I am about to fly to Brazil to speak at a conference. It is the first time I will be there since their recent election, which brings up interesting questions.

When I go to academic conferences around the world, I rarely encounter anyone who supports the current U.S. administration. I don’t find this surprising.

After all, academics who travel to other countries to meet with colleagues tend not to be isolationists. It is our nature to reach out to people from other cultures and find common ground.

In case you missed it, Brazil recently elected a president who is even more isolationist than ours, difficult as that is to imagine. I don’t expect to find many colleagues from Brazil who support his policies.

So I feel that I will find common cause with my Brazilian colleagues. Yet I wonder how best to approach the situation.

It seems to me that it would be rude to criticize the government of a country in which I am an invited guest. Yet as a citizen of the U.S., I believe I am free to get up in public and speak freely about my own government.

In particular, I am free to criticize the leaders of my own country when they promote hateful and isolationist ideologies. That is not merely my right — in a democracy it is my obligation.

The people listening in my host country might find themselves drawing certain parallels. And that is certainly their right. It is, perhaps, their obligation.

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