Weaponised hate.

ABOUT a week ago, in events disturbingly reminiscent of the Jan 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol that followed US president Donald Trump's defeat in elections, supporters of the Brazilian Trump copycat Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brazil's Congress, supreme court and presidential palace.

This came after months of Bolsonaro, sticking to Trump's playbook, refusing to concede defeat in the presidential elections till the very last moment, and peddling the unproven narrative of rigged elections while inciting his followers to violent acts, which ranged from threatening supporters of his political opponent to blocking roads and creating social unrest. Events culminated in hordes of his overzealous followers storming critical government buildings.

After a presidency that was in part won by adapting Trump's playbook to the Brazilian situation, and exploiting society's fissures and fault lines, the Bolsonaro regime upped the ante through its hateful rhetoric, violence, and disdain for the facts - the last leading to a large number of deaths by Covid after Bolsonaro refused to take timely preventive measures to curtail the spread of the virus. As one saw in the US, fomenting hate and fostering its devotees led to a sharp rise in violence, which wreaked havoc on Brazilian society and polity.

Thanks to lopsided liberal economic policies and empowered crony capitalism, Brazil, and the world as well, has lost much biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest.

It's all too easy to sow the seeds of hate.

Under Bolsonaro, there was a constant cutback on social welfare, leading to suffering for the most vulnerable segments of Brazilian society. But Bolsonaro stuck to demagoguery, and responded with bluster whenever questioned about his government's plan of action, or lack thereof. Closer to home, another world leader who has applied the same playbook is India's Narendra Modi.

All this should serve as a warning to Pakistani society, especially as national elections are expected to be held this year. Millions are still reeling from the devastation caused by the unprecedented floods of 2022 in the country. The misery continues to spread as people bear the burden of skyrocketing prices of essential goods amplified by supply chain issues and import controls. The unrelenting - in fact, worsening - economic situation has compounded public misery, and misinformation has been added to the mix. The social media machine is in overdrive, peddling half-truths and full lies with...

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