civilians isn’t

  1. That sounds a lot like you believe in the law of reciprocity! Some call it the golden rule, but when applied in such situations, it means giving the culprit over to local laws… unless the occupiers intend to establish their own laws locally. In either case, murder is murder despite the fact that war makes a very fine line of it. I agree with you. T(he)y murdered people and should be left to local laws for punishment. Not because I think those laws are right but because I think the law of reciprocity is right. While many believe that an eye for an eye might not be right, it sure goes a long way in politics.

  2. This blog supports and hopefully extends my novel. The main theme is the contextualization of the words and actions of Jesus within the Roman Occupation of Palestine. But a strong secondary theme is the similarity of that ancient history with the Bush/Cheney/Blair occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq – and ironically of the increasing Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    I oppose the death penalty, but I find the execution of a resistance leader (like Jesus or Osama Bin Laden) a lot more reasonable than a massacre of sleeping civilians. When I get over my initial revulsion, I think the Sergeant who perpetrated (or led) this particular killing can never be trusted in open society again, and should be incarcerated for life.

    The real criminals, however, are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Blair. They should have all their assets and future earnings confiscated for war reparations, and be given hard labor for the rest of their lives.

  3. Hard to argue exploitation when we’ve left the mineral wealth of the Afghans alone (and it is considerable, from what I have heard, and not being used at all by them). We must remember, this war began as an attempt to seek retribution for murder, to hunt down and bring justice upon those that had slain our people and those that had aided our enemies. It is true, we are a bunch of beard shaving, pig eating infidels. It is true, that like Rome we crushed those who opposed us. But unlike Rome, we did not take their lands as our own. We have bent over backwards to facilitate peace, respect, and self-governance (much like Rome, though they refused to bend over, forwards or backwards. A lesson we should have learned).

    The fact is though, we are naught but infidels, non-believers, and barbarians to them (at best). When we destroy communications between the enemy, our own allies kill us. The populace riots and murders our people who are over there both to remove a threat and attempt to give aid to said populace. Our troops are held to high standards of behavior, almost inhuman standards considering what they see and live every day. They get to watch their brothers and sisters killed, for no reason other than the fact they exist. They get to wonder constantly if they are next. And the instant they step out of line, blow off steam, or do anything to insult a populace as mercurial as three year olds and as deadly as asps, with whom anything can become an insult regardless of if it was acceptable the day before, they are naught but pressure cookers left going too long.

    It is sad to see 16 Afghans killed like this. But it is understandable. Our soldiers are only human, they can only take so much before they explode with the resentment they are placed through by both the enemy, their allies, and their commanders.

    Of course, were it the Roman Empire, we wouldn’t have had this problem. Had anything like 9/11 happened to the Romans, the country that started it would have been wiped off the face of the earth. As seen with the Jews, a crucifixion of 2000 was no great occurrence if it meant the safety of the Empire. We wouldn’t have the problem of over worked, over stressed, and harassed soldiers finally taking it to the enemy that haunts their every moment with death. Oh no. Because with Rome, it would have made sure its Solders were allowed to make the enemy so afraid of them their soldiers could sleep soundly in their beds.

    I think we could learn a lot from Rome.

    • Might makes right? What we learned from the Roman empire was how not to have a long lasting empire. Whether you like it or not, McDonalds diplomacy works where Roman might failed. The objectives and needs of the USA and Rome are different. Look around, how many failed dictatorships are there? Simply saying that Rome wouldn’t have put up with this or that means nothing. We might as well be looking to Paul Bunyan for international relations advice. Rome was ruled by edict even with a senate. The question of how much pain the citizenry will put up with is relevant. The citizens of the US are arguably at the peak of what they will put up with. So go on, tell us how you inspire these same citizens to go ahead and be cruel to other nations. Lets hear that one.

      • Considering the Roman empire lasted for centuries, and the Roman Republic centuries before that, I’m not so sure it proves the lesson you say it does.

        Look, I’m all for the diplomatic solutions. I think it is fine and dandy that we try to nation build rather than empire build.

        As for the whole “inspiring the US citizens to be cruel” well. That’s easy. It is always easy to inspire cruelty in people. You just have to let them be attacked, put under stress, and given a target. I’d prefer we not have to do this.

        But before people start complaining about how terrible we are, we could have learned how to be terrible. We haven’t been. Maybe we should have. Only time will tell.

        • While there may be some room to argue that the world needs a global police force, not one country will openly accept policing from another. Nation building does not happen by force without consequence. We can see the results of some attempts in Iran and other countries. The trouble with thinking you know best for other peoples is that you are (historically speaking) always wrong. If the entirety of your dealings with a foreign country is commerce, no harm no foul. The USA claiming to know what is best for another people is like me telling you I know what is best for you…. never going to work. Trust me. Of course, if you know how it is that we can convince others to do as we wish please explain. I’m certain that Mrs Clinton would like to know. Mr Anon would also be interested.

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