A few years ago, a good friend of mine, who besides being a writer worked in advertising, was hired as a PR consultant for a PT candidate running for mayor in a small town in southeastern Brazil.

After a month “immersed” in the campaign, shocked by the level of corruption that she had the opportunity to witness, she told me she intended to write a book on the subject.

I encouraged her. The PT party was still very popular, and although we expected the party to fall short in that particular election season (for mayors and city councils), this did not happen. Despite the fact that there were already rampant rumors of bribery and bad administration, the party came out quite successful.

My friend waited, deciding to delay her project, which, as a matter of fact, never saw the light of day. She finally changed her mind and also her professional focus, choosing to be involved in the construction business instead.

I wonder today how many responsible, good people have decided to keep quiet about what they saw and knew during all those years. I don’t blame them. For our generation, speaking out has been traditionally a very dangerous business, since we grew up during the military dictatorships, the infamous “Years of Lead” (meaning “bullet material,” not leadership). Although, of course, Brazil at this moment enjoys a mature democracy and complete freedom of the press, or so we prefer to believe. On the other hand, every moderately educated person knows “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” sorry, folks.

Still, what can we do. People are free to choose.

Today, as I write, Brazil is undergoing what will probably be Dilma Roussef’s last hurrah. After comings and goings and a lot of drama, resembling a typical soap opera tinted with reality show colors, the Senate will vote in favor of the impeachment process, and the president will step down for the next 180 days, probably forever. We will be free of her alleged good intentions and despicable results, which ended up almost destroying the country. Not to mention the constant imposition of leftist views, according to which PT supporters are the owners of the truth and of “human goodness.” Imagine that.

Owners of incompetence and dishonesty, I would say. And the Law will prove this in the end. We are lucky, actually, to get rid of them while there still is some country to recover.

In contradiction to normal logic, since ours is no more than a meaningless third-world country, I would risk affirming that Brazil today should be taken as a road map for the “leftist problem.” Alright, I assume you don’t know what the “leftist problem” is, or even that there was one. But if one stops to rationally analyze what is happening in the current U.S. election season, and also in the last months of the Obama administration, it will be quite clear what I’m talking about.

This week, a shocking article published in the New York Times candidly told the public how the American people have been manipulated into believing facts that are just plain lies. Let’s face it, we have all, in one way or another, suspected this was going on, but at that level? If it wasn’t so obvious, I would refuse to believe such a thing could happen in America, of all places, but there it was, in detail, including the construction of a “narrative” that would ultimately convince us of the fairness of the Iran Deal. Journalists were treated scornfully, like high school idiots. What about the common folk? Those who (rather gullibly, I should say) trust their institutions, the highly cherished ideas of their forefathers?

As a (deluded) foreigner, I confess to be baffled. And that’s not all. Facebook has been accused this week of manipulating the news, favoring liberals over conservatives — following the “boss’s” preferences, which would include his “dislike” of Donald Trump. Okay. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but not to the “manipulation of opinion,” right? And this cannot, should not, exclude either Facebook staff or any Facebook users, or am I totally losing it?

Freedom of the press and love of the truth are not the only American values that have been challenged lately. I don’t mean to be “square” or prejudiced, but what started as a “colorful” civil gay rights movement is now degenerating into a generalized state of abuse and depravity that would put Pasolini’s Sodom to shame. I apologize for my sharp terms, but I’m so sick of it! The worst part is that it’s only a symptom of where our society is heading, unfortunately.

Children are encouraged to doubt their own gender in a way previously unheard of. Morals and the traditional family are now despised as retrograde, in a world where right and wrong are no longer “absolutes” but highly debatable. “Education” has been turned into a battlefield, where dedicated ideologues play to win. And their ultimate prize is the “truth of the future,” which is less and less disputed because a plurality of thought has been carefully put aside on college campuses that have, as a norm, shunned “conservative” voices.

I loathe conspiracy theories, but it seems pretty clear that a strong “leftist agenda” is being imposed upon us, leaving little room for reaction. Thoughts and truths are being ground up in many different places, not just the political arena. I read in an article this week, for example, that Freud said “it is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct.” To my dismay, this was quoted by an author I really appreciate, but as he targeted Donald Trump’s praise of his own “gut instincts,” he failed to inform us readers that actually Freud was not talking about politics, but about sex or sexual impulses. To be exact, about a “death drive” [Todestrieb] vs. an impulse to life [Lebenstrieb], described as Eros.

Freud never said anything about denying the “gut instinct” in humans as an “ability to make decisions.” Come on. And even if he did, he would by now have been declared wrong, as science today recognizes the importance of intuition in our decision-making process.

And so it goes.

We all know that in ancient times History was usually rewritten by those who came out victorious in life and death wars. But nothing can be compared to today’s manipulation of thought itself, a situation where, beyond a much-cherished “democracy of information,” certain ideas are deemed more “moral” than others, and, in consequence, people who utter them are considered “better” than others. Who are we at war with after all? Moreover, will we be better off if one of these “sides” is eliminated from our daily lives?

I suppose not.

More recently, the wildfires that are (still) burning in Canada were attributed to “global warming,” blatantly blaming the “dirty” oil industry in the region. I read on a Canadian friend’s Facebook wall that people who have lost everything and were forced out of their homes are being accused of attracting disgrace on themselves. Come on. This sounds exactly like that despicable practice of “blaming the cancer patient for his disease,” which was widely popular at the height of the “New Age” movement. Utterly unfair, to say the least.

These “narrative blowers” are so careless they despise History and shamelessly manipulate data. Speaking of natural disasters, take, for instance, the dust storm in 1934, specifically the one on May 11, the very day when I’m writing this chronicle, 82 years ago. According to historical records, “a massive storm sent millions of tons of topsoil flying from across the parched Great Plains region of the United States as far east as New York, Boston and Atlanta.” Was the severe drought that caused it also due to human activity?

Alright. As a writer, I’m entitled to “create narratives” and to juggle its elements at will. That’s basically what I do, and I definitely try to manipulate people’s beliefs by putting together different facts that occurred at different times in a given piece of writing, in order to create drama, or at least an organized story we can more easily deal with. But I make a point of describing my writing methods, with special emphasis on the fact that a certain degree of exaggeration is a vital part of my trade. I also insist that everything I write is no more than my own opinion, the way I see and analyze things, which, by the way, I do not impose on anybody but myself.

The people in charge of our “daily narratives,” on the other hand, may be not so innocent and well-intentioned. Beware. They are coming for you.

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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