Jair Bolsonaro recently won the 2018 Brazilian General Election to become the president-elect of the world’s fourth largest democracy. He beat left-wing candidate Fernando Haddad with a landslide victory. In my opinion, given the broader picture, this news is largely negative.
To give some context, Jair Bolsonaro has made some grossly discriminatory comments on record regarding minority groups, including the LGBTQ community and Brazil’s black and mixed-race community.
Furthermore, he praised the country’s fascist military dictatorship of the 1960s to 1980s as “glorious”. He was supported by General Antonio Hamilton Mourão, a man who claimed last September that the military could seize power if Brazil’s courts don’t punish corrupt politicians.
Upon his election it was reported that over twenty Brazilian universities were raided by military police. They confiscated material concerning the history of fascism, interrupted classes due to so-called ideological content, and removed anti-fascist banners, terming them as propaganda.
The evidence overwhelmingly supports the interpretation that this is a fascist government in the making.
We might have thought that the mainstream media would have denounced both him and his behaviour, or utterly condemned his victory as a dark day for democratic politics. One of the biggest democracies in the world electing such a man is surely a step in the wrong direction.
Yet sadly the coverage and exposure of the situation has been entirely insufficient, at most in the West. Bolsonaro has been called “trumpist”, “populist”, “arch-conservative”, but never “fascist” in spite of his degradation of ethnic minorities and collusion with the Brazilian financial elites. This, along with the presence of military police in Brazil to suppress ideological opposition, all surely points to characteristics of a fascist environment threatening people’s liberties.
British media reports have failed to mention the presence of military police in the days following his election. There has also been no reference to the aforementioned forced censorship within Brazilian universities over so-called ideological content.
Bolsonaro seems to have even pervaded into the Brazilian legal system, as courts in Rio ordered the Universidade Federal Fluminense faculty to remove from the Law School facade a flag with the message “UFF Law Against Fascism”. The fact that I had to find this information from a Brazilian news source via Twitter tells much of the story.
When will this horror end, you ask? For me, it will be when mainstream media, as a cohesive unit, begins to attack the place of neo-fascism in today’s democratic society. Think of Poland, Hungary, Italy, the USA, and now Brazil. When reporting on fascism, an all-sides-being-equal debate should always be an afterthought to utter condemnation and a hostile attack of these ideas.
Events in Brazil are evidence as to why the mainstream media needs to unite in calling a spade a spade, in reaction to the ugly rearing of fascism’s head.