On Jan. 6,, 2021, a mob inspired by Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol. Its goal was to stop the counting of electoral votes for the 2020 election. Thus far, 950 people have been arrested and 192 have been incarcerated for their offenses.
On Jan. 8, 2022, supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in Brasilia, the nation’s capital. They charged that the October election had been rigged, and they demanded that the military restore Bolsonaro to office.
More than 1,500 rioters have been detained, including some top security officials. Main doors were purposely left unlocked as protesters swarmed into the buildings destroying furniture and precious artworks.
Last fall, leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won a narrow victory over Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro challenged the election, as Trump did, because there were “signs of irreparable malfunction in some electronic voting machines.” Three weeks later a court rejected this claim.
Out of fear of being arrested, Bolsonaro has moved to Orlando — only 150 miles from Trump. Some Brazilian senators have recommended that he be “charged with nine offenses, including crimes against humanity and charlatanism, for promoting false treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.”
Bolsonaro handled COVID-19 worse than Trump did. He refused to wear a mask, and he called the illness caused by the virus “a little flu.” Early in the pandemic he fired his health minister over his insistence on social distancing measures.
At one time, Brazil had more COVID-19 deaths per capita than the U.S., but they are now dramatically lower than ours. Against Bolsonaro’s wishes, Brazil’s public health workers have managed to vaccinate 82% of the population, while our rate is 69%. Incidentally, researchers have determined that the largest number of those with “long covid” is found among the unvaccinated.
In addition to high COVID-19 deaths, Brazil shares another record with the U.S. The nation stands second in the world to the U.S. in the number of gun deaths. Bolsonaro rose to power on a platform of nostalgia for the previous military dictatorship and its anti-Communism.
At his campaign rallies he formed his fingers into a gun as he railed against “Lula the Communist.” During his tenure, Bolsonaro attempted to abolish gun control laws and encouraged gun ownership. He declared that “guns are our guarantee of freedom,” and he implied that violence may be the only way to stop Lula.
In a previous column I wrote about the rise of right-wing authoritarian parties in Europe (bit.ly/3KimDgV). Since then, the Swedish Democrats, a party founded by neo-Nazis, has become the second largest party in that nation. Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni heads a party that has fascist origins.
Hungary’s president Viktor Orban has manipulated electoral maps, has sought to undermine the independence of the press and the judiciary, and has lashed out against immigrants and the LBGTQ community. In 2022, he was the keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.
On Aug. 31, 2020, 38,000 far-right activists attempted to storm the German parliament building (Reichstag) in Berlin. Many were waving the flag of the German empire, a banner that the Nazis flew next to their own flag. The swastika is strictly banned just as the treasonous Confederate flag should be.
A large majority of Germans have approved the pandemic restrictions, but this militant group insisted that they be lifted. Bavarian state prime minister Markus Söder remarked: “We have two viruses in the country. We have coronavirus and we have the poison of vaccine skepticism, which is being spread on a massive scale by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD).”
There was a national sigh of relief when the AFD lost 11 seats in the 2021 election, but some AFD members were planning another attack on the Reichstag. German police had been surveilling the group, and last December they arrested 25 co-conspirators in nationwide raids.
Like our far-right activists, those arrested believe in a “deep state” and draw inspiration from QAnon. They also subscribe to the “Reichsbürger movement, which denies the existence of the modern German state.” These militants believe that armed resistance is necessary to correct these evils.
Karl Marx was wrong about the “specter haunting Europe.” It’s not Communism as he predicted, because liberal democrats fought that off. The threat now is a neo-fascism that stalks both Europe and America.