Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate in next month’s Brazilian presidential elections, underwent a second surgery on Wednesday following a stabbing attack last week. With popular former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (commonly known as Lula) in jail and no longer running for a third term for president, Bolsonaro has emerged as a frontrunner in the elections—though it remains to be seen whether he can garner enough support to win a likely runoff.
It goes without saying that the stabbing attack against Bolsonaro was a needlessly violent and counter-productive expression of political disgust with a racist, homophobic, misogynistic candidate. At the same time, however, it’s important to point out that Bolsonaro has championed violent hate speech and deliberately divisive, extreme policies as a leading candidate for Brazil’s highest elected office. When the powerful use their platforms to spread hate, it begets hate in society at large.
Bolsonaro’s most controversial statements include, but are far from limited to: physically assaulting a fellow congresswoman and telling her, on multiple occasions, that “I would never rape you because you do not deserve it;” saying the only error of Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985) was “to torture and not to kill;” disparaging same-sex couples, including saying “If I see two men kissing on the street, I will hit them;” and mocking former President Dilma Rousseff for being tortured during the dictatorship.