About books, weapons, trees and resistance

SDG 4 • Published July 19, 2022 – 09:46 • Updated July 19, 2022 – 10:48

Bücherverbrennung is a German expression meaning book burning. The term is often related to the Nazi propaganda efforts that began in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler came to power, and continued almost until the end of World War II. In several cities in Germany, book burnings took place in public squares, were organized in advance and were attended by local authorities, police and firefighters. The idea was to destroy, with pomp and solemnity, the work of authors disliked by the regime. Names like Thomas Mann, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Sigmund Freud and many others.

Did you read this one? MapBiomas: deforestation in Brazil grew 20% in 2021

In Brazil today, there is still no news of books being burned in public squares, at least not officially. On the other hand, we have been quick to destroy culture, this hotbed of government critics. Between 2015 and 2020 alone, according to a report by BBC Brasil, 764 public libraries were closed, according to data from the National System of Public Libraries (SNBP), of the Special Secretariat for Culture of the Ministry of Tourism. In 2015, official data indicated the existence of 6,057 libraries in the country. The number dropped to 5,293 in 2020, according to the most recent information available on the SNBP website. This news leads us to two more or less obvious conclusions. As we are talking about public libraries, the Brazilians most affected are the same as always: the poor population, without resources to buy a book in a bookstore. The second certainty is that these numbers are underestimated, given the government’s lack of interest in anything related to books, culture or anything similar.

Meanwhile, in the last three years, coincidentally the same period that Captain Jair Bolsonaro is in power, the amount of licenses to use weapons in Brazil has grown by 325%. The country has already reached an incredible 1.85 million collectors, sport shooters and hunters, known in industry parlance as CACs. Exactly the group that has the easiest time to buy weapons. The law in force allows sport shooters to buy up to 60 weapons, 30 of which are restricted use, such as rifles. In addition to the trifle of 180 thousand bullets. According to data from the Army, Brazil currently has 2,061 shooting clubs, of which 1,006 were opened in the last three years. An average of almost one new shooting club a day. You don’t need to be an expert to conclude that with more revolvers, rifles and the like circulating around the country, violence and deaths from firearms increase, as Carolina Ricardo, director of Instituto Sou da Paz, explained in Jornal Nacional:

“Women have been proportionally more killed indoors by firearms. Which indicates that such a weapon at home does not guarantee the protection of the family. In addition, there is a supply impact of crime. It is a fact that an important part of the weapons found in the hands of criminals came from the legal market”.

Automatic weapons, money and other equipment seized at the home of a friend of military police officer Ronnie Lessa, arrested for the murder of councilor Marielle Franco. Photo Carl de Souza/AFP

To complete the scenario of barbarism in which we find ourselves, this Monday (July 18) MapBiomas released the most recent Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil (RAD). Whoever guesses the result wins a seedling of Pau-Brasil. Exactly. In 2021, Brazil lost another 16,557 km² (1,655,782 hectares) of native vegetation cover in all its biomes. An increase of 20% over the previous year. The Amazon was, once again, the region most affected by environmental criminals. Last year alone, more than 977,000 hectares of native vegetation were destroyed. The Cerrado followed closely behind, with 500,000 hectares suppressed.

What country is this, would ask Renato Russo, which, in a few years, closes 764 public libraries and opens 1,006 shooting clubs? What are we doing to prevent this from happening? During World War II, at the same time when the Nazis were burning books in the public square, a group of Paris librarians fought with the weapons they had to keep the American Library of Paris (BAP) open. They risked their lives to send books clandestinely to Jews who lived cloistered in their homes and to French soldiers at the front. They went down in history as an example of resistance. The saga of the librarians and Odile Souchet, a young Parisian who loves books and works at her dream job, is told in Janet Skeslien Charles’ bestselling book “The Library of Paris”. Maybe this book can serve as an inspiration? But we are not at war, some will say. Will it be?