I guess by now most of the American readers of my blog have heard that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away Saturday.
I have to say I am a bit heartbroken over it. Antonin Scalia was a personal hero of mine. As an Italian-American and a conservative and a Catholic I was so proud of him. It is my perception that until Scalia hit the national scene, Italian-Americans and Catholics were predominantly center-left on the political scale, which is to say moderate Democrats as far as political party affiliation goes. And I would assess that over 90% of my family would consider themselves Democrats, even today.
Now it is without question that it was the Democratic Party which left traditional values behind, which made a new generation look toward the political right for a fit. As I matured and found my philosophic match, there was no question that I was a conservative. I think it’s in my genetic makeup. Antonin Scalia, with his pugnacious personality, his wit and charm, his intellectual brilliance, his devout Catholicism, his loud and larger than life energy—the very essence of Italian male extroversion—his dedication to family and tradition made him an icon for many, but specifically for those of us of Italian ethnicity. Some of us have crazy uncles and some of us have brilliant uncles: Antonin Scalia was our brilliant uncle, and we could point to him to justify our political leanings.
There are many great Scalia quotes. I love the one where he’s being interviewed by a writer for New York magazine, which is a publication somewhere left of Pravda, where the interviewer is shocked that Scalia actually believes in heaven and hell. Scalia leans in to him and adds, “I even believe in the Devil.”
But the quote of his I most embrace is this one on the courage to be a Christian:
“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools ... and he has not been disappointed…If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity…Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”
- Speech at Living the Catholic Faith conference, 2012
Antonin Scalia was an intellectual giant compared these petty, conventional “sophisticates.” There are only a handful of people that I would love to hang out with in heaven, if I should be graced with getting there. Antonin Scalia is one of them. May eternal light shine upon him as he rests in peace.