Althouse | category: protest



a blog by Ann Althouse

"Modernist furniture was burned, portraits defaced, sculptures decapitated and ceramics smashed. Carpets were found soaked with water..."

"... from the buildings’ sprinkler systems, as well as with urine. The rioters — die-hard supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who refuse to accept his election defeat — marred the iconic marble ramp leading up the presidential palace with scratches... Into a historic wooden table at the Supreme Court they carved 'Supreme are the people'.... Among the artworks destroyed was a 17th-century clock made by Balthazar Martinot.... A 60-year-old bronze sculpture of a flautist by Bruno Giorgi was also trashed... Vandals pitched rocks through the canvas of a mural by Emiliano Di Calvalcanti. The presidential palace said in its statement that the painting, 'As Mulatas,' is valued at some $1.5 million.... 'The damage was not random, it was obviously deliberate,' Rogerio Carvalho, the presidential palace’s curator, said in an interview while sitting before the disfigured painting. The work 'was perforated in seven places using rocks taken from the square with a pickaxe. Which is to say, there is a movement of intolerance toward what this palace represents.'"

From "Brazil rioters destroyed priceless artistic treasures in assault on capital city" (NY Post).

AND: In other attack-on-art-news: "As Russians Steal Ukraine’s Art, They Attack Its Identity, Too/Russian forces have looted tens of thousands of pieces, including avant-garde oil paintings and Scythian gold. Experts say it is the biggest art heist since the Nazis in World War II, intended to strip Ukraine of its cultural heritage" (NYT).

"A cis-gendered man wouldn’t think twice about what I’m doing... But I have been raised to believe that my body is banned; my body is sexual; my body needs to be covered."

"We never question why. To me, this protest is about the bigger picture of what bodily autonomy actually means. The rules we impose upon ourselves.... Now that I’ve done this for more than a week, I can feel a difference in my brain and how I think about myself. It’s been so positive... At first I thought, ‘Is this going too far?’ But now I wonder why I didn’t do this years ago. I want to be part of the movement that normalizes this freedom for everyone, deprograms how we think about some people’s bodies and not others.... I think the police have acquiesced. Yes, I can do this and I’m really not bothering anyone.... I'm not actually pro-nudity. I get why we need coverings, otherwise it would be chaos and it’s not very sanitary. I’m also not just showing up topless at any restaurants or businesses.... This all gets back to everything that’s happening with abortion and this crisis we are in over laws that tell me what I can and cannot do with my body. This is about equality."

"Seriously, shout out to whoever the hero was within the Supreme Court who said 'f-ck it! Let’s burn this place down.'"

Wrote Ian Millhiser, of Vox, quoted in "Before Finally Overturning Roe, Supreme Court Must Block Yet Another Insurrection Attempt" by Mollie Hemingway (at The Federalist).

Hemingway continues: 

Brian Fallon, the former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman who became the leader of a dark money group behind the fight against the nomination of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, issued a pretty clear call for intimidation of the court: “Is a brave clerk taking this unpredecented [sic] step of leaking a draft opinion to warn the country what’s coming in a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt to see if the public response might cause the Court to reconsider?” 

“All Democrats need to show the same urgency as the clerk who apparently risked his or her career to sound this alarm. Those on the inside know best how broken the institution is. We should listen,” he added. 

Crowds comprised of many staffers from abortion groups gathered at the Supreme Court immediately after the leak. “Chants of ‘fascist scum have got to go,’ interspersed with the names of the conservative justices,” noted one reporter. Signs included, “F-CK SCOTUS,” and “Sam Alito Retire B-tch.”

Why does the headline say "Another Insurrection Attempt"?

The Supreme Court was attacked by a crazed mob in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Hundreds of raucous protesters tried to break down the 13-ton bronze doors. They scaled the building and its statues and threw tomatoes and water bottles at the cars of justices who had attended his swearing-in. The mob even went after Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

I had to look it up. The protest was entirely outside the court building, and there was pounding on the doors:


Everyone chooses what evidence to point to and when to emphasize similarities and when to emphasize differences. You've got the anti-Kavanaugh protest at one building and the January 6th protest at another. They are alike and different, and the likenesses and differences are perceived through a partisan lens.

As for leaks, there are lots of leaks. But this leak of the opinion draft — how different or similar is it from other leaks we have known and loved or hated?

Those who care about norms, decorum, civility, institutions, and rule of law — or claim to — must hold the leaker and any co-conspirators fully accountable for this egregious breach. At the very least, they should be disbarred. Criminal charges might also be in order.

Cite and quote the criminal statute. I'm coldly resistant to arguments that something must be a crime because it gives you that crime-y feeling. There are lots of leaks in Washington, but somehow some people seem to think that the Supreme Court is extra-special when it comes to how much it deserves freedom from leakage. Why? Is it because the side you prefer is hurt by this leak? Is it because your side has such a hefty majority at the moment?

Meanwhile, Ian Millhiser and his ilk are hurting. Millhiser called for destruction of the building by fire. He despairs that the Supreme Court will favor his side anytime soon, so he calls for zero respect for the institution. He's cheering on the leaker. The Supreme Court, in his view, doesn't get special deference among the institutions, and the leaker can be another national hero in the tradition of Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden.

"This guy was my friend. He meditated with our sangha. This act is not suicide. This is a deeply fearless act of compassion..."

"... to bring attention to climate crisis. We are piecing together info but he had been planning it for at least one year."

Wrote Dr. K. Kritee, Buddhist priest from Boulder, quoted in "Wynn Bruce dies after lighting himself on fire outside Supreme Court" (NY Post).

Here is the Wikipedia article "Self-immolation." From the "History" section:

Self-immolation is tolerated by some elements of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism, and it has been practiced for many centuries, especially in India, for various reasons, including jauhar, political protest, devotion, and renouncement. An example from mythology includes the practice of Sati [suttee] when the Hindu goddess Parvati's incarnation of the same name... legendarily set herself on fire after her father insulted her in Daksha Yajna for having married Shiva, the ascetic god.... 

For many monks and laypeople in Chinese history, self-immolation was a form of Buddhist practice that modeled and expressed a particular path that led towards Buddhahood. 

Historian Jimmy Yu... examines many primary sources from the 16th and 17th century and demonstrates that bodily practices of self-harm, including self-immolation, was ritually performed not only by Buddhists but also by Daoists and literati officials who either exposed their naked body to the sun in a prolonged period of time as a form of self-sacrifice or burned themselves as a method of procuring rain. In other words, self-immolation was a sanctioned part of Chinese culture that was public, scripted, and intelligible both to the person doing the act and to those who viewed and interpreted it, regardless of their various religion affiliations. 

Here is Wikipedia's "List of political self-immolations." 

The word "immolate" is based on the Latin word "molere," which means to mill. It's not about torment of the person who is immolated — as if he suffers grinding. It's about sprinkling with sacrificial meal. To say "self-immolation" rather than "self-burning" is to stress the sacrificial intent.

Here are the OED's historical examples of the usage of "self-immolation" (including the practice of suttee):

"When it comes to distant and adversarial countries, we are taught to recognize tyranny through the use of telltale tactics of repression...."

"But when these weapons are wielded by Western governments, the precise opposite framework is imposed: describing them as despotic is no longer obligatory but virtually prohibited. That tyranny exists only in Western adversaries but never in the West itself is treated as a permanent axiom of international affairs, as if Western democracies are divinely shielded from the temptations of genuine repression. Indeed, to suggest that a Western democracy has descended to the same level of authoritarian repression as the West's official enemies is to assert a proposition deemed intrinsically absurd or even vaguely treasonous. The implicit guarantor of this comforting framework is democracy. Western countries, according to this mythology, can never be as repressive as their enemies because Western governments are at least elected democratically. The implicit guarantor of this comforting framework is democracy. Western countries, according to this mythology,

can never be as repressive as their enemies because Western governments are at least elected democratically.... More inconveniently still, many of the foreign leaders we are instructed to view as despots are popular or even every bit as democratically elected as our own beloved freedom-safeguarding officials. As potent as this mythological framework is, reinforced by large media corporations over so many decades, it cannot withstand the increasingly glaring use of precisely these despotic tactics in the West. Watching Justin Trudeau — the sweet, well-mannered, well-raised good-boy prince of one of the West's nicest countries featuring such a pretty visage (even on the numerous occasions when marred by blackface) — invoke and then harshly impose dubious emergency, civil-liberties-denying powers is just the latest swing of the hammer causing this Western sculpture to crumble...."

Writes Glenn Greenwald in "The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West/Those who most flamboyantly proclaim that they are fighting fascists continue to embrace and wield the defining weapons of despotism" (Substack).

Adding tags to this post, I noticed the rhyme of "democracy" and "hypocrisy" and wondered how many songs had used that rhyme. A search at produced a list so long it kept adding new items as I scrolled. 

Not everything there is a song, though. Some things are speeches, and the one I clicked on was a July 26, 1959 speech by Fidel Castro. I know you won't resist saying the thing you always say about the aforementioned Justin Trudeau, but I will leave that in my notes for a modern "Dictionary of Received Ideas." 

What I want is to quote what Castro had to say about the democracy hypocrisy: 

For those abroad who defame us, to those who speak of democracy and slander us, we could offer no better argument than the million and more Cubans who have gathered here today. To those who speak in the name of democracy or who hypocritically invoke the word democracy to slander us we can say that this is democracy. Democracy is the fulfillment of the will of the people. Democracy is, as Lincoln said, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A government not of the people is not a democracy; a government not for the people is not a democracy.

And what has the government of the Cuban revolution been since Jan. 1, 1959 but a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? A government of the people, not for a privileged group of people; a government of the people, not of an oligarchy; a government for the people, not for a group of politicians or military people we have as always had in Cuba....

We are ruling with the people and for the people and for this reason the people support us and will continue to support us. Those who wish to find out what a real democracy is should come to Cuba. Those who wish to find out what a ruling people are like should come to Cuba. Those who wish to find out what a ruling people are like should come to Cuba. Those who want to find out what the real word democracy means should come to Cuba....

"Why Are Moms Like Me Being Called Domestic Terrorists?"

 Asks Maud Maron (at Common Sense with Bari Weiss).

I am a mother of four, a criminal defense attorney and a lifelong liberal who is deeply concerned about the direction of New York City’s public schools. I’ve been outspoken about my views, along with an untold number of frustrated parents. For that, the FBI is considering using the PATRIOT Act against me....

The FBI is responding to the National School Boards Association, which pointed to troubles like:

... prank calls; a single individual in Ohio yelling a “Nazi salute in protest of masking requirements”; another individual in Washington State whose disorderly conduct prompted the board to call a recess; “spreading misinformation” online, and disorderly conduct arrests.

 Maron has herself served on a school board (in Manhattan):

I chaired many school board meetings attended by hundreds of parents often voicing contentious opinions around the highly charged topics of admissions and curriculum. Ultimately, I became the board chair. As a school board chair, I was harassed, bullied, smeared and subjected to online campaigns demanding my resignation. Activists who disagreed with me regularly showed up at my school board meetings.... Yet never in my wildest dreams would I ever have considered their activism to be something best handled by the FBI....  

Maron also takes on the contention that Critical Race Theory is not being taught in schools, which was part of the NSBA’s complaint. They used the standard talking point that CRT is "a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class." I like Maron's retort:

Are you kidding me? I read the classic Critical Race Theory textbook in law school. I would much prefer to have my children read that impenetrable tome than be subjected to the ideological grooming that takes place in their classrooms — a phenomenon that I and parents across the country witnessed over Zoom this past year-and-a-half. 

Why should our children — in class, in front of their peers — be required to discuss their sexual orientation? Give their pronouns? Renounce their “privilege”? Plumbing children for this kind of personal information is grotesque and inappropriate, and it has everything to do with the worldview of Critical Race Theory...

[F]ew elected officials have publicly aligned themselves with parents — rich and poor and of every color — who are outraged that their children are being denied a decent education by ideological zealots. There will be no waivers for these moms and dads. These people — who dare to question the conventional wisdom, who are not so quick to submit to the powers that be — have no friends in high places. Instead, they are being treated as possible criminals.... 

"In Athens... the puppet will befriend a minotaur and they will explore the city together. In Naples she is tired, has had enough..."

"... and will have a tantrum which, Vesuvius-like, releases energy, which will bring hundreds of dancers and musicians to join her. In Cologne, Amal will share apple pie with elderly people and hear their stories of growing up after the second world war."

From "Puppet of refugee girl to ‘walk’ across Europe along 12-week arts festival trail/Three teams of four puppeteers will accompany Little Amal from Turkey to Manchester to celebrate refugees" (The Guardian).

I'm only seeing NBC News covering the "White Lives Matter" rallies that didn't happen.

Headline: "'White Lives Matter' rallies flop as hardly anyone shows up/The poor turnout underscores how the country's unpopular and disorganized extremist movements have been driven underground." 

Is it news when something doesn't happen? You need to establish the foundation that it was supposed to happen and something prevented it. Maybe most news organizations decided that to say these rallies didn't happen is to say that there are very few people dedicated to this cause, and that's not something they want us to believe.

The way NBC News dealt with that is to say that the failure to show up in person should be interpreted to mean that the movements have gone "underground." So a big rally would be bad, but a non-rally would be bad too: 

The poor showing underscores how the country’s unpopular and disorganized extremist movements have been driven underground by increased scrutiny from the media, law enforcement agencies and far-left activists who infiltrate their private online spaces and disrupt their attempts to communicate and organize.

How do you know that what looked like rally planning wasn't just the media, law enforcement agencies, and far-left activists  talking amongst themselves? 

Few “White Lives Matter” marchers showed up Sunday, but anti-racist and anti-fascist groups gathered just the same. In Raleigh, North Carolina, a small crowd of antifa and anti-racist protesters gathered at the park where the “White Lives Matter” march was planned. They marched around downtown behind a large white sign that read, “WE ACCEPT YOUR SURRENDER.”...

The “White Lives Matter” rallies were disrupted in several cities after activists infiltrated their online groups and leaked internal chats to journalists. Those chats were reported to have indicated that the events were being planned by the extremist group the Proud Boys and by self-described fascists and Nazis who framed the rallies as peaceful events unaffiliated with known hate groups to recruit more mainstream members....

Reported to have indicated....

Two of the largest Telegram channels dedicated to events in Philadelphia and New York City were shown to be traps created by anti-fascist activists. Another local activist tweeted screenshots of the plan's reveal with a warning Saturday to would-be rallygoers: “Given how riddled these chats are with antifascists ... it might be time to rethink whether you really want to trust a bunch of anonymous internet weirdos to show up with you in your city."

Is that the same as existing activist groups being "driven underground"? The whole thing looks fake.

FROM THE EMAIL: Jerry writes: 

I was shocked that NBC identified some as "Antifa," since they're only an idea. And since others are identified as "Anti-fascist groups" shouldn't there be some Fascists on the other side?


There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

"Seriously, shout out to whoever the hero was within the Supreme Court who said 'f-ck it! Let’s burn this place down.'""This guy was my friend. He meditated with our sangha. This act is not suicide. This is a deeply fearless act of compassion..."

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