Originally I wanted to write about the Jobbik-affiliated police trade union and its leader, who delivered a rather significant speech at last Friday's demonstration. But then I happened on a story about a sociological study on the extent of prejudice against the handicapped, Roma, and gays. The results are devastating. The only good piece of news is that prejudice against the handicapped is less today than it was ten years ago. But the rest puts Hungarians squarely in the camp of the most prejudiced people in Europe.
The study wanted to find out the extent of prejudice, sliced and diced according to various sociological groups: inhabitants of Budapest versus the rest of the country; rich and poor; young and old; Gypsies and non-Gypsies; taxpayers versus people on assistance; Fidesz supporters versus MSZP supporters; foreigners living in Hungary versus natives. The researchers had two distinct groups to work with: (1) a sample of 1,000 nationwide and (2) a smaller sample of 500 from the most backward and disadvantaged regions of Hungary. The main goal of the research was to find out about local conflicts and strategies, if they exist, for the resolution of these conflicts.
Only 70 persons out of 1,000 (7%) thought that there are no serious conflicts within Hungarian society while about 300 people considered Hungarian society conflict-ridden. It became clear from the study that those living in very small hamlets, those having very little education, and those whose income is meager see the greatest conflicts in the country.
We all know about the deep-seated prejudice against the Gypsies. Several studies had been done on that subject already and therefore this sociological team's findings are not surprising. Sixty-seven percent would reject the idea of any kind of family relationship with people of Gypsy origin. Fifty percent couldn't imagine a Roma being a close friend. Forty percent wouldn't want a Gypsy to move into his neighborhood. Twenty-five percent don't even want to work with a Gypsy. Twenty percent don't want a Gypsy to move to Hungary and 13 percent wouldn't even want him to visit Hungary as a tourist.
Looking at these numbers, I'm actually surprised that they are not higher. I have seen studies that showed non-Roma rejection of the Gypsies to be well over 80%. But what was unexpected and shocking is that Hungarians seem to hate gays even more. Sixty-seven percent of those who answered couldn't even imagine having a close relative who is gay. Sixty-five percent couldn't imagine having a gay friend. Forty-six percent wouldn't want to live next door to a gay person while 37 percent wouldn't even want to work with a gay person. Not terribly surprisingly, those living in villages and those with little education have the fiercest anti-gay attitudes.
Interestingly the anti-Roma prejudice is stronger in larger cities, among the better educated with a higher income. That is, people at the top of the social scale are even more prejudiced than those in the villages where Gypsies are very numerous in certain parts of the country. According to the head of the sociological team that conducted the research, the anti-Roma prejudice among people of higher status and education has actually grown in recent years.
The team also wanted to know about fears harbored against certain groups. Most people (21%) are very afraid of the Gypsies, 11% of the Hungarian Guard, and 10% of the internal revenue service.
Another question that was posed was whether the person has ever felt discriminated against. Apparently 81% never experienced discrimination as opposed to sixteen percent who on occasion felt discriminated against. The reason was mostly age-related discrimination. I might add here that the high number of people who claimed that they had been never felt discriminated against might not reflect the facts. There was plenty of discrimination against women in American graduate schools in the 1950s and 1960s, but when in the second half of the 1960s the universities asked their female students how they felt about their own situation, most of them claimed that they had never been discriminated against. It took some "education" for them to see the inherent discrimination within the system.
So, that's the situation. It is rather grim. Everywhere you look there is prejudice, and the political situation is also grave. Der Spiegel published a rather frightening article about the rapidly spreading neo-Nazi ideologies in Hungary. The title is "Ungarns hässliche Freunde," referring to the relationship between Hungarian and German far-right groups. Those of you who handle Hungarian can read the article in Galamus, but the Google translator between German and English is acceptable.