Against the temptation to forget, the last few years call for memory and justice – 06/05/2023

I hesitated a bit before writing this text. I had to battle my own desire for distraction and oblivion, against the urge to lose myself in lyrical and light subjects, to get lost, as usual, in the insignificant and its meanings. I suppose that many of us are like that, divided between a longing for emancipation, for freedom in experiences and words, and a persistent commitment to the serious issues of our time, those that insist on occupying the news.

Today I concede to gravity. Behold, time brought us an answer, when we least expected it. In the last four years, how many times have we asked ourselves, frankly, in amazement, whether we were governed by a fool or something worse, by an unscrupulous profiteer of the foolishness of others? This week’s news knew how to inform us: in his most pathetic moments, Jair Bolsonaro believed in his own mirage, was a hostage of his imaginary world, let himself be convinced by the lies he propagated. Now he is cornered by the stupidity of disregarding science, and by the fraud he seems to have committed out of the ridiculous fear of getting vaccinated. Whatever the judicial outcome, we have a verdict: we were indeed presided over by a fool.

But it is important that this observation does not distance us from the fundamental thing: from the ever clearer perception of the severity of everything that happened. Bolsonaro was not an atrocious ruler for what he had to be laughable, for his amateurism revealed in so many ways, but rather and above all for what he did with propriety, for the professionalism of his violence, his intolerance, his fanaticism, and for the abundance of evils that he inflicted on the country. Bolsonaro defrauded, but in addition to defrauding, he corrupted, and in addition to corrupting, he defiled, and in addition to defiling, he attacked, and in addition to assaulting, he killed — he killed and ordered to be killed and left to die in countless ways, which will still take years to decipher.

In the effort to decipher this recent past, its arbitrariness and atrocities, an important work has just surfaced. A few days ago, the international organization Reporters without Borders published a report on the functioning of hate networks in Brazil, revealing that here, virtual violence was nothing random or random. On the contrary, the exhaustive survey proves what we all suspected: that the virulent attacks against journalists and other figures were official and centralized, coordinated by Bolsonarist leaders and influencers, with the evident intention of silencing the press and intimidating opponents — to continue to propagate the lies that deceived even themselves.

The study focused on the three months leading up to the last elections and brought frightening data: there were more than three million messages with affronts and threats, with an enormous reach fed by a wide network of probable robots. During these months, every three seconds a journalist was attacked on social networks, which contributed to making 2022 the most violent year of the century for the press in Latin America. The main targets were women — again no surprise, given the president’s blatant misogyny.

For my part, reading the report was like returning to the surreal days when I was a victim of this violence, the overwhelming days when Bolsonarism chose me as one of its targets. It’s easy to leave them behind, so far removed from my ordinary days. It’s easy not to give importance to the new facts that emerged about that time: that part of the attacks I suffered came from inside the Palácio do Planalto, straight from the space that received the right name of Cabinet of Hatred. I survived, I received valuable and warm support, I was forgotten by the scoundrels: it’s comfortable to distract myself and also forget, and to live more lyrical and lighter days.

There is, however, something to learn from the past, from other traumas that have been inscribed in national history. Getting distracted and forgetting is an understandable gesture, it is part of a vital impulse, it helps to recover the sanity that is so dear to us. But, against an official and structured violence, an arbitration that corroded the country’s foundations from within and generated victims everywhere, ignoring and leaving behind will never be enough. The process that is now beginning must also be made official and structured, comprehensive and systematic. Let’s not get too distracted, it’s time to carry out a vast movement of justice and memory.

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