During the [First World] war, when the fate of the Carrier Corps lay upon the whole Native world, the squatters of the farm used to come and sit round my house. They did not speak, not even amongst themselves, they turned their eyes upon me and made me their brass-serpent....It was a singularly hard thing to bear. I was helped through with it by the fact that my brother's regiment was at that time sent on to the foremost trenches at Vimy Ridge; I could turn my eyes upon him and make him my brass-serpent.As I think of Antonin Scalia, that Cassandra of the legal world, who untiringly writes his flaming and eloquent dissents, who lives and labors and is outvoted again and again at the epicenter of the loss of legal integrity, honor, and meaning in our country, I am moved to make him my brass serpent.
It is perhaps a little unfair to his fellow dissenters on this latest decision to place that symbolism upon Scalia alone. Clarence Thomas and possibly Samuel Alito are, for all I know, just as fiercely burdened with a sense of the betrayal of law, truth, and meaning, but Scalia is the one who says it. He never gets to say, "I'm tired. I'm discouraged. I'm not going to write a dissent this time." He keeps doing it. He has to go on, to bear being part of this irrational, postmodern court, and to go on saying it and saying it, the voice crying in the wilderness. Because that's his vocation. That is the work that has been given him to do.
And so I say: If he can bear it, and keep on speaking and not give in to despair, I, a mere citizen, can too.