Zsófia Mihancsik is currently editor-in-chief of Galamus. Although she finished law school, she spent her adult years as a journalist, working for Magyar Rádió between 1977 and 1993. Since then she has been a free-lancer. She published several books of her own and since the late 1980s has translated about twenty books from French to Hungarian. She is the recipient of the Pulitzer Memorial, the Tolerance, the Katalin Bossák, and the Freedom of the Press prizes. The writing below, in Hungarian, appeared in Galamus on January 10, 2010.
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I'm writing an outraged article today. Not because I like it but because I am ashamed for those authors of the more moderate daily of the right-wing media empire who accuse philosophers of fraud, embezzlement, and theft. In brief, that public money has been fraudulently acquired. Among the philosophers mentioned is Ágnes Heller, an internationally respected philosopher who taught at universities all over the world and who is the recipient of several Hungarian and international prizes. To make this writing more personal, they attacked that same Ágnes Heller from whom I learned most among our contemporaries about ethics and systematic thinking. Whose works ever since I was a university student have been among my basic readings. In my opinion she is exceptional not just because of her talent, her knowledge, her career, her work, and her behavior but because of her incomparable personality. All this makes her tower above the slough in which people like Gyula Budai [Orbán's political inquisitor] and Szabolcs Szerető [one of the editors of Magyar Nemzet], people who shouldn't even be allowed to utter her name, live and into which they want to drag her.
Even if Ágnes Heller had received 500 million forints from the Hungarian state on whatever grounds, even if simply for enabling her at the age of eighty-one to buy herself a castle found only in fairy tales, even if she never wrote another sentence in her life, even then we should applaud this decision and we could be proud that we Hungarians and our elected representatives realize that certain exceptional accomplishments are priceless. Because Ágnes Heller, in addition to being first and foremost herself, is one of the outstanding representatives of the intellectual accomplishment of Hungarians at home and abroad. The same way János Kornai is. Or Péter Nádas is. Who, by the way, were attacked in the same boorish and unacceptable manner by professional Fidesz slanderers disguised as philosophers, historians, and journalists.
Executors of party orders talk about sovereign people. People without intellectual power talk about real talent. Amoral people about people of integrity. People without accomplishments about people of exceptional attainments. They think that they can drag these people down in the dirt right next to themselves because they were told that they could and should do so. All this because no institution, no person should remain free from that disgusting slime that was spewn on everything they want to dominate.
I'm sorry for the brutal wording, but one is incapable of finding the appropriate words.
Up to now we have tolerated the destruction of institutions that are guarantees of our individual freedom. We have tolerated the destruction of principles that might be abstract for the ordinary citizen but that are necessary for our security. We have tolerated the fact that the powers-to-be frighten large groups of people–people with savings, civil servants, journalists–into submissiveness. We have tolerated the fact that well known but easily forgettable characters don't recognize us, their fellow countrymen, Hungarian citizens as people of consequence or partners in negotiation. If they yield, they yield only as a result of foreign pressure. For the love of God, at least we shouldn't stand by passively when they want to defile the most illustrious among Hungarian citizens. The defense of their honor is the business of our own self-respect.
Hungary is not Belorus where journalists get killed. Here they just try to silence them. And Hungary is not Iran where philosophers are put in jail. Here they are only methodically discredited, their credence, their veracity, their moral integrity taken away. And we who tolerate that, what are we? Where do we live? What are we good for, if not for defending what is important to us over and above our daily bread? What is the answer, dear Hungarians?