March 7, 2014

I was reading a bunch of posts about how Christian conservatives can/should/will gracefully adapt to a world where their strict definition of behavioral “rightness” isn’t shared by a majority of their fellow citizens.

More interesting, accomplished people have fully-baked thoughts about such a complex topic, but instead of talking about those, let’s talk about a completely different, only tangentially related observation of mine. When I was a kid – maybe 8 or 9 years old – I learned what “persecution” meant from a computer game called Revolution ‘76 that I played obsessively for several years.

I LOVED this game, even though there wasn’t a whole lot of military strategy or anything obviously cool like that. It was basically a policy game – you’d pick recruiting policies, and diplomatic policies, and economic policies, and then a bunch of stuff would happen and you’d react to it by changing (or keeping) those policies. Plus, you’d move troops around and invade Canada, and beg the French to get involved and all that.

Anyways, one of the policy questions each year was about how you’d choose to deal with British loyalists. There were four options, which I think I can still name off the top of my head – conciliation, tolerance, prosecution, and persecution. If you chose a policy that didn’t match the mood of the new country, or the situation on the ground, or your nascent government’s strength, the loyalists would get aggressive, organize, and you’d end up with a counter revolution in New Jersey or wherever.

I didn’t really connect the dots back then – to me, “persecution” was the option you chose when you were doing pretty well, and wanted to make sure you didn’t end up getting distracted from burning down Quebec by an unexpected uprising in Charleston. Now that I’m older, I realize what I was calling for. In short, lynch mobs, kangaroo courts, and political vigilanteism. Errr… oops. The picture above is from the DOS version, but I swear, in on the Apple IIGS it wasn’t just a little frowny face icon; there was a like, a guy hanging or something. Maybe I’m just making that up in my head out of guilt for all the digital Tories I condemned to death as a kid.

My point, I suppose, it that even though it amazes me, there was in fact a time in my life where I endorsed brutal, repressive measures against an unpopular minority group. Fortunately, that group did not consist of real world human beings, and my power did not extend beyond our 12 inch Apple RGB monitor. But still, it makes you think about what persecution really is, and gives you a tiny little sliver of insight into what may motivate some of it.

(short answer : social power, and the fear of losing it)