This Comedian Jesus political cartoon highlights the shallow liberalism and false choices of Pax Romana, the metaphorical stand-in for Pax Americana, peace through so-called enlightened domination.
This Comedian Jesus cartoon also ties the all-too-convenient collaboration of political and religious elites in the less-than-enlightened shared interest of self-preservation and the status quo. Prophets, making radical calls for accountability, and modeling self-sacrifice, make the powers that be grate agin and agin. Many American Christians oddly reframe Jesus execution as simply some sort of metaphysical accounting adjustment, minimizing his direct challenge to political and religious elites. Jesus was a threat to Roman political rule, brutally enforced by military rule in its extended territories, the colonies of the age. Racism, xenophobia, and straightforward domination was part and parcel to the Roman order, cynically referred to as Pax Romana. Jesus’ creative nonviolence suited the oppressed Jews (and others) with amor of hope, and provided bold tools to disarm Roman rule. Jesus was a threat to religious elites due to his profound challenges to the authority and legitimacy of religious elites and his surging popularity. Also, Jesus was seen as indirectly stoking the possibilities of a violent insurrection (Judas, from the Zealots who believed in violent insurrection, may have betrayed Jesus in hopes that his martyrdom would trigger revolutionary actions among the populace). The religious elites had much to lose as their collaboration with the occupying Roman powers had bought them special privileges, a classic technique of dominating powers to buy so-called peace, in this case the brutal-for-most Pax Romana. Pilate, in questioning Jesus employs another classic technique of ultimately evading accountability with his infamous “What is truth?” interrogative. This now infamous questioning, would eventually become an iconic emblem of what is now central to postmodern thought: the relativity of truth. For the worse, such an easy liberalism provides great smokescreens for the powers that be to evade accountability with feigned intellectual and ideological credence. The modern day Roman empire of Western civilization has assured full employment of this shallow liberalism. This Comedian Jesus political cartoon parodies this with the brutal liberality of getting to choose your method of death, the too-close-too-home reality for millions under Pax Americana.
To bring all of this home in contemporary fashion, the choice of Roman/American citizens choosing which shade of empire they want to enrich its citizenry, casts a long shadow, and essentially false choice from the perspective of those not benefiting from Roman/American citizenship. While the votes of citizens are bought with many denominations, and presented in contrasting shades of liberality, the church of American privilege is built on a foundation of military might and awe that money can buy. For those whose world is colonized by America, or who live and die as nominal citizens relegated to apartheid-like ghettos, the so-called choice of their brand of ruler remains of profoundly grate consequence. Planetary citizens are hoping for prophets over profits. Mother Earth is quiet udderly sweating this election. I witness the desperate fighting for our own scraps of privilege as sadly pathetic in the light of America’s finest ideals. May we rise up in another American revolution, this time for the benefit all God’s children and beauteous creation.
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