Orwell in Argentina
On September 1, a crowd gathered outside the Buenos Aires home of Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (also known as CFK). They were there to signal support after a prosecutor asked for 12 years in prison for Kirchner following a corruption scandal that took place while she was president between 2007 and 2015. As CFK left her car and approached the building where she lives, a Brazilian man named Fernando André Sabag Montiel pointed a gun to her head. It misfired: Nobody was injured in the incident and crisis was averted. What came next, though, was deeply troubling.
Just as Argentines were recovering from the shocking news of the assassination attempt, the government decided to use it to go on the offensive against its political opponents. At midnight—despite the lack of any indication that the attack was politically motivated—President Alberto Fernández declared a national holiday for “reflection,” contended that “hate” and “political violence” must be fought, and called for the masses to mobilize “in defense of democracy.” In a message he forced all TV and radio stations in the country to broadcast, he accused the opposition, the media, and even the judiciary of being hateful. The implication was clear: Those who opposed him were at least partially responsible for the attempted assassination.
The day after the incident, Twitter users began reporting that public employees were being forced to sign declarations supporting the vice president and opposing “political violence.” Supporters of the Fernández administration began harassing online influencers who do not generally comment on politics, attempting to bully them into joining the government narrative. Finally, and even more worryingly, officials began calling for the passage of a “law against hate” that would criminalize, among other things, “offensive” speech on social media.
But who is to define what hate is? And why the sudden focus on political violence allegedly perpetrated by Fernández and Kirchner’s political opponents? The military today is not a player in national politics in Argentina, as it has been at times in the past; there are no politicians calling to overthrow the current government through force; and opposition-backed violent actions simply are not a part of daily life here. If anything, it is within kirchnerista circles that violent means have occasionally been praised. Only a few years ago, for example, a notorious Kirchner supporter suggested that Taser guns should be tried on the family of former president and now opposition leader Mauricio Macri before being used by the police. Some former government officials have even p
Article from Reason.com