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.

70 comments

  1. An :

    Ron :
    OT Have you seen what is going on in Cyprus. In the past Cyprus was used as a Holding structure for some of the Hungarian companies (MOL for one was using Cyprus). I am not sure how these Companies are effected by this.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21814325
    However, if they still have money there, than they will be shareholders of banks in Cyprus. I wonder if VO meant that with his 50% nationalization.

    This is scary. They are just taking 10% of the deposits? Wow. Ok, technically they are changing 10% of the deposit into shares in the banks… but still, in essence it is a 10% tax on savings. It is scary because it may give Orban ideas how to raise money when he needs some.

    Mmmmm. An, thanks for this — projecting the line of possible behaviours forward. Maybe it’s time to shift funds away from K&H, across the border…

    View Comment
  2. it’s terrible that the progressive students are leaving… understandably, sure, but they’re the only hope for Hungary’s future. good luck to those who do weather the madness and struggle for equality for their fellow citizens, the world needs more people like you

    View Comment
  3. Seriously, what’s new in any of this? Hungarians – of which you are one – have been xenophobic for centuries. You have a useless language that no-one else cares to speak. Your society lacks charisma (compare yourself with an Italian, French or Brazilian). You are globally insignificant. Your economy is a sweat shop, low wage production paradise. The majority of your citizenry still believe that being a defeated colony of the Hapsburgs means that Trianon was unfair (that’s the biggest joke).

    So really, does anyone really care? (Cue sound of dramatic violins, images of 1848, 1919, 1956).

    View Comment
  4. @shambles:

    Yes, in the 20th century only the Jewish scientists etc were leaving – to become Nobel Prize winners in some other country

    In the 21st century every able Hungarian is leaving – a country of pig raisers remains, plus a few Fidesz oligarchs …

    View Comment
  5. Steve :
    Seriously, what’s new in any of this? Hungarians – of which you are one – have been xenophobic for centuries. You have a useless language that no-one else cares to speak. Your society lacks charisma (compare yourself with an Italian, French or Brazilian). You are globally insignificant. Your economy is a sweat shop, low wage production paradise. The majority of your citizenry still believe that being a defeated colony of the Hapsburgs means that Trianon was unfair (that’s the biggest joke).
    So really, does anyone really care? (Cue sound of dramatic violins, images of 1848, 1919, 1956).

    Your have some attitude, don’t you? Attitudes like this only fuel the xenophobic right-wing lunatics.

    View Comment
  6. The “good minister” lied. First Balog claimed that he awarded the prize to Ferenc Szaniszló on the recommendation of the committee made up of right-wing members of the media. He didn’t even know who he was.

    Today Heti Válasz reported that the committee in fact didn’t recommend Szaniszló but Balog overruled them. The paper also seems to know that it was János Halász, the new undersecretary in charge of culture, who suggested Szaniszló to Balog. Another nominee was a journalist of the Vatican Radio who didn’t receive the unanimous vote that was necessary. Halász and Balog also overruled their recommendation and gave the prize to her as well.

    View Comment

Comments are closed.