Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre

Apparently fueled by anti-Semitism and the bogus narrative that outside forces are scheming to exterminate the white race, Robert Bowers murdered 11 Jewish congregants as they gathered inside their Pittsburgh synagogue, federal prosecutors allege. But despite long-running international efforts to debunk the idea of a “white genocide,” Facebook was still selling advertisers the ability to market to those with an interest in that myth just days after the bloodshed.

Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group that Facebook pegged at 168,000 users large and defined as “people who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory.” The paid promotion was approved by Facebook’s advertising wing. After we contacted the company for comment, Facebook promptly deleted the targeting category, apologized, and said it should have never existed in the first place.

Our reporting technique was the same as one used by the investigative news outlet ProPublica to report, just over one year ago, that in addition to soccer dads and Arianna Grande fans, “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn jews,’ or, ‘History of “why jews ruin the world.”’” The report exposed how little Facebook was doing to vet marketers, who pay the company to leverage personal information and inclinations in order to gain users’ attention — and who provide the foundation for its entire business model. At the time, ProPublica noted that Facebook “said it would explore ways to fix the problem, such as limiting the number of categories available or scrutinizing them before they are displayed to buyers.” Rob Leathern, a Facebook product manager, assured the public, “We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

Leathern’s “new guardrails” don’t seem to have prevented Facebook from manually approving our ad buy the same day it was submitted, despite its explicit labeling as “White Supremacy – Test.”

 

 

From the outside, it’s impossible to tell exactly how Facebook decides who among its 2 billion users might fit into the “white genocide” interest group or any other cohort available for “detailed targeting.” The company’s own documentation is very light on details, saying only that these groups are based on indicators like “Pages [users] engage with” or “Activities people engage in on and off Facebook related to things like their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents and travel preferences.” It remains entirely possible that some people lumped into the “white genocide conspiracy theory” fandom are not, in fact, true believers, but may have interacted with content critical of this myth, such as a news report, a fact check, or academic research on the topic.

But there are some clues as to who exactly is counted among the 168,000. After selecting “white genocide conspiracy theory” as an ad target, Facebook provided “suggestions” of other, similar criteria, including interest in the far-right-wing news outlets RedState and the Daily Caller — the latter of which, co-founded by right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, has repeatedly been criticized for cozy connections to white nationalists and those sympathetic to them. Other suggested ad targets included mentions of South Africa;  a common trope among advocates of the “white genocide” myth is the so-called plight of white South African farmers, who they falsely claim are being systematically murdered and pushed off their land. The South African hoax is often used as a cautionary tale for American racists — like, by all evidence, Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh shooter — who fear a similar fate is in store for them, whether from an imagined global Jewish conspiracy or a migrant “caravan.” But the “white genocide” myth appears to have a global appeal, as well: About 157,000 of the accounts with the interest are outside of the U.S., concentrated in Africa and Asia, although it’s not clear how many of these might be bots.

A simple search of Facebook pages also makes plain that there are tens of thousands of users with a very earnest interest in “white genocide,” shown through the long list of groups with names like “Stop White South African Genocide,” “White Genocide Watch,” and “The last days of the white man.” Images with captions like “Don’t Be A Race Traitor” and “STOP WHITE GENOCIDE IN SOUTH AFRICA” are freely shared in such groups, providing a natural target for anyone who might want to pay to promote deliberately divisive and incendiary hate-based content.

A day after Facebook confirmed The Intercept’s “white genocide” ad buy, the company deleted the category and canceled the ads. Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne provided The Intercept with the following statement, similar to the one he gave ProPublica over a year ago: “This targeting option has been removed, and we’ve taken down these ads. It’s against our advertising principles and never should have been in our system to begin with. We deeply apologize for this error.” Osborne added that the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category had been  “generated through a mix of automated and human reviews, but any newly added interests are ultimately approved by people. We are ultimately responsible for the segments we make available in our systems.” Osborne also confirmed that the ad category had been used by marketers, but cited only “reasonable” ad buys targeting “white genocide” enthusiasts, such as news coverage.

Facebook draws a distinction between the hate-based categories ProPublica discovered, which were based on terms users entered into their own profiles, versus the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category, which Facebook itself created via algorithm. The company says that it’s taken steps to make sure the former is no longer possible, although this clearly did nothing to deter the latter. Interestingly, Facebook said that technically the white genocide ad buy didn’t violate its ad policies, because it was based on a category Facebook itself created. However, this doesn’t square with the automated email The Intercept received a day after the ad buy was approved, informing us that “We have reviewed some of your ads more closely and have determined they don’t comply with our Advertising Policies.”

Still, the company conceded that such ad buys should have never been possible in the first place. Vice News and Business Insider also bought Facebook ads this week to make a different point about a related problem: that Facebook does not properly verify the identities of people who take out political ads. It’s unclear whether the “guardrails” Leathern spoke of a year ago will simply take more time to construct, or whether Facebook’s heavy reliance on algorithmic judgment simply careened through them.

The post Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre appeared first on The Intercept.

Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre

Apparently fueled by anti-Semitism and the bogus narrative that outside forces are scheming to exterminate the white race, Robert Bowers murdered 11 Jewish congregants as they gathered inside their Pittsburgh synagogue, federal prosecutors allege. But despite long-running international efforts to debunk the idea of a “white genocide,” Facebook was still selling advertisers the ability to market to those with an interest in that myth just days after the bloodshed.

Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group that Facebook pegged at 168,000 users large and defined as “people who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory.” The paid promotion was approved by Facebook’s advertising wing. After we contacted the company for comment, Facebook promptly deleted the targeting category, apologized, and said it should have never existed in the first place.

Our reporting technique was the same as one used by the investigative news outlet ProPublica to report, just over one year ago, that in addition to soccer dads and Arianna Grande fans, “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn jews,’ or, ‘History of “why jews ruin the world.”’” The report exposed how little Facebook was doing to vet marketers, who pay the company to leverage personal information and inclinations in order to gain users’ attention — and who provide the foundation for its entire business model. At the time, ProPublica noted that Facebook “said it would explore ways to fix the problem, such as limiting the number of categories available or scrutinizing them before they are displayed to buyers.” Rob Leathern, a Facebook product manager, assured the public, “We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

Leathern’s “new guardrails” don’t seem to have prevented Facebook from manually approving our ad buy the same day it was submitted, despite its explicit labeling as “White Supremacy – Test.”

 

 

From the outside, it’s impossible to tell exactly how Facebook decides who among its 2 billion users might fit into the “white genocide” interest group or any other cohort available for “detailed targeting.” The company’s own documentation is very light on details, saying only that these groups are based on indicators like “Pages [users] engage with” or “Activities people engage in on and off Facebook related to things like their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents and travel preferences.” It remains entirely possible that some people lumped into the “white genocide conspiracy theory” fandom are not, in fact, true believers, but may have interacted with content critical of this myth, such as a news report, a fact check, or academic research on the topic.

But there are some clues as to who exactly is counted among the 168,000. After selecting “white genocide conspiracy theory” as an ad target, Facebook provided “suggestions” of other, similar criteria, including interest in the far-right-wing news outlets RedState and the Daily Caller — the latter of which, co-founded by right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, has repeatedly been criticized for cozy connections to white nationalists and those sympathetic to them. Other suggested ad targets included mentions of South Africa;  a common trope among advocates of the “white genocide” myth is the so-called plight of white South African farmers, who they falsely claim are being systematically murdered and pushed off their land. The South African hoax is often used as a cautionary tale for American racists — like, by all evidence, Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh shooter — who fear a similar fate is in store for them, whether from an imagined global Jewish conspiracy or a migrant “caravan.” But the “white genocide” myth appears to have a global appeal, as well: About 157,000 of the accounts with the interest are outside of the U.S., concentrated in Africa and Asia, although it’s not clear how many of these might be bots.

A simple search of Facebook pages also makes plain that there are tens of thousands of users with a very earnest interest in “white genocide,” shown through the long list of groups with names like “Stop White South African Genocide,” “White Genocide Watch,” and “The last days of the white man.” Images with captions like “Don’t Be A Race Traitor” and “STOP WHITE GENOCIDE IN SOUTH AFRICA” are freely shared in such groups, providing a natural target for anyone who might want to pay to promote deliberately divisive and incendiary hate-based content.

A day after Facebook confirmed The Intercept’s “white genocide” ad buy, the company deleted the category and canceled the ads. Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne provided The Intercept with the following statement, similar to the one he gave ProPublica over a year ago: “This targeting option has been removed, and we’ve taken down these ads. It’s against our advertising principles and never should have been in our system to begin with. We deeply apologize for this error.” Osborne added that the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category had been  “generated through a mix of automated and human reviews, but any newly added interests are ultimately approved by people. We are ultimately responsible for the segments we make available in our systems.” Osborne also confirmed that the ad category had been used by marketers, but cited only “reasonable” ad buys targeting “white genocide” enthusiasts, such as news coverage.

Facebook draws a distinction between the hate-based categories ProPublica discovered, which were based on terms users entered into their own profiles, versus the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category, which Facebook itself created via algorithm. The company says that it’s taken steps to make sure the former is no longer possible, although this clearly did nothing to deter the latter. Interestingly, Facebook said that technically the white genocide ad buy didn’t violate its ad policies, because it was based on a category Facebook itself created. However, this doesn’t square with the automated email The Intercept received a day after the ad buy was approved, informing us that “We have reviewed some of your ads more closely and have determined they don’t comply with our Advertising Policies.”

Still, the company conceded that such ad buys should have never been possible in the first place. Vice News and Business Insider also bought Facebook ads this week to make a different point about a related problem: that Facebook does not properly verify the identities of people who take out political ads. It’s unclear whether the “guardrails” Leathern spoke of a year ago will simply take more time to construct, or whether Facebook’s heavy reliance on algorithmic judgment simply careened through them.

The post Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre appeared first on The Intercept.

Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre

Apparently fueled by anti-Semitism and the bogus narrative that outside forces are scheming to exterminate the white race, Robert Bowers murdered 11 Jewish congregants as they gathered inside their Pittsburgh synagogue, federal prosecutors allege. But despite long-running international efforts to debunk the idea of a “white genocide,” Facebook was still selling advertisers the ability to market to those with an interest in that myth just days after the bloodshed.

Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group that Facebook pegged at 168,000 users large and defined as “people who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory.” The paid promotion was approved by Facebook’s advertising wing. After we contacted the company for comment, Facebook promptly deleted the targeting category, apologized, and said it should have never existed in the first place.

Our reporting technique was the same as one used by the investigative news outlet ProPublica to report, just over one year ago, that in addition to soccer dads and Arianna Grande fans, “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn jews,’ or, ‘History of “why jews ruin the world.”’” The report exposed how little Facebook was doing to vet marketers, who pay the company to leverage personal information and inclinations in order to gain users’ attention — and who provide the foundation for its entire business model. At the time, ProPublica noted that Facebook “said it would explore ways to fix the problem, such as limiting the number of categories available or scrutinizing them before they are displayed to buyers.” Rob Leathern, a Facebook product manager, assured the public, “We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

Leathern’s “new guardrails” don’t seem to have prevented Facebook from manually approving our ad buy the same day it was submitted, despite its explicit labeling as “White Supremacy – Test.”

 

 

From the outside, it’s impossible to tell exactly how Facebook decides who among its 2 billion users might fit into the “white genocide” interest group or any other cohort available for “detailed targeting.” The company’s own documentation is very light on details, saying only that these groups are based on indicators like “Pages [users] engage with” or “Activities people engage in on and off Facebook related to things like their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents and travel preferences.” It remains entirely possible that some people lumped into the “white genocide conspiracy theory” fandom are not, in fact, true believers, but may have interacted with content critical of this myth, such as a news report, a fact check, or academic research on the topic.

But there are some clues as to who exactly is counted among the 168,000. After selecting “white genocide conspiracy theory” as an ad target, Facebook provided “suggestions” of other, similar criteria, including interest in the far-right-wing news outlets RedState and the Daily Caller — the latter of which, co-founded by right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, has repeatedly been criticized for cozy connections to white nationalists and those sympathetic to them. Other suggested ad targets included mentions of South Africa;  a common trope among advocates of the “white genocide” myth is the so-called plight of white South African farmers, who they falsely claim are being systematically murdered and pushed off their land. The South African hoax is often used as a cautionary tale for American racists — like, by all evidence, Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh shooter — who fear a similar fate is in store for them, whether from an imagined global Jewish conspiracy or a migrant “caravan.” But the “white genocide” myth appears to have a global appeal, as well: About 157,000 of the accounts with the interest are outside of the U.S., concentrated in Africa and Asia, although it’s not clear how many of these might be bots.

A simple search of Facebook pages also makes plain that there are tens of thousands of users with a very earnest interest in “white genocide,” shown through the long list of groups with names like “Stop White South African Genocide,” “White Genocide Watch,” and “The last days of the white man.” Images with captions like “Don’t Be A Race Traitor” and “STOP WHITE GENOCIDE IN SOUTH AFRICA” are freely shared in such groups, providing a natural target for anyone who might want to pay to promote deliberately divisive and incendiary hate-based content.

A day after Facebook confirmed The Intercept’s “white genocide” ad buy, the company deleted the category and canceled the ads. Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne provided The Intercept with the following statement, similar to the one he gave ProPublica over a year ago: “This targeting option has been removed, and we’ve taken down these ads. It’s against our advertising principles and never should have been in our system to begin with. We deeply apologize for this error.” Osborne added that the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category had been  “generated through a mix of automated and human reviews, but any newly added interests are ultimately approved by people. We are ultimately responsible for the segments we make available in our systems.” Osborne also confirmed that the ad category had been used by marketers, but cited only “reasonable” ad buys targeting “white genocide” enthusiasts, such as news coverage.

Facebook draws a distinction between the hate-based categories ProPublica discovered, which were based on terms users entered into their own profiles, versus the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category, which Facebook itself created via algorithm. The company says that it’s taken steps to make sure the former is no longer possible, although this clearly did nothing to deter the latter. Interestingly, Facebook said that technically the white genocide ad buy didn’t violate its ad policies, because it was based on a category Facebook itself created. However, this doesn’t square with the automated email The Intercept received a day after the ad buy was approved, informing us that “We have reviewed some of your ads more closely and have determined they don’t comply with our Advertising Policies.”

Still, the company conceded that such ad buys should have never been possible in the first place. Vice News and Business Insider also bought Facebook ads this week to make a different point about a related problem: that Facebook does not properly verify the identities of people who take out political ads. It’s unclear whether the “guardrails” Leathern spoke of a year ago will simply take more time to construct, or whether Facebook’s heavy reliance on algorithmic judgment simply careened through them.

The post Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre appeared first on The Intercept.

Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre

Apparently fueled by anti-Semitism and the bogus narrative that outside forces are scheming to exterminate the white race, Robert Bowers murdered 11 Jewish congregants as they gathered inside their Pittsburgh synagogue, federal prosecutors allege. But despite long-running international efforts to debunk the idea of a “white genocide,” Facebook was still selling advertisers the ability to market to those with an interest in that myth just days after the bloodshed.

Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group that Facebook pegged at 168,000 users large and defined as “people who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory.” The paid promotion was approved by Facebook’s advertising wing. After we contacted the company for comment, Facebook promptly deleted the targeting category, apologized, and said it should have never existed in the first place.

Our reporting technique was the same as one used by the investigative news outlet ProPublica to report, just over one year ago, that in addition to soccer dads and Arianna Grande fans, “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn jews,’ or, ‘History of “why jews ruin the world.”’” The report exposed how little Facebook was doing to vet marketers, who pay the company to leverage personal information and inclinations in order to gain users’ attention — and who provide the foundation for its entire business model. At the time, ProPublica noted that Facebook “said it would explore ways to fix the problem, such as limiting the number of categories available or scrutinizing them before they are displayed to buyers.” Rob Leathern, a Facebook product manager, assured the public, “We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

Leathern’s “new guardrails” don’t seem to have prevented Facebook from manually approving our ad buy the same day it was submitted, despite its explicit labeling as “White Supremacy – Test.”

 

 

From the outside, it’s impossible to tell exactly how Facebook decides who among its 2 billion users might fit into the “white genocide” interest group or any other cohort available for “detailed targeting.” The company’s own documentation is very light on details, saying only that these groups are based on indicators like “Pages [users] engage with” or “Activities people engage in on and off Facebook related to things like their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents and travel preferences.” It remains entirely possible that some people lumped into the “white genocide conspiracy theory” fandom are not, in fact, true believers, but may have interacted with content critical of this myth, such as a news report, a fact check, or academic research on the topic.

But there are some clues as to who exactly is counted among the 168,000. After selecting “white genocide conspiracy theory” as an ad target, Facebook provided “suggestions” of other, similar criteria, including interest in the far-right-wing news outlets RedState and the Daily Caller — the latter of which, co-founded by right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, has repeatedly been criticized for cozy connections to white nationalists and those sympathetic to them. Other suggested ad targets included mentions of South Africa;  a common trope among advocates of the “white genocide” myth is the so-called plight of white South African farmers, who they falsely claim are being systematically murdered and pushed off their land. The South African hoax is often used as a cautionary tale for American racists — like, by all evidence, Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh shooter — who fear a similar fate is in store for them, whether from an imagined global Jewish conspiracy or a migrant “caravan.” But the “white genocide” myth appears to have a global appeal, as well: About 157,000 of the accounts with the interest are outside of the U.S., concentrated in Africa and Asia, although it’s not clear how many of these might be bots.

A simple search of Facebook pages also makes plain that there are tens of thousands of users with a very earnest interest in “white genocide,” shown through the long list of groups with names like “Stop White South African Genocide,” “White Genocide Watch,” and “The last days of the white man.” Images with captions like “Don’t Be A Race Traitor” and “STOP WHITE GENOCIDE IN SOUTH AFRICA” are freely shared in such groups, providing a natural target for anyone who might want to pay to promote deliberately divisive and incendiary hate-based content.

A day after Facebook confirmed The Intercept’s “white genocide” ad buy, the company deleted the category and canceled the ads. Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne provided The Intercept with the following statement, similar to the one he gave ProPublica over a year ago: “This targeting option has been removed, and we’ve taken down these ads. It’s against our advertising principles and never should have been in our system to begin with. We deeply apologize for this error.” Osborne added that the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category had been  “generated through a mix of automated and human reviews, but any newly added interests are ultimately approved by people. We are ultimately responsible for the segments we make available in our systems.” Osborne also confirmed that the ad category had been used by marketers, but cited only “reasonable” ad buys targeting “white genocide” enthusiasts, such as news coverage.

Facebook draws a distinction between the hate-based categories ProPublica discovered, which were based on terms users entered into their own profiles, versus the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category, which Facebook itself created via algorithm. The company says that it’s taken steps to make sure the former is no longer possible, although this clearly did nothing to deter the latter. Interestingly, Facebook said that technically the white genocide ad buy didn’t violate its ad policies, because it was based on a category Facebook itself created. However, this doesn’t square with the automated email The Intercept received a day after the ad buy was approved, informing us that “We have reviewed some of your ads more closely and have determined they don’t comply with our Advertising Policies.”

Still, the company conceded that such ad buys should have never been possible in the first place. Vice News and Business Insider also bought Facebook ads this week to make a different point about a related problem: that Facebook does not properly verify the identities of people who take out political ads. It’s unclear whether the “guardrails” Leathern spoke of a year ago will simply take more time to construct, or whether Facebook’s heavy reliance on algorithmic judgment simply careened through them.

The post Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump Administration’s Limits on Asylum for Domestic Violence Put Guatemalan Women in Peril

Dora Marisol López helped put the woman’s husband in jail years ago.

“He would leave work to go stay in the street in front of her house. She would go to the market, and he’d go along behind her,” López recounted. “She went to the kids’ school and he’d be right behind her. At night, he’d climb up on the roof of the house and shine a light into her bedroom to see if she was sleeping with someone.”

The woman had come to López, a litigator for the Guatemalan public prosecutor, with gouges on her hands where her husband had driven a pen beneath her skin. He told her that if she denounced him to the authorities, he’d kill her. But she did it anyway, and the prosecutor’s office brought charges. He was sentenced to 12 years.

This past July, eight years into her husband’s punishment, the woman got a worrisome visit from his brother. The sentence had been commuted, she learned, and he would be released that very weekend. The brother had a message: “It didn’t matter to him if he spent the rest of his life in jail, when he got out, he would kill her.”

The woman called López in a panic. López, a graying, middle-aged woman who has been handling cases of violence against women for years, said she remembered her story clear as day; she’d felt great affection for the woman, and her predicament had affected López deeply. She counseled the woman to leave the city immediately and go into hiding. In the meantime, López went to the office in charge of reducing sentences and tried to argue against the commutation, but did not prevail.

“I know if she didn’t leave the capital this weekend, he would get out of jail and kill her, and this case would become a femicide like so many others,” López said. The woman wanted to apply for asylum in the United States – but her chances of even getting in front of a judge have decreased significantly under policies instigated by the Trump administration.

Over the past few weeks, leading up to the midterm elections, President Donald Trump has stoked animus against immigrants from Central America by spreading falsehoods about refugee caravans currently making their way north through Mexico. He has ordered thousands of troops to the southwestern border, promised to hold asylum-seeking families in tent cities, and floated an executive order that would limit Central Americans’ ability to request asylum. But the administration has already taken steps that have drastically impacted the prospects of one group in particular: Central American women fleeing domestic violence.

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of deadly violence against women, or femicide, in the world — 7,357 violent deaths tallied between 2008 and 2017 by the nonprofit Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres (Guatemalan Women’s Group, or GGM.) An unknown but certainly large number of those crimes, both physical and sexual, begin in the home, as domestic violence at the hands of husbands, partners, or relatives. The particular combination of factors that contribute to violence against women in Guatemala — a patriarchal culture, devastating poverty, racism against Indigenous Maya, and a society strained by the legacy of armed conflict and now riven with violence from gangs and drug traffickers — has been recognized internationally, including in the United States.

In 2014, a landmark decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which has jurisdiction over all U.S. immigration courts, established that “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” qualified as a particular social group that could be singled out for persecution. The board underlined that the Guatemalan state was incapable of providing protection and could even be complicit in the violence against them. That decision, building off others that recognized violence against women as grounds for asylum, set a far-reaching precedent that has been especially important for women from Central America.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, aimed to change all that. In June, using a rarely exercised power of his office, Sessions personally intervened to overturn an asylum decision concerning a woman from El Salvador. He used the opportunity to issue a sweeping statement about the nature of domestic abuse, calling it a private crime, and saying that “generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by nongovernmental actors will not qualify for asylum.” The decision also argued against the idea that widespread violence against women in Central America meant that local governments were unwilling or unable to take on the problem, “any more than the persistence of domestic violence in the United States means that our government is unwilling or unable to protect victims of domestic violence.”

A woman and her daughter look at crosses displaying clothes of women victims of violence during a tribute at the headquarters of the Survivors Foundation in Guatemala City on November 23, 2014, in the framework of the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. AFP PHOTO/Johan ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman and her daughter look at crosses displaying clothes of women victims of violence during a tribute at the headquarters of the Survivors Foundation in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Nov. 23, 2014.

Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

Sessions’s decision led to new guidelines for officers who conduct “credible fear interviews,” an initial step in a petition for asylum at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The new guidance follows Sessions in saying that gang and domestic violence cases likely won’t qualify, and also tells officers to factor in whether someone crossed illegally, and if they could’ve found refuge within their home country or another country besides the United States.

In August, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, filed suit, saying that the new guidelines were causing people with legitimate asylum claims to be rejected, thus putting their lives in danger. The attorneys general of 19 states joined the suit, with the attorney general for Washington, D.C. writing that the “cruel policy arbitrarily closes our borders to refugees who seek asylum due to legitimate fears of violence in their home countries,” and added that it “ignores decades of state, federal, and international law.”

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of deadly violence against women in the world.

A decision in the suit is expected soon. In the meantime, lawyers and advocacy groups are pushing forward with domestic violence asylum claims and urging refugees not to give up hope: They say that Sessions’s word is not, in fact, law.

Sessions’s ruling “tries to bully decision-makers to deny these cases,” said Karen Musalo, a professor at UC Hastings and director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies. “The attorney general with this decision doesn’t rip out stem and root the viability of these cases. But he’s trying to signal that these cases are no longer viable, and some asylum officers doing credible fear interviews, and some judges reviewing cases — they are going to take the path of least resistance and dismiss.”

The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for USCIS said, “We are unable to comment on matters involving pending litigation.”

The government does not release statistics that break out the reasons why asylum-seekers are approved or denied, so it’s not possible to know precisely how many women have been granted asylum on the grounds of domestic violence before or after the 2014 decision, and it will be hard to know how many are turned away because of the new guidance.

But recent statistics show that the number of asylum cases approved overall has dropped sharply this year. Advocates say that there has been a visible narrowing of opportunity at the credible fear stage, where migrants rarely have the assistance of a lawyer who prepares them to make a nuanced argument for why they need protection. Groups working in border detention centers say that, anecdotally, they’ve seen an increase in denials of credible fear from domestic violence cases since June.

Robert Painter, with the Texas legal services organization American Gateways, said that his organization is seeing cases in which officials are interpreting the guidelines simplistically: “Other components — political opinion, ethnicity — those tend to get overlooked by the asylum officer or the judges. If they hear the words ‘domestic violence,’ their knee-jerk reaction is to think, ‘This isn’t a good claim.’”

Relatives mourn next to the corpse of Gabriela Ordonez, 15, who was riddled with bullets by alleged gang members in the northern outskirts of Guatemala City, on the eve of the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 24, 2014. More than 550 women have died so far this year in Guatemala. AFP PHOTO/Johan Ordonez (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Relatives mourn the corpse of Gabriela Ordonez, 15, on Nov. 24, 2014. She was shot by alleged gang members in the outskirts of Guatemala City, Guatemala, on the eve of the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

In Guatemala, the administration’s attempts to close avenues for asylum have reverberated deeply. Multiple women’s rights advocates interviewed in early August said outright that there was now no asylum for domestic violence in the United States. Despite that common belief — which attorneys in the U.S. say is incorrect — lawyers, shelter directors, and others argued forcefully that Sessions’s decision rested on fundamental misunderstandings of how violence against women functions in Guatemala.

In his argument, Sessions made a glancing, dismissive reference to a “broad charge that Guatemala has a ‘culture of machismo and family violence,’” which he said was “based on an unsourced partial quotation from a news article eight years earlier.” But most everyone agrees that the situation for women in Guatemala is dire and not improving.

“If they hear the words ‘domestic violence,’ their knee-jerk reaction is to think, ‘This isn’t a good claim.’”

In 2016, eight years after Guatemala recognized femicide and other forms of violence against women as a specific crime, the government said it had received over 456,000 reports since 2008, with 65,543 made in 2016 alone. In 2017, according to the Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres’s count, 732 women died violent deaths; every recent year has seen a similar figure.

The roots of Guatemala’s patriarchy run deep, said Gabriela Monroy, a psychologist who works at Casa Alianza, a home for abused girls in Guatemala City. “The man is the master, the head, the boss of the family and the home. And this is so deep in our culture that it justifies that the man has physical and sexual access to his wife, his daughters,” she said. She connected this to the legacy of colonialism and to Guatemala’s decades of armed conflict, when many men were forced to watch their wives and relatives raped, abused, and killed by those in power: “There was also the use of female bodies to cause damage to men.”

Poverty exacerbates the situation, making it difficult for women to leave their abusers: “How are you going to report the man who is keeping the household afloat? If you say something, your five siblings or your five kids are going to be left without any economic protection,” Monroy said.

Family and friends attend the wake of Madelin Patricia Hernandez, a victim of a fire at the Virgen de Asuncion children shelter, at her grandmother's home in Guatemala City, Guatemala March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Martinez - RC18CDE59090

Family and friends attend the wake of Madelin Patricia Hernandez, a victim of a fire at the Virgen de Asuncion children shelter, at her grandmother’s home in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on March 9, 2017.

Photo: Saul Hernandez/Reuters

“We’re at the lowest levels in terms of education, health, and employment,” said Carolina Escobar, Casa Alianza’s director. One child had come to the shelter after her father sold her into marriage with an older man “in exchange for a double-liter of soda and some sandwich bread.”

“The parents couldn’t feed the rest of their kids,” Escobar said. “It’s horrible what I’m saying, but it’s a real case, even if it seems so surreal.”

Indigenous women especially struggle to access justice and face additional discrimination. The lead plaintiff in the ACLU’s case, a Mayan woman going by the pseudonym of Grace, was raped and beaten continuously for 20 years by her non-Indigenous husband, who “frequently disparaged her and mocked her for being indigenous and unable to read and write,” the ACLU said. In rural areas, there are few outposts of the public prosecutor, few specialized judges, and little police presence. “There’s discrimination against women wearing Indigenous clothing, and they often aren’t bilingual, and the judicial system is all in Spanish,” said Hilda Morales Trujillo, a pioneering women’s rights lawyer and activist.

The entire country has suffered from an increase in drug trafficking and the spread of gangs. When a woman’s abuser is connected with organized crime, the situation can be extremely dangerous not just for the woman, but also for those who try to help her, said Norma Cruz, director of the Fundación Sobrevivientes (Survivors’ Foundation), a shelter and legal services provider in Guatemala City.

TOPSHOT - A police officer stands next to a poster during a march to mark International Women's Day in Guatemala City on March 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Johan ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A police officer stands next to a poster during a march to mark International Women’s Day in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on March 8, 2018.

Photo: :Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

As for whether the Guatemalan state is capable of handling the problem, most agree that police protection is inadequate, justice is excruciatingly slow, and impunity is the norm — for femicides, it’s estimated to be 98 percent. Even if authorities aren’t actively complicit in the crime — which is sometimes the case — they often display the same prejudices that generated the violence in the first place.

Morales Trujillo said that women are often discouraged from coming forward with their denunciations as often by officials they encounter as by their families and communities; they’re told that they’ll be shunned or suffer more if they denounce their husbands, that they will lose their family’s breadwinner, that their children will grow up without a father. She has also seen judges perpetuate the antiquated stereotype that a woman who has been abused must have provoked it.

That’s despite the fact that in 2008, Guatemala passed path-breaking legislation, the Law Against Femicide and Other Violence Against Women, which recognized new categories of violence specifically directed at women, opened new angles for prosecution of those crimes, and the possibility of reparations for victims. It also created a network of specialized prosecutors and judges who were sensitized to deal with them. It was hailed as a major turning point. But the law hasn’t been sufficient, advocates say.

“The patriarchal interests, the macho interests, those classist, racist interests — they’re taking the teeth out of that law,” said Giovanna Lemus, director of a government-funded network of women’s centers and shelters run by GGM. As of August, the shelters had received no money in 2018. In a recent report, GGM laid out various ways in which the law’s impact has been weakened by lack of funds, contradictory legal developments, and bureaucratic slow-walking.

Many of the programs set in motion by the law are no match for the burden of caseloads. For instance, there is a specialized team from the public prosecutor that works with Indigenous women, offering translation and culturally sensitive services, but their reach is limited. “There are backlogs everywhere because there’s too much need and too little capacity,” said Escobar. (The U.S. government is a major donor to initiatives attempting to strengthen Guatemala’s judicial systems, and Trump’s threat to cut off aid over Guatemala’s handling of the refugee caravan could make things worse.)

Many of the advocates blamed the current president, a comedian-turned-politician named Jimmy Morales, for steps backward on women’s rights. They were especially distressed by Morales’s silence and inaction in the case of 41 girls who died in a fire at a government-run shelter in March 2017. After the fire, stories of abuse and human trafficking in the shelter surfaced. (A former Guatemalan foreign minister made headlines this summer saying he knew of several women who’d accused the president of sexual abuse, but to date, no victims have come forward. Morales has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as rumors and lies.)

“With this government, we’re losing the advances we’d made because we have a government that’s indifferent toward policies protecting women, to laws for women and children,” said Cruz.

To compare the United States’ handling of domestic violence and Guatemala’s, as Sessions did in his decision, was “crock,” said Musalo, of UC Hastings. “To argue that even in the U.S. we don’t have a perfect system for protecting women, it’s so not comparable that you can’t even wrap your mind around it.”

Near-total impunity combined with the lack of funding and political will for women’s rights also makes it difficult for advocates to accept the idea, implicit in Sessions’s decision, that women could simply move within Guatemala. Aside from the limitations imposed by poverty and lack of resources, Guatemala is a small country, and it’s not so easy to disappear.

Authorities can be bribed for information or paid to track a woman down, said Lemus, mentioning the long history of Guatemala’s shady, deadly intelligence apparatus. Narcos can pay others to do their dirty work. “When the abusers have more resources, they do more,” she said. After helping women from rich and powerful families, Lemus said her group ended up under surveillance, with cars circling their offices and sex workers placed outside to watch the door. They’d even had their phones tapped.

Women dressed in black take part in the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Nov. 25, 2016. According to a UN report released on Thursday, 625 women have died due to violent events in Guatemala this year. / AFP / JOHAN ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Women take part in the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Nov. 25, 2016.

Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

“When the women want to leave, they believe that the only way to get away from the violence is to get out of the country. And I believe them. Justice is very slow. They can’t stay shut up in a shelter the whole time,” said Cruz. In extreme cases, her foundation finds places where women can stay for up to 15 days completely isolated, without a phone and without leaving the premises, to hide from their abuser. Sometimes the women aren’t even told exactly where they are. But that solution isn’t permanent, and prolonged protection also puts shelter staff in danger. The network of shelters in Guatemala is small and insufficient to the number of women needing help.

The guidelines also tell USCIS officers to consider which other countries asylum-seekers passed through before reaching the United States. The Trump administration has been pressuring Mexico to accept the status of being a “safe third country” to which the U.S. could send asylum-seekers. In Mexico, on top of well-documented threats to migrants and the fact that in many states they’d remain within easy access of their abusers, women have fewer economic opportunities and encounter less robust immigrant communities to welcome them than in the United States, said Cruz.

The idea that the U.S. has a moral burden to take in more Central American refugees was a common refrain among Guatemalan advocates. After supporting a 1954 coup against Guatemala’s left-leaning president, the U.S. funded and supported the genocidal regimes of Guatemalan military leaders during the civil conflict that lasted 36 years, until 1996, killing over 200,000 people, many of them Maya.

“There is a chain that has not been broken with the armed conflict,” said Morales Trujillo. “The violence was organized with the support of the United States. … There is a responsibility from a political point of view because of their interference in Guatemalan affairs. But also from the point of view of humanity. When someone comes knocking at your door, and they have no alternative, the door has to open.”

Reporting for this story was supported with a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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Donald Trump, Fascism, and the Doctrine of American Mythology

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The horrid stench of violent authoritarianism and fascism is in the air. This week on Intercepted: Trump prepares for a U.S. military deployment along the Mexico border and threatens to abolish birthright citizenship as the country is rocked by mass murder and pipe bombs. Two scholars of fascism, NYU’s Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and Yale’s Jason Stanley discuss Trump’s brand of authoritarianism and dissect the similarities and differences between Trump and fascist leaders Mussolini and Hitler. Actor Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director at The Classical Theatre of Harlem, perform’s Langston Hughes’s poem “Let America Be America Again.” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s Adam Johnson breaks down how white supremacy and fascism are discussed in U.S. media, hypocrisy on Saudi Arabia and the false both-sides paradigm on radical rightwing violence and terrorism. And hardcore punk musician Julian Cashwan Pratt, of Show Me the Body, talks about  “Work Sets You Free,” a silent visual essay juxtaposing federal prisons in America with the band’s own footage of visits to concentration camps while touring Europe.

Transcript coming soon.

The post Donald Trump, Fascism, and the Doctrine of American Mythology appeared first on The Intercept.

After Pittsburgh Massacre, Netanyahu Faces Backlash for Endorsing Trump and Smearing Soros

As he mourned for the 11 American Jews killed on Saturday by a gunman who believed a racist conspiracy theory promoted by the president of the United States, the writer David Simon read on Twitter that a senior member of Israel’s far-right government was on his way to Pittsburgh for a memorial service.

“Go home,” Simon wrote in a caustic message to Naftali Bennett, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who serves as Israel’s minister for the diaspora. “Netanyahu’s interventions in US politics aided in the election of Donald Trump and his raw and relentless validation of white nationalism and fascism,” Simon wrote. “The American Jewish community is now bleeding at the hands of the Israeli prime minister. And many of us know it.”

Simon was not alone in his criticism of Bennet’s visit. “NO THANK YOU,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace in New York, replied to Bennett’s tweet about his visit. “Your racist worldview has more in common with the perpetrator of this attack,” she told Bennett, who supports Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli occupied West Bank and the expulsion of African asylum seekers from Israel.

“Naftali Bennett has eagerly normalized Trump in exchange for the codification of apartheid in Israel,” the political cartoonist Eli Valley wrote. “He shares Trump’s bigotry, he has boasted about murdering Arabs, and he should not be welcomed anywhere in the American Jewish community.”

The Pittsburgh chapter of If Not Now, a group of young American Jews opposed to their community’s support for the Netanyahu government’s nationalist policies — including the building of a wall along Israel’s southern border to block African asylum-seekers — protested Bennett’s visit at a vigil on Sunday near the Tree of Life synagogue, where the shooting took place. “The inspiration for this attack,” If Not Now member Ren Finkel said, “is the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Trump and other Republican leaders.”

Pressed by supporters of Israel to explain his denunciation of Netanyhau, Simon pointed out that the Israeli prime minister’s backing of Trump had come despite the clear anti-Semitic undertones of the American president’s rhetoric against “globalists,” with its “implications of Jewish financial cabals.” As the journalist Gregg Carlstrom noted at the time, the villains in Trump’s final 2016 campaign ad — which used footage of Syrian asylum-seekers marching through Hungary to paint a false picture of the U.S. border with Mexico — were all prominent Jews: Janet Yellen, then the Federal Reserve chairwoman, Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, and George Soros, whose image appeared as Trump railed against, “those who control the levers of power in Washington.”

After Trump’s election, Netanyahu also refused to condemn the president’s repeated incitement against Soros, Simon noted, even as the president and his Republican allies fed their followers “a steady stream of conspiratorist horseshit so acutely racist and anti-Semitic that the name of a Holocaust survivor can now be invoked as a fixed dog-whistle for Jewish conspiracies against white nationalist America.”

The Pittsburgh gunman cited as justification for his massacre of Jews a baseless conspiracy theory about Soros, which has been promoted by Trump’s favorite cable news network, Fox News, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican endorsed by Trump — the false claim that, as Simon put it, “a Jewish financier is paying brown-skinned people to journey to our southern border and menace our nation.”

“This specific, vicious and batshit-crazy notion found favor throughout the president’s base and has even been repeated by elected officials in his party,” Simon wrote. “It is the precise preamble to a gunman walking into a synagogue and declaring that all Jews must die and killing people where they worshipped.”

“Netanyahu, and by extension his government,” Simon argued, “stands among those who are now complicit in serving to bring about this experiment in American fascism.”

Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer who has called Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “a disaster,” asked if Netanyahu — whose son Yair thrilled white supremacists by sharing an anti-Semitic meme about Soros — was finally willing “to condemn the systematic, vulgar anti-Semitic assaults on George Soros which you yourself have validated?”

As Mairav Zonszein explained last year in The New York Times, Soros, as a supporter of Israeli rights groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, has become a hate figure to ultranationalist Israelis, including Netanyahu, who have recently bonded with racist European nationalists around a shared hatred of Muslims.

“In his remarks at the weekly Sunday cabinet meeting in the Knesset, Netanyahu referenced ‘new anti-Semitism’ in Europe and ‘radical Islam’ but never mentioned the actual ideologies behind this attack: white supremacism,” Zonszein reported on Tuesday in The Washington Post. “Also conspicuously absent from Netanyahu’s rhetoric has been any mention of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the organization that Robert Bowers, the accused Pittsburgh shooter, had attacked on social media for aiding refugees, which many people have been donating to as a show of support. Netanyahu’s Likud party even reportedly distributed talking points to activists describing HIAS as ‘a left-wing Jewish group that promotes immigration to the U.S. and works against Trump.’”

Earlier this year, when Netanyahu angrily demanded an investigation of the New Israel Fund, a U.S. group that supports civil society projects in Israel, he said it “receives funding from foreign governments and figures hostile to Israel, such as the funds of George Soros.” The specific cause of Netanyahu’s wrath in that case was the New Israel Fund’s opposition to his effort to deport thousands of African asylum-seekers who had managed to make it past his border wall.

By steadfastly refusing to admit that the conspiracy theories about Soros aired by Trump and his allies are anti-Semitic, Netanyahu and the current Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, have made it safe for such wild notions to circulate online and across the airwaves.

Nowhere has that been more clear than in Hungary, where the ultranationalist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has repeatedly blanketed the nation with billboards and public service announcements falsely portraying Soros as a shadowy puppet-master scheming to flood the country with Muslim immigrants.

Last year, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, called on Orbán to stop using historical anti-Semitic tropes to demonize Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the rule of Hungary’s wartime leader, Miklós Horthy — an anti-Semite, recently praised by Orbán, whose government aided in the deportation of 437,402 Hungarian Jews to Nazi death camps in just two months in 1944.

Just one day later, however, the Israeli foreign ministry run directly by Netanyahu formally retracted the compliant, and issued a statement voicing explicit support for “criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

As Talya Wintman, a junior at Barnard College currently studying at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, noted in Haaretz, Netanyahu’s defense of Orbán had culminated in July, when “the Hungarian Prime Minister, who fueled his own campaign on accusations of Soros destroying Christian Hungary, was invited on an official visit to Israel and as a guest of honor to Yad Vashem, helping to elide his anti-Semitic ties. This is 21st century anti-Semitism legitimized by the leader of the Jewish state.”

What Netanyahu’s embrace of Orbán helps to obscure, however, is that attacks on Soros for sponsoring democracy and human rights in his native country have long been characterized by explicit anti-Semitism. As my colleague Peter Maass reported from Budapest in 1992, during Hungary’s post-Communist transition, even as Soros offered educational grants to former dissidents like a young Viktor Orbán and founded the Central European University, he was denounced by the vice president of the ruling party, Istvan Csurka, of secretly acting as an instrument of “official policy in Jerusalem.”

Another member of Hungary’s ruling party, Gyula Zacsek, attacked the philanthropist the same year in an article for the party weekly headlined, “Termites Are Devouring Our Nation — Reflections on the Soros Regime, the Soros Empire.” The end of the Communist system, Zacsek claimed, “began as a consciously planned, well-thought-out course of action — a self-engineered coup by cosmopolitans.” In the Soviet era Hungary had just emerged from, the term “rootless cosmopolitans,” citizens of the globe, was shorthand for Jews. “The Soros Foundation,” Zacsek asserted, “was a vital tool and resource in laying the groundwork for this transition.”

“Leading members of your party have accused me of nothing less than taking part in an international anti-Hungarian conspiracy whose origins can be traced to Israel and whose goal is to extinguish the Hungarian people’s national spirit, and succeed thereby in subjecting them to foreign domination,” Soros wrote to Hungary’s prime minister in 1992. “My foundations seek to promote open societies while they, under the guise of nationalism, are interested in creating closed societies,” he added. “In order for them to succeed, they need first and foremost an enemy against which they can then mobilize an entire nation, and if there isn’t an enemy about, they must invent one.”

In the decades since, Soros has been transformed into an invented enemy by anti-Semites around the globe, and conspiracy theories about his supposedly nefarious promotion of democracy and human rights have become a staple of state-financed propaganda broadcasts in countries like Russia and Iran. During the Trump administration, however, a broadcaster sponsored by the United States government appears to have indulged for the first time in the same thinly veiled anti-Semitism to attack the liberal philanthropist.

Last week, days after a pipe bomb was mailed to Soros by a Trump supporter in Florida, Mother Jones reported that Radio Televisión Martí, a Spanish-language network that broadcasts news and propaganda to Cuba on behalf of the American government, aired a report that described Soros as “a non-believing Jew of flexible morals,” and “the architect of the financial collapse of 2008,” who uses “his lethal influence to destroy democracies.”

“A TV Marti program that was introduced with the phrase, ‘George Soros, a multimillionaire Jew,’ was paid for by the American taxpayer, and broadcast to Latin America last summer, in our name,” Sen. Jeff Flake commented on Twitter. “This is taxpayer-funded anti-semitism.”

The post After Pittsburgh Massacre, Netanyahu Faces Backlash for Endorsing Trump and Smearing Soros appeared first on The Intercept.

The U.S. Lost a Key Ally in Southern Afghanistan. But Abdul Raziq Was No Hero.

One afternoon earlier this month, Kandahar police Chief Abdul Raziq was wrapping up a visit with the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, when a man wearing the uniform of an Afghan security guard opened fire. The first bullet hit Raziq, killing him instantly. The attack also killed three other high-level Afghan officials and wounded three Americans, including a brigadier general. The assassinations came two days before Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was already being held on tenuous grounds.

Raziq had been, for many years, the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan. His job title, provincial police chief, vastly understated his remit and political sway, which went far beyond security. Indeed, few people better symbolize the arc of American experience in Afghanistan than Raziq, who rose to power through tribal affiliations, foreign patronage, and brute force. Under Raziq, Kandahar had become among the safest cities in Afghanistan; in recent years, I slept better there than I could ever have hoped to in Kabul. But that peace extended only to certain foreigners or Afghans from the right tribe, living in the right neighborhoods, affiliated with the right political factions.

Despite incontrovertible evidence that Raziq and his men frequently violated the rights not only of their enemies but also of the public they claimed to serve, many news stories about his death described him as charismatic, fierce, and stalwart — a larger-than-life figure, a bulwark against the Taliban whose absence would create a terrible void, unleashing unforeseen violence and shattering southern Afghanistan’s fragile peace. In these laudatory accounts, Raziq has been praised for fighting our war against the Taliban and for keeping Kandahar safe, but few stopped to ask who that security was for, and what it had cost the rest.

Raziq was a classic product of America’s failed policy in Afghanistan, wherein personalities have been propped up over — and sometimes at the expense of — institutions. Of the $557 billion America spent in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011, just 5.4 percent went toward governance. Most of the money was spent on security, which enriched men like Raziq.

Instead of building up the Afghan state, the U.S. and its NATO allies supported local strongmen like Raziq, providing short-term security at the cost of meaningful state-building. By financing and encouraging extralegal militias, NATO undermined the very government institutions it sought to strengthen. By bypassing law enforcement and running operations with private militias, the U.S. Special Forces created a culture of impunity, in which corruption and the drug trade flourished. Raziq and his militia were seen as a means of winning against the insurgents, and the existence of men like him was framed as a necessary evil, even as torture and extrajudicial killings went unchecked.

Some Afghanistan watchers have expressed concern that Raziq’s death will demoralize the Afghan security forces and damage attempts at peace talks with the Taliban. But it is the very existence of men like Raziq — men who built their careers brutalizing not only the Taliban, but also the public — that is a practical impediment to negotiations. It’s possible that Raziq’s death may pose a challenge to Kandahar’s stability in the short term. But in the long run, it may provide an opening for real progress toward peace.

In this photo taken on February 19, 2017, Afghan General Abdul Raziq (C), police chief of Kandahar, poses for a picture during a graduation ceremony at a police training centre in Kandahar province. - An Afghan security chief and a journalist were killed and three Americans wounded on October 18 when a gunman opened fire on a high-level security meeting attended by top US commander General Scott Miller, officials said. (Photo by JAWED TANVEER / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAWED TANVEER/AFP/Getty Images)

Gen. Abdul Raziq, center, poses for a picture during a graduation ceremony at a police training center in Kandahar province on Feb. 19, 2017.

Photo: Jawed Tanveer/AFP/Getty Images

Raziq was born in 1979 in Spin Boldak, 60 miles east of Kandahar city, where he died. He came from the Adozai branch of the Achakzai tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group, which is to say from a line of men who had fought a long and bitter battle against the Taliban in the mid-1990s, lost, and fled. The Taliban hanged Raziq’s uncle Mansour from the barrel of a tank.

Those years instilled in Raziq a lifelong animus toward the Taliban, which was exactly what qualified him to be one of America’s primary allies in the so-called war on terror. His unimpeachable anti-Taliban credentials helped catapult Raziq from tribal leader to commander of the border police, a job that put him in charge of swaths of ungovernable space between Afghanistan and Pakistan where most of the world’s opium is traded. This is where Raziq began amassing his fortune, allegedly through cross-border drug trafficking.

In April 2011, Kandahar’s then-police Chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid was killed in a suicide attack. With strong backing from the Americans and Asadullah Khalid, a former Afghan spy chief and another key U.S. ally, Raziq moved in to lead Kandahar’s police department. That July, Ahmed Wali Karzai, longtime CIA client, chair of the Kandahar Provincial Council, and brother to then-President Hamid Karzai, was assassinated by his own bodyguard. Karzai, like Raziq, was far more powerful than his modest title suggested. With him gone, Raziq took over as de facto king of Kandahar and its surrounding villages, orchards, and mud flats. For the next seven years, governors came and went, as did mayors and nearly every other local official, but Raziq remained the uncontested ruler of Kandahar.

Rumors of graft dogged Raziq, but more alarming than the corruption were accusations that he was responsible for forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Raziq was implicated in mass murders, including the 2006 revenge killing of 16 rival tribespeople in Kabul, who were characterized in press accounts as Taliban commanders killed in battle. In and around Kandahar during Raziq’s tenure, Taliban fighters would be found with their hands tied and shot in the back of their heads.

Nevertheless, Washington continued to partner with Raziq, providing him and his men with assistance, training, intelligence, and weapons. This was not only unseemly, but also illegal. The 1997 Leahy law bans American funding of foreign military units accused of human rights violations. Yet Raziq continued to be America’s most important ally in southern Afghanistan. Under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the U.S. military relied on him heavily in its ongoing fight against the Taliban.

It wasn’t until recently that the cumulative effect of these charges started to catch up with him — somewhat. Last year, the United Nations Committee Against Torture called for Raziq’s prosecution over allegations that he was personally involved in gross human rights abuses against captives, including suffocation, genital mutilation, pumping water into people’s stomachs, and administering electric shocks, not to mention enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and worse.

When I lived in Afghanistan between 2013 and 2017, we often heard apocryphal-seeming stories about Raziq — that he punished his enemies by forcing them to kiss overheated car mufflers or drilling holes into their heads. Most did not meet the evidentiary bar, but some turned out to be true. In certain circles, Raziq’s name became a byword for the trade-off the West had made in choosing security over justice or human rights. The Western intervention in Afghanistan was meant to be in the name of democratic values. Instead, we were propping up men like Raziq, who turned his home province into a police state.

I met Raziq once, during the drawn-out presidential election of 2014. He came to a breakfast in honor of then-candidate Abdullah Abdullah. Raziq was small in stature and buck-toothed, giving the overall impression of an off-duty chipmunk. That a provincial police chief would show up for breakfast with a presidential candidate and then be obsequiously attended by supplicants who eagerly sought to have their photos taken with him spoke to the complicated relationships between members of Afghanistan’s ruling class, not to mention the uncontested reach of Raziq’s power.

There were many others like him, in fact. His was just the latest in a string of assassinations that have brought down scores of Afghan strongmen, including Raziq’s counterpart in a neighboring province, Matiullah Khan; Burhanuddin Rabbani, a Northern Alliance leader; and Gen. Mohammed Daud, an influential commander. That these men have all been murdered in similar ways is evidence of the Hobbesian world in which they lived.

In Kandahar alone, Raziq’s predecessor as Kandahar police chief, Mujahid, was appointed after his own predecessor, Matiullah Qahteh, was killed by a U.S.-trained militia group at the CIA base in Kandahar. The attack that killed Raziq last week also claimed the lives of provincial spy chief Gen. Abdul Momin, Kandahar Gov. Zalmai Wesa, and regional police commander Gen. Nabi Elham.

So it goes. In the wake of Raziq’s killing, his younger brother Tadeen Khan took over as Kandahar police chief.

The head of NATO troops in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, center left, Kandahar Gov. Zalmay Wesa, center right, and their delegations attend a security conference, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The three top officials in Afghanistan's Kandahar province were killed, including Wesa, when their own guards opened fire on them at the conference Thursday, the deputy provincial governor said. A Taliban spokesman said the target was Miller, who escaped without injury, according to NATO. (AP Photo)

Gen. Austin Scott Miller, center left, Kandahar Gov. Zalmai Wesa, center right, and their delegations attend a security conference in Kandahar on Oct. 18, 2018, the day an assassin killed Wesa and three other senior Afghan officials.

Photo: AP

In a 2015 interview with the New York Times, Raziq bitterly accused certain factions within the Afghan High Peace Council, the body responsible for establishing negotiations with the Taliban, of offering him up to the insurgents as a way of convincing them to come to the table. There is no doubt that the Taliban wanted him dead. According to sources close to the insurgents, the target of the October 18 attack was not Miller, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, but Raziq.

When this chapter in the history of the U.S.-Afghan relationship is finally written, it should be known that Raziq fought our war against the Taliban, but also that this does not make him a hero. It should also be known that the actions of Raziq and other U.S.-backed strongmen have ensured that Afghanistan continues to be a country where the weak live at the mercy of the strong. Men like Raziq have hindered, as much as they have helped, the peace process. With Raziq gone, there has never been a better time to push for an end to this war. If the U.S. is serious about peace, it will use this moment to find a new way forward.

Top photo: U.S. Lt. Col. William Clark, second from left, talks with Gen. Abdul Raziq during a joint patrol along the border with Pakistan, on the outskirts of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, on Aug. 7, 2009.

The post The U.S. Lost a Key Ally in Southern Afghanistan. But Abdul Raziq Was No Hero. appeared first on The Intercept.

Jair Bolsonaro Is Elected President of Brazil. Read His Extremist, Far-Right Positions in His Own Words.

Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil on Sunday evening. Ballots continue to be tallied, but multiple news outlets have declared the race, as the far-right candidate has received 55.49 percent of valid votes with 96.27 percent of polling stations reporting. His opponent, Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party, has received only 44.51 percent of votes.

The Workers’ Party originally ran former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as their candidate, and he was the clear favorite in the polls. However, they were forced to swap him out at the last minute for Haddad, a former mayor of São Paulo who failed to win reelection in 2016, after Lula was sent to prison on a questionable corruption conviction and it became clear that higher courts would not overturn the sentence. Hindered by a late start and the lack of a national profile, Haddad struggled to gain name recognition and failed to distance himself from public perceptions that linked his party to corruption and the status quo. Nonetheless, with the strong base of the Workers’ Party and the message, “Haddad is Lula,” the 55-year-old academic was able to scrape his way through the first round of elections on October 7, taking 29 percent of the vote in a 13-way contest.

This year’s elections were particularly fraught, marked by dramatic polarization, political violence, and massive disinformation campaigns on social media, in a country that has been roiled by years of social, economic, and political crises. Since 2013, millions of people of all political stripes have repeatedly taken to the streets in protest; Brazil has struggled to climb out of the worst recession in history; massive corruption scandals have destabilized political institutions and major economic players; former president Dilma Rousseff (also from the Workers’ Party) was impeached on dubious grounds; her successor, president Michel Temer (the most despised leader in Brazil’s democratic history), has pushed through a series of unpopular austerity measures; and Lula was jailed, a process which has exposed the judiciary to relentless criticism for perceived partisanship.

Supporters of far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL), Jair Bolsonaro, parade a fake coffin representing the Worker's Party (PT), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the second round of the presidential elections, on October 28, 2018. - Brazilians will choose their president today during the second round of the national elections between the far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad (Photo by Carl DE SOUZA / AFP) (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro supporters parade a fake coffin representing the Worker’s Party (PT), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the second round of the presidential elections, on October 28, 2018.

Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

In short, every major political institution has been increasingly discredited as Brazil has spiraled deeper and deeper into a dark void. And from the abyss emerged a former army captain and six-term congressman from Rio de Janeiro, Jair Bolsonaro, with the slogan “Brazil above everything, God above everyone,” and promises to fix everything with hardline tactics.

Seven years ago, Bolsonaro was a punchline for the political humor program CQC, where he’d make outrageous statements. A former presenter, Monica Iozzi, said they interviewed him multiple times “so people could see the very low level of the representatives we were electing.” Now, it’s Bolsonaro who is laughing and Iozzi says she regrets having given him airtime. Riding the wave of public discontent, Bolsonaro campaigned against the Workers’ Party, corruption, politicians, crime, “cultural Marxism,” communists, leftists, secularism, and “privileges” for historically marginalized groups. Instead, he favored “traditional family values,” “patriotism,” nationalism, the military, a Christian nation, guns, increased police violence, and neoliberal economics that he promises will revitalize the economy. Despite his actual political platform being short on specific proposals, the energy around his candidacy was enough to win the presidency and turn his previously insignificant Social Liberal Party into the second-largest bloc in Congress.

But what has frightened his opponents, many international observers, and even some fervent Workers’ Party critics, are Bolsonaro’s repeated declarations in favor of Brazil’s military dictatorship, torture, extrajudicial police killings, and violence against LGBTQs, Afro-Brazilians, women, indigenous peoples, minorities, and political opponents, as well as his opposition to democratic norms and values.

Here is Brazil’s next president in his own words over the years. In the coming months, Brazil and the world will discover if Bolsonaro will make good on these drastic promises when he takes office on January 1, 2019.

 

“I am in favor of a dictatorship, a regime of exception.”

– Open session of the Câmara dos Deputados, 1993

 

Interviewer: If you were the President of the Republic today, would you close the National Congress?

“There’s no doubt about it. I’d do a coup on the same day! It [the Congress] doesn’t work! And I’m sure at least 90 percent of the population would throw a party, would applaud, because it does not work. Congress today is good for nothing, brother, it just votes for what the president wants. If he is the person who decides, who rules, who trumps the Congress, then let’s have a coup quickly, go straight to a dictatorship.”

–  Câmara Aberta TV program, May 23, 1999

 

“The pau-de-arara [a torture technique] works. I’m in favor of torture, you know that. And the people are in favor as well.”

Câmara Aberta TV program, May 23, 1999

 

“Through the vote you will not change anything in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing! It will only change, unfortunately, when, one day, we start a civil war here and do the work that the military regime did not do. Killing some 30,000, starting with FHC [then-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso], not kicking them out, killing! If some innocent people are going to die, fine, in any war innocents die.”

– Câmara Aberta TV program, May 23, 1999

 

“I will not fight nor discriminate, but if I see two men kissing in the street, I’ll hit them.”

Folha de São Paulo newspaper, May 19, 2002

 

“I’m a rapist now. I would never rape you, because you do not deserve it… slut!”

Rede TV, speaking to Congresswoman Maria do Rosário, November 11, 2003

Right-wing federal deputy and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, gives a thumbs up to supporters during a rally at Afonso Pena airport in Curitiba, Brazil on March 28, 2018. Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly praised Brazil's two-decade-long military dictatorship, taunted Lula, calling him a "bandit," and challenging him in Curitiba to see "who can get the most people out on to the streets without paying them." / AFP PHOTO / Heuler Andrey (Photo credit should read HEULER ANDREY/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro gives his signature gun finger salute to supporters during a rally in Curitiba, Brazil on March 28, 2018. 

Photo: Hueler Andrey/AFP/Getty Images

“I would be incapable of loving a homosexual child. I’m not going to act like a hypocrite here: I’d rather have my son die in an accident than show up with some mustachioed guy. For me, he would have died.

“If your son starts acting a little gay, hit him with some leather, and he’ll change his behavior.”

– Participação Popular, TV Câmara, October 17, 2010

 

Preta Gil, actress and singer: If your son fell in love with a black woman, what would you do?

“Oh, Preta, I’m not going to discuss promiscuity with whoever it is. I do not run this risk and my children were very well raised and did not live in the type of environment that, unfortunately, you do.”

CQC, TV Bandeirantes, March 28, 2011

 

“If a homosexual couple comes to live next to me it will devalue my home! If they walk around holding hands and kissing, that devalues it.”

– Playboy Magazine, June 7, 2011

 

Interviewer: Are you proud of the story of Hitler’s life?

“No, pride, I don’t have, right?”

Interviewer: Do you like him?

“No. What you have to understand is the following: war is war. He was a great strategist.”

– CQC, TV Bandeirantes, March 26, 2012

 

Interviewer: Have you ever hit a woman before?

“Yes. I was a boy in Eldorado, a girl was getting in my face…”

Interviewer: Put her against the wall, a few taps? Pah!

“No, well, no… [laughs] I’m married. My wife isn’t going to like this response.”

– CQC, TV Bandeirantes, March 26, 2012

 

“[Homosexuals] will not find peace. And I have [congressional] immunity to say that I’m homophobic, yes, and very proud of it if it is to defend children in schools.”

– TWTV, June 5, 2013

Brazilian congressman and presidential canditate for the next election, Jair Bolsonaro (L), takes pictures with militaries during an military event in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 3, 2018. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP) (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro takes pictures with soldiers during a military event in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 3, 2018.

Photo: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

“I would not employ [a woman] with the same salary [of a man]. But there are many women who are competent.”

– SuperPop, RedeTV!, February 15, 2016

 

“Beyond Brazil above all, since we are a Christian country, God above everyone! It is not this story, this little story of secular state. It is a Christian state, and if a minority is against it, then move! Let’s make a Brazil for the majorities. Minorities have to bow to the majorities! The Law must exist to defend the majorities. Minorities must fit in or simply disappear!”

– Event in Campina Grande, Paraíba, February 8, 2017

 

“Violence is combated with violence.”

– The Noite with Danilo Gentili, SBT, March 20, 2017

 

“I went with my three sons. Oh the other one went too, there were four. I have a fifth also. I had four men and on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and a woman came out.”

Speech at the Hebraica Club, Rio de Janeiro, April 3, 2017

 

“If I [become president], there won’t be any money for NGOs. These worthless [people] will have to work. If I get there, as far as I’m concerned, every citizen will have a firearm in their home. You will not have a centimeter demarcated for indigenous reserves or quilombolas [settlements of the descendants of escaped and freed slaves that have protected status.]”

Speech at the Hebraica Club, Rio de Janeiro, April 3, 2017

 

“Has anyone ever seen a Japanese begging for charity? Because it’s a race that has shame. It’s not like this race that’s down there, or like a minority ruminating here on the side.”

– Speech at the Hebraica Club, Rio de Janeiro, April 3, 2017

 

“The big problem in Brazil is that the government is at the jugular of businessmen. […] The worker will have to decide: less rights and employment or all the rights and unemployment.”

Event in Deerfield Beach, FL , October 8, 2017

 

“I’ll give carte blanche for the police to kill.”

– Event in Deerfield Beach, FL, October 8, 2017

 

“Since I was single at the time, I used the money from my [congressional] housing stipend to get laid.”

– TV Folha, January 11, 2018

 

“This group, if they want to stay here, will have to put itself under the law of all of us. Leave or go to jail. These red marginals will be banished from our homeland.”

Live video address to a rally in São Paulo, October 21, 2018

 

“You will not have any more NGOs to quench your leftist hunger. It will be a cleansing never before seen in the history of Brazil.”

– Live video address to a rally in São Paulo, October 21, 2018

 

“You will see a proud Armed Forces which will be collaborating with the future of Brazil. You, petralhada [a derogatory term for Workers’ Party supporters] will see a civilian and military police with a judicial rearguard to enforce the law on your backs.”

Live video address to a rally in São Paulo, October 21, 2018

The post Jair Bolsonaro Is Elected President of Brazil. Read His Extremist, Far-Right Positions in His Own Words. appeared first on The Intercept.

Jair Bolsonaro Is Elected President of Brazil. Read His Extremist, Far-Right Positions in His Own Words.

Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil on Sunday evening. Ballots continue to be tallied, but multiple news outlets have declared the race, as the far-right candidate has received 55.49 percent of valid votes with 96.27 percent of polling stations reporting. His opponent, Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party, has received only 44.51 percent of votes.

The Workers’ Party originally ran former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as their candidate, and he was the clear favorite in the polls. However, they were forced to swap him out at the last minute for Haddad, a former mayor of São Paulo who failed to win reelection in 2016, after Lula was sent to prison on a questionable corruption conviction and it became clear that higher courts would not overturn the sentence. Hindered by a late start and the lack of a national profile, Haddad struggled to gain name recognition and failed to distance himself from public perceptions that linked his party to corruption and the status quo. Nonetheless, with the strong base of the Workers’ Party and the message, “Haddad is Lula,” the 55-year-old academic was able to scrape his way through the first round of elections on October 7, taking 29 percent of the vote in a 13-way contest.

This year’s elections were particularly fraught, marked by dramatic polarization, political violence, and massive disinformation campaigns on social media, in a country that has been roiled by years of social, economic, and political crises. Since 2013, millions of people of all political stripes have repeatedly taken to the streets in protest; Brazil has struggled to climb out of the worst recession in history; massive corruption scandals have destabilized political institutions and major economic players; former president Dilma Rousseff (also from the Workers’ Party) was impeached on dubious grounds; her successor, president Michel Temer (the most despised leader in Brazil’s democratic history), has pushed through a series of unpopular austerity measures; and Lula was jailed, a process which has exposed the judiciary to relentless criticism for perceived partisanship.

Supporters of far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL), Jair Bolsonaro, parade a fake coffin representing the Worker's Party (PT), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the second round of the presidential elections, on October 28, 2018. - Brazilians will choose their president today during the second round of the national elections between the far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad (Photo by Carl DE SOUZA / AFP) (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro supporters parade a fake coffin representing the Worker’s Party (PT), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the second round of the presidential elections, on October 28, 2018.

Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

In short, every major political institution has been increasingly discredited as Brazil has spiraled deeper and deeper into a dark void. And from the abyss emerged a former army captain and six-term congressman from Rio de Janeiro, Jair Bolsonaro, with the slogan “Brazil above everything, God above everyone,” and promises to fix everything with hardline tactics.

Seven years ago, Bolsonaro was a punchline for the political humor program CQC, where he’d make outrageous statements. A former presenter, Monica Iozzi, said they interviewed him multiple times “so people could see the very low level of the representatives we were electing.” Now, it’s Bolsonaro who is laughing and Iozzi says she regrets having given him airtime. Riding the wave of public discontent, Bolsonaro campaigned against the Workers’ Party, corruption, politicians, crime, “cultural Marxism,” communists, leftists, secularism, and “privileges” for historically marginalized groups. Instead, he favored “traditional family values,” “patriotism,” nationalism, the military, a Christian nation, guns, increased police violence, and neoliberal economics that he promises will revitalize the economy. Despite his actual political platform being short on specific proposals, the energy around his candidacy was enough to win the presidency and turn his previously insignificant Social Liberal Party into the second-largest bloc in Congress.

But what has frightened his opponents, many international observers, and even some fervent Workers’ Party critics, are Bolsonaro’s repeated declarations in favor of Brazil’s military dictatorship, torture, extrajudicial police killings, and violence against LGBTQs, Afro-Brazilians, women, indigenous peoples, minorities, and political opponents, as well as his opposition to democratic norms and values.

Here is Brazil’s next president in his own words over the years. In the coming months, Brazil and the world will discover if Bolsonaro will make good on these drastic promises when he takes office on January 1, 2019.

 

“I am in favor of a dictatorship, a regime of exception.”

– Open session of the Câmara dos Deputados, 1993

 

Interviewer: If you were the President of the Republic today, would you close the National Congress?

“There’s no doubt about it. I’d do a coup on the same day! It [the Congress] doesn’t work! And I’m sure at least 90 percent of the population would throw a party, would applaud, because it does not work. Congress today is good for nothing, brother, it just votes for what the president wants. If he is the person who decides, who rules, who trumps the Congress, then let’s have a coup quickly, go straight to a dictatorship.”

–  Câmara Aberta TV program, May 23, 1999

 

“The pau-de-arara [a torture technique] works. I’m in favor of torture, you know that. And the people are in favor as well.”

Câmara Aberta TV program, May 23, 1999

 

“Through the vote you will not change anything in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing! It will only change, unfortunately, when, one day, we start a civil war here and do the work that the military regime did not do. Killing some 30,000, starting with FHC [then-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso], not kicking them out, killing! If some innocent people are going to die, fine, in any war innocents die.”

– Câmara Aberta TV program, May 23, 1999

 

“I will not fight nor discriminate, but if I see two men kissing in the street, I’ll hit them.”

Folha de São Paulo newspaper, May 19, 2002

 

“I’m a rapist now. I would never rape you, because you do not deserve it… slut!”

Rede TV, speaking to Congresswoman Maria do Rosário, November 11, 2003

Right-wing federal deputy and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, gives a thumbs up to supporters during a rally at Afonso Pena airport in Curitiba, Brazil on March 28, 2018. Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly praised Brazil's two-decade-long military dictatorship, taunted Lula, calling him a "bandit," and challenging him in Curitiba to see "who can get the most people out on to the streets without paying them." / AFP PHOTO / Heuler Andrey (Photo credit should read HEULER ANDREY/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro gives his signature gun finger salute to supporters during a rally in Curitiba, Brazil on March 28, 2018. 

Photo: Hueler Andrey/AFP/Getty Images

“I would be incapable of loving a homosexual child. I’m not going to act like a hypocrite here: I’d rather have my son die in an accident than show up with some mustachioed guy. For me, he would have died.

“If your son starts acting a little gay, hit him with some leather, and he’ll change his behavior.”

– Participação Popular, TV Câmara, October 17, 2010

 

Preta Gil, actress and singer: If your son fell in love with a black woman, what would you do?

“Oh, Preta, I’m not going to discuss promiscuity with whoever it is. I do not run this risk and my children were very well raised and did not live in the type of environment that, unfortunately, you do.”

CQC, TV Bandeirantes, March 28, 2011

 

“If a homosexual couple comes to live next to me it will devalue my home! If they walk around holding hands and kissing, that devalues it.”

– Playboy Magazine, June 7, 2011

 

Interviewer: Are you proud of the story of Hitler’s life?

“No, pride, I don’t have, right?”

Interviewer: Do you like him?

“No. What you have to understand is the following: war is war. He was a great strategist.”

– CQC, TV Bandeirantes, March 26, 2012

 

Interviewer: Have you ever hit a woman before?

“Yes. I was a boy in Eldorado, a girl was getting in my face…”

Interviewer: Put her against the wall, a few taps? Pah!

“No, well, no… [laughs] I’m married. My wife isn’t going to like this response.”

– CQC, TV Bandeirantes, March 26, 2012

 

“[Homosexuals] will not find peace. And I have [congressional] immunity to say that I’m homophobic, yes, and very proud of it if it is to defend children in schools.”

– TWTV, June 5, 2013

Brazilian congressman and presidential canditate for the next election, Jair Bolsonaro (L), takes pictures with militaries during an military event in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 3, 2018. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP) (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro takes pictures with soldiers during a military event in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 3, 2018.

Photo: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

“I would not employ [a woman] with the same salary [of a man]. But there are many women who are competent.”

– SuperPop, RedeTV!, February 15, 2016

 

“Beyond Brazil above all, since we are a Christian country, God above everyone! It is not this story, this little story of secular state. It is a Christian state, and if a minority is against it, then move! Let’s make a Brazil for the majorities. Minorities have to bow to the majorities! The Law must exist to defend the majorities. Minorities must fit in or simply disappear!”

– Event in Campina Grande, Paraíba, February 8, 2017

 

“Violence is combated with violence.”

– The Noite with Danilo Gentili, SBT, March 20, 2017

 

“I went with my three sons. Oh the other one went too, there were four. I have a fifth also. I had four men and on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and a woman came out.”

Speech at the Hebraica Club, Rio de Janeiro, April 3, 2017

 

“If I [become president], there won’t be any money for NGOs. These worthless [people] will have to work. If I get there, as far as I’m concerned, every citizen will have a firearm in their home. You will not have a centimeter demarcated for indigenous reserves or quilombolas [settlements of the descendants of escaped and freed slaves that have protected status.]”

Speech at the Hebraica Club, Rio de Janeiro, April 3, 2017

 

“Has anyone ever seen a Japanese begging for charity? Because it’s a race that has shame. It’s not like this race that’s down there, or like a minority ruminating here on the side.”

– Speech at the Hebraica Club, Rio de Janeiro, April 3, 2017

 

“The big problem in Brazil is that the government is at the jugular of businessmen. […] The worker will have to decide: less rights and employment or all the rights and unemployment.”

Event in Deerfield Beach, FL , October 8, 2017

 

“I’ll give carte blanche for the police to kill.”

– Event in Deerfield Beach, FL, October 8, 2017

 

“Since I was single at the time, I used the money from my [congressional] housing stipend to get laid.”

– TV Folha, January 11, 2018

 

“This group, if they want to stay here, will have to put itself under the law of all of us. Leave or go to jail. These red marginals will be banished from our homeland.”

Live video address to a rally in São Paulo, October 21, 2018

 

“You will not have any more NGOs to quench your leftist hunger. It will be a cleansing never before seen in the history of Brazil.”

– Live video address to a rally in São Paulo, October 21, 2018

 

“You will see a proud Armed Forces which will be collaborating with the future of Brazil. You, petralhada [a derogatory term for Workers’ Party supporters] will see a civilian and military police with a judicial rearguard to enforce the law on your backs.”

Live video address to a rally in São Paulo, October 21, 2018

The post Jair Bolsonaro Is Elected President of Brazil. Read His Extremist, Far-Right Positions in His Own Words. appeared first on The Intercept.