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The Fascist Politics of the Pandemic

There is nothing like a pandemic to bring out the fascist ideology in countries under far-right rule. In the world's three largest democracies, national leaders are using the COVID-19 crisis to wage war on immigrants and minorities, while testing the limits of common sense.

NEW YORK/NEW HAVEN – In stark contrast to the effective leadership shown by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Singapore’s autocratic technocracy, the world’s far-right nationalists have met the COVID-19 crisis with something not seen in decades: the fascist politics of disease. And no one typifies this brand of politics better than Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.

True, a few other world leaders – including Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and the dictators of Belarus, Turkmenistan, and North Korea – still deny that the coronavirus poses any threat. But, among coronavirus deniers, Bolsonaro is in a league of his own.

Among other things, Bolsonaro recently fired Brazil’s minister of health, Luiz Mandetta, merely for advocating mild social-distancing measures. Bolsonaro seems to be emulating his US counterpart, Donald Trump, who recently ousted a senior health official for resisting his efforts to champion an unproven treatment for COVID-19.

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