MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2023
Days of wonder reach Brazil: Was the girl from Ipanema there?
The New York Times doesn't say, but it sounds like everyone else was:
NICAS AND SPIGARIOL (1/9/23): Thousands of supporters of Brazil’s ousted former president, Jair Bolsonaro, stormed Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices on Sunday to protest what they falsely claim was a stolen election, the violent culmination of years of conspiracy theories advanced by Mr. Bolsonaro and his right-wing allies.
In scenes reminiscent of the Jan. 6 storming of the United States Capitol, protesters in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, draped in the yellow and green of Brazil’s flag surged into the seat of power, setting fires, repurposing barricades as weapons, knocking police officers from horseback and filming their crimes as they committed them.
“We always said we would not give up,” one protester declared as he filmed himself among hundreds of protesters pushing into the Capitol building. “Congress is ours. We are in power.”
For months, protesters had been demanding that the military prevent the newly elected president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from taking office on Jan. 1. Many on the right in Brazil have become convinced, despite the lack of evidence, that October’s election was rigged.
"These are the days of miracle and wonder," Paul Simon hopefully declared in the opening song on his acclaimed album, Graceland.
That was 1986. In Simon's estimation, the spread of world music was drawing the peoples of the planet closer together.
Several decades later, a different miracle has become all too clear. We refer to the remarkable ease with which people, in large numbers, can be convinced of the truth of claims which may not seem to make sense on their face or are at least wholly unfounded.
(The Times reporters refer to "false claims." On a journalistic basis, we'd prefer that reporters use terms like "wholly unfounded.")
Employing the power of new technologies, Donald J. Trump has displayed a remarkable skill at persuading people to believe claims which are easily shown to be false or are at least wholly unfounded. Our own tribe has tended to reply with sweeping denunciations involving matters of race.
Our own tribe's claims are often false and/or unfounded too! Beyond that, we often seem inclined to suggest that it's still 1955, or maybe something like 1840, or possibly 1619. It's terribly awful here!
It's easy to see why people may be so inclined. That said, in our view, this behavior by our own tribe tends to make matters worse.
Bogus claims are now big business, and we humans tend to believe the various things we hear. Given the wonders of modern communications, how does this miracle come to an end? What makes this miracle stop?