Southern Border Collapse Echoes Ancient Roman Disaster

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The history of the late Roman empire offers dizzying parallels to the present stage of American civilization. This is not a novel observation, of course. It is common knowledge that, not unlike America, the declining empire was plagued by runaway inflation, deteriorating infrastructure, violent transfers of power, sexual debauchery, religious infighting, a decline in civic life, and influxes of so-called barbarians into imperial territories. It is this final cause of collapse – unrestricted migration – that I will examine further here, in comparison to the present stage of American civilization.

A survey of the period during which what Edward Gibbon termed a “deluge of barbarians” overran the empire is beyond my present scope, but it will suffice to say that the fall of the Western Roman Empire was preceded by a long series of migrations and invasions across compromised Roman borders.

A case study of a disastrous border incident in the fourth century AD encapsulates the essence of the ongoing crisis along America's southern border today. Primary sources attest that, like our own government, the imperial administration of the late empire was directly responsible for bringing about a migration crisis on its own borders for political gain. In the final book of his History of Rome (Res Gestae), late Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus records the infamous moment that a swath of Gothic refugees was officially invited to cross the Danube River during the rule of the emperor Valens in AD 376. Ammianus writes:

“Therefore […] they [the Goths] took possession of the banks of the Danube, and sending envoys to Valens, with humble entreaty begged to be received, promising that they would not only lead a peaceful life but would also furnish auxiliaries, if circumstances required.”

To condense a long sequence of events, the huge company of Gothic migrants that had suddenly descended on the imperial border was seen not as a danger, but rather as an opportunity by the Roman political and military elite. Ammianus records that “the affair caused more joy than fear,” since the recent arrivals were viewed as a pool of fresh recruits by which the emperor might bolster his own military power and profit financially. It is not hard to detect similar political interests behind the weaponization of migration by today's Democrats, who clearly stand to enjoy an enormous swelling in their support base by allowing unrestricted migration from central and South America. A 2022 study from Pew Research Center confirms that Hispanic voters continue to heavily favor the Democrat Party (60% of Hispanic voters surveyed indicated that the Democrat Party represented their interests, especially on immigration issues).

At length, we read that the Roman state promised food and resettlement to the Gothic refugees, and not only permitted but facilitated the influx of Goths across the Roman border en masse.

“In this expectation various officials were sent with vehicles to transport the savage horde, and diligent care was taken that no future destroyer of the Roman state should be left behind, even if he were smitten by a fatal disease. Accordingly, having by the emperor's permission obtained the privilege of crossing the Danube and settling in parts of Thrace, they were ferried over for some nights and days embarked by companies in boats, on rafts, and in hollowed tree-trunks...”

This is where parallels start to pile up. Like Rome, the US government (collaborating with globalist-aligned NGOs) has acted to facilitate the perilous journey from central America to the southern border, and to provide direct transportation such as flights and busing across the country from major border crossing sites in Texas.

Yet, the enthusiasm of both the Roman and American governments in encouraging and directly facilitating the entry of vast numbers of foreigners (unvetted and unscreened for disease) proved disastrous even to the refugees they invited: migrants face(d) extreme perils such as drowning, starvation, and slavery. Ammianus writes that many perished while attempting to cross the Danube River into Roman territory:

“[...]because the river is by far the most dangerous of all and was then swollen by frequent rains, some who, because of the great crowd, struggled against the force of the waves and tried to swim were drowned; and they were a good many.”

Moreover, the Gothic migrants who crossed successfully were soon beset by great hardship. Ammianus attests that many sold their own children into slavery to the Romans in exchange for dog meat.

Circumstances on our own end of history look disturbingly similar. In September 2022 alone, the Texas Tribune reported that nine migrants perished in the waters of the Rio Grande during an attempt to cross into the US near Eagle Pass. Several drowning incidents have also been documented in May 2023, in addition to a disturbing close call involving an infant carried across the river by illegal border crossers. Another hazard presently faced by migrants on both sides of the border is slavery and sexual exploitation. Senator Ted Cruz has outlined the disturbing details of what he calls the “narco slave trade,” through which cartels exploit migrants, including children, to extract repayment of debts incurred during the illegal border crossing process. Cruz places blame squarely on the Biden administration for allowing human bondage in America on levels unseen since the Civil War.

If we chart the parallel course between Ammianus' narrative and current events, we can mark this particular point in the history with a big, bold YOU ARE HERE. Much like the self-serving actions of the Roman elite in the fourth century, the Biden administration has brought about a humanitarian disaster at our southern border in the wake of Title 42, for no other conceivable reason than to consolidate political control by bolstering the bloc of dependents on the state.

The events that followed the Gothic refugee crisis offer a dire warning to modern America. Ammianus elaborates on how corrupt Roman officials abused the Goths and quickly reneged on the promises made to them, ultimately leading to violence that consumed the empire. Two years later, in AD 378, Valens was routed by the Goths in the Battle of Adrianople. In AD 410, Rome was sacked by a Gothic army, and in AD 476 – just less than 100 years after Adrianople – the last Western Roman emperor would abdicate to a Gothic king, signaling the end of empire and the onset of the middle ages.

It should not be lost on us that Ammianus places moral blame for this catastrophe less on the Goths, who were “as yet blameless” at the time of their crossing, and more on Roman corruption and cruelty.

Moreover, lest any object that the barbarian analogy is prejudicial, we must recall three facts. First, that the category barbarian was by no means ethnically specific, and referred (if problematically) to all non-Romans and Greeks. Second, that the Goths were white by any definition. And third, that the poracity of our own southern border is an invitation for bad actors from all parts of the world to enter the US (yes, even Russians, if that is enough to galvanize the Democrats into action!).

Open borders not only apply further heat to America's multicultural powder keg, but are also entirely unsustainable on an economic, infrastructural, and legal level. The only foreseeable result is that the US government will inevitably renege on its promises to migrants, and far worse, on its obligations to the American people. Nothing can follow but complete and utter collapse.

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