Anti-American voices after the reactions to Viktor Orbán’s speech

As promised, today I will write a few words about the worsening U.S.-Hungarian relations, not that they have been all that good over the last few years. Magyar Nemzet, the flagship of the Fidesz media empire, has been publishing one vitriolic editorial after the other. The same is true of Magyar Hírlap and the television stations HírTV and EchoTV. The attack is two-pronged. On the one hand, they accuse the United States of interference in the affairs of other countries and, on the other, they charge the U.S. with uncritical support of Israel all the while unjustly accusing Hungary of anti-Semitism.

Here I have selected three articles to give a sense of recent anti-American sentiment among the Hungarian right. Two of the authors work for Magyar Nemzet. They are Tamás Fricz, who is a regular contributor, and István Lovas, the paper’s correspondent in Brussels. The latter’s “Open Letter to the Chargé of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest” actually appeared on a far-right internet portal Flag Magazin. Both pieces were republished on nemzeti.netwhich aggregates articles from hundreds of far-right online publications. It is a treasure trove for those interested in the activities of the Hungarian far right. The third article appeared in Magyar Hírlap and is from Zsolt Bayer, about whom I wrote several times. His targets are liberals, the foreign press, Jews, and anyone who criticizes the Hungarian government–for example, Ulrike Lunacek, an MEP from Austria. In comparison to some of his other writings this particular piece is tame.

I haven’t said much about István Lovas in the past and I will not have time to do so today. I will say only that he is one of the most unsavory characters in the Hungarian right-wing media, and that is something. Although he has some Jewish ancestors, he is a vicious anti-Semite. His open letter to André Goodfriend was occasioned by the visit of  Ira Forman, who was  appointed by John Kerry to be U.S. Special Envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Forman gave an interview to MTI, the Hungarian news agency, on July 21 in which among other things he talked about the unfortunate situation that developed over the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust and the memorial the Orbán government insisted on erecting despite strong opposition from Jewish and non-Jewish groups. He stressed that this is not only his personal opinion but also that of the U.S. government. Forman talked about the growing anti-Semitism in Europe ever since the beginning of the 21st century, especially in countries with large Muslim populations. But, he added, in Hungary “there is another kind, the classical 19th and 20th century Nazi type of anti-Semitism.”  And since there is a fairly large Jewish presence in Hungary, his office follows the situation closely.

One can quibble about the accuracy of this statement. After all, we cannot talk about a Nazi type of anti-Semitism in the nineteenth century. Perhaps “political anti-Semitism” might have been a better choice of words. And one might argue that Forman’s description of the Hungarian situation is far too general. But we can definitely say that the Hungarian far right’s political views bear a suspicious resemblance to those of German national socialism. And that the far right is represented in the Hungarian parliament.

It was a few days after this interview that Lovas decided to attack André Goodfriend, who is currently heading the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.  He charged that the embassy is the only one “in the whole world” whose chief activity is “the struggle against anti-Semitism.” Instead of concentrating on Hungary, the U.S. government should worry about the “death of Palestinian infants, children, women, nurses, and doctors.” He described the situation in Gaza as a “massacre.” Then follows a very long list of anti-Semitic incidents in various European countries. At the end he returns to the person of the American diplomat. Without telling the reader what terrible sin André Goodfriend personally committed, he asks him what he is afraid of. “To tell the truth?” And obviously this truth is the reason “why all U.S. embassies must be barricaded and surrounded by guards.” As time goes by they will need more and more barricades and guards.

Tamás Fricz, to the shame of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is a senior researcher at its Institute of Political Science. He also teaches political science at the University of Miskolc. Interestingly enough, he didn’t major in political science but received a degree in finance and accounting not at a university but at a three-year college. After graduation he enrolled at ELTE but, again, not as a student of political science but of philosophy (1985-1989). In the 1990s he received a doctorate, a title that no longer exists, from the University of Economics, today called Corvinus, but in what field it is hard to tell. That doctorate was then automatically morphed into a Ph.D.

He wrote his anti-American article after the condemnation of Viktor Orbán’s speech by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Fricz opines that The New York Times‘s editorial pretty well reflects the views of the American government. How do they dare call on the European Union to reduce EU subsidies to Hungary or take away her voting rights? “We are amazed.” What would happen if the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or Le Figaro demanded sanctions from the president against one of the states, he asks? Perhaps the United States should ask for membership in the European Union and pay the contributions member states of the EU have to pay.

Fricz continues his harangue against the United States by pointing to its military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States’s fight against Taliban “terrorism” led nowhere. The same thing happened in Iraq where “they introduced democracy” and the only result is that there is now total chaos in the country. He explains that “free elections, human rights, rights of citizens in themselves are not enough for the establishment of real democracy. Cultural, historical, societal, religious preconditions must be present for the establishment of democracy and we must declare that these preconditions are stronger than the institutional prerequisites.” How true! What Fricz does not seem to recognize is that he just condemned his own country as one of those lands where these preconditions of democracy don’t exist. I doubt that he thought this through.

Fricz and Bayer

Zsolt Bayer’s piece is just as primitive as the others. Bayer is one of the 37 founders of Fidesz. At the time he was a student of Hungarian literature and history at ELTE. He likes to show off his vast knowledge of history, literature, and philosophy. He is a name dropper. In his “Open letter to the New York Times” he starts off with Nietzsche and finishes with Ortega y Gasset, to which he adds: “It was Ortega who wrote these lines. I don’t suppose you [the editors of The New York Times] understand them.”

The gist of the piece is how much better Hungarians are than Americans. Because they did not start wars “under false pretexts”; they did not ignore the verdicts of international organizations; they did not legalize torture; they did not hold prisoners in Guantanamo; they don’t spy on other people, including their allies; and finally the Hungarian head of state does not have the right “to liquidate people” without consulting with the judiciary as the American president has. I assume Bayer is referring here to a speech by Attorney General Eric Holder at Northwest University in 2012, I believe in connection with American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki.

The Ortega quotation is amusing because it has nothing to do with Orbán’s lecture on “illiberalism.” Ortega is considered to be a “liberal philosopher” and therefore it is hard to believe that he thought that “liberals … were old-fashioned people who marched under faded flags.” The quotation is most likely taken out of context because the portion Bayer quotes begins: “Why are they satisfied with the repetition of ready-made ideas?” Moreover, these old-fashioned people can be either liberals or reactionaries. So, clearly, Ortega is talking about non-thinking people in general.

This is how the open letter ends: “Your obese society is marching under the faded flag of liberalism. Without a thought, pitifully. But you must understand one thing: you have no right to interject yourselves into the affairs of other societies and their future. Is that clear?”

In case you think that one ought not to pay much attention to these lunatics, consider the opinion of a man who in his former life was a respected British scholar and who subsequently became the refined voice of Viktor Orbán in the European Parliament–George Schöpflin. This is what he had to say about the possible effects of the Orbán speech: “it might even be that a decade from now the Bǎile Tuşnad speech will be referred to as the audacious and courageous forerunner of necessary change. Of course, it could be that it will not be. But in that case, democracy will be in trouble.”

With friends like these, democracy needs no enemies.

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Member
Eva, I think it is very important to emphasize even further that what the Western world today calls “right” and “left” in the political spectrum, does not equate to what the Hungarian right or left is. Although Fidesz belongs to the European People’s Party (centre-right) with the ideology of Christian democracy, Conservatism, Liberal conservatism, European federalism, Fidesz has been long gone from that agenda. It was Orban himself who declared the breaking off with any liberal tendency for that matter. The righting Hungary is very much moving toward what the western world calls right-wing to far-right. Such party as Europe of Freedom and Democracy with its anti-immigration and nationalistic values perfectly fits Orban and Fidesz current platform. As soon as the said party will offer a position for Orban he will switch over, before the EPP kicks Fidesz out. The importance in explaining this is that when we say papers of the right, one must understand that most “flagship of the Fidesz media empire”, Magyar Nemzet and Magyar Hirlap, as well as many television stations are representing this view in the name of the Hungarin Government. These are the medias where Orban’s buddies publish. The reason the Jobbik Party (closer… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@Some1

(This doesn’t mean I’m horny for ya.)

“Media” is already plural. you cannot add an ‘s’. The singular is medium.

Member

I should be the last one to become stickler for sure. When my thoughts do not race I can in fact write with very proper English.
Here is a gem “The righting Hungary”. That of course should of been “The right in Hungary”. Righting makes no sense.

I must stick up for “medias” although.
“The word is also increasingly used in the plural form medias, as if it had a conventional singular form media, especially when referring to different forms of new media,” I referred to print, online media, television, and radio “These are the medias”.
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/media?rskey=Z5SJ5u&result=2

Guest

“As time goes by they will need more and more barricades and guards.”

And so will Orbán and his friends.

LwiiH
Guest
I should be the last one to quibble over grammatical slips here and there… I think I know what nouns and verbs are but the other stuff in-between is often a mystery. But I do know that Media is plural meaning channels to communciate and that mediums are channels or mechanism to communicate but is not commonly used in the aforementioned context. So, in my experience, non-native english speakers often take a plural form and add an ‘s’ to it as that is what they are taught to do and that is what the understand. Other examples of strange grammatical “deliberate mistakes” so up in flight instructions as an example. They use lighted instead of lite ‘cos non-native speakers understand lighted but they may not have heard or been taught lite. So, you sort of have to go with the flow. To the meat.. it’s curious that someone brings up Guantanamo and torture when their history contains mass deportations to death camps. My experience has been that anti-Americanism is often an unbalanced view fueled by propaganda spit out by people who cherry pick facts and/or distort the truth for their own purposes. There are good reasons to not like some… Read more »
D7 Democrat
Guest

Bayer by his previous trash output has been proven to be racist scum. Lovas, I believe, is the pro-Orban thug who wrote a pretty threatening and abusive letter to all the foreign correspondents who deal with Hungarian matters? Fricz, I don’t know too much about.

We also know that the Fidesz “philosophy” (appeal?) in Hungary is fueled by a virulent racism- a hatred of the Roma, the Jews and “foreigners” in general.

The US is a multi-cultural society, the most powerful country in the world with a man of colour as its president. Of course the Fidesz primitives hate it, that kid of scenario is their worst nightmare.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

André Goodfriend’s interview with Magyar Nemzet (in English):

http://photos.state.gov/libraries/hungary/231771/PDFs/CDA_MN_Eng_082014.pdf

gaborgyorgymiklos
Guest

I expect you know this but right wing and far-right views of America in Hungary are precise echoes of mainstream left wing views in the West, and I include the Guardian-reading centre-left in that. You name it, we’ve got it.

The difference is on Europe. The left in the UK is willing to defend Europe to the extent that the right is attacking it but, historically, the left too is divided on the subject.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest
Some1: Eva, I think it is very important to emphasize even further that what the Western world today calls “right” and “left” in the political spectrum, does not equate to what the Hungarian right or left is. I’m not so sure. Yesterday, in one of his never-ending steps towards an official comeback, former French PR Sarkozy published an interview in the right-wing weekly Valeurs Actuelles, in which he seemed to have borrowed a few themes from last year’s anti-same sex marriage movement. Not least, this sentence: “Until now the Right attacked equality through the angle of freedom. It was an error in analysis, as it is always viewed as the freedom of the strongest over the weakest. On the contrary, we must attack egalitarianism through the angle of differences.”. Tada! Enter “Christian values”, the renewed criticisms of the “May 68 spirit” (liberal behavior, individualism) and of economic liberalism, finally the “work-fare state” which doesn’t fall far from the “France that gets up early” (one of his campaign punchlines in 2007). OV’s stance isn’t isolated, except that he’s the only one of that kind in power right now – but wait for the Polish election next year. The European right wing… Read more »
Member

gaborgyorgymiklos, Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10): I do agree with both observation. I only know that what Orban and Fidesz stand for is not equal with the current philosophy of the “right”, not the way most people understand. THere is certainly a difference between the European and the North American right. A very few months ago it was brought up on this forum that it is the left in most countries that takes the anti-Israel stance, and it is true of course. THe question is how far will these political parties go for the extreme? I believe Orban is already on his way to the extreme, to make an extreme-right party. (Skinheads for me are ultra-right.)

latefor
Guest

My book: The Gresham Symphony, Part Two – on FREE promo for a few days, available on: Amazon.com/kindle.
Grammar police welcome! (Hackers are cursed!)

Istvan
Guest
As I indicated in a post the other day I shared the Tamás Fricz Magyar Hírlap essay basically echoing the editorial line of Russia Today with a number of retired military officers who are now mostly academics, I quoted one response. There is no question that the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has proven to be an error, an error that many military analysts in the US Army predicted. Friz has made no great revelation in relation to that issue. But we also made an error in allowing NATO to expand into Central Europe, even though these nations including Hungary were clamoring to be under the US nuclear umbrella as protection from Russia. Now policy experts here are in a massive debate over what to do about Russia and its invasion of the Ukraine and aligning ourselves with the government of Petro Poroshenko who is more than likely just as corrupt as Viktor Yanukovych was. US military doctrine is not consistent with that of NATO, Most modern US doctrine is based around the concept of full spectrum operations, which combine offensive, defensive, and stability or civil support operations simultaneously as part of an interdependent joint or combined force to… Read more »
timbangan
Guest

I’m not sure exactly why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me.
Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?
I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

freedomforever
Guest

Istvan
August 8, 2014 at 9:07 am
“As I indicated in a post the other day I shared the Tamás Fricz Magyar Hírlap essay basically echoing the editorial line of Russia Today with a number of retired military officers who are now mostly academics, I quoted one response. There is no question that the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has proven to be an error, an error that many military analysts in the US Army predicted. Friz has made no great revelation in relation to that issue.”

I like our regular contributor. Istvan represents a refreshingly clean honesty.

We need thousands and millions of Istvans to make this planet a better place.

gdfxx
Guest

Istvan:”There are deep tensions between the core beliefs of the Obama administration and US military strategists, the President is deeply cautious and sees military action and the use of force as a last resort. Whereas most of us trained in the military war colleges or think tanks see military action and the use of force as part of a continuum of foreign policy which is based on the economic and social interests of the United States. We have radically different ways of looking at the world. ”

Well, just look at what’s happening in Iraq now. I would qualify that in somewhat stronger terms than “deeply cautious”.

As far as Hungary is concerned, here is another theory: Orban realized that in the recent history Hungary paid a big price for sticking with its military alliances to the bitter end. Maybe he wants to try the opposite, he may think it works…

gdfxx
Guest

D7 Democrat:”Lovas, I believe, is the pro-Orban thug who wrote a pretty threatening and abusive letter to all the foreign correspondents who deal with Hungarian matters?”

Lovas has propagated his poisonous ideas for a long-long time on the original discussion groups on the web.

Paul
Guest
As a native speaker of English, and someone who appreciates that language inevitably evolves (but who is also old enough to wish it didn’t!), I feel duty-bound to have my five-penny worth. ‘Medium’ is one of the few words in (UK) English to have retained it’s original non-English singular/plural. It’s more or less accepted these days that more than one stadium is ‘stadiums’ (‘stadia’ is seen as being a bit prissy), and ‘data’ is universally used as if it was the singular form of the word. But the plural of medium is always media. Were you to say ‘mediums’, people would assume you were referring to more than one person trying to contact spirits! But, unfortunately, English being the horribly flexible language it is, the situation isn’t that simple. The problem is that, like ‘data’, people hear the term ‘media’ so often (whilst almost never hearing its singular form) that they think of it as the singular – hence the entirely incorrect (but common) ‘medias’. When challenged about this (e,g. by old fogeys like me!) they justify their usage by explaining that they are talking about more than one media (e,g, TV and newspapers). What they mean, of course, is… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@Paul

Good stuff.
As someone who did 5 years of high school Latin, I’ve always thought it the most useful of subjects. (That and typing.) Woe to us all that Latin–a ‘dead’ language–is no longer taught.

And, of course, political correctness has entered the curricula at the university level in many institutions in the US: instead of teaching Greek/Roman History and Culture…we now have
‘Origins of African Society’ and the like. Try and find the source of modern institutions there.

Member

@Paul: “The word is also increasingly used in the plural form medias, as if it had a conventional singular form media, especially when referring to different forms of new media,” I referred to print, online media, television, and radio “These are the medias”.
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/media?rskey=Z5SJ5u&result=2

If you look online even scholarly sites cannot agree with the plural or singular grammatical usage of the word media. “is” or “are”. At any case, I never meant to start a debate on this blog about proper English usage, as I never tried to pretend to be anything more then a commenter who shoots from the hip. I am very sorry if someone felt that a casual usage of any words should be banned on this blog, and those who do not spell and grammar check their comments should be tossed off the Taygetus.
As far as I am concerned, I am back to discuss relevant to this blog.
xoxo TTFN

Member

uhhh ADR AFAIC “relevant issues on this blog”

Member

MORE MORVAI MACHINATIONS

Not quite OT:

http://kutasi.blogspot.com/2014/08/19144-morvai-krisztina-nyilt-levele-dr.html http://kutasi.blogspot.com/2014/08/19158-horvath-lajos-56-os.html

This Morvai creature is as low as one can go. Remarkable how vicious bigots, who would be the first to villify Palestinians on their soil, sanctimoniously (and in reality cynically) co-opt Palestinian tragedy and suffering in the service of their own hate-mongering agenda.

Member

@Stevan I think Morvai lost her marbles long time ago. I wonder if anyone take her serious beside the usual loonies surrounding her?

Paul
Guest
Even more off-topic – the forint seems to be in a spot of bother again. We’re currently getting almost 400 Ft to £, a rate we haven’t seen since 2006 – and before that it was as long ago as 2001 when we last got over 400, and that was when the economy was still recovering from its post-change of regime chaos. Obviously this is at least partly due to the current strength of the Pound, but, more importantly, the forint is also doing badly against both the Euro and the Swiss Franc. In both cases the forint is nearly back at its worst ever rate, but the difference this time is that this rate has been reached by a steady weakening of the currency, not by a sudden collapse and recovery, as in previous bad lows. But perhaps even more worrying for both currencies is that this is part of a very obvious, and hardly changing trend over the last 10 years (at least – the only data I can find only goes back that far). The only significant variation in the trend is the sudden changes following the 2008 crash, and perhaps a less obvious increase in the… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Paul: What happened to the two pence? Inflation?

Since the current elites in Europe and the U.S.A. hardly speak Latin or ancient Greek, using the correct form for those words has become socially useless.

PS: It seems that the English version of the Osservatore Romano is keeping the tradition. However, the French version has given up, and regularly uses “les médias”. O tempora, o mores! 😉

bogor
Guest

Morvay, the shanda to her Jewish roots, can always count on the support of her partner in crime, Lilliputin, the Viktor Orban.

Paul
Guest

Some 1 – no criticism intended, I have the upmost respect for anyone who can (unlike me) speak/write in more than one language. I was just giving the UK English perspective (which we like to think of as the ‘correct’ perspective!).

We can’t fight the natural change in languages. I am currently resisting the UK English trend towards the confusion of “of” and ‘with’ (as in ‘bored of’), which drives me mad, but I know it’s a fight I will inevitably lose.

Today’s incorrect usage is tomorrow’s standard English.

JGrant
Guest
@Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) Thank you for that link. I very much enjoyed this interview in English, although I could read it in Hungarian, but I trust its veracity vis a vis what André Goodfriend said in English rather than in Magyar Nemzet. What beautiful dimplomatic tact, but all the answers that needed to be said. iron wrapped in velvet, as somebody once said. I enjoy cleverly obtuse language, which you can read through and especially the fact that he is a career diplomat, not a political appointee (Bell was an embarrassing disappointment at her Congressional hearing last year) who is absolutely perfect at spending several paragraphs not answering the question, but also occasionally can be sharp, while still polite. i wonder when – if ever – Bell will appear? @Istvan I support the compliments that some other commenters made. Refreshingly sober, obviously well informed and experienced, if perhaps from a background I do not normally agree with. Even if we are on the totally opposing ends of the political spectrum (which I suspect we might be) I thoroughly enjoyed your comments today and look forward to their continuation. I once read somewhere that the Marxist left and intelligent, sober and… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Marcel, nothing changes in English quite as rapidly as references to money! You don’t just get variations between regions and dialects, but even between families – and especially between generations. For instance, my father used words for money that I assumed, as a child, everyone used, but later I discovered that most of them were ‘borrowed’ from slang or dialect (one was even Yiddish!), and some were simply his own invention.

I have continued to use some of these, plus others I’ve picked up over the years (some now archaic) – which my children presumably think are ‘normal’ words/phrases!

And one of these is “my five-pence worth”. I have no idea if this is an invention of my father’s or a corruption of my own. Indeed, until now, I hadn’t given it any thought!

Member

@bogor – Morvai is as rein of jewish roots as she is rein of scruples. She is divorced from a jewish spouse; the only link that bears the joint burden of jewish roots and consanguinity with this odious character is their joint progeny (may the future have pity on them!). http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/psychiatric-case-becomes-mep

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