Mediterranean reflections on national decline

The Ravenna effect of trying to create lasting art and beauty at the eleventh hour as the world disintegrates is harrowing to experience. Looking up at the domes of these great churches, and factoring in the engineering brilliance and artistic genius that produced them, while the entire infrastructure of Roman society was disintegrating, is again eerie. For all the vigor of the Visigoths or Lombards, or Huns, there was little there of the Roman genius for architecture, art, or engineering.

While exploring the Basilica di San Vitale today, I was reminded of the news from America. An entire nation is obsessed with the silly Henry Louis Gates affair. A supposedly premier intellectual, who is a professor of African-American grievance, gets into a spat with a cop, purportedly evokes his “mama” in slurs, warns the cop whom he is “messin’” with, and then gets affirmation from the President—and we are supposed to think this is some sort of cosmic “teachable moment” in between trying to borrow another trillion dollars to socialize medicine in the manner of the Department of Motor Vehicles?

Just as there is no logic in ruining the American medical system, so too there is no longer an elite class when its best and brightest scream slurs like “mama” and “messin’ ”, or condemn an entire police force as acting “stupidly” when it is trying to keep the rule of law.

Yes, parts of the United States are becoming like the collapsing world outside the sanctum of San Vitale.