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Blame US Apathy for Growing Anti-Americanism in Brazil and Latin America

Brazilians protest Bush visit to Brazil In Brazil, my native country, there is a joke about a man who every night prayed to his guardian angel to make him a lottery winner. After many weeks, the angel at last made his appearance and answered the man’s prayer: “OK, smart guy, I will give you the prize, but would you please be kind enough to buy a lottery ticket?” Moral lesson: When you do absolutely nothing to bring about what you wish to happen, it’s foolish to be surprised if precisely the opposite happens.

Anti-American campaigns have raged around the world since the time of Joseph Stalin, but until the 1960s Americans usually tried to do something to stop them. From the Vietnam War onwards, the campaigns went on and on at an ever growing pace but Americans ceased to react.

Forty years later, many Americans ask themselves why everybody in Latin America hates them. I am not their guardian angel and cannot promise them the jackpot, but I cannot refrain from asking them to do something to defend themselves. Please do something about it!

I am not stupid enough to ignore that America has ever been and is still today the only alternative to totalitarianism in the world. Americans, on their side, don’t ignore it either, but they don’t like to think about it, and even less to act upon it. Omission, however, is not their main mistake.

Teddy Roosevelt used to say that the best thing you can do is to do the right thing, the second best thing is to do the wrong thing, the worst thing is to do nothing. Though counting myself among the admirers of the former President, I really don’t believe his advice applies to the present case. To do nothing would have been infinitely preferable for Americans than constantly blaming themselves, asking forgiveness and trying to appease and flatter their detractors.

Last year, during the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, the American team was the target of overt and persistent anti-American defamatory attacks. But when a member of the team wrote in a blackboard the simple words “Welcome to Congo”, referring obviously to the violent atmosphere of the city, his boss hurried to call the press to present official excuses.

America’s foes everywhere call their strategy “asymmetric war”, meaning that one side has all the rights while the other bears the burden of moral duties that can be used against it as blackmail instruments. It’s OK for communists and radical Islamists to do that, but why should Americans wage asymmetric wars against themselves?

Moreover, the author of the sentence on the blackboard said no more than the truth. Perhaps he was even euphemistic. Brazil is different from the Congo only because there is more violence in the streets of Rio de Janeiro than there has ever been in that African republic.

Fifty-thousand Brazilians die every year murdered by robbers and drug dealers. This death toll amounts to two Iraqi wars per year with no state of war at all. Congo soldiers and guerillas had at least the solace of shooting their enemies before dying.

Brazilians die as defenseless as rabbits, owing to government regulations that make it virtually impossible for them to bear legal weapons, while the criminals, living in protected zones free from any interference from the police, usually get their first automatic 45′ pistol at the age of twelve. The luckiest ones get UZI machine guns.

By the way, those anti-weapons regulations are directly inspired by the fear that evil Brazilians like me can do harm to the FARC, the Colombian narco-guerillas, who control the drug market in Brazil and are a close political partner to president Lula’s Workers’ Party. The Congolese government never forced its people to be sitting ducks. If the American team owed excuses to anyone, it should be to Congo.

But besides humiliating themselves before their enemies, Americans grant them the privilege of invisibility. The American government, it’s true, often points its finger against Islamic terrorism. But Islamic terrorists are seldom seen in Latin America, if ever. They are a distant and mythical threat, while communists are everywhere, dominate everything, control most of the political parties, glorify themselves in TV shows and in the Parliament, and not a single word against them is ever heard from Washington.

Communism is officially dead, but this is no minor advantage to such an energetic and ambitious corpse as Latin-American communism. Its headquarters, the “São Paulo Forum”, founded in 1990 by Lula and Fidel Castro under the promise of “winning back in Latin America all that was lost in Eastern Europe”, now has more than 180 affiliated organizations, both legal parties and criminal gangs, following a common blueprint and marching fast to conquer the absolute power over the continent.

Notwithstanding the fact that the proceedings of the Forum’s meetings are publicly accessible and that Lula’s speech at the organization’s 15th anniversary can be read at the Brazilian government’s official website, the American government acts as if the Forum were a perfectly non-existent entity, and the Council on Foreign Relation’s “expert in Brazilian affairs”, historian Kenneth Maxwell, is cynical or ignorant enough to state that it really does not exist at all. Why should American politicians and opinion-makers believe a Third World barbarian like me instead of such an outstanding egghead?

If Latin-American communists are allowed to say and to do what they please and are never thwarted by any American counter-propaganda, it comes at no surprise that anti-Americanism goes epidemic everywhere in Latin America.

That strategic analysts and academic experts exert their illuminated minds to explain the phenomenon by means of impersonal sociological and economic trends instead of investigating the concrete actions of political organizations is a plainly pathetic proof of their total alienation from reality (if not of a collaborationism in disguise).

Historical trends are made of human actions, and often actions not taken are enough to explain the success of the ones that are taken.

Olavo de Carvalho is a Brazilian writer and philosopher presently living in the U. S. as a correspondent for Brazilian newspapers. He is the author of several books, including O Imbecil Coletivo: Atualidades Inculturais Brasileiras (1996) and O Futuro do Pensamento Brasileiro – Estudos sobre o Nosso Lugar no Mundo (1997). His articles can be found at www.olavodecarvalho.org  and www.midiasemmascara.org.  The author welcomes comments at olavo@olavodecarvalho.org.

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