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“Scarcely a week into Jair Bolsonaro’s tenure as president of Brazil, protections for the environment and indigenous and LGBTQ populations have been removed, and both the neoliberal economic policies closely associated in Latin America with the thirteen-year Chilean dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and the language of Brazil’s military junta, which ruled from 1964 to 1985, have resurfaced. “I come before the nation today, a day in which the people have rid themselves of socialism, the inversion of values, statism, and political correctness,” Bolsonaro told his inaugural crowd, pleasing Brazil’s elites and the stock market. His call for surgical violence—Brazil’s “whole body needs amputating” was the memorable phrase—left others fearful of a return to “disappeared” bodies and torture cells.
Threat is a fundamental tool of the 21st-century authoritarians on the rise: Dominating is much easier if you’ve prepared people to be afraid of you when you take office. Bolsonaro used it to sell himself as the only candidate capable of tackling Brazil’s soaring violence problem, which included a record murder rate in 2017. “A good criminal is a dead criminal,” he said last fall, earning comparisons to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has made good on his own campaign promises to carry out extrajudicial killings of those involved in his country’s drug trade.
Yet Bolsonaro has also preventively criminalized all leftists and other political opponents, promising to send such “red outlaws” to prison or into exile. “It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history,” he said in October, raising the possibility that he might aspire to be even harsher than the former junta, which he believes didn’t kill enough people. Years of documented Bolsonaro hate speech against gays and blacks suggest other potential targets, although even if he gets a ruling majority in parliament, “cleansing” an enormous country with a multiracial and ethnically complex population would be a Herculean task.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Not even what one might think of as the most basic tenet of any religion, a belief in the existence of God, is a prerequisite: Agnosticism is a key principle of at least one major school of Hindu philosophy."
"The presidency of any particular incumbent is relatively short... but the precedential consequences of impeaching a president without complying with the specific provisions of the Constitution “as it was written” are enduring."
"After news that a judge allegedly provided sexual favors to Bar Association president Efi Nave in exchange for her appointment, several politicians said in their responses that the Judicial Selection Committee needed to be the “Holy of Holies.”"
"Two new documentaries take on Billy McFarland and his disastrous music festival... the secret villain of this story all along: the subtle menace of social media marketing."
"Eating out, ordering in. Throw in a bagel here, a coffee there, and it all adds up. "It's definitely a challenge for people my age to save on food.""
"Popular music is shrinking. From 2013 to 2018, the average song on the Billboard Hot 100 fell from 3 minutes and 50 seconds to about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. "
"Here in the good old U.S. of A, the third annual Women's March planned for Jan. 19 is in serious trouble, thanks to irreconcilable political disagreements."
"Nature, however, with its endless cycles of death and rebirth, fascinated her. Walking in the woods, she developed a method that has become the hallmark of her poetry, taking notice simply of whatever happens to present itself."
"Modern parents haven’t stopped playing favorites; they’ve just stopped doing it openly. Though few parents today will admit they have a favorite child, studies indicate that about two-thirds of parents do."
"The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised."
"Sphen and Magic looked like they would make great, diligent, careful egg-warming parents. They made the biggest nest, and they sat on it constantly."
"How YMHAs, followed by synagogue-centers, and finally JCCs have tried—in different ways—to balance Judaism and Jewishness, by bringing Jews together in intellectual, spiritual, and physical pursuits"