More than 1 million people gathered in São Paulo on April 16, 1984, calling for direct elections. Picture by Renato dos Anjos

Domestic Terrorism and the false patriotism of culture wars

2 mins read

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL— The recent decision by the Porto Alegre City Council to designate January 8 as “Patriot’s Day” is nothing short of a disheartening turn in our nation’s narrative.

As a Brazilian, I say my people must stand united against the glorification of violence and anti-democratic sentiments that this decision inadvertently condones. The establishment of a day to commemorate a domestic terrorist attack, not unlike January 6, is not only misguided but undermines the very essence of what it means to be a patriot.

Patriots are those who stand up for democracy, justice and the rights of all citizens for a better tomorrow. To align a day of celebration with an act that attacked the very democratic principles we hold dear is a betrayal of the sacrifices made by countless Brazilians who fought valiantly for those ideals, and by extension to all those who fell victim to tyrants, from Ireland to Vietnam, from the Ukraine to Chile and from Brazil to the United States of America.

The architects of this decision appear to have lost sight of the true essence of patriotism. They have chosen a date that symbolizes divisiveness and an assault on the core values that define us. This choice echoes an alarming trend in global politics where sensationalistic culture wars overshadow the foundational principles that ought to guide our society.

Trump supporters in front of the Capitol. Photo by Tyler Merbler
On January 8, 2023, far-right supporters of defeated former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in Brasília. Photo courtesy of CrimethInc

If Brazil is to celebrate in honour of the sacrifices of true patriots, let us look no further than July 18, the day when soldiers of the FEB (Brazilian Expeditionary Force) returned home after bravely fighting in World War II, standing as a testament to our commitment to international democracy and the ideals of peace. These soldiers risked their lives for a world where democracy would thrive. Or consider maybe April 16th, the historic day of “Diretas Já,” when millions of Brazilians rallied for the right to directly elect their president. This movement reignited the flames of democracy during a time of despotic darkness.

We need a day that unites us in celebration of democracy and our collective struggle for it. A day that salutes the sacrifices of our soldiers and our people to uphold democratic values. These are the milestones that ought to be etched in our collective memory.

As unquiet citizens, we must raise our voices against the co-opting of patriotism for a divisive agenda. Let us use our collective power to advocate for a day that truly embodies the spirit of unity, democracy, and the rights of all citizens. The wounds of January 8 in Brazil, and that of January 6 in America should not be celebrated; they should serve as a solemn reminder of the dangers of veering off the democratic path.

Let me propose a date that inspires pride and unity — perhaps a mid-point between July 18 and April 16, for Brazil, and another day not unlike these for other lands, that symbolizes the continuum of our democratic struggle. We owe it to our history, to the sacrifices made by countless humans, and to the future generations who deserve a legacy rooted in the values of freedom.

Erika Atayde

(she/her, they/them) ADHD, Sephardic Travesti
Writer and editor of Comic Books, audio-editor and director of podcasts and audiodramas, and independent journalist between countries. Beyond the Daily Planet you can find me ArcbeatlePress, "Aquele Outro Podcast Sobre Quadrinhos" and "Muralha da Fonte".

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