One of the first items I read this morning was a letter to Viktor Orbán published in Népszava and written by Clemens Prinz who in the printed version is identified as "Austrian, folklorist, translator." Then thanks to the blessings of the Internet I found out that he was born in 1973 and finished his university studies at the University of Vienna. In the last fifteen years he has been living in Hungary where he teaches folklore at the Technical University of Budapest.
While searching for details on Mr. Prinz I found an article that appeared in Népszabadság on November 28, 2009, that bears the title "Ki mossa le a gyalázatot?" (Who will clean off the shame?), a reference to Sándor Petőfi's poem that is associated with March 15, 1848. The story is about the Roma Holocaust Memorial at the Nehru Pier in Ferencváros. Someone smeared feces on it, which remained there for weeks. I remembered the story but didn't remember that it was Clemens Prinz who reported it and asked the authorities to clean it off. Promises he got but no more than that. So Prinz organized a session with his Hungarian and non-Hungarian friends: with buckets of water and sponges they cleaned the memorial.
Well, the the same man now decided to write a letter to Viktor Orbán. I liked the letter so much that I decided to translate it in its entirety for those of you who can't handle Hungarian.
Dear Mr. Orbán:
I decided to write you a letter as a father to a father. I was thinking, I was taking notes on topics I would like to cover. However, sitting down at my desk I came to the conclusion: I wouldn't really want to say anything to you after all. Well intentioned words make no impression on you. You only laugh at them. You are convinced that you're always right due to some divine revelation that authorized you to do anything and everything under the sun. God, if he exists, certainly didn't authorize you to liquidate the Republic or commit 100,000 idiotic actions, some of which will also be included in the new constitution. Idiotic, yes. It seems to me that you got rid of all people with a modicum of intelligence and surrounded yourself with sycophants and boot lickers as is becoming a weak statesman without ideas. I'm a real idegenszívű*, an Austrian who ended up in Hungary fifteen years ago for good, learned the language, taught at a university, established a family, had a child, and shares the fate of Hungarians.
I remember the student demonstration against the Bokros austerity package in 1995 when we came to Budapest from Debrecen to demonstrate. Everybody trusted Fidesz then. Even three years later when they won the elections I was hopeful and kept telling myself "Fidesz will create a wonderful little country from Hungary." Indeed, that's exactly what Fidesz did: they created a country for themselves. Shortly after the elections the general mood was glummer than I had ever experienced before. And things only got worse.
You know, Mr. Orbán, you didn't lose the elections because Fidesz didn't do anything and instead manufactured purple clouds of dreams but because everybody had enough of the fear and dread you created. I would like to remind you that I, the idegenszívű, quarrelled with friends with whom I don't talk to this day. You're responsible for that and my ire is forever because of this. The next government also did a lot of stupid things but at least one didn't have to be afraid. There was no fear or hate as there is now. Those governments didn't fire people because they were independent thinkers.
I would like to know one thing from you. How will you explain to your children all these lies, all this arrogance, all this disdain, and the assumed infallibility once their eyes open? I can easily explain to my children why we have a pink Toyota (nobody wanted to buy it, that's why it was cheap), or that we have only 52m2 of living space (we couldn't afford more), why I don't wear suits (because outward appearance is not what is important), why my father doesn't have a mine (because he learned the trade of carpentry and I wasn't a politician), and why I wrote this letter (because I refuse to be afraid).
But you, Mr. Orbán, how are you going to explain to your children that you behaved like an arbitrary operetta king, brought stupid laws, lied, ruined people just because they were unwilling to submit to your will? What will you say if they ask "Dad, why did you behave like a Hottentot dictator?" Or you will just slap them around and send them away?
Austrian, folklorist, translator
*The adjective idegenszívű is very difficult to translate.It is a Fidesz creation and describes someone with a "foreign heart." Someone who cannot identify with true Hungarian feelings and aspirations. This person can be a Hungarian by birth and on paper but he/she isn't quite part of the nation. And since Orbán often described his followers as the only ones who represent the nation, everybody who is not a Fidesz voter and admirer is by definition an "idegenszívű."