Hanson doesn’t understand part of Byzantine history:
These sorts of Byzantine blue vs. green tribal loyalties become creepy when our president is encouraging well known Americans to state them so overtly.
Whatever else one wants to say about this, it misrepresents what Byzantine circus factions were by implying that they had something to do with ethnicity or some other group identity other than membership in the faction. Circus factions were “tribal” only in the broadest meaning of the word in that they were racing fans that identified with one another in the way that fans of the same professional team identify with one another today. Alan Cameron’s authoritative study, Circus Factions, countered the older view that the factions represented, among other things, competing religious confessions. Cameron described the older view and rejected it:
So firmly entrenched has this view become in all the standard histories and handbooks, seldom qualified with any word of caution or hint of doubt, that it comes as a surprise to discover that there is not one scrap of ancient evidence in its favour. If it could be shown to be even a plausible inference, that might be something. But it cannot. On the contrary, on the basis of such evidence as there is, I would suggest:
(a) that in general the Greens were every bit as orthodox as the Blues;
(b) that in general religious motives played no part in factional rivalry;
(c) that the factions did not, as factions, take any part in religious disputes. (p.126-127)
Neither was belonging to a particular faction a marker of different social status. As Cameron says elsewhere:
The truth is (of course) that Blues hated Greens, not because they were lower-class or heretics–but simply because they were Greens. (p.103)
Cameron also argued against attributing too much political significance to the emperor’s choice of faction:
The colour itself did not matter. What did was that the emperor should favour a colour, any colour, to demonstrate himself the civilis princeps, the ruler who did not disdain the pleasures of his people. (p.104)
I think it’s safe to say that none of this has anything to do with Lovie Smith’s support for Obama’s re-election.