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November 30, 2019

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The forest fires in the Amazon are devastating to the whole planet. But, no, President Bolsonaro, the World Wildlife Fund didn't set them to get donations from celebrities.
–photo credit Victor Moriyama for the NY Times
Brazil’s leader falsely blames Leonardo DiCaprio for Amazon fires –from NY Times
When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. –Mark 6:22-28
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has taken a page out of Trump’s playbook: smoke and mirrors. Instead of focusing on the environmental and cultural atrocity taking place in his own country, Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist, has decided to pivot and blame a Hollywood actor and the organizations the actor supports, which are trying to help end the Amazon fires.

Like his American counterpart who decided to tweet a drawing of his head superimposed on the body of fictional boxer Rocky Balboa this week, Bolsonaro is engaging in the political act of the tail wagging the dog. (If you’ve never seen the 90’s film “Wag the Dog,” now might be a good time to see how the populism we once considered humorous is now our daily reality).

Just like Herod’s act of pleasing his daughter and her mother, populist leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro are bringing the heads of those who oppose their policies to their far-right base.
Don’t be fooled by the tail-wagging. Stunts like these are designed to avert our eyes from what’s really happening: Fires. Impeachment Proceedings. Wealth grabs. Racist and colonialist systems masked as political discourse. 

Hold one another accountable in refocusing our hearts and minds on what the real story is here: unaccountable leadership shifting blame to others. May we strive to be leaders who don’t shift blame.
Holy, Holy, Holy One,
Give us strength to tell truths, 
Give us boldness to be accountable
Give us hope to birth a new creation. 
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