Attacks on Charles Gati and the American media

Charles Gati’s article “The Mask is Off”appeared on August 7 in The American Interest and a day later in Hungarian Spectrum. I guess readers will not be surprised to hear that it created quite a storm in Hungary, especially in the right-wing press. And in a counterattack Válasz published a piece by an Italian politician assailing Gati and whitewashing Viktor Orbán’s ideas on the “illiberal state.”

Let’s start with the reception of Gati’s article, which was not translated word for word but was extensively summarized in Népszabadság on the very day of its appearance. Other left-of-center publications followed suit. Two days later Magyar Nemzet, the unofficial mouthpiece of Fidesz, published an unsigned piece that condemned the article and accused Charles Gati of willfully misinterpreting Viktor Orbán’s concepts and of meddling in the internal affairs of Hungary. His article, it argued, was intended as an instrument of political pressure.

Magyar Nemzet reported on Hungarian reactions to the article, starting with Fidesz’s official position. The answer the paper received emphasized that “Hungary is an independent, democratic state whose government and prime minister were chosen by the Hungarian people.”

Magyar Nemzet, Fidesz if you wish, received additional ammunition from András Schiffer of LMP. After paying lip-service to the importance of checks and balances, Schiffer declared that “Hungary must be governed from Hungary and no matter how serious a situation was created by the ‘system of national cynicism’ it can be remedied only at home as a result of the will of the Hungarian people…. Those from overseas who entertain visions of a cultural war don’t realize that with their pronouncements they hurt the self-esteem of the Hungarian people and unwittingly extend Viktor Orbán’s stay in power.”

Magyar Nemzet also asked a “political scientist” from the Nézőpont Intézet who is a committed supporter of Fidesz and the current government. Gati’s article struck him as “desperate” and, he said, the “foreign misgivings” repeated by Gati “have been ordered” by unnamed foes of the Hungarian government. So, it seems, the sin Charles Gati committed was to dare to “meddle” in Hungarian affairs by voicing his opinion about Viktor Orbán’s regime and by outlining options the United States could pursue under the circumstances. András Schiffer, whose position vis-à-vis the Orbán government is anything but clear, was perhaps the most explicit: foreigners shouldn’t have “visions” about the Hungarian situation, especially since such criticism damages the self-esteem of the Hungarian people. But even the somewhat meaningless Fidesz statement makes a sharp enough distinction between “Hungarians” who have a right to express their opinions and foreigners who don’t.

But then what can we do with Viktor Orbán’s “vision” of the Hungarian nation as a “world-nation” (világnemzet)? This concept is supposed to express the unity of the Hungarian nation regardless of where these Hungarians happen to live. Of course, we all know the reason behind this generous gesture, and we also know the efforts the Orbán government made to limit the number of possible voters from the West while actively recruiting voters from Romania and Serbia. But still, he can’t have it both ways. Either those who are Hungarian by birth are part of the nation and can have a say in the governance of the country or not. Once the Orbán government extended that privilege and made all of us members of this wonderful world-nation he has to take the bad with the good. He cannot pick and choose.

Right-wing Hungarian media is convinced that Viktor Orbán is an innocent political target

The right-wing Hungarian media is convinced that Viktor Orbán is an innocent political target

As for foreign powers “meddling” in another country’s internal affairs, it happens all the time. Viktor Orbán in his long political career openly sided with George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney during U.S. presidential campaigns. But others are not supposed to speak their mind about Hungary. Even non-Hungarian Europeans know this. The pro-government Válasz published an article by Luca Volontè, an Italian Christian Democratic politician who was at one time the whip of the European People’s Party in the Council of Europe. Válasz gave this title to Volontè’s polemic against Charles Gati: “Hands Off Hungary!”

Luca Volontè is the only outsider the Orbán government managed to recruit so far. His article sounds not a little suspicious. Almost as if he received some help from Budapest. He seems to be too familiar with the current Hungarian political scene, and the interpretation of Orbán’s speech bears a suspicious resemblance to some of the Hungarian right-wing media’s efforts at explaining Orbán’s message away. We will see whether Fidesz will be able to gather a few more supporters from Europe. The emphasis is on Europe because the current Hungarian line is that in Europe the speech did not make waves; that happened only in the “anti-Hungarian” United States. In fact, Válasz‘s byline made it clear that the anti-Gati voice came from Europe.

And finally, an illustration of the right-wing media’s efforts to control the damage caused by Viktor Orbán’s speech. Today a brief exchange was published, also in Válasz, between Harold Meyerson and Zoltán Laky. Meyerson wrote an opinion piece on August 6 entitled “Hungary’s prime minister a champion for illiberalism” in The Washington Post. Laky, a journalist who obviously thinks that The Washington Post is the mouthpiece of the U.S. government just as Válasz is of the Hungarian government, wanted to know whether Meyerson received instructions concerning Viktor Orbán’s crossing the Rubicon with this speech either from the U.S. government or from the editors of The Washington Post. Meyerson set his Hungarian colleague straight. He has no idea what the U.S. government thinks of Viktor Orbán’s speech and, as far as The Washington Post is concerned, he is not an employee of the paper; the editors don’t even know what he will write about. He is an independent journalist. Yet the title of the Válasz article was titillating: “Permission to target Orbán? The journalist of The Washington Post speaks.”

As for damage control in the United States, I believe the Hungarian government’s chances are slim to none. Budapest can send a new ambassador, as it will in September, and it can spend millions of dollars on lobbying efforts, but its quest is hopeless as long as Viktor Orbán is the prime minister of the country. When the conservative Washington Times publishes an opinion piece entitled “Democracy’s dangerous descent in Hungary,” then Hungary’s chances in Washington are close to hopeless. Viktor Orbán managed to alienate even the paper that in the past usually defended his government.

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gdfxx
Guest

“Magyar Nemzet reported on Hungarian reactions to the article, starting with Fidesz’s official position. The answer the paper received emphasized that “Hungary is an independent, democratic state whose government and prime minister were chosen by the Hungarian people.”

Somebody should remind them that Germany was an independent democratic state whose government – led by its Fuhrer – was chosen by the German people. And there are other numerous examples that make it clear: this is not always a valid excuse for a country’s government’s behavior.

gdfxx
Guest

“But still, he can’t have it both ways. Either those who are Hungarian by birth are part of the nation and can have a say in the governance of the country or not. Once the Orbán government extended that privilege and made all of us members of this wonderful world-nation he has to take the bad with the good. He cannot pick and choose.”

Yes, he can. And he will. And if he does not like either of the two ways, he can even choose a third or fourth – or pick your number – way. This is what dictators do.

petofi
Guest

Back when I was in grade school, the paternal visage of ‘papa Lenin’ smiled down at us.
My grandchildren will have the picture of Papa Putin looking down at them soon, too.

It takes a Russian to know a Russian: here’s an article by Yuri Yarim-Agaev (now living in the US) about how to deal with Putin (and his midget minions like VO); and the degree of trust one
should allow them. (In short: none.)

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/07/opinion/yarim-agaev-putin-not-peacemaker/index.html

pluto
Guest

A moral meltdown is overtaking Hungary.
The national sport is lying.
It has a wider mass appeal than soccer or poetry.

petofi
Guest

Oh the moronic monotony of this:

“Hungary is an independent, democratic state whose government and prime minister were chosen by the Hungarian people.”

Excuse me, but an ‘election’ does not a ‘democratic’ state make.
DEMOCRATIC STATES are based on institutions. The development of democracy is the devolution of power from individuals to institutions. That’s why Institutions are largely inviolable. They may be changed but it takes study after study by various committees…and never in favor of a party or a leader. It takes years to do properly. Institutions evolve, and are not the plaything of a man on a train with a computer…

Member

I had the exact same thoughts as Eva regarding the idea the only Hungarians from Hungary have the right to say anything… Wasn’t it Orban and his buddies who lobbied so hard and spent taxpayers money to make sure that all people with Hungarian origin will receive expedited citizenship before the election???? WHat am I missing? Is Orban already thinks that he reclaimed part of Ukraine and Transylvania? So as far as Magyar Nemzet and Schiffer concerned, they should get their facts together, because if they say “only from inside Hungary” then essentially they are saying the last Hungarian election was a fraud. If the same right only belongs to the European Hungarians than how can Magyar Nemzet even mention democracy. Democracy would mean equal rights….

petofi
Guest

correction: papa Lenin should be, papa Stalin

petofi
Guest

Somebody please tattoo this on the forehead of these little-comprehending Hungarians: the difference between looking West (USA) and East (Russia) is amply illustrated by what is taking place now. America is sending special forces to aid an unarmed group under attack in the moutons of Iraq; Russia is sending a convoy to Ukraine under false pretenses–the Red Cross denies any agreed protocol–to continue to destabilize that country.

Can you Hungaricoes understand the problem here?

petofi
Guest

correction: “moutons”….ha-ha, that’s good–a spell-check with a sense of humor.

HONestyAboveAll
Guest

The Gyurcsany anti-lie crusade moment:

His 2006 Oszod speech on lying was a profound moment in his life, and in the life of the Hungarian nation.

He was at that time, probably the only Hungarian who woke up, and rejected the traditional public and private lying loudly.

All our future should be built around that speech.

That short manifesto was greater than the poems of Petofi, Kolcsey, Arany etc.

All will change if lying will be eliminated from our nation’s life.

All will stay the same if the leaders and ordinary people will keep on lying.

Member

New tweet suggestion to Navracsics:
“ #SimonLaszlosfriends cost 286,000 € to #Hungary #justthisyear. They won contracts from the government without public tenders. Soon some compensation needed from #Fidesz-level.”
http://nol.hu/kultura/haverok-a-haveroknak-1479983

JGrant
Guest
@Some1 … “So as far as Magyar Nemzet and Schiffer concerned, they should get their facts together, because if they say “only from inside Hungary” then essentially they are saying the last Hungarian election was a fraud. If the same right only belongs to the European Hungarians than how can Magyar Nemzet even mention democracy. Democracy would mean equal rights….” I agree. But we must’n forget it is not only a question of where you are whether what you say is valid. It is what you say matters a lot too. How about those NGO’s that are WITHIN Hungary and are staffed by Hungarians, but financed from abroad. They are not allowed to say much, because they are agents of foreigners who hate Hungary. In this lunatic asylum all logic should be disregarded, because there is none. Or more correctly, the only logic is that of the Great Leader. Unfortunately, we know he is at least a sociopath with a touch of megalomania and probably a full blown schizophrenic. One positive note though: the fact that some of his own, those that are a bit saner and more intelligent than him, have recently started to pipe up about staying friends… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Projection and the >>World conspiracy against Hungary<>been ordered<< by unnamed foes of the Hungarian government is a projection. The paid hack attributes his own attitude to Gati.
Orbán and his ilk want Hungarians to believe, that they are fighting against foreign enemies. They imply foreign Jews (Israel) are behind such an imagined attack. An externalization of blame as defense against anxiety.

Guest

Totally OT re conspiracies:

It had to happen – this can’t be a coincidence …

About the Malaysian plane (flight MH017) shot down over Ukraine.

“the wreckage most probably belongs to the ‘lost’ flight MH370.” – See more at: http://humansarefree.com/2014/07/busted-mh-17-was-in-fact-lost-flight-mh.html#sthash.Z6KlquWC.dpuf

“Constipation theories” of the most crazy kind …

Guest

Another example of the Russian propaganda war (in German):

A computer expert (born in Ukraine, now married to a German and living in German) is accused of “organ harvesting” from the pro-Russia rebels. Fake mails say she (as a doctor – but she’s a mathematician …) ordered more organs to be taken from still living soldiers – accompanied by a picture of her …
http://www.tagblatt.de/Home/nachrichten/ueberregional/baden-wuerttemberg_artikel,-Wie-eine-Mathematikerin-aus-Suedbaden-in-den-Propagandakrieg-um-die-Ukraine-geraten-ist-_arid,269502.html
Don’t know if that has been reported in the international media.

polgar
Guest

My wife asked yesterday why is there so much talk about Orban all the time on this blog?

“Isn’t it crystal clear that he is a corrupt dictator and a huge [expletive]?”

“It’s bright as the sun, and we didn’t need any discussion to establish that Hosni Mubarak or Robert Mugabe were unimaginably corrupt dictators. Orban is similar, there is no need to over analyze this.”

I might add that there is a reluctance to call a white European a dictator. It’s like the New York won’t call water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation methods” torture, because only bad foreigners torture. Africans or Asians or Latin Americans can be dictators, Europeans can only be authoritarian leaders, like Orban or Putin. But even the most absolutist kings had to consider competing interests from time to time. And sure enough Orban or Putin do too, but that does not mean change the fact that they are dictators (and support via election does not change the situation either, dictators can be popular).

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

From 2011 to 2013, Mr. Volontè has been quite vocal in opposing Hungary’s being subjected to the PACE’s monitoring procedure. I’m pretty sure he has already been mentioned on Hungarian Spectrum. He also made a (bad) name for himself among feminists across the continent with a Motion for a resolution entitled ‘Combating eugenics and discrimination against people with disabilities’ which, under its catchy title, was challenging basic rights to abortion. Last year, French political observers discovered him as he campaigned actively along the anti-same sex marriage movement. ‘In Russia, he said, you’re not apprehended for wearing a T-shirt that promotes family values!’

Yep, in Europe also we have our own Chai Party. They’re to young to worship Francisco Franco, but they have posters of Vladimir and Viktor in their bedrooms.

Kálmi
Guest

Marcel Dé: I am assuming that Volonté (and each of his people) has a fixed price and Orban’s people who have great knowledge of Italy from the good old days (remember that Italy had an important communist fraternal party and those friendly commies helped Hungary to launder money etc.) paid him. This is Italian democracy working. It’s not a surprise that Russia’s most important ally in Western(well, Southern)-Europe has been Italy. Italians are great at food and clothing, less great at democracy and transparency. That’s all.

SanTome
Guest

Get this liberals:

“Imre Kertész will get the grand cross and he is one of ours now.”

Orban and co. scored another famous jew to prove the world: Fidesz is against anti-semitism and Marcsi Schmidt is really a famous historian.

Kertesz is a bit like Kohl these days, but that does not matter, he will reliable play his assigned role. And he hates those (post)communists who are still lurking everywhere.

Fidesz-Jews: 15:0

Ms. Schmidt is preparing for a great party as she succeeded for the umpteenth time to dupe those “Hungary-hating liberals”, she is apparently worth every penny she gets for her pet House of Terrors and a couple of “research institutes.”

Liberals are underestimating the sophistication of the plans of Fidesz to prove that it is actually a freedom-loving, lovely bunch of people.

http://www.hvg.hu/kultura/20140814_Orbanek_kituntetik_Kertesz_Imret_augusztu

HiBoM
Guest

SanTome, you are quoting a “scoop” by Heti Válasz. There is no indication that Kertész has accepted the reward that has been thrust upon him. Incidentally, he lives in Berlin now and is incapacitated with Parkinson’s disease, so I doubt he will be calling a press conference to put the record straight.

tappanch
Guest

Police state in action:

Rapper “Dopeman” faces police investigation and a maximum jail sentence of 3 years for kicking a plastic copy of Orban’s head at a demonstration last September:

http://444.hu/2014/08/13/a-nagy-magyar-gengsztersztori-dopeman-megy-a-rendorsegre/

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest
Joe Simon
Guest

With all due respect, Professor Gati is overreacting to an ad hoc speech by Orban just as the Hungarian Press now is overreacting to his article.
True, OV talks too much but most US Republicans would agree that a liberal is some one who is liberal with other people’s money.

tappanch
Guest

Official Hungarian vs Euro-zone GDP change:

comment image

The good Hungarian data (2nd quarter, 2014: 3.7% or 3.9% y/y) are preliminary only.

http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_qpt001j.html
http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_qpt005j.html

chandlerozconsultants
Guest

So, Mr Orbán has the right to give passports to Romanians to help them migrate to Britain and claim benefits which my taxes and national insurance have paid for (I don’t suppose that the increase in Hungarians in Britain is due to immigration from Hungary alone), but I have no right to express an opinion, as a foreigner who is part of a Hungarian family, and a historian, on the denial of the Hungarian Holocaust of 1944 as a responsibility of the Hungarian state, or the everyday anti-Semitic, racist, and xenophobic statements which I am subjected to? Got it!

Guest

Joe Simon’s comment was really funny – now does he agree with what King Viktor said about Russia, China etc or not?
For the readers of HS it’s nothing new that Viktor wants Hungary to become an “illiberal democracy” like Putin’s Russia.

Btw it feels really strange to read that Russia and China are supposed to be “democracies” right now …

Istvan
Guest

I think members of the US Army Ohio National Guard that helped train and equip the Hungarian military now for 20 years would disagree with Fidesz about the right of Americans to criticize Orban’s speech. I know personally one Ohio National Guardsman who trained Hungarian combat forces for two weeks in Honenfels, Germany and an additional four months in Hungary. The Ohio National Guard has provided millions of dollars of training to Hungarian forces over the last 20 years. Most Hungarian forces deployed to Afghanistan were supported by these same guardsmen.

I am outraged at the claims of both Fidesz puppets writing in the media and LMP that US citizens have no right to be critical over Orban’s speech. While our relations with professional Hungarian solders has been outstanding I honestly question now whether Hungary should be allowed to remain part of the US National Guard State partnership program. Are we training Hungarians to fight for the Russians?

Member
@wolfi: JoesSimon only does monologues, and never answers to any questions directed at him. He comes in with His ad hoc comments and leaves. Of course about the tapes of Gyurcsany the illiberals never claimed that it was ad hoc, they never admitted that it was taken out of context and even though it was said behind closed doors and taken out of context Orban himself and the likes of Simon organized some protest in front of the parliament. What Gyurcsany said was absolutely correct and no one proved his points any better than Orban. Orban was the one who told the USA diplomats that it does not matter what he says in order to get elected what matters what he does. And what did he do? well that is what the blog is very much about fore the last nine years, but Simons, and other come here, and say Orban’s actions are taken out of context. What a laugh. @polgar There is a slight difference between dictatorship and autocracy. It more has to do with the connotation although. Also, in dictatorship the power that rest in one hand does not even have the pretend government. Dictatorship does not allow… Read more »
googly
Guest

Elections were held in Hungary every four to five years from 1949 to 1985, and the will of the people was expressed in them, as far as the government allowed it to be expressed. Does that mean that there was no dictatorship in Hungary, only democracy?

polgar
Guest
@Some1 I just read an interview with Zoltan Miklosi, a professor of philosphy at CEU, in ÉS. About a page of the interview is spent on defining the differences between illiberal democracy, authoritarianism, dictatorship, managed democracy and what have you. This is bull*** as far as I am concerned. No dictator including but not limited to Julius Ceasar, Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Loius XIV had unconstrained power. They all had to consider competing factions, short term vs long term interests and so on. They all had judges, burocrats, legislators and so on, who did their jobs. These functions were outsourced to loyal people but obviously the aforementioned dictators/kings could not possibly intervene in each case because each is only a single individual. Some judges in family matters, burocrats in land matters etc. even had freedom and independence, it is just impossible to set up a 100% totalitarian state where everything is decided by one single person. Orban is a dictator who has complete control over every facet of the life within Hungary. Of course, he has no time and willingness to interfere in all commercial disputes and so on, but he controls the judiciary, the constitutional courts, the prosecution, the… Read more »
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