Do we naturalize horror?

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We also think it's normal that the best president the country has ever had has been arrested – why, really?

"It's night. I feel like it's night/ not because the darkness has descended/ (I really care about the black face)/ but because inside me/ deep down inside me, the scream/ fell silent, discouragement became //
I feel that we are night / that we palpitate in the dark / and dissolve in night / I feel that it is night in the wind / night in the waters, in the stone / And what's the use of a lamp?/ And what's the use of a voice?” (Carlos Drummond de Andrade, “Passagem da Noite”, in The People's Rose, 1943-45).

We humans get used to everything.

Better: with almost everything. There is human life adapted to the Arctic cold and the Sahara sun, to the Amazon rainforest or what remains of it as well as to the Russian steppes. There is human life in palaces and stilts, in gyms and hospital ICUs. And the pulse still beats. There are people kidnapped by psychopaths for decades, there are girls and boys raped by their uncle or their mother's boss. Without the courage to tell, because they could be blamed for the adult's crime. And the pulse still throbs.

But Brazil – have mercy! — has been dabbling in the horror department for quite some time. We naturalize slavery, for example. For over three hundred years! And after the abolition, we naturalized the misery in which black people were enslaved until then: thrown into the streets from one hour to the next, without work, without a home, without having to eat. Think about it: the farmer who exploited the labor of, say, two thousand slaves, when he was forced to pay a starvation wage (until today?) to those who became free workers, what would he do? Stay at a loss? Of course.

They decided to push the pace of work even further by a couple of hundred or three hundred stronger and send the others to the street. No repairs, no government help to start life, no nothing. Hence, we also naturalize a new prejudice: blacks are vagabonds. When they are not thieves. Or else incompetent. They are not able to take advantage of the opportunities for progress, accessible to all good citizens.

Even today, homeless people, beggars and amateur thieves (the professionals live in Jardins or Brasília) are identified by their various skin tones between beige and brown. It is rare to find a blonde among them. The same goes for workers with precarious “contracts”: all of them Afro-descendants. We think it's normal. The cheapest meat on the market is black meat. In order not to commit injustice, this level also includes many northeasterners who arrived in the Southeast region as refugees from a certain drought. Sometimes an upset happens and one of them becomes president of the Republic. Chain on it.

We naturalized two dictatorships, which succeeded each other with a democratic interval of only 19 years between them. Hence, we naturalize arbitrary arrests as well. “Some he made!” – was the name of a satirical series by the great Carlos Estevão, in the Pif Paf section of the former Cruzeiro magazine. The caption was the cowardly comment of good people, who watched a poor guy being beaten by the police or dragged by the bullies without any (official) arrest warrant. We naturalize torture too, to be consistent. After all, unlike other countries in the Southern Cone, we were kind to “our” dictators and their armed echelons. We don't judge anyone. Who died, died. Who disappeared, disappeared. Marias and Clarices cry in the night of Brazil.

Hence we also naturalize – why not? – that our police forces, at the end of the period of State terror, continue to be militarized. As if they were at war. Against who? Oras: against the people. But not against the whole people – some, in this story, have always been less equal than others. The poor, for starters. Among them, of course, black people. Those dangerous elements for society, whose ancestors didn't come here for a walk. Apprentices from the dictatorial period continued with torture practices in police stations and prisons. From time to time add an Amarildo. Every now and then a teenage offender is tied to a pole, either by the police or by good citizens.

Tolerant, but not so much

But calm down, not everything is admitted like that, in the Brazilian way: that a woman president was elected in 2010 was already a great concession. Worse, a president who was tortured in the past – well, if she doesn't remind us of that, we can let it go. But the thing goes further: a female president, victim of torture in the past, who decides to put it to a vote in Congress – and approve it! – the establishment of a Truth Commission??? There is also too much.

That's why we think it's normal that a retired captain (did he do anything?) challenged the Chamber of Deputies by flaunting, during a public hearing, the book by Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, one of the most cruel torturers of that period. It seems that this is called a breach of parliamentary decorum, but the provocateur's colleagues did not want to be intolerant. “Brazilian is good”, as a character played by Kate Lyra in the old program Praça da Alegria used to say.

For this reason, we also find it normal that the president, who provoked the pride of good people by setting up a commission to investigate crimes against humanity committed in that forgotten past, was impeached in the middle of her second term. Her crime: “fiscal pedaling”. It seems that before it became a crime, this was a common practice and, sometimes, even necessary, and consisted of advance payments by public banks to cover treasury deficits, refundable later.

We also think it's normal that the best president the country has ever had has been arrested – why, really? Ah, a pedal boat somewhere in Atibaia. Ah, an apartment in Guarujá, calm down!

Isn't that a lot of perk for a son of migrants, a lathe operator, a union leader? One who tried three times and was elected on the fourth, with a priority that until then no one had thought of: taking Brazil off the hunger map… What a pretense. Worse is that, for some time, he achieved the feat with the approval of a law that instituted the Bolsa Família - this, whose usufruct, in fact, some families returned to the State, in favor of others more needy, as soon as they managed to open a small business , such as a small beauty salon, a chicken coop, a video store…

Some of these families went so far as to commit the great abuse of buying airline tickets to visit their relatives throughout Brazil. Good people sometimes reacted. It wasn't just once that, in the boarding queue, I heard the indignant comment – ​​this airport looks like a bus station! This horror of living with poor people inside the plane was never naturalized.

In addition, the so-called persistent president, through the Minister of Education, Tarso Genro, managed to approve a scholarship program for needy students by ProUni. Among these, many worked in their teens to help their families and had less time to study than candidates from the middle and upper classes. Another provocative law was the one that instituted quotas to facilitate access to universities for young people from families descended from enslaved people.

Ana Luiza Escorel, professor at UFRJ, once said in an informal conversation that the quota holders, in the course taught by her, were very often the most committed. It makes sense: the opportunity to take a higher education course would make a much bigger difference in the lives of quota holders than that of children from the middle and upper classes. This world is lost, Sinhá! Tia Nastácia would say, whom Emília called a “little black woman” (jeez!) in Monteiro Lobato's books.

So in 2018...

… we naturalize, why not?… the calls fake news. To this day, in any political discussion with taxi drivers – those voluntary or involuntary disseminators of fake news – I get excited when the guy doesn't even want to hear that I've known Fernando Haddad since he was just a young law student, son of a fabric merchant. There were 80 different fake news against him and his running mate, Manuela d'Ávila, in the 1st week after the 1st round. The series of lies began with an alleged penthouse apartment in a high-end building – which would not be a crime if purchased with money obtained by the resident. But the apartment where the Haddad family lived at the time was middle-class, not high-end. The next lie was ownership of a Ferrari – with a driver!

If it were true, it would be a tacky boast. The circus of horrors follows: accusation of rape of a twelve-year-old child; to have in its government program the project to launch a “gay kit” (?) in schools and to institute “dick bottles” (?) in public day care centers. Finally, the worst news: the PT candidate would have based his government project on a Leninist decalogue in defense of the guerrillas. Huh??? It was the culmination of a sequence of absurdities that were not comical only because the Judiciary let it go unpunished … and condemned us to a tragic end.

So here we are. The so-called torture apologist became the country's president. In the second year of his term, the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Brazil. The intrepid sexist, who claimed to have had a daughter after three sons because he weakened, thought that a good measure in favor of the health of his subjects would be to insult the virus. He started by calling the so-called whose a little flu. To prove he was right, he attended and continues to attend demonstrations by supporters without wearing a protective mask. He continues to make these weekly demagogic appearances, cowboy hat (huh?), spitting amorous spit among voters. The narcissist can only look at the other through the lens of his self-image. If he had the virus and wasn't even hospitalized, why all the fuss about masks and gloves? Bull thing.

And those who have no bread? Let them eat cake...

And since nobody is looking, how about releasing the forests for agribusiness? The Amazon burns, the Pantanal burns. The vice president also makes light of it. For a government whose Minister of Health has refused to deliver medicine to indigenous populations, the fires in the forest where various ethnic groups live and earn their living are a welcome kind of friendly fire. The Amazon, the largest biome in the world, does not regenerate when set on fire. What does not become pasture one day will produce a secondary bush mixuruca. Amazon, never again? The economy, or rather, the profit of agribusiness, has sustained the morale of the government troop.

On the other hand, the lack of public policies to support the millions of unemployed workers and bankrupt traders affected by the pandemic has forced thousands of Brazilians to live on the streets every day. The R$ 600 responsible for increasing the president's approval prevents some people from dying of hunger. Those who are already on the streets have no way to register to receive the aid. The situation of these families is aggravated by the fact that, during the lockdown, few people circulate on the street.

Now, those who already suffered the humiliation of having to beg for a coin or a cup of coffee with milk to warm the body, no longer even have anyone to ask. The streets, at best, were almost deserted because many people respected social isolation. Now, when in São Paulo the outbreak has taken a small step back, the “consumers” are back to circulating, but afraid to even look the starving homeless person in the eye. Do they walk around their bodies without looking them in the eye: to spare themselves some moral discomfort? Or do you really not see them?

For one reason or another, we must admit that, yes, we have naturalized horror. As lockdown it's easier to stay at home and not look at what goes on outside the door. It's a civic duty. Unless… except when the kids get tired and decide to crowd the beaches. Or bet everything on a very lively club, full of people in an enclosed space – dancing, sharing glasses of beer, shouting, letting go and sucking up spit. Brazil regressed to 1968, then to 1964, and now to 1936: Viva la muerte!

PS One question, to finish: why did Queiroz deposit 89 thousand in Michele Bolsonaro's account?

*Maria Rita Kehl is a psychoanalyst, journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of Displacements of the feminine: the freudian woman in the passage to modernity (Boitempo).

Originally published in the magazine socialism & freedom, No 30.

 

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