Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Intellectualism can be a mask for fascism

Dishonest politicians disguise themselves under their credentials
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

On Oct. 30, U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw posted a video of unrest at the Dagestan Airport in the Dagestan Republic, Russia. Crenshaw wrote, “Never heard of Dagestan until now but apparently it’s a Jew hating hell hole.” Crenshaw was commenting on the unrest surrounding the arrival of Israelis to Dagestan, which forced flight diversions and the closing of the airport.

Crenshaw, showing his support for Israel, inadvertently showed his ignorance about Dagestan. He might’ve been excused for his lack of knowledge over a small Russian Republic in the Caucuses, but Crenshaw happens to be on the House Intelligence Committee. I have come to expect members of our national security apparatus like Crenshaw to know about contentious regions like the Caucuses and Eastern Europe. Crenshaw is a former Navy SEAL who graduated from Tufts University and saw action all over the Middle East. He even has an eye patch. This man clearly has the credentials to be on the Intelligence Committee, yet he feigns ignorance on the issues.

This event reminds me of the folly of a Brazilian politician, Dr. Enéas Carneiro. Carneiro — or Dr. Enéas as his supporters lovingly called him — was a Brazilian soldier, doctor and politician. He attended the Fluminense Federal University Medical School in Rio de Janeiro, simultaneously graduating with a degree in physics and mathematics. He worked as a cardiologist after medical school, published a widely read book about electrocardiograms and headed the Society of Cardiologists in Rio de Janeiro.

In 1988, the ratification of a new democratic constitution — after 20 years of a brutally repressive dictatorship — allowed for political parties in the first direct presidential election. Carneiro founded the Party of the Reconstruction of the National Order. The party under his leadership declared itself not to be left or right but explicitly patriotic and nationalist.

After an almost non-existent showing in the 1989 presidential elections, Carneiro expanded his national profile for the next election. He began to show his now infamous ads where he would yell at the viewer in perfect academic Portuguese. He advocated for socially conservative causes, privatization of the economy and (most ridiculously) he advocated for the adoption of nuclear weapons for Brazil. He also failed to disavow the politics of Mussolini and the characterizations of fascism.

People were enamored with his character. He was a right-wing nutjob who appealed to many voters in a time of economic calamity. He also appealed, however, to one of the most heinous political groups in Brazil, theAção Integralista Brasileira (AIB). The AIB was an explicitly fascist group founded in the 1920s that supported the governments of Mussolini and Hitler, later on their ideas were absorbed by the military dictatorship.

Carneiro gained 2.1 percent of the vote in the 1994 election, beating out political titans like Leonel Brizola, a leftist who was instrumental in the re-democratization of Brazil. Carneiro later was elected a federal deputy for Sao Paulo with the highest-ever vote tally in Brazilian history.

Carneiro was a fascist; there is no doubt about it. He passed away in 2007, yet his legacy has remained with the Brazilian right. The party of former President Jair Bolsonaro merged with Carneiro’s party in 2006. Bolsonaro praised his legacy and attempted to make him one of the few official national heroes of Brazil.

Bolsonaro was not the only figure who has praised this fascist. Ciro Gomes, a leader of the moderate Brazilian center-right, called Carneiro “…a patriot. I think he is a Brazilian that deserves to be revisited as a very respectable person.” Gomes, a supposedly moderate political figure, openly called for the revisiting of the legacy of a fascist.

Some may ask why we should revisit these figures. It is crucial to recognize the patterns of fascist movements. We must recognize the tactics fascists use to disguise themselves in a democratic society. Remember, both Hitler and Mussolini were elected into power. These movements use the credibility of others to legitimize their causes to a general populace.

These tactics are not limited to those on the extreme right. Politicians across the political spectrum will tout their resumes, or weaponize an opponent’s, for an electoral advantage. Call it “outsider versus insider” or “experienced versus inexperienced;” a person’s past is critical in gaining victory on election day. Donald Trump famously used his position as an outsider fighting the Washington elites to win the presidency.

It is a citizen’s duty to be informed. Informed citizens look past the smoke and mirrors of electoral politics and vote for capable lawmakers and administrators. When dishonest and opportunistic politicians weaponize ignorance to win victory, democracy crumbles. Therefore, the next time you are at the ballot box, get informed.

Voting is your right and being informed is your duty. Do not fall for the man selling snake oil on the road; get information from reputable sources and make an informed decision. The last thing America needs is a bearded doctor calling for more nuclear weapons.

Sam Cavalheiro can be reached at [email protected] or followed on X at @samcavalheiro1.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *