A terrific blog post by Ryan McMaken on the evil Roman Empire:
The civilization of the Roman Empire was bloodthirsty, militaristic, scientifically backward, and philosophically stunted. They had an inferiority complex about not being Greek for good reason. Politically, the Romans took war and terror everywhere they went. I’m amazed when people speak of the Roman for spreading “civilization.” The Pax Romana was the worst kind of international oppression and intimidation. An avaricious kleptocracy that built cities upon the backs of slaves, the Romans deified their rulers and slaughtered those who would not bow to the decadent parasites of the imperial palaces. Warmongers and statists of every age speak well of the Romans, from Hamilton to Napoleon to the Straussian neoconservatives of today.
Pontius Pilate, a first-century bureaucrat, soldier, and politician, condemned Jesus of Nazareth to death for reasons of political expediency, and then proceeded to use the Roman torture-execution method of crucifixion. If only that had been the only time Rome had tortured and murdered an innocent person. Killing Jews was pretty much a hobby for the Romans, as was defiling Jewish holy places.
Later, the Christians were treated to the same sort of Pax Romana that the Jews had endured. Here’s an example of Roman justice in AD 69:
When I was an atheist, I used to hear my co-religionists extol the many virtues of the Romans since we perceived them as the victims of those nasty Christians. “If only Roman civilization had not fallen” we used to say, “then there would never have been a dark age, and we’d all be living in a technological utopia today.” (This was a favorite claim of Madalyn Murray O’Hair) Yeah, right. Beyond roads and aqueducts, the Romans had no aptitude for science at all, and advancements in agricultural production and manufacturing were non-existent for centuries under the Romans. The far more scientifically-adept Europeans of the Middle Ages would have seemed magical to the witch doctors who passed for scientists in ancient Rome.
The primary legacy of the Romans is death. What few contributions they did make—such as that of legal codes—were accidental, and even then just part of the machinery they employed to murder Gauls and Celts and Germans and Jews and Christians.
See also Rev. Emmanuel McCarthy on Holy Week.