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Is Brazil Turning Into An Intolerant Country?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 3/11/2015 Philippe Ladvocat

Whenever discussions of feminism, women's rights, or violence against minorities emerge, a group of people (with many common features) insist on keeping the argument trivial.
The argument is always the same: "Do we have to take the blame for someone else's mistakes?" Here is my answer to you: Yes, you have to take the blame. We have to take the blame. And you know why? Because people who suffer from violence and experience inequality on a daily basis have been shouldering the blame for a long time. And now, the time has come for us to settle the score.
When I was younger, I insisted that there was no historical debt, because I had not been a slave owner.
What I didn't realize however was that in a completely divided society, where black people don't have the same rights as white people, where black people are regarded with suspicion in a mixed-race country, and are often treated as second-class citizens (if they're treated as citizens at all), there is in fact a historical debt, and we should all pay for it.
And interest rates keep rising, and destroying any hope of a just society. This is where general connivance steps in, even when you're not the one posing the threat.
"What value is there in making fun of absolutely everything, instead of creating solid and informed discussions?"
Brazilian people are proud of living life with lightness and good humor. They love a good laugh, and they like to say that what sets them apart from the rest of the world is being able to make jokes, even in the most tragic of circumstances. This explains part of the problem: everything is funny, and nothing is taken seriously.
Most Brazilians prefer to share a good joke on Facebook that would earn them as many likes as possible, and they get lost in infamous comic strips, ludicrous photos, and mundane foolishness. They don't pay attention to the historical and philosophical context, and would rather disseminate offensive rubbish -- be it social or political.
The important thing is to get a "hahaha" or a "LOL," not to discuss, debate or develop a better society. What value is there in making fun of absolutely everything, instead of creating solid and informed discussions?
We know quite well that the main legacy of military dictatorship is utterly wrecked public institutions (or did you think that the chaotic state of public education, public health system and public safety in big cities that started in the '60s, '70s and '80s was a coincidence?)
Another legacy is a generation of uninformed people who, with widespread access to social media, and the perceived unimportance of fact-checking, (that's what journalism is about, in theory), who are disseminating their prejudices, their selective indignation and their lazy riots, without even bothering to understand the situation.
"There are other types of intolerant people, who think they have the right to police other people's lives, their romantic relationships, their bodies or their struggle for equality."
Sometimes, they know that the news they are spreading is false, but they don't care. Not to mention the fact that despicable humor and a tendency to ridicule the other has taken precedence over healthy discussion. Prejudiced remarks, and elitist jokes suggesting that the poor are all criminals and/or ignorant, are replacing solid, profound arguments.
Along with part of this generation (the portion that is rebellious but misinformed), we have spoiled and lazy brats and mediocre graduates who missed the opportunity to develop critical thinking.
Besides their grammatical errors, they repeat tired, empty, and superficial fallacies and are proud to say that they oppose the government (any government), feminism, gender equality, LGBT rights, environmental protection, traffic issues, because "none of that is important."
They call for discipline, more prisons, punishment, cheap gas. They only see two sides of an issue and don't realize how shallow the world they live in is. They regurgitate concepts that have been eradicated in much of the world decades ago; they don't strive to make an effort to consider something different.
We already know that much of the highly intolerant comments result from brainwash by falsely religious opportunists, but there are other types of intolerant people, who think they have the right to police other people's lives, their romantic relationships, their bodies or their struggle for equality.
"Brazil is moving, or rather running, towards extremism, intolerance and radicalization."
These pathetic figures complain that people lack a sense of humor. They say that "everything has become a phobia," and they mistake freedom of expression for the mediocrity of their own ideas. They think that all that matters is what they know, and they don't care about minorities.
They are obsessed, and they leave no one in peace; they take out their frustrations online, simply to generate likes and comments.
They can only see two sides of an issue, right and left. They do not appreciate critical thinking, and forget that the Berlin Wall fell a long time ago.
And all this verbal violence (sometimes even physical violence), which calls for death or punishment (of poor criminals or politicians) seeks to put an end to human rights. They think discipline will solve every problem, which only demonstrates their lack of experience and their unwillingness to engage in dialogue.
Those who say things like "a good thief is a dead thief" or "if you feel sorry for a criminal, why don't you take him home," clearly never bothered to speak to someone who teaches in the slums.
Those who use the expression "feminazi" never considered how disrespectful and rude this comparison is (including to the Jews).
Those who make fun of women being raped don't consider their mother, girlfriend or sister going through the same situation.
Brazil is moving, or rather running, towards extremism, intolerance and radicalization. We saw similar conditions destroy many countries in the Middle East -- a region whose issues sometimes don't seem too different from those faced by the South American giant.
And if the country doesn't make a U-turn and start being more empathetic, the final destination might be terrible.
This article first appeared on HuffPost Brazil and was translated into English.

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