During a January 3, 2019 episode of The Rubin Report, libertarian talk show host and self-styled free speech advocate Dave Rubin offered praise for Brazil’s newly elected fascist leader Jair Bolsonaro. During a Q&A segment near the end of the episode, Rubin read off the following question: “What is your opinion on Brazilian prime minister Bolsonaro regarding deforestation of the rainforest?”
After taking power Bolsonaro issued an executive order “transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry — which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby,” per an article from The Guardian. And during his campaign he vowed to withdraw Brazil from the 2015 Paris climate accord, calling global warming little more than “greenhouse fables.”
Rubin admitted that he doesn’t “know enough about” Bolsonaro to answer his viewer’s question, but went on to praise him for his staunch anti-Communist beliefs. Rubin said Bolsonaro “really hates Marxism, and he’s really pushing Brazil to become more of a world leader, and that he is actually for capitalism, and he’s trying to get some of the SJW stuff out of the schools.” He added that “that all sounds good to me.”
Rubin was referencing a January 2, 2019 tweet from Bolsonaro in which he vowed to “tackle the Marxist garbage in our schools head on”:
What Bolsonaro is calling for is a purge of left-wing political views — however he defines them — from the country’s public schools. This is a call to crack down on intellectual freedom, something which Rubin purports to oppose.
In a November 2015 video titled “Dave Rubin on Free Speech, Safe Spaces, and Trigger Warnings,” Rubin blasted so-called “regressives” for “stifl[ing] debate,” as well as a culture of censorship that has “been taking root at college campuses across the country for quite some time now.” He added:
Colleges and universities are the very places you’re supposed to go to engage in the battle of ideas, to learn new ways of thinking, and to challenge your preconceived notions. Yet somehow colleges are the very place that have become hostile to all of these concepts. Now shouting down speakers you don’t agree with, demanding professors be fired for contrarian views, and denying the media free and unfettered access have found their home in these safe spaces.
Time and again Rubin has invited likeminded guests — from pseudo-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers to conservative wunderkind Ben Shapiro — to parrot these exact same talking points. Yet a call to purge schools of Marxist thought by the leader of the fifth largest nation didn’t ruffle Rubin’s feathers at all.
Even more disturbing is Bolsonaro’s misogynistic, homophobic, and authoritarian rhetoric. In 2014, then-Congressman Bolsonaro told a female colleague she was not worth raping. “No, Maria do Rosário, don’t leave! Stay here, Maria do Rosário. Stay!” he said at the time. “I would not rape you. You don’t merit that.”
In a 2011 interview Bolsonaro remarked that he would rather his son die in a car accident than be gay. He also complained that his property would “lose value” if a gay couple were to live in his building, and that everyone is afraid of saying so “out of fear of being pinned as homophobe.” (This is the leader that Rubin, an openly gay man, is defending.)
Bolsonaro defended the U.S.-backed military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, calling that period “very good” and saying it prevented Brazil from “falling under the sway of the Soviet Union.” In a 1999 interview he said that elections could never change Brazil, and that “it will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000.”
In that same interview, when asked if he would shut down Congress if he were elected president, Bolsonaro replied:
There is no doubt. I would perform a coup on the same day. [Congress] doesn’t work. And I am sure that at least 90 percent of the population would celebrate and applaud because it doesn’t work. The Congress today is useless … lets do the coup already. Let’s go straight to the dictatorship.
Regardless of whether Rubin knows or cares about these details, it’s clear that he’s very flexible when it comes to standing up for human rights.