What the Capitol Invasion teaches about anti-democratic acts in Brazil – 09/03/2022

What the Capitol Invasion teaches about anti-democratic acts in Brazil – 09/03/2022
What the Capitol Invasion teaches about anti-democratic acts in Brazil – 09/03/2022

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Research says that for millions of Americans, violence is justified in politics

As I am still in the United States, I continue to send news from here. There’s a lot to learn about how the country is dealing with out-of-power Trumpism. We absorbed nothing or very little about post-truth, hate speech, disrespect for institutions, anti-system tactic, low-level (and serious) populism during Donald Trump’s administration — which could have provided us with better tools to react. to the same nonsense that would be replicated by our national representative years later.

It is good to know that there is still time to introject some lessons so that we are less adrift in an eventual post-Bolsonarism. Philosopher Marcos Nobre, president of Cebrap (Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning), has repeated: defeat at the polls will not end Bolsonarism, which will continue to be mobilized and organized, acting as an “unfair opposition” and anti-democratic, if the current president not be re-elected. That’s what happens with Joe Biden here in the United States. Not only does he have to deal with the republican swamp, the coming recession, the setback in social achievements, but with Trump himself, who continues to set fire to the internet playground or in his public appearances.

For 18 months, the team of political scientist Robert Pape, from the University of Chicago, has been trying to understand the origin of the acts of violence provoked by politics in the population of the United States, through the prism of the invasion of the Capitol, on January 6, 2021 — when around 800 people entered the congressional headquarters, dilapidated halls, offices, threatened parliamentarians, in protest against the results of the elections – which they believe were rigged. Hundreds of protesters were arrested, there were dozens injured and five deaths.

Since then, Chicago researchers have conducted a series of studies on the profile of Washington insurgents. In one of the surveys, they analyzed the testimony of nearly 400 prisoners on the day of the invasion and found that, contrary to popular belief, almost none of them had connections with political parties or movements, nor were they a bunch of rednecks linked to the far right. . They were ordinary people: 95% were white, 85% were men, and many of them lived in areas dominated by the Democrats. They are people with established lives, who decided to leave their homes — taking all the risks involved — to terrorize the seat of power alongside extremists.

Another survey, recently released, was based on a national sample, which took into account demographic, political, economic and social factors of the citizens in a very complicated math. The bottom line is that there are between 15 million and 20 million people in the United States who agree that, if it is to bring Trump back to the presidency, the use of violence would be justified — which sheds light on the Capitol Hill case. The profile of this mob is frightening. Among them, eight million own firearms, six million support far-right organizations such as the Proud Boys, and two million have a military background.

“The Capitol riot has revealed a new force in American politics. Not just a mix of right-wing organizations, but a mass political movement, which has violence at its core, and which flourishes even where Biden has the most.” scored Pape in a recent article. In short, the Trumpists’ potential for violence is alive and not limited to the election issue.

When commenting on his thesis, Pape uses the image of a forest fire to illustrate the potential for violence and mobilization of this group. As he says, it’s like dry grass in the driest month of the year, just waiting for a spark to ignite and destroy everything. In this case, the spark is often the incendiary statements by Trump and members of the Republican Party.

This is what researchers Luís Carlos Petry and Rudá Ricci said, in a recent article published in Folha de S.Paulo, about the “culture of violence broth” installed in Brazil, which they call “stochastic terrorism”: fanatics fed by extremist bubbles or “echo chambers” that daily disseminate hatred, racism and the construction of a parallel world where reality is presented as something nefarious to be fought.

For four years now, hate speech has been propagated by the highest authority in the Republic. A quick compilation: “It’s good, one shot just kills everyone or a little grenade just kills everyone” (commenting that Lula was meeting with other parties); “The Brazilian flag will only be red if it takes our blood to keep it green and yellow” (induction speech); I have also said that the government has increased the number of firearms in the country so that the population can react against the State; that the Armed Forces should prepare to combat internal aggression by “traitors to the country”; that voters “know how to prepare for the election”, in reference to the invasion of the Capitol. And there is the always remembered “Let’s machine gun the petralhada”, delivered in 2018, during the election campaign. We also began to live more frequently with news from another world: the attack on the judge’s car that ordered the arrest of the former Minister of Education; feces dropped by a drone during a Lula rally; homemade bomb in a PT campaign act; the murder of the PT leader who was celebrating his birthday. Those who study the subject in depth say that action (stimulus to violence) and reaction (violent act committed) are inextricably intertwined.

Pape’s poll brings another surprise: About 10 million Democrats also think the use of violence is justified if it is to help liberal causes, such as changing “laws and institutions that are fundamentally unjust.” And Lula came to my mind saluting the impetus and fidelity of a former PT councilor, who attacked a businessman who was cursing the former president, causing him a cranial trauma. For the crime, the politician pulled jail for seven months.

Pape’s suggestion to contain the tragedy of political violence involves joint action by the polarized sides. That they begin by rejecting political and financial support from extremists, that they ostracize any coreligionist who advocated violent acts.

During last week’s presidential debate, when candidate Soraya Thronicke (União Brasil) asked for reinforcements in her security because “it would reveal a lot”, the internet reacted with memes, GIFs and the hashtag revelasoraya . She was right. In the land of pyromaniacs and with the dauntless uncle of pavé ready to do anything, all you have to do is strike a match.

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