László Bogdán, the Roma miracle worker of Cserdi

The support of the three opposition parties for Albert Pásztor, former police chief of Miskolc, as the city’s mayoral hopeful caused a huge political storm which still hasn’t subsided. Representatives of the Hungarian liberal intelligentsia or the intellectual elite, as Hungarians like to call this group, have been up in arms. How could these parties ever support a man who five years ago showed himself to be a racist?

Actually, the real target of their ire is the Demokratikus Koalíció. Since the central leadership of Együtt-PM distanced itself from the party’s local representative in Miskolc, critics left Együtt-PM more or less alone. They didn’t bother themselves with MSZP either because, as some of them admit, they don’t have great expectations of the socialists. After all, the party led by Attila Mesterházy, echoing Fidesz, endorsed “law and order” as an answer to society’s ills. DK is the only party that had consistently stood for the rights of all minorities. Its members and voters, all polls indicate, are the least prejudiced against foreigners, Gypsies, Jews, and gays. The intellectual elite expected more from Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party. How could it support a racist?

And here we are in trouble because, as I know from personal experience in private debates with friends and acquaintances, we cannot even agree on what racism is. There are people who think that mentioning the ethnic origin of a person already indicates racist tendencies. Thus, when Albert Pásztor the other day announced that he will treat everybody the same without “regard to origin,” some people cried foul. He shouldn’t have mentioned people’s ethnic origins at all. And yet there are a large number of policemen who are truly racists and who don’t apply the same standards when dealing with Gypsies and non-Gypsies. So, if Pásztor wants to treat everyone equally, this should be considered a step in the right direction.

Some people are reluctant to talk about some of the serious problems that crop up between Roma and non-Roma. But is it racism to talk about the difficulties that exist between the majority and the minority cultures? I guess it depends on the source. One can detect the attitude of the speaker easily enough. Criticism can be well-meaning or hateful.

And what should we do with a Gypsy who passionately wants to change the situation of his fellow men and women but who at the same time is very critical of the majority of the Roma today. I am thinking of László Bogdán, the mayor of Cserdi, a village that lies between Bükkösd and Szentlőrinc in Baranya County.

Bogdán is a man in his late forties who became the mayor of Cserdi about nine years ago. He has transformed the heavily Roma village. How did he do it? The change didn’t come overnight, but by now his accomplishments are known as “the cserdi csoda” (the miracle of Cserdi). When he became mayor, Cserdi was riddled with petty crimes. On the average 200 a year. Today, there are only two or three. Unemployment was extraordinarily high, just in all Baranya villages with large Roma populations. Today, anyone who wants to work can.

László Bogdán (in the middle) is visiting Duisburg, Germany

László Bogdán (in the middle) is visiting Duisburg, Germany

Bogdán was born in great poverty. He told Olga Kálmán the other day on ATV that he was thirteen years old when he finally had a pair of shoes of his own. Thirty years ago he got a job at a multinational company, cleaning the yard of the factory. Then one day they needed someone to pack the factory’s products. He kept going up and up until he was heading a department. Why he left his cushy job I have no idea, but he decided to run for parliament. When he lost, he settled for being the mayor of Cserdi, his birthplace.

Cserdi by now owns a fair sized forest the residents themselves established. They have 3,500 square meters of green houses, and they sell their produce in Pécs. They even had extra to give away to poor people in Budapest. The village owns a house on Lake Balaton. They fixed up most of the houses in the village. Bathrooms were installed in some of the Roma houses that had not known such a luxury. This summer Cserdi organized a summer school for the children. All this is an incredible accomplishment.

And yet Bogdán is a controversial man because of his rather draconian methods of dealing with his workers. He expects excellence, punctuality, and very hard work. And he is harsh with those who don’t perform. If one of the public workers doesn’t show up on time, he is “punished.” He has to read aloud from Micimackó ( Winnie the Pooh) to his fellow workers. He took some of the young people to a jail in Pécs so they could see what is waiting for them if they end up there.

Is Bogdán’s method more effective than some of the others that are being tried at a few places–very few places–in the country? I really don’t know, but I was impressed by the man. He is intelligent and very outspoken. For instance, if it depended on him, he would abolish the whole system of Roma self-government since he believes it does more harm than good. Many of the leaders, as he put it, are barely literate, and their aggressive behavior only alienates the majority population.

László Bogdán’s interview with Olga Kálmán / Egyenes beszéd / ATV

I have no idea whether Bogdán is right. But let’s go back to my pondering about who is racist and who is not. Is Bogdán a racist because he is more critical of the Roma community than most non-Roma? Is it racist to say, as he does, that Gypsies “must learn how to behave”? These are very difficult questions.

We know that the great divide between Roma and non-Roma Hungarians must be minimized. And this means that both sides have to change. The majority population will have to shed its incredible prejudice while the minority must be given the opportunity to achieve a higher economic and social status. But it is hellishly difficult to find the right way to this goal.

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petofi
Guest

Eva,
you gotta stay off the cocoa. This effort was a mish-mash: Draconian? Harsh? What, because
he punished an ‘offender’ by making him read a story-book?

Then, after listing all the great things Bogdan has done you write, “Is Bogdan’s method more effective..?….I don’t know..” You don’t?

But to get to Bogdan…he’s unique and he’s great, and he’s not afraid to tell the truth.
Very impressive. If his town wasn’t so far from Budapest, I’d go down and visit it tomorrow.

(I do fear for his safety–he’s made all those corrupt, petty, Roma leaders look bad.)

Member
There are very, very few Hungarians, who have no prejudice, who are not biased and who think and treat Gypsies as equal value human beings. The average Hungarian think, integration with Gypsies should mean, that the Gypsies behave exactly as good little Hungarians. They eat the same, they drink the same, they behave the same and if they could, they should even dress and look the same. Therefore most “liberal” and “non-racist” Hungarians still take exceptions with Gypsies, because they think, that they don’t want to integrate with Hungarians (or other nationalities in other countries). Therefore they recant all the bad experiences, hundreds of them, how bad are the Gypsies, yet few if any Hungarians can or want to recall good experiences. When a Gypsy is not living, acting as a Gypsy and does not look like a Gypsy, they don’t even notice it, so they don’t know many times, that here is one, which rose out of the extremely disadvantageous environment and became a valuable member of the society. No Hungarians (or other Europeans) are willing to admit, that 500+ years of excluding the Gypsies, to treat them as child stealers, criminals, lesser humans or even animals is part… Read more »
petofi
Guest

I might add that if “should be” might evolve into “could be”…I’d make this guy the Prime Minister.

D7 Democrat
Guest

“But let’s go back to my pondering about who is racist and who is not.”

I would take the simplistic definition- if you make a pre-judgement on a person’s character based solely on their ethnic origin. Following that, there is no such thing as “gypsy crime”, just plain old simple “crime” which should be punished according to the rules of the state and not according to the respective colour of the criminal and cop/judge.

Roma shouldn’t get preference in terms of education, housing, jobs etc- they are entitled to expect exactly the same rights and benefits *enjoyed* (if that is the right word to use in Orbanisan) as everyone else. That is not happening now and until it does then Hungary has not yet joined the ranks of civilized states.

OTT
Orban’s homage to the Hungarian war effort has gone up overnight in Szabadsag Square. Presently there are about 100 of his stormtroopers and assorted Brownshirts patrolling it and shoving away any pensioners who dare to get too close.
The fascist state has moved one step closer,

tappanch
Guest

At 1 AM on Sunday, (July 20 2014) Orban’s men put up the Nazi eagle on Freedom square as a military action.

http://video.atlatszo.hu/2014/07/20/ejjel-kordonok-kozt-emeltek-helyere-a-naci-megszallasi-emlekmuvet/

This is Orban’s gift to the memory of the MURDERERS of six hundred thousand Jews.

tappanch
Guest

The descendants of the murderers are much more numerous than the descendants of the murdered in Hungary.

In addition, the first group is nicely represented in the upper echelons of the Orban regime – Orban probably caused them physical satisfaction with the Nazi eagle.

Horthy’s bust is just a few steps from the eagle – Nazi rallies will enjoy spiritual freedom on Freedom square.

tappanch
Guest

More photos about Orban’s great military action:

http://csakegyruszki.tumblr.com/post/92275812218

LwwiH
Guest

“Is it racist to say, as he does, that Gypsies “must learn how to behave”? These are very difficut questions”

Sorry to say but not in my books. As a non-hungarian living in Hungary I am judged everyday by a narrow set of behaviors, some of which I don’t care for. If I don’t happen to follow them….. That I’m not Roma generally means a I experience a different outcome because the offending people often quite don’t know what to do with me because I’m not Roma or black or anything else they’ve been programmed to deal with. The kids have recognized this bias will use this bias to their advantage whenever possible.

D7 Democrat
Guest

The day that Orban erected his monument is the 70th anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Hitler (http://www.dw.de/july-20-plotters-honored-with-new-exhibition/a-17796443).

An ironic coincidence that while Germany today honours those who fought Nazism, Orban has chosen this day to honour the Hungarians who fought with the Nazis.

The Jew Baiter has delivered a massive FU to the people he and his kind despise the most.

Bowen
Guest

I was wondering when they’d finish the statue in Szabadsag ter. Maybe they were waiting for a bigger news story to ‘bury’ it behind, while the world was looking elsewhere.

Member

Many Hungarians who try to befriend the Gypsies are guilty of keeping them behind. I once taught English at the Dr. Ambdekar school near Miskolc. I left shortly after the director told me, “These are Gypsies. They won’t learn in the same way as other people. If you try to impose any sense of academic discipline, you will fail. They won’t do homework, so don’t even try. Unless you can teach them something by using music or ping-pong, they won’t learn.”

Bogdan is politically incorrect and honest, and is not afraid to give young Roma a kick in the butt when they need it. This is what they need. For example: http://www.pestiside.hu/20130514/gypsy-mayor-makes-waves-with-save-yourself-from-faggothood-youth-crime-prison-seminars/

tappanch
Guest

“Police state” – women shout at the Nazi memorial today:

http://nol.hu/belfold/video-a-szabadsag-terrol-tojaszapor-rendorallam-1475233

g-refo
Guest

The experiment of Bogdan is remarkable.

Only few people can achieve such success.

The transformation of generations of Hungarians has been a failure.

Horthy’s ghost is still haunting us, and pulling us into turul darkness.

Hungary is a suffocating place for freedom loving fair people.

Who will resuscitate the reforms of 1848 and its leaders?

Bowen
Guest
petofi
Guest

The reality of Bogdan is the death-knell for the reputation of Gyurcsany.
Here’s why: Bogdan has been around for 9 years. His successes, too, have been known.
Bogdan would’ve been an ideal candidate for Parliament and a great addition for any well-meaning leader or party. Besides, Gyurcsany had made the widely-reported trip around the country. There’s no way that he had not known of Bogdan. By making no effort to get Bogdan to join the MSZP (when he was the leader of it) or by joining DK, Gyurcsany reveals himself as no more than a self-righteous, self-promoter who doesn’t really have the interest of the country at heart.
I hereby divest myself of ‘Gyurcany-mania’.

It’s a sad commentary on the Hungarian political culture that no one has approached Bogdan
as a political ally.

Ron
Guest

Bowen thank you for the pictures.

Looking at the pictures, why does the “ReichAdler” is ringed/chained (states 1944?). If I look at images of the Reich Adler it is always unchained or have no ring.

Does it mean that Nazi-Germany was tamed by Horthy? Or that Nazi-Germany pulls Gabriel (Hungary) out of the mud? Or that Hungary is holding Nazi-Germany back?

Jon Van Til
Guest

One must surely recognize that a certain poetic justice inheres in the employment of midnight blitzkrieg tactics when installing any substantial monument that celebrates a Nazi occupation.

Member

Viktor Orban’s Midnight Erection

A mendacious monument glorifying Magyar self-pity and concealing Hungarian complicity

http://www.politics.hu/20140720/government-makes-midnight-move-to-finish-controversial-wwii-memorial-following-court-decision/

Member

… but in the long run, and in the wide world, it will have to opposite effect.

tappanch
Guest

Orban appointed the new head of one of the secret services retroactively, from July 16.

It is against his own law to appoint someone without Parliamentary hearing and vote.

The committee hearing was scheduled for July 28, it is now rescheduled for tomorrow.

The dictatorship does not bother with painting a legalistic facade any longer.

http://nol.hu/belfold/torvenyelelnes-a-nemeztbiztonsagi-szakszolgalat-foigazgatojanak-kienevezese-1475223

Trafikov
Guest

Just a remark, a bit OT. I hate to invoke Andras Schiffer, but he had an important insight. The Hungarian left wing for the last couple of years has been exclusively associated only with civil rights issues. Nobody knows what any leftist party would think about anything, but everybody knows that the leftist people, parties (whoever they are) will (at least ideally) defend romas, jews, gays.

Just like SZDSZ in its final phase before disappearing for good, the Hungarian left long ago lost its identity and vision and became in its entirety not much more than an NGO.

Unfortunately for them, people want – popular – answers to everyday problems and want their politicians to work on those.

Somehow, the left wing cannot get down to work, it seems to most people that all they talk about is who is the racist or who is the anti-semite.

Like it or not, these are minority issues (which is not to discount their importance in absolute terms), the majority wants politicians to deal with issues the people deem important issues of a higher order, like jobs, closing factories, debt, relentless pressure from many sides and so on.

petofi
Guest

@Trafikov

“…people want – popular – answers…”

Yeah, right.
Answers like having the government bail them out of irresponsible loans, right?
How ‘Hungarian’ of you!

Can’t be stealing and jiving all your life and expect the good times to roll on….
Hungaricum.

tappanch
Guest

Two anniversaries on July 20

1. Unsuccessful attempt to blow up Hitler, 70 years ago

2. Execution and cannibalization of the leader of the peasant uprising, Gyorgy Dozsa (Szekely), 500 years ago.

http://nol.hu/belfold/dozsa-hallgat-1475037

D7 Democrat
Guest
“Unfortunately for them, people want – popular – answers to everyday problems and want their politicians to work on those.” And there you have the core of Hungary’s problem- a population that has been completely and utterly infantilized since the change of the system. Borrow money and you won’t have to pay it back… why? Because Uncle Viktor says you don’t have to. Give over your pension savings to the regime… why? Because Uncle Viktor says if you do he will guarantee your pension 20/30/40 years ahead. Uncle Viktor will take on the banks, the *foreigners*, the Jews, the EU, the *westernised liberal elite”, the multis, the public utilities company, heck even the Martians on your behalf and although you will end up down in pocket at least you will drop below the poverty line with the satisfying feeling that Hungary is now not going to be pushed over its *enemies* The political class (and to be fair not just Fidesz) have created an electorate of apathetic, sheep-like, idiotic zombies who simply don’t grasp the rights-responsibility balance and the realities of the 21st Century. Now… I guess democrats can play the Fidesz game and promise the plebs the world but… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

Trafikov: “Unfortunately for them, people want – popular – answers to everyday problems and want their politicians to work on those. ”

Haha. You mean the everyday problem of the occupation of Hungary by Germans in 1944 or the Peace Conference in Trianon? Or the everyday problem of Hungary not being too succesful in football? And the everyday problem of that EU money is pocketed by Hungary in large quantities which people find awful so that politicians work on it and just pocket the money themselves?

Trafikov
Guest

Poor man cooks with water, szegény ember vizzel főz. Politicians work with their own population. Of course, in an ideal situation the voters could be ‘educated’, but it is a long process to change people’s minds, it is usually beyond the abilities and time frame of any single politician. Politicians have to get elected by the current voters.

Petofi, D7 Democrat and Kirsten demand rational, responsible, ‘adult’ Western behavior from overwhelmingly poor, uneducated, inward-looking people, who are afraid that their situation could get worse at any moment as it did for many in the last 25 years. Such demand to ‘man up’, ‘suck it up’ and behave like a rich, Western, educated, cultured person would behave will go nowhere (see SZDSZ which demanded exactly that), this is no way to do politics.

petofi
Guest

“…economic necessity…”

Just for fun, I’d like to hear an explanation of how the erection of the monument is an ‘economic necessity’ for the country…as seen by the constitutional court. (Great minds drink alike.)

Andy - How-to: Roma
Guest
This Roma mayor really impressed me too in Olga’s interview. Very erudite, that is, well spoken and clear thinking. As I live in the North-East Hungary where we have a good-size roma population. I see the style, the behavior, the language. The aggressiveness. The general attitude of the “whites”. I see the Roma as outcast. I try to fathom the unfathomable, the nitty gritty of the problem. I try to compare it to my experience of the 1960s in the USA and the Black population in order to compare and contrast. Better or worse? Attitudes, behavior, exclusionary tactics. The inbred hatreds. The attitudes and styles garnered over generations… I have said all along and say again: inclusion is the only possible answer. That takes the teaching of ETHICS from kindergaren up to adulthood, for generations for the entire population of Hungary. There is NO CIRCUMVENTING this essential phase. Governments in positions of authority have been cheap not to spend suffieient money on this problem and the money spent has been wasted as it has not been planned for the long-term.The European Union has thrown money at the problem without sufficient long-term creative planning and oversight. Intelligent political will backed up… Read more »
D7 Democrat
Guest

“Petofi, D7 Democrat and Kirsten demand rational, responsible, ‘adult’ Western behavior from overwhelmingly poor, uneducated, inward-looking people, who are afraid that their situation could get worse at any moment as it did for many in the last 25 years.”

No, it is not the electorates’s fault they are were they are. And the complete lack of awareness of the realities of the modern world certainly isn’t restricted to the poor- I have heard well-educated lawyers inform me that they are happy to give over their pension to the regime because they are sure Orban can guarantee their state pension 3o years hence into the future- seriously? These are people with 7 years plus university education behind them!

No, the full blame for the unbelievable unthinking, sheep-like state of the voter lies with the political and business elite. Fidesz do the brain-washing and lying better than the self-titled “left” but they are not 100% to blame.

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