My visit to the Center for European Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville

You may have noticed that I wasn’t around in the last couple of days. Alice Freifeld, director of  the University of Florida’s Center for European Studies, invited me to deliver the keynote address at a conference on “The Right to Know: Privacy vs. Transparency in the U.S. and the EU” yesterday.

bread and breakfast

The hallway of Magnolia Plantation where some of us were put up while staying at the University of Florida in Gainesville

Professors of law, political science, history, and journalism collaborated in a crowded but thoroughly enjoyable program. We started at 8:30 in the morning and didn’t finish until about 5 p.m., with a short break for lunch. I learned a lot from the panelists.

My hour-long talk was scheduled for 11:45, and I was pleased to see that a rather sizable crowd had gathered to hear what I had to say. It turned out that some of them are regular readers of Hungarian Spectrum.

The University of Florida has an international student body and faculty. I was picked up at the airport by a recent Ph.D. originally from Romania, Magda Giurcanu. Edit Nagy, a lecturer in the Hungarian language program, is also a recent Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She drove me to Alice Freifeld’s house for dinner. One of her students is a young American who took me to the airport this morning. She has been studying Hungarian for the last three years. She plans to write her Ph.D. dissertation on the status of sports stars during the Rákosi and Kádár regimes. A good topic. After all, these people had all sorts of  benefits (material and otherwise) as opposed to ordinary Hungarians.

Alice Freifeld’s major academic interest is Hungarian history. I must say she speaks Hungarian very well. In fact, she spent a semester at the Eötvös Lóránd University (ELTE) in 1972. Her book on Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848-1914 (2000) received the Barbara Jelavich and the Hungarian Studies Association and Hungarian Chair of Indiana University book awards. But Professor Freifeld was not the only one who knew Hungarian among the panelists. In fact, we were somewhat overrepresented. Jason Wittenberg, associate professor of political science at Berkeley, also knows Hungarian. One of the panelists was Gábor Halmai, professor of law at ELTE’s Law School who at the moment is a visiting research scholar at Princeton University. Gábor and I knew about each other but had never met in person.

Our hosts were really fantastic. We were put up in beautifully refurbished Victorian houses that now serve as bed and breakfasts. Breakfast was fine, but even better was the unadvertised “cocktail hour” wine and hors d’oeuvres. Yesterday three of us who stayed at the Magnolia Plantation had a hilariously good time exchanging notes about each other’s experiences in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Including the usual question to me about “and how did you escape?”

Now, I just have to catch up with news on Hungary.

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Member

I’m glad the crocodiles didn’t get you 🙂 This is what I like to hear. Intelligent people taking interest in Hungary. I’m happy you had a great time!

Member

Eva, What was the goal of the conference? What do they try to achieve? Will their “findings” be published? Is this a lobby organization? Were participants interested about the “Hungarian situation”? Was Hungary discussed separately? I am sorry, I know I have lot of questions, but the whole conference sounds very interesting.

Member

OT. Matolcsy started to destroy the MNB
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/06/uk-hungary-centralbank-deputy-idUKBRE9350A720130406
Reuters) – “A deputy governor of Hungary’s central bank has said she abstained from voting on the bank’s economic stimulus plan this week because she was only given 35 minutes to read the 40-page document before it was debated and put to a vote in the bank’s Monetary Council.”
She is the only one on the panel who was not selected by Orban. Unfortunately my feeling is that she just digged out her own grave, as the article later says “On Friday, when asked about the amount of time the panel had been given to study the stimulus measures, the central bank’s press office emailed Reuters to say: “The agenda of the meetings of the Monetary Council is not public, the proposals on its agenda are classified.”
At any case the stimulus passed and the Central Bank will spend 10% of its reserve to provide 2% interest loans to various companies. I do not dare to ask who will be the owners of those companies will be.

Ilona Hooper
Guest

Dear Eva!

I am rather curious about the last sentence of your article. What did you mean by “and how did you escape?” If you please, clarify it for me.

Thank you: Ilana.

Paul
Guest
Some1 : OT. Matolcsy started to destroy the MNB http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/06/uk-hungary-centralbank-deputy-idUKBRE9350A720130406 Reuters) – “A deputy governor of Hungary’s central bank has said she abstained from voting on the bank’s economic stimulus plan this week because she was only given 35 minutes to read the 40-page document before it was debated and put to a vote in the bank’s Monetary Council.” She is the only one on the panel who was not selected by Orban. Unfortunately my feeling is that she just digged out her own grave, as the article later says “On Friday, when asked about the amount of time the panel had been given to study the stimulus measures, the central bank’s press office emailed Reuters to say: “The agenda of the meetings of the Monetary Council is not public, the proposals on its agenda are classified.” At any case the stimulus passed and the Central Bank will spend 10% of its reserve to provide 2% interest loans to various companies. I do not dare to ask who will be the owners of those companies will be. Ah ha – this is what my father-in-law was boasting about the other day. He was so proud that Hungary was “doing the… Read more »
Member

Ilona Hooper :
Dear Eva!
I am rather curious about the last sentence of your article. What did you mean by “and how did you escape?” If you please, clarify it for me.
Thank you: Ilana.

Ilona. You have misspelled your own name …

Paul
Guest

Oh, and when I pointed out that Matolcsy was a bad choice as governor because he had no background in, or knowledge of, economics, her father retorted that of course he did, he’d been Minister for the Economy…

If it wasn’t so bloody depressing, it would be funny.

Member

@ Paul: It is funny….

Ilona Hooper
Guest

Dear Mutt! It is not an error. On occasion, i intentionally spell the name as such.

dot dot dot
Guest

OK. Plenty of smart people.
While the Hungary is in ruins.
The walls of Europe are breached again by the barbarians.
The future is bleak.
The dissidents of Hungary and Europe are called to the barricades again to defend us.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Éva, those defending the Orbán regime do not understand irony. They are as the Germans say “bierernst” deadly serious.
It is nice of you to share with us your experience as a lecturer in Florida. My wife says “Politik ist nicht abendfüllend” “Politics is not taking up the whole evening”. So it is good that you took your trip to Florida.

The dissidents of Hungary and Europe are called to the barricades again to defend us.

No it is the Hungarian people to decide. And if the majority wants Orbán and his ilk to govern another four years, then Orbán will be the prime-minister until 2018. In that case Orbán could be made the king of Hungary. After all he had the crown moved to parliament when he was first time prime minister. The only problem with being a king is the fact that until now all the kings of Hungary were catholics. Orbán could convert and become a catholic. He could be nominated without converting the successor of Miklós Horthy.
Probably Hungarians deserve a better future.

Member

@Mutt,

How can you call a gator a crocodile?

Gators are much more peaceful. The university owns a lake. On one side of the lake, students swim and enjoy nature. On the other side, gators try to catch a suntan.
They would never swim over to the human side.

Guest
London via Gyor (still!) Calling! Yes Eva – we were a bit suspicious that you had deserted us! Welcome back – your ‘Victoriana picture’ has made me homesick! Maybe you might share with us some of your talk – the relevant Hungary bit? Karl I have seen the crown in Parliament – on a cold chaotic visit recently – and St Stephen’s crown looked very impressive. Guarded by goose-stepping guards – which I thought was a bit unnecessary. There’s enough electronics (and glass!) on it to protect it. I think we should put our ‘Mace’ on show like this – it’s kept in Parliament and represents the authority of the queen. But not on show like St Stephen’s crown. And yes – I think King Orban is in the making as you suggest – I believe he wants to occupy the Buda castle as his official residence. I was at the castle when Pal Schmitt resigned – with the very relaxed guards watching me do a faux ‘security routine’ using their unoccupied sentry boxes! (Their boxes are equipped with fan heaters!) And the sign saying that it was the official residence of the President, still referred to ‘The Republic of… Read more »
Member

tappanch :
@Mutt,
How can you call a gator a crocodile?
Gators are much more peaceful. The university owns a lake. On one side of the lake, students swim and enjoy nature. On the other side, gators try to catch a suntan.
They would never swim over to the human side.

Yes, but they ate a small dog on the golf course where my dil plays. lol

Member
@Karl, Although I agree that a nation is responsible for its own undoing, I do have a problem with forcing the will of majority on those who are members of the same society not by choice but by birth. What I am saying that when you immigrate to a country you should confirm to its morals and standards, but when you born into that country and your parents and so forth born there, you should not be forced into hardship. Under hardship I mean moral, ethical, as well as economical hardship. THese are all choices that those make who are totally misguided by Fidesz. How can a Jew feel safe and feel at home when, as Paul described, people blame Orban and his incompetent bunch’ doing on the Jews. (Simor who tries to bankrupt the country…..) It was also the Third Reich will to abandon and prosecute its own citizens. If it would happen again today, should the whole word stand by as it was the majority’s will? Also, Hungary is part of the EU, and until it does not decide to quit, I believe the EU is responsible and later in history should be hold responsible to what is… Read more »
end end end
Guest

Accuse the Orbans day in and day out, for terrorizing Hungary with this football hooligan regime.
Accuse his secret supporters, who ruined the free Hungary, to gain access to the finances.
Accuse him for driving a dagger into the EU democracies.
Do support all demonstration against this regime.
Do support the towering hero, Dr. Ferenc Donath, and his Nagy Imre Tarsasag and the upright citizens around Gyurcsany, Bajnai, Mila, E2014 etc.
We need all decent men and women on the barricades.

Member

OT: Each year there are thousand of Hungarians participate in a walk to remember of the thousands of Jews perished in the holocaust. The name of the walk is March of the Living, and it is on April 8th. This year a Hungarian motorcycle group also organized a motor march, called Give More Gas!, and are planning to drive through the old Jewish quarter as well as next to Eastern Europe’s largest synagogue, Dohany utcai zsinagoga.
Although some Fidesz members expressed their disagreement, so far the event for the bikers is green lighted.
SHAME!!!!!!!! What does this tell about Hungary, that there is a group that even dare to think that they can go through wit this?

Member

@Some1

1.
owners of CBA chain —-> Fidesz
owners of CBA chain —-> Goy Motorists

While Rogan condemns the anti-Semitic motorcyclist march, Orban is silent as usual, and it has plenty of support inside the Fidesz leadership.

2.
What is a dil?
“they ate a small dog on the golf course where my dil plays”

Guest

try Daughter-in-law?

Member

tappanch

tappanch :
@Some1
1.
owners of CBA chain —-> Fidesz
owners of CBA chain —-> Goy Motorists
While Rogan condemns the anti-Semitic motorcyclist march, Orban is silent as usual, and it has plenty of support inside the Fidesz leadership.
2.
What is a dil?
“they ate a small dog on the golf course where my dil plays”

1. Isn’t that the guy who got some awards recently from Fidesz?
2. Actually it should of been fil -> father in law.
Thanks CharlieH, fil was autocorrected to dil, but you are right dil would of been daughter in law.

Member

@Some1

Vilmos Lazar, part owner of CBA received the state award of “Magyar Érdemrend Tisztikeresztje” on March 14, alongside with

Tamas Fricz, co-founder of the pro-Fidesz “peace march”,

Kornel Bakay, who organized a pro-Szalasi exhibition several years ago and

several all right people.

Member

@ tappanch, yes I was aware of the disgraceful awards. I remember when we were discussing the mental health of Szaniszlo, with his Jewish conspiracy rants, who also received the award. I remember you were mentioning the Goy Motorists, I wasn’t sure about of this is the same person.

Kirsten
Guest
some1: ” Also, Hungary is part of the EU, and until it does not decide to quit, I believe the EU is responsible and later in history should be hold responsible to what is happening in Hungary today or the near future.” For what exactly? That 2,709,292 Hungarians voted for Fidesz in free elections, which sufficed for a 2/3 majority in parliament? Or that the government still enjoys the support of a sufficiently large group of people so that they will win also the next elections? Or that those people who are opposed to Fidesz and who could be even numerous enough to achieve a replacement of the government in the next elections, so these people are so divided that undecided voters prefer “stability”? Or that there are apparently large crowds only waiting to do any dubious action in support of the government (for “gains”) that other people feel that they “cannot do anything”? Or that “zsidozas” is considered natural and not offending? I think that many people outside of Hungary think that the biggest mistake that the EU made is to admit countries which apparently have understood very little about values and only want EU money. It is not… Read more »
Member

Kirsten :
some1: ” Also, Hungary is part of the EU, and until it does not decide to quit, I believe the EU is responsible and later in history should be hold responsible to what is happening in Hungary today or the near future.”
For what exactly?

THat they let the minority being constantly bullied, that they allowed the minority to leave in fear, that they allowed hate speech, that they allowed that 2/3 of the country terrorize the rest, that they finance Fidesz even though that they are fully aware that the money that they funnel into Hungary is not spent on its intended purpose, that they are indirectly but willingly finance hate speech, and allow one of their member countries trample on human rights. Good enough? As far as I am concerned the 2/3 can kiss each other on any parts day or night, but the EU, like it or not must take care of the other 1/3.

Kirsten
Guest
” 2/3 of the country terrorize the rest” What do you mean by that? There are no two-thirds terrorizing. There was an election law apparently considered suitable for democratic Hungary that made it possible to gain 2/3 in parliament with a support of 50 % of the electorate. These two thirds have been used by Fidesz to dismantle democracy. We do not know how many people are actually benefiting from the new Fidesz system, and there is a relatively small part of the country actually terrorizing others. But there is a huge part of the society that either does not understand what is going on, or believes in the stupid propaganda, or fear Fidesz, but what I consider even more problematic, also people who could do something and retreat because they do not know what to do, do not cooperate, feel unsurprisingly “helpless” in such circumstances, and search who (except of themselves) could do something to protect them (or where they can assign blame) and because of useless quarrels between each other. Perhaps you have heard already that the EU is not sending public officials to serve in the national burocracies. You can turn to the Court of Justice, or… Read more »
Member
Kirsten : ” 2/3 of the country terrorize the rest” What do you mean by that? There are no two-thirds terrorizing. There was an election law apparently considered suitable for democratic Hungary that made it possible to gain 2/3 in parliament with a support of 50 % of the electorate. These two thirds have been used by Fidesz to dismantle democracy. We do not know how many people are actually benefiting from the new Fidesz system, and there is a relatively small part of the country actually terrorizing others. But there is a huge part of the society that either does not understand what is going on, or believes in the stupid propaganda, or fear Fidesz, but what I consider even more problematic, also people who could do something and retreat because they do not know what to do, do not cooperate, feel unsurprisingly “helpless” in such circumstances, and search who (except of themselves) could do something to protect them (or where they can assign blame) and because of useless quarrels between each other. Perhaps you have heard already that the EU is not sending public officials to serve in the national burocracies. You can turn to the Court of… Read more »
hongorma
Guest

Some1 :
OT: Each year there are thousand of Hungarians participate in a walk to remember of the thousands of Jews perished in the holocaust. The name of the walk is March of the Living, and it is on April 8th. This year a Hungarian motorcycle group also organized a motor march, called Give More Gas!, and are planning to drive through the old Jewish quarter as well as next to Eastern Europe’s largest synagogue, Dohany utcai zsinagoga.
Although some Fidesz members expressed their disagreement, so far the event for the bikers is green lighted.
SHAME!!!!!!!! What does this tell about Hungary, that there is a group that even dare to think that they can go through wit this?

Agreed, it is somethig more than disgraceful. Actually, there are no words to express my contempt for people who would do something like this.

petofi
Guest

hongorma :

Some1 :
OT: Each year there are thousand of Hungarians participate in a walk to remember of the thousands of Jews perished in the holocaust. The name of the walk is March of the Living, and it is on April 8th. This year a Hungarian motorcycle group also organized a motor march, called Give More Gas!, and are planning to drive through the old Jewish quarter as well as next to Eastern Europe’s largest synagogue, Dohany utcai zsinagoga.
Although some Fidesz members expressed their disagreement, so far the event for the bikers is green lighted.
SHAME!!!!!!!! What does this tell about Hungary, that there is a group that even dare to think that they can go through wit this?

Agreed, it is somethig more than disgraceful. Actually, there are no words to express my contempt for people who would do something like this.

And consider this: that in the background, prodding these types forward, or the hidden anti-semites that rule this country.

Now, who is proud to be HUNGARIAN???

Member

OT: The central bank’s vice president, Julia Kiraly resigned. She got fead up with Matolcsy’s idaes, and according to her the monetary council became less and less responsible for making decisions.

Well, I am sure since there are more Fidesz Troppers are in the monetary council, this is still not a sign to the EU that something is really wrong. Moeny will still be coming from the EU to be spent as Orban feels like it, indirectly financing Orban’s reelectaion. Any holes will be filled in from the reserves. NO, the EU will not be held resposnible because it si the “peopel’s will” in Hungary for their money to be gone.

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