Justice Scalia Did NOT Receive A Red Card For Biting Chief Justice Roberts

Justice Scalia did dissent from the majority opinion today requiring warrants to search cellphones. However, even though there is no live video permitted inside the Court, I do not believe that Justice Scalia was suspended for biting any other justices. Nor do I believe that he head-butted Justices Kagan and Breyer. But until the Supreme Court allows transparency, how can we really know for sure if Scalia tried to emulate Luis Suarez of Uruguay this morning?

Devious Head Fake From Pope Francis

Notwithstanding Francis’s video message, the 2014 World Cup will not be a “celebration of solidarity among peoples.” In fact, the own goal Brazil just scored against itself was precipitated by a hateful petitionary prayer by the very Pope who is trying to bamboozle the Brazilian people into letting down their guard and thus create space for Argentine victory. He had the nerve, in fact, to express to Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, his wish that the World Cup take place “in an atmosphere of serenity and tranquility.” The same kind of tranquility, one imagines, with which Argentine fans serenaded Chileans the other day at a warm-up match in Buenos Aires, according to the NY Times: “All I ask from God is for all Chileans to die,” they chanted.

I just hope the best team wins!

Two Angles On History And Memory

On the seventieth anniversary of D-Day, Francois Hollande has saluted the Allied veterans–British, American, Polish, Australian, Canadian, French, and others–who landed on Normandy beaches to liberate Western Europe from Nazi occupation. He also noted the debt France and its allies owe to the Russian Red Army, and properly so. It would be an abuse of memory, though, as Bernd Ulrich wrote in a recent essay (hat tip to Robert Coalson via RFERL), if lingering German war guilt toward Russia, ironically, prompts Germans to downplay Ukrainian claims to self-determination. “Should [Ukrainians] not be allowed into the EU because Germans justifiably have a guilty conscience vis-a-vis the Russians? The fact that Germans and Russians are once again making decisions about the fate of Ukraine would be a perverse lesson to learn from history for this country, which suffered under both nations like no other” (see, for example, Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin).

On a happier note re memory and history, an 89-year-old nursing home resident in Hove, England was reported missing yesterday, but has been reported safe and sound in Normandy. Reports are that he was not given permission to go to commemmorative ceremonies in France, but walked out of the home yesterday at 10:30 am wearing his war medals (might have been a clue about his intentions!), got on a motorcoach headed to France, and surfaced after spending last night at a hotel in Ouistreham.

P.S. The care home is apparently denying they impeded veteran Bernard Jordan’s trip to Normandy. He was purportedly offered the chance to go on a package tour, declined, and the home says they knew not that he was “still intent” on going to Normandy. I imagine he may have been intent on showing deference to his comrades who are gone. And, according to Blaise Pascal, “deference means, ‘put yourself to inconvenience’…if deference was displayed by sitting in an armchair, we would show deference to everybody, and no distinction would be made.”

Obama And Francis: Losing Their Minds?

First, President Barack Obama: no, I am not talking about any of the pseudo-scandals ginned up by the gigantic right-wing conspiracy. I refer here to the truly scandalous and disturbing. What could possibly have possessed Obama to venture the opinion that Scotland should not vote in favor of independence? Did you really need to insult the Scottish exceptionalists, Mr. President?

And Pope Francis: what still, small interior voice could have made him urge married couples to raise children, not pets? Fine, but would he not be best advised to pay even closer attention to the deeds and misdeeds of his own flock of priests, and not just deeds done inside the walls of Vatican City (the absurd defense Vatican representatives used to counter criticism from a United Nations Human Rights panel).

Unpacified Forgetting

Twenty-five years after the massacre in Tienanmen Square many thousands of people gathered in remembrance in Hong Kong, and some in Taiwan as well. But in Beijing, according to the BBC, relatives of those killed “were allowed to visit the graves of their loved ones under police guard” and commanded not to speak with reporters. NPR correspondent Louisa Lim, author of the just-published The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tienanmen Revisited, found that only 15 out of 100 students she interviewed recently could identify the Tank Man picture as having been taken in Beijing in 1989. That is perhaps too small a sample size to be more than anecdotal evidence, but I take it as indicative of the Chinese regime’s success in short-circuiting the historical memory of young Chinese. As an American I am hardly in a good position to judge the historical amnesia other nations and cultures impose. But I do venture to say that Harald Weinrich’s notion (based on Freud’s writings) of pacified vs. unpacified forgetting applies to this anniversary of Tienanmen. Unpacified forgetting comes before psychoanalytic treatment, pacified forgetting afterwards, after an internal “truth and reconciliation” process has come to a successful or at least adequate end. The number of prematurely dead people after Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” led to famine in the 1950s was in the tens of millions; and the Cultural Revolution caused far greater death and disruption than Tienanmen. But the protests of 1989 are still recalled as a reaching out toward democratic self-rule and as a cry against corruption–which is precisely why the memory of June 1989 has been so scrupulously, or unscrupulously, suppressed.