Official prizes for far-right neo-Nazis and members of the lunatic fringe in Hungary

I have been complaining for some time about the state’s meddling in artistic and intellectual life by awarding hundreds of decorations and prizes to “worthy” individuals. This practice began some time in the nineteenth century, albeit on a very limited basis. There was the Order of St. Stephen, established by Queen Maria Theresa, which ceased to exist after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In 1930 Regent Miklós Horthy established the so-called Corvin Chain. From the list of recipients it is clear that ideological commitment was an important consideration in the selection process. Viktor Orbán already during his first stint in office worked to revive the spirit of the Horthy era and reinstated the Corvin Chain. After the lost elections, the socialist-liberal government scrapped it. I wrote about these old and new decorations in November 2011.

In any case, if it depended on me there would be no state prizes given out to writers, scientists, actors, and artists because it is becoming evident that these twice-a-year (March 15 and August 20) awards are for the most part payback for services rendered to the party and government. This is bad enough, but what happened this year is beyond the pale. The Orbán government, in addition to rewarding its political favorites, decided to decorate far-right extremists and charlatans.

Viva stupidityBelonging to the extremist category is Ferenc Szaniszló, a reporter for Echo TV, whose program Világ-Panoráma was considered unacceptable even by the Media Council; the station was fined for broadcasting Szaniszló’s antisemitic racism. And now he has received the highest honor a reporter or journalist can get, the Táncsics Prize.

I watched a few of his programs and came to the conclusion that he is not only a political extremist, he most likely doesn’t have all his marbles. Because what can one conclude when Szaniszló stands in front of the camera saying that there was a Bulgarian fortune-teller whose prophecies have come true 80% of the time and who has foretold that in 2015 aliens will arrive from outer space who will seek out the Hungarians because they are the only ones who can solve the problem of communication between themselves and earthlings. The reason: Hungarian is an “ancient Ur-language.”

During the same tirade he goes on and on about the terrible liberals (he calls them “liberos” and the liberos are the Jews)  who wanted to destroy the country by insisting on a professional army whose members are mercenaries of globalization. Hungarian soldiers are sent far away from Hungary instead of being kept at home where they could fight “terrorism.” Here the word “terrorism” is a euphemism for “Gypsy crime.” So, Szaniszló, the democrat, would use the Hungarian army against the country’s citizens. Behind all this terrorism are the Jews who defend the Roma in order to destroy the Hungarians. In any case, the country is divided into three distinct groups: the Hungarians, the Gypsies, and the Jews.

Elsewhere Szaniszló talks about the garbage (szemét in Hungarian) that covers the entire country and plays fast and loose with the similarity in pronunciation between “szemét” and “szemita.” He is “anti-szemét” because it is the desire of these “szemetek” that everything should be theirs. But “we will clear them out of the country.”

It would take pages and pages to list all the nonsense this man can come up with. So, here is a video that will give those who speak Hungarian a glimpse into Szaniszló’s world.

Several earlier recipients of the Táncsics Prize renounced it in protest. Among them, Péter Németh (Népszava), György Bolgár (Klubrádió, ATV), Katalin Rangos (Klubrádió), Mátyás Vince, György Nej, Zoltán Horváth, to mention only a few.

But Szaniszló is not the only one whose contribution to Hungarian culture is questionable. Another awardee is Kornél Bakay, who claims to be an archaeologist. It is true that he was a student of Gyula László, a researcher into the early history of Hungarians, but eventually Bakay ended up in a far-right non-accredited “university” in Miskolc. According to him, runic writing is a variation of Sumerian; the Hungarians are the direct descendants of the Scythians and the Huns. He claims, very much like the “scientists” in Hitler’s Germany, that Jesus was not a Jew but a Parthian prince and that Jews in general were slave traders. He denies the very existence of ancient Israel. He even “proved” that the loss of Hungary to the Turks in Mohács (1526) was the work of Jews. Bakay’s knowledge of Hungarian history is so poor that even his facts are wrong. He goes so far as to suggest that ancient Greek culture is somehow connected to the Hungarians. In 2003 he organized an exhibition: “Soldiers of Horthy and Arrow Cross Men of Szálasi” that eventually was closed due to its obvious adulation of the Hungarian far right in the 1930s.

Varga Tibor, dr. szekelymagyar.huport.hu

The founder of the Szentkorona Szabadegyetem,  Tibor Varga, a legal historian / szekelymagyar.huport.hu

Another strange choice is Ajándok Eöry.  Apparently “Ajándok”  is an old Hungarian name that means “Gift of God,” the male form of Ajándék. It is a very rare name, and I have the suspicion that Eöry didn’t come into the world with it. If you want to be amused, you can listen to his lecture on YouTube about the fanciful theory that the Chinese learned acupuncture from the Hungarians. Proof? There is a slang expression in Hungarian “ennek lőttek,” meaning “that’s finished,” but its  literal  translation is “it was shot at.” Why? Because ancient Hungarians shot arrows into the dead lying in their graves in order to get “the evil spirit” out of them!

The lecture was delivered at the Szentkorona Szabadegyetem (Free University of the Holy Crown) whose founder is Tibor Varga, who calls himself a legal historian. It is worth taking a look at the website of Szentkorona országa (Country of the Holy Crown). According to the website, Hungary was at one time a country in the middle of which God lived!! All of the lectures that are listed are “way out,” and the speakers for the most part are charlatans who belong to the lunatic fringe. Even the qualifications of better ones, like László Bárdi of the University of Pécs, are questionable. He became a Chinese expert and began publishing on Chinese-Hungarian cultural relations via the Huns only in the 1990s. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and eventually a supervisor of teachers.

The guitar player János Petrás of Karpatia, a true neo-Nazi band, also received a decoration. Karpatia composed the official anthem of the Hungarian Guard.

What does Zoltán Balog, the minister who handed out these decorations and prizes, have to say to all this? He claims that he got the list from different committees and assumed that everything was all right. He didn’t check on any of the recipients’ credentials. He contends that he had never heard of Ferenc Szaniszló. Hard to believe. Instead, one must look upon this list of recipients as a gesture from the Orbán government toward Jobbik and the extreme right.

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Minusio
Guest
Minusio
March 15, 2013 4:53 pm

Is “No comment” also a comment?

For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

Guest
March 15, 2013 5:01 pm

Well at least they also gave a decoration to the rock musician Horváth Károly aka Charlie, one of my wife’s favourites. We just saw it on tv, the others we didn’t recognise.

PS and totally OT:

I’ve been a subscriber to MAD for many years – and now the young ones are reading it too (helps their English knowledge …).

petofi
Guest
petofi
March 15, 2013 5:07 pm

Alert! The Russians have discovered a container from the recent comet they ‘shot down’. In it was a message:

“Viktor!
Hurry up and subdue the planet or we’ll put you back in the planetary zoo, on dinosaur clean-up detail!”

Bowen
Guest
Bowen
March 15, 2013 5:09 pm

Minusio :
Is “No comment” also a comment?
For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

I feel the same. Like I’m running out of possible reactions. I’ve tried outrage, I’ve tried cynicism. In the end there doesn’t seem to be anything left except numb acceptance.

Like the news today that Deputy PM Semjen, the plagiarising Christian, decides to trot through a Transylvanian town on horseback, evoking memories of when Horthy rode through Cluj or Oradea in the 1940s.

It’s all like some weird joke.

Paul
Guest
Paul
March 15, 2013 5:11 pm

Minusio :
Is “No comment” also a comment?
For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

Me too. I’ve more or less reached the stage of ‘ah well, so be it’. What can be said that hasn’t already been said?

Paul
Guest
Paul
March 15, 2013 5:15 pm

wolfi :
Well at least they also gave a decoration to the rock musician Horváth Károly aka Charlie, one of my wife’s favourites. We just saw it on tv, the others we didn’t recognise.
PS and totally OT:
I’ve been a subscriber to MAD for many years – and now the young ones are reading it too (helps their English knowledge …).

Haven’t seen Mad in years, but I remember one from (I think) the 70s. The cover was a picture of several men standing on a table, surrounded by women and children, desperately fighting them off – the caption was something like “husbands fighting off wives and children, armed only with wallets”. Can’t imagine why this stuck in my mind…

Paul
Guest
Paul
March 15, 2013 5:23 pm

Paul :

Minusio :
Is “No comment” also a comment?
For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

Me too. I’ve more or less reached the stage of ‘ah well, so be it’. What can be said that hasn’t already been said?

And, bearing in mind what chaos would ensue if Orbán lost an election or if the people rose up against him*, perhaps it’s better just to let him get on with it (in reality, what else can we do?).

Of course, the key question then is will he get any worse – will he be happy to have gained total power and leave things more or less as they are, or will his thirst for power and control mean that he will drive Hungary ever closer to the abyss?

I fear the answer is the latter.

*purely hypothetical, of course

Hauser
Guest
Hauser
March 15, 2013 5:27 pm

Simple: the communities in which these crazies are heroes are the most active and commited anti-MSZP/Bajnai/Gyurcsény etc. They are happy to do anything against perceived liberals for free. But, as a sign of generousity, they are fed with money, power, prizes to keep them happy and surely within the Fidesz/Jobbik orbit.

Like Putin gave prizes yesterday to some crazy Hell’s Angels leader for his services to the nation (I guess bullying people and being paid by the siloviki to do earrands – like the Fradi guards who are former mafia henchmen, I am pretty sure they will get some prizes in the next round for achievement in community services).

Balog, like other Fidesz officials, wholeheartedely supports this approach. Politics and keeping Orbán is power is sacrosanct and takes precendce over anything.

Fidesz is a religion and Balog is especially religious.

(But the deeper question is why people need religions? Especially like this one?).

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
March 15, 2013 5:30 pm

1.
Here is another, not-so-lunatic prize winner, Vilmos Lazar, one of the owners of the CBA food chain.

CBA and/or Lazar have contributed generously to Fidesz and the the antisemitic group Goy Motorists.

In return, when the Orban government levied huge taxes on food chains, most of them foreign-owned, CBA were given exemption (the law was tailored in such a way that only CBA escaped most of the taxes).

The French chains Match and Profi decided a few months ago to give up on Hungary, and they sold their stores to CBA. This made CBA the only food store in several neighborhoods, and this new local monopoly was able to raise its prices sharply.

2.
Oligarch Szeles was also given a prize. He is the owner of Echo television, where Szaniszlo and Bayer are regular contributors and he is the owner of the newspaper Magyar Hirlap as well.

Member
March 15, 2013 5:47 pm

I am not sure if is emphasized enough that these awards/prizes/medals are give out by the Hungarian Government, not by the Boy Scouts. Even if t reads like a joke, this is serious business, and a serious slice of reality about what the Fidesz Government values are.

Ron
Guest
Ron
March 15, 2013 5:57 pm

Besides a medal and a piece of paper is the any “tax-free” amount involved, and if so, a one-time deal or a life long deal?

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
March 15, 2013 6:10 pm
Kavé
Guest
Kavé
March 15, 2013 8:11 pm

I was talking with my son (20 years old, in University now) about the news today and I mentioned Szaniszló’s bizarre videos, which have enthralled me today on YouTube. His response was “Papa, he’s an entire “meme” if you are in Hungarian High School or college. Everybody laughs about him every day. It is like giving Glenn Beck the Pulitzer prize, only worse.”

Member
March 15, 2013 8:14 pm

Minusio :
For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

Don’t let the Fidesz fatigue set in! You are the champions of a sane Hungary!

Member
March 15, 2013 8:23 pm

Eva S. Balogh :
Minusio, ask your girlfriend to listen to some of Szaniszló’s videos. Take notes and then translate them for your either in German or in English. I know it is a pain but in the long run it is worth it.

Here is my kitchen sink translation of the space alien stuff. Make sure CC is on. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/my_videos_timedtext?video_id=Wc99Eug3LpQ

Member
March 15, 2013 8:34 pm

Eva S. Balogh :
Minusio, ask your girlfriend to listen to some of Szaniszló’s videos. Take notes and then translate them for your either in German or in English.

Here is my kitchen sink translation of the space alien stuff. Make sure CC is on. Enjoy!

Wondercat
Guest
Wondercat
March 16, 2013 12:06 am

Until I clicked on several of the links, I said to myself — Surely Prof Balogh is making this up!

Have the criteria used for this round of prize-giving also been incorporated by amendment into the constitution?

One imagines that those who are victims of domestic abuse long for someone outside, anyone outside, to take notice, to intervene — praying that a neighbour, a teacher, will ask — How did you get that black eye? Is everything all right at home?

Germany, France, Brussels — aren’t you watching, don’t you see, can’t you help?

Member
March 16, 2013 12:59 am

A Hungarian university teacher told me that he has been using Szaniszló’s video for many years already. Just showing it to the students, without any comments, and then waiting for the reactions. After roaring bursts of laughter, there are usually very nice discussions.
Which reminds me of why I haven’t still lost my hope. Despite this ongoing exodus of young, educated and intelligent people, the students seem to be the most active “champions of a sane Hungary”.

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grantbg
Guest
March 16, 2013 2:34 am
“A Hungarian university teacher told me that he has been using Szaniszló’s video for many years already. Just showing it to the students, without any comments, and then waiting for the reactions. After roaring bursts of laughter, there are usually very nice discussions. Which reminds me of why I haven’t still lost my hope. Despite this ongoing exodus of young, educated and intelligent people, the students seem to be the most active “champions of a sane Hungary”.” (Sorry, cannot, on my iphone, italicise the above indicating that it is pasted from an earlier comment); students are our main hope, not only for derailing Orban’s strategy of total domination, but also for brining Hungary out its tragic torpor. I watched one of the videos you embedded in the post about the students occupying the courtyard at the Fidesz HQ and I was mesmerised by the counter protesters – as a type they shocked me into realising how ignorant is the cohort represented by Fidesz, and there are clearly very many of these uneducated (I would like to add stupid, but maybe that’s unfair) people who are the victims of long national poverty. Education is the only hope for Hungary, and sadly… Read more »
Mouse
Guest
Mouse
March 16, 2013 2:45 am

Paul :

Minusio :
Is “No comment” also a comment?
For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

Me too. I’ve more or less reached the stage of ‘ah well, so be it’. What can be said that hasn’t already been said?

I reached this point some time ago, one of the reasons I can hardly bring myself to comment these days. I see a country with little hope, some smart young people wondering what next with really no hope of changing anything because there are a mass of groups which can still easily be manipulated and bought off with stories of Hungarian oppression and cheap fuel. Many are leaving already, if Orban gets four more years to eternity next year I suspect the few that are holding on hoping for change will go leaving those who can’t.

Minusio
Guest
Minusio
March 16, 2013 7:14 am

@ Mouse. “Many are leaving already.” – For your information, more than 500 000 have left already. This number is getting close to three times the number of the 1956 refugees.

Marton Dornbach
Guest
Marton Dornbach
March 16, 2013 3:01 am

Minusio claims he no longer knows how to react. Bowen: “I feel the same. Like I’m running out of possible reactions. I’ve tried outrage, I’ve tried cynicism. In the end there doesn’t seem to be anything left except numb acceptance.” And that, I think, is precisely the objective of Orban’s perverse strategy: to go on the offensive simultaneously on so many fronts, with deranged measures taken on each of those fronts, as to reduce adversaries to gasping for air incredulously. An editorial in the Badische Zeitung put it as follows:
“Orbáns tactics follow the scenario of Max Frisch’s play ‘Biedermann and the Arsonists’: don’t embellish anything. Provoke and allow time for the ones provoked to get used to the provocation. Present yourself as someone at ease, tell the truth. Don’t calm and appease critics but encourage them to appease themselves.” (And when someone expresses misgivings, they can always be dismissed with a generous mix of legalistic sophistries and crude ad hominem attacks and legalistic sophistries.)

JGrant
Guest
JGrant
March 16, 2013 3:30 am
@grantbg – Your comment saddens me, but I understand. If I was in your position I might do the same. As it is, I am too old to keep changing countries, so we are staying. There is also another reason: I actually agree with Sentrooppa-Santra in that the future is forming on the student demonstrations. Considering that Prof. Balogh is a history professor I believe, perhaps those who comment could also study both world and Hungarian history to find parallels and cheer up. I know it is particularly Hungarian to be down in the mouth, but from today’s comments I find that this disease seems to have infected our expat foreigners as well.The opposition is weak not only because it has very few quality brains amongst it, not only because most of them are tainted by their own past which does include corruption, indecision and deceit in varying degrees, but for a TOTAL LACK of ideological foundation. I hate to raise this amongst this commenting community, who judging by their ideas, opinions and values are all middle of the road liberals, but those lukewarm ideas, which had been tried, tested and found wanting many, many times in the last 20… Read more »
Bowen
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Bowen
March 16, 2013 3:59 am

@JGrant – I’m in a somewhat similar position as GrantBG. We’re starting now to work now on getting out of Hungary. It’s not easy. We’ve got a young baby, and we’ve invested so much in being in Budapest. But things are clearly getting worse, and we don’t want to bring up our child in such an environment.

I suppose there are differences between the situation now and previous pre-revolutionary circumstances. One is that educated, mobile Hungarians can (and do) simply leave. We know several people who have done, or are planning to do this – out of sadness. They want to stay here, but they can’t do their work or live their lives here. The other is that there isn’t really a fight with foreign powers. The fight is an internal one. Families against families, even. Orban has polarised this country with great skill.

Guest
March 16, 2013 4:15 am

muttdamon :

Minusio :
For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

Don’t let the Fidesz fatigue set in! You are the champions of a sane Hungary!

The comment by Minusio and its subsequent endorsement by Bowen and Paul can be understood as a signal to Eva to stop shooting. I hope it was not the intention and I hope that it has made no dent in Eva’s fighting spirit. Eva, please go on!.

Those who are disappointed that their comments have not had any visible effect have overestimated the influence they are likely to have as commenters on a blog. The most one can hope as a commenter is to add a few atoms to public opinion.

Needless to say that I agree with Muttdamons remark: “Don’t let the Fidesz fatigue set in!”.

carlo
Guest
carlo
March 16, 2013 4:50 am

I think like most of the other comments , I am speechless. this is the most WTF text I have seen for weeks. Meaning there are no shortage of them, but this is sounding very much like Iran in central Europe. Though Iran we can understand a bit because of the revolution of the Aitolas. But Hungary? It has a different tradition all together, why sink in this pool of shit?

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Karl Pfeifer
March 16, 2013 5:54 am

I am afraid, Hungary will go down. The opposition is split. The masses misled by nationalist state propaganda and by Orbán’s “anticapitalist” demagogry.
The Hungarian state is – if everything continues – going to fail. In Burgenland the eastern pannonian part of Austria the storm and snow was as bad as in Hungary. While in short time all the problems were solved in Burgenland not so in Hungary.
So I can understand those fleeing Hungary.

Bowen
Guest
Bowen
March 16, 2013 6:25 am

@Jean P: No, I would never call for Eva to stop shooting. That’s why i visit this site every day. But at the same time, as a family, we have to make an informed decision as to whether it’s right to remain here. Fortunately, Hungarian Spectrum is one of the most informative sources available.

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