Drowned out by the anti-Trump hysteria in the wake of the synagogue massacre was yet more handwringing over another election which has gone against the establishment both local and global, this time in Brazil. Here’s how the BBC reported things:
Far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro has won a sweeping victory in Brazil’s presidential election.
The former army captain won 55.2% of the vote against 44.8% for Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers’ Party.
So what is it that makes Bolsonaro “far right”?
Mr Bolsonaro’s pledge to fight crime and corruption following a string of scandals have won him mass support.
Is this a bad thing?
However critics are worried by his praise of Brazil’s former dictatorship, and by his comments on race, women and homosexuality.
Ah, now we get to the heart of the matter. Anyone whose views on race, women, and homosexuality differ from those found in the social studies departments of American academia is automatically “far right”. It’s interesting that race, women, and homosexuality weren’t even major political issues for the couple of decades before 2013, when Obama had won a second term and it was safe to ramp up the identity politics. Certainly they weren’t campaign issues, and with the exception of scrapping Section 28, weren’t even on the British political landscape in any election I can remember. Now all of a sudden these are supposedly key issues on which every politician across the globe is judged. The western ruling classes are prone to hubris and arrogance, and one way this manifests itself is in the belief that the entire world shares their opinions on social issues (see here for another example).
So what’s Mr Bolsonaro supposed to have said? For that we need another BBC article:
Mr Bolsonaro has portrayed himself as the defender of a Brazil of decades past, suggesting that the country should return to the hardline tactics of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship.
Suggesting? Do we have any context here? Of course not, it’s the BBC.
He has praised this era, in which thousands of people were imprisoned and tortured, as a “glorious period”.
Note the implication that Bolsonaro praised the era because of the imprisonment and torture; the BBC does this because it is in the business of peddling fake news rather than informing people. Some people may refer to Victorian Britain as a golden age in the country’s history, but they are not praising workhouses and the Boer War concentration camps. If you look at the timeline of most countries you’ll find rapid development and expanding influence were accompanied by unsavoury practices of some sort.
“I am in favour of torture – you know that,” he said during a television appearance in 1999. “And the people are in favour of it, too.”
Wait, he said this 19 years ago? Has he said anything on the subject since? Did any Brazilian journalists ask him to clarify this statement? We can safely assume that if the BBC is quoting a statement made in 1999 he hasn’t repeated it, so what’s his position now? We don’t know because the BBC isn’t telling us.
He has pledged to reduce crime and increase security by relaxing the country’s gun laws.
“Every honest citizen, man or woman, if they want to have a weapon in their homes – depending on certain criteria – should be able to have one,” he said of his plans on Rede TV on 11 October.
More controversially, he said last year that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.
So is this what makes him far right? What about his economic and social policies (other than a pledge to reduce crime)? Or don’t they matter? Apparently not. What really matters is:
His statements on issues ranging from abortion to race, and from migration to homosexuality, have proved provocative and garnered much attention.
Meaning, he is out of whack with progressives in the west.
“I’d prefer [to see] a son of mine to die in an accident than [to be] a homosexual,” he told Playboy in a 2011 interview.
So what? Does this mean he’s going to round up gays and shoot them? Is not wanting your son to be gay an automatic disqualification to be president everywhere in the world now?
In 2016, he provoked outrage by remarking that a fellow lawmaker was not worth raping because he thought she was “very ugly” and not his “type”.
This is rather rude, but hardly disqualifying or even newsworthy outside of Brazil.
He has also described having a female child as a “weakness”, and said that he would not employ women equally because “[they] get more labour rights than men”.
Is this true? Do they get more labour rights than men? If they didn’t, I’m sure the BBC would tell us. Of course, the real issue is this:
For his supporters, Mr Bolsonaro is a politician who they say will bring much needed change to the country – a swing to the right after four elections won by the left.
For the past four years, Brazil has been consumed by a criminal investigation – known as Operation Car Wash – that has uncovered massive corruption.
The left have been in charge for years, leading to soaring crime rates and corruption on a scale impressive even by Latin American standards. The public, like their counterparts in Europe and the US, have got utterly fed up with ruling elites treating them with contempt so have finally voted for someone on the right. Cue hysterics from western progressives and media clowns about the return of fascism. Now I don’t know much about Brazilian politics and I can’t read Portuguese, so maybe this Bolsonaro chap really is Hitler and he’s about to start throwing women, gays, and minorities into concentration camps built on Copacabana Beach. But I doubt it, and we can be quite sure the BBC and their ilk know nothing about him either.
Note also the difference in reaction from western progresssives when a right wing government gets elected after years of socialist decay, and when a nasty, authoritarian left winger comes to power in Latin America. Left wing politicians and commentators cheered heartily when Hugo Chavez took over in Venezuela, and ignored the brutal suppression of the population which, carried on by his successor, has left them literally starving while the economy collapsed. And still they continue to ignore, make excuses, and justify what’s being done under the banner of socialism. But yeah, we’re supposed to worry about the rise of fascism in Brazil based on some comments made by the new president when the Nokia 8210 came out. Sorry, but I wish him the best of luck.