Anti-fascist demonstration in Hungary: Speech of Antal Rogán (Fidesz)

Here is the last, although in actuality the first, speech of the December 2 demonstration. It was delivered by Antal Rogán, the leader of the enormous Fidesz parliamentary delegation. At one point it looked as if he had been pushed into the background by Viktor Orbán, but since 2010 he has been getting more and more important assignments. Rogán’s name is attached to some of the most heinous pieces of legislation Fidesz pushed through parliament. If anyone thought before 2010 that Rogán might be a moderate counterpoint to the present leadership, he has to be disappointed.

I would like to call attention to a couple of things that struck me while translating Rogán’s speech which I didn’t notice while listening to it live. First, not once in the entire speech does he use the words “Jew” or “Jewish.” He mentions Auschwitz and Birkenau and concentration camps but not the Jews who perished there. Neither Shoah (vészkorszak in Hungarian) nor Holocaust are mentioned in the speech.

A careful reading also reveals that, following the party line, Rogán’s avoidance of these words is most likely intentional. He talks about genocides in general and places Butovo right next to Birkenau. And surely not just because of the alliteration. The Butovo firing range is the place where more than 20,000 political prisoners were shot during the Great Terror in the Soviet Union between 1938 and 1953. I don’t know whether Rogán knows that Béla Kun, the communist leader of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, also lies in one of those mass graves he was talking about.

Thus, although it is very carefully hidden in the text, the message is that Fidesz doesn’t consider the Holocaust unique but just one of the several calamities of the twentieth century.

In addition to the Rogán speech I also translated a short announcement by Gábor Kuncze, former chairman of SZDSZ. A day before the demonstration he called attention to Fidesz’s responsibility for the escalation of extremism, racism, and anti-Semitism.

I would also like to add that on the local level Fidesz and Jobbik cooperate closely and constantly. A good example is the city of Szeged where the mayor is a socialist but out of the twenty-seven council members there are only thirteen socialists. The rest are Fidesz-KDNP (13) and Jobbik (1). Just a couple of days ago the thirteen Fidesz members with the help of the Jobbik representative managed to overrule the mayor and the thirteen socialists and illegally removed the director of the famed open-air theater who was a holdover from the pre-2010 period.

A note: For anyone who would like to know more about János Pilinszky, the poet mentioned by Rogán, there is a good summary of his life and poetry in English.

So, let’s start with Kuncze’s warning.

* * *

The Jobbik representative’s speech in parliament shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. In the competition for votes of racists and anti-Semites they have to use more and more extremist and radical language. After all, Fidesz elevated the Horthy cult to official status and moved ahead with its rituals and coded language.

Fidesz is neither a racist nor an anti-Semitic party. It is only unscrupulous because in the last ten years it did everything in its power to gather all forces right of center into one big camp. Fidesz speaks to the Jobbik voters in coded language and thereby legitimizes the racist and anti-Semitic sentiments and increases the camp of those who openly accept them. This is the unforgivable sin of Fidesz. Because:

“hearts belonging to foreign lands” is anti-Semitic talk [zsidózás]

talking about “governance by bankers” is anti-Semitic talk

the attempt to rebury Nyirő in the presence of state celebrities is anti-Semitic talk

elevating Nyirő, Tormay and Wass into the national curriculum is anti-Semitic talk

the state supported Horthy cult is anti-Semitic talk

Because the real meaning of the words is based on their historical usage.

In certain situations silence is speech. The silence of the prime minister is a coded message, a peacock dance. We send Rogán but don’t take it seriously.

Nevertheless the Szabadelvű Polgári Egyesület (Liberal Civic Association / SZPE) asks all its supporters and all well-meaning Hungarian citizens to take part in the Sunday demonstration and tell the world that they don’t tolerate either open or coded anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi speech.

Gábor Kuncze, chairman of SZPE

Budapest, December 1, 2012

* * *

I stand here in front of you because the time has arrived when bland communiqués and press conferences are not enough. As János Pilinszky told us with benumbing sharpness when talking about the horrors of Nazism: “We hang your history written on a tablet around your neck.”

Rogán Antal szonokol

Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is not the memories of personal or family tragedies that led me here today. I came because on such an occasion I cannot remain silent. I came here because moral indignation is not enough when in Hungary in the twenty-first century somebody with the greatest of ease calls to the attention of Hungarians the instruments of the most vicious political monstrosity. I came because we don’t forget. We cannot forget that in the last century millions of people, among them hundreds of thousands of innocent children, were tortured and killed because of their religion or ethnicity. We don’t forget that these genocides always started with lists. We don’t forget the numerus clausus and the laws that differentiated between man and man. We cannot forget where all that led. Again quoting Pilinszky: we cannot forget the silence of the stones in the place of the execution, we cannot forget  the concentration camps, we cannot forget the sins of Nazism.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I came because we cannot accept this. We cannot accept that in spite of what happened in the last one hundred years in Central Europe and in Hungary there are still people who didn’t learn anything. We can’t accept that somebody disregards the death and sufferings of innocent millions. We can’t accept that any citizen of Hungary just because he belongs to another denomination or comes from another nationality or prefers another set of values is being branded, insulted, his freedom is taken away, or he is frightened with lists.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Finally, I came because I personally cannot tolerate what happened. I cannot tolerate that the souls of my growing children, Dániel and Áron, will be poisoned with such thoughts in the future. I cannot tolerate that they hear from anyone that freedom, self-respect and dignity do not belong to all.

I want them to learn that day after day everyone must look at themselves in the mirror, in the stern mirror of truth. We must vigilantly watch when somewhere as a result of primitive ignorance or despicable intention hatred flares up. I want my children to learn that the road is short between the hatred blazing in the hearts to the houses burned to the ground, to the world of annihilating camps and the mass graves. I want them to know that life belongs to everyone who was born into this world from Birkenau to Butovo. I want them to know what the walk for life means. So they would understand that everyone who steps forward  in the walk of life day after day does his duty: to learn, to work, to establish a family, to take care of others, with however small a deed he does everything to make the world better and does everything in his power not to harm anyone.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

That’s why I took my children in the past years to The Walk of Life. And when the time comes I will take them to the valley of death, the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. I will tell them that when I was there the first time the walls, the stones, and the trees spoke to me in Hungarian. In the voice of the hundreds of thousands Hungarian they asked: why?

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Last autumn when I was returning from the valley of death I brought a handful of earth from the railway station of Birkenau. I picked it up right next to the rails, where the Hungarians arrived. When we crossed the Hungarian border I felt that with it a soul returned home. That soul is here with us and it knows that its life was not in vain. The country today is not silent. Millions of thoughtful Hungarians are with us in their thoughts; they know and understand that we came together here because today we hang a tablet around the neck of evil. On it one can read: we don’t allow it, we don’t allow it anymore. Not for Gyöngyösi, not for anyone. Never.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Hungary defends its citizens.

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Kirsten
Guest

I cannot say to what extent the omission of the word “Jew” in his speech is intentional policy of Fidesz. To me this sounds too programmatic or controlled if they did so (I mean given their bungling in so many areas) but certainly other contributors here have a better judgment of Fidesz, so I leave that open. But the speech as such of Antal Rogan appears to me to be very acceptable to the occasion. That he kept it so personal may mean that “Fidesz” did not wish to take an official stand, and yet it makes it possible for the public to ask him in his quite important function in Fidesz to abide by his promise (‘Hungary defends its citizens’). But the citizens should ask him and remind Fidesz – frequently. As I wrote already, for me this joint demonstration means that Fidesz cannot ignore the outcry in Hungary and in the world, and therefore the opposition should continue in pointing to the cooperation between Jobbik and Fidesz.

Paul
Guest
Thank you once again, Éva, and especially for the very revealing analysis of what Rogán didn’t say. But when you say “Thus, although it is very carefully hidden in the text, the message is that Fidesz doesn’t consider the Holocaust unique but just one of the several calamities of the twentieth century” I think we have to be careful how we react to this ‘logic’. The far-right have a very clever technique of stating facts which can’t really be argued against, but then drawing false conclusions from them – which become hidden behind the smokescreen of the irrefutableness of the facts. And here we have a very nice case of exactly that. The Holocaust was certainly NOT unique, and it is to our great shame, as human beings, that the 20th century is littered with similar and far worse mass killings. So Fidesz are right, and there is little point in us trying to challenge that fact. However, where Fidesz are wrong is in concluding that, as the Holocaust wasn’t unique, it is of less importance to Hungary. The many millions who died at Stalin’s hands, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, or the Rwandan genocide (to pick just three) may… Read more »
Paul
Guest

“I cannot say to what extent the omission of the word “Jew” in his speech is intentional policy of Fidesz.”

I think it’s pretty clear that this is exactly what it was. What are the chances of him making such a speech otherwise and just happening to leave out all those politically sensitive words?

Fidesz may have turned out to be unexpected bunglers in office, but they are past masters at this sort of thing. They had 8 long years of bitterness and hatred to hone this to an art.

Kingfisher
Guest

He may not have used the word Jew in this speech but I think what he said is actually entirely laudable and I’m not convinced by your interpretation at all. Interestingly, I have met Rogan and while he is a repulsively ambitious so-and-so in public life, in real life he comes across extremely well. This speech feels sincere to me, I have to say.

Remember the words of the nuclear physicist and mathematician, I Rabi (himself Jewish) who used to say “never turn a man’s generosity as a sword against him. Any virtue a man has, even if he has many vices, should not be used as a tool against him.” I welcome Rogan talking up and agree with the sentiments of Bajnai at this event.

Kingfisher
Guest

Incidentally, I don’t think Orbán is an anti-semite. I think he finds it politically expedient to hint that he might be, which perhaps deserves its own circle in hell as a sin, but I think his only real belief in personal power and the personal trappings this brings him.

Kirsten
Guest

Kingfisher :
Incidentally, I don’t think Orbán is an anti-semite. I think he finds it politically expedient to hint that he might be, which perhaps deserves its own circle in hell as a sin, but I think his only real belief in personal power and the personal trappings this brings him.

I think this is what Eva also suggested some time ago (that OV is no anti-semite). But it does not really matter whether he is one or not if he makes use of these attitudes. The outcome counts, and if that is an atmosphere of hatred and confrontation, directed at two groups of people in particular, as a PM who creates the space for zsidozas, he is as responsible as if he himself were an anti-semite.

Ms KKA
Guest

This speech is a shining example of propaganda..the entire text of the speech lies not in what was said, but in what was not said. “Hungary defends its citizens!” But, Fidesz decides just who does and who does not fall into that category. Bravo…Herr Goebbels must be jumping for joy in his grave!

Kirsten
Guest

I am not sure whether doubts about the sincerity are helpful. What is needed, I think, is to nail Fidesz down on their promises and claims. In that I agree with Kingfisher, positive actions have to be appreciated – and more of it demanded!

An
Guest

Well, Rogan did the right thing…. sort of. I think one’s actions cannot be judged as good or bad by the actions alone; the motive of the actions are just as important. So the question boils down to whether Rogan was led by his sincere concern about Nazi tendencies in Hungary or it was a well-planned Fidesz PR response. I tend to believe it was the latter.

Member

I think everything was part of a sinister plan, including Gyöngyösi’s speech. Many in Hungary suspect that Gyöngyösi is some kind of FIDESZ sleeper agent in the JOBBIK. I can imagine that the befehl came straight from the fuhrer to give the speech on the day of the signature of the new election law. Rogan’s speech was probably written way before that.

I know, I sound the most belligerent here, but seriously, the FIDESZ whipped up the antisemitism in Hungary. How can I assume that this speech is honest?

Orban is already thinking of the 2014 elections. He didn’t want to piss off the cardholder nazis, he will need their votes in the parliament after 2014. That’s why the lukewarm reaction.

Member

Kingfisher :
Incidentally, I don’t think Orbán is an anti-semite. I think he finds it politically expedient to hint that he might be, which perhaps deserves its own circle in hell as a sin, but I think his only real belief in personal power and the personal trappings this brings him.

Yes, this was discussed on the blog before, but not being an anti-semite does not absolve Orban from the responsibility he has as a Prime Minister for standing up against those who are.

Member

An :
Well, Rogan did the right thing…. sort of. I think one’s actions cannot be judged as good or bad by the actions alone; the motive of the actions are just as important. So the question boils down to whether Rogan was led by his sincere concern about Nazi tendencies in Hungary or it was a well-planned Fidesz PR response. I tend to believe it was the latter.

Honestly I think it was a combination of both. Fidesz had to respond as the pressure from “outside” became way to big. I also believe that many Fidesz MPs are not anti-semites, but their personal morals are very low and go with whatever it takes on keeping their well paying jobs. I also believe that Rogan was relieved that he was able to say what he really thinks deep inside. I did like his speech, but as many of you, I am puzzled about how much this speech truly represents Fidesz.

Jano
Guest

Paul: Terrific post, I’ve been looking for the right word to say this for ages, you were faster than me and I’m glad you were!

Mutt: This is too far-fetched for me. Of course I can imagine a lot of things too, but this falls into conspiracy theories that are either true or not. I suggest we work with the solid facts rather but keep an open mind just in case.

Jano
Guest

Some1:”I am puzzled about how much this speech truly represents Fidesz.”

Me too, but I think at this point at least temporarily it’s of secondary importance. This is the first time in modern Hungarian history when at least seemingly there is a national unity between the not outright extremist parties. The message itself it sends on the outside is a lot more important then the possibly not exactly sincere motives behind the scenes. We should be happy about this. For example, I hated Mesterházy’s speech for several reasons, but I’m glad he was there too.

Real PR
Guest

The small antisemitic attacks are perhaps not the problem.
The task is to unite the people against all immoral acts in the society.
The bad administration, the oppressive police, the high food prices, the impossible real estate market, poor medical service….
These approach can unite the people, and all will work happily in the reformed Hungary.

Petofi1
Guest
Real PR : The small antisemitic attacks are perhaps not the problem. The task is to unite the people against all immoral acts in the society. The bad administration, the oppressive police, the high food prices, the impossible real estate market, poor medical service…. These approach can unite the people, and all will work happily in the reformed Hungary. You forget the raw truth of the matter: the culture is rooted in cheating, lying, sleight-of-hand, con artistry, greed, etc. Everyone is waiting to move up the food chain any way they can. Proof of the pudding: why hasn’t any government taken the necessary steps to stop government corruption? Because they in turn will do the same. Anti-corruption laws and procedures are full of loopholes. Cheating & lying are at the heart of the reality. Look at the doings of the Catholic Church. Why haven’t they spoken out on any one of ten different situations: the Csatary case; the Garda activities; the systematic deconstruction of Democracy; the theft of pension moneys? Oh, I hear someone say the Church is not political. Really? So why do we have calls from the pulpit to pray for the ever-hardworking Viktor Orban? This country’s sly… Read more »
Petofi1
Guest

Mutt :
I think everything was part of a sinister plan, including Gyöngyösi’s speech. Many in Hungary suspect that Gyöngyösi is some kind of FIDESZ sleeper agent in the JOBBIK. I can imagine that the befehl came straight from the fuhrer to give the speech on the day of the signature of the new election law. Rogan’s speech was probably written way before that.
I know, I sound the most belligerent here, but seriously, the FIDESZ whipped up the antisemitism in Hungary. How can I assume that this speech is honest?
Orban is already thinking of the 2014 elections. He didn’t want to piss off the cardholder nazis, he will need their votes in the parliament after 2014. That’s why the lukewarm reaction.

When considering Hungary, you can rarely err in thinking the worst.
In a nation where its citizens suffer from a massive inferiority complex, and major neuroses, the anti-Roma, anti-jewish sentiment is a much needed tonic for sick minds.
The Church and the politicians well know this.

Lutra lutra
Guest

Speaking of the Church, how come nobody from KDNP stepped up to speak on Sunday? It doesn’t suggest we can rely on them when it comes to providing moral education in schools.

Petofi1
Guest

Lutra lutra :
Speaking of the Church, how come nobody from KDNP stepped up to speak on Sunday? It doesn’t suggest we can rely on them when it comes to providing moral education in schools.

Precisely.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

This is a good speech by Rogán indeed.

Sure, the reference to Stalinism is certain to be well received by the right. But there’s such ample reference to the Shoah and to the history of antisemitism in Hungary I do not find the absence of the word ‘jew’ conspicuous at all.

In fact, it can be explained by the whole perspective of the speech: the fundamental answer is the Rule of law for everyone, regardless of religious denomination (‘felekezet’), ethnicity (‘nemzetiség’) or values (‘értékek’). And clearly, the basis for his defence of the Rule of law is a shared perception of human decency.

As much as I liked the pragmatism of Bajnai’s speech, this one is fairly inclusive and stands very high on principle. Unlike some, I think that the Shoah is unique — but that the answers are universal.

So, as far as I’m concerned Mr. Rogán can talk the talk. Now can Fidesz walk the walk? I’m not so sure, as they may more heavily than ever, for the next general election, rely on “tactical voting” from people that would probably vote for Jobbik in the first of a two-round system.

Member

I’m still in a bad mood so I’d say while the speech is A+ for style and content it’s actually an assault. The consistent first person singular intentionally declares that there will be no change in the FIDESZ policies. This wasn’t meant to suggest any detente.

LwiiH
Guest

I do not want to suggest that this issue isn’t important but it is interesting that it happened just when another plagiarism case was heating up…

Member

LwiiH :
I do not want to suggest that this issue isn’t important but it is interesting that it happened just when another plagiarism case was heating up…

THe plagiarism case is closed according to University of Pazmany. I am not sure it is related but I agree with (I believe) Minusio who pointed out that the whole thing happened in the Parliament when they approved the new election law. It took all the attention away from the anti-democratic laws that will be enshrined by Fidesz. Even us stopped talking about it. Que Sera

Paul
Guest

Some 1 – if that really was the idea then I think it may have backfired. Anti-Semite statements in parliament are internationally a lot more newsworthy than changes in the election law – and a lot easier for editors to make a story out of.

And, I would argue, a government covertly supporting anti-Semitism is actually more serious than one introducing anti-democratic laws. One can be resisted and ultimately be undone, the other can cause problems for generations to come.

spectator
Guest

Lutra lutra :
Speaking of the Church, how come nobody from KDNP stepped up to speak on Sunday? It doesn’t suggest we can rely on them when it comes to providing moral education in schools.

While all of the above is true, please, remember, that our Great Leader of All Times kindly involved them too, while thanking Rogán for “representing the government and it’s parties” – or something similar – as on the sideline of answering to Mr.Steiner.

Bullsh*t on demand, in every color..!

Clean Up PR
Guest

There is one person really alive on this forum: He is our glorious Petofi1.

He can see the whole picture, and lives on the Hungarian street.

Is the HUNGARIAN REALITY THAT HOPELESS?

Where would you start the cleanup?

Clean Up PR
Guest

Petofi1:

When considering Hungary, you can rarely err in thinking the worst.

In a nation where its citizens suffer from a massive inferiority complex, and major neuroses, the anti-Roma, anti-jewish sentiment is a much needed tonic for sick minds.

The Church and the politicians well know this.

—————————————————
ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jano
Guest

Clean up PR: Haha, yeah, obviously nobody else here has ever set foot on that infamous “Hungarian Street” before.. Btw I hope Petőfi doesn’t actually live on the street:)

Member
Paul : Some 1 – if that really was the idea then I think it may have backfired. Anti-Semite statements in parliament are internationally a lot more newsworthy than changes in the election law – and a lot easier for editors to make a story out of. And, I would argue, a government covertly supporting anti-Semitism is actually more serious than one introducing anti-democratic laws. One can be resisted and ultimately be undone, the other can cause problems for generations to come. I think you have it very backward to be honest. Fidesz’ only intention at this moment is to stay in power (you too also said this so many times, so I am not sure why are you back paddling..). THe point is that there is NO news from us or from he media about the election law that was voted in with no problem whatsoever. If I would not be familiar with your previous posts I would think you believe that the election law is not a big issue. It is a big issue, because that is the law that will help to remain Fidesz in power. Both issues are not welcomed in International circles but certainly anti… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

I would not be so sure about whether the anti-semitic speech was truly arranged (the vote in the UN, or the military operations in November were certainly not arranged to fit into Fidesz schedule for the vote about the election law), but whether or not, it came very handy for Fidesz. At least to mention the election law when the international press was looking at Hungary would have been useful – because the change in the election law and these current manifestations of antisemitism are related. Both reflect the move of OV to a Horthy type political system.

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