Trump and Orbán on political correctness

Donald Trump’s adoption of the view that “political correctness” is the source of many of the ills of American political life is abundantly documented. For him and for commentators on the right, the term came to mean a tool by which “powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.” Trump’s attack on PC resonates in American society, as Karen Tumulty and Jenna Johnson pointed out in January in The Washington Post. A year before, in January 2015, according to a poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University, 68 percent of Americans agreed with the proposition that “a big problem this country has is being politically correct.”

Although Trump has never defined what he means by “political correctness,” one can get a fairly good sense of it by recalling some of his most notorious remarks during the long presidential campaign. Take, for instance, the exchange between Trump and Megyn Kelly at the seventh Republican presidential debate. When Kelly  reminded him that he had called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Trump’s answer was: “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people; I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time for it either.” In this case, Trump seems to assume that political correctness would constrain him from being openly gauche and boorish. At other times, he used political correctness as a sign of political bias or as the opposite of “common sense.”

In Hungary the term doesn’t have as long a history as in the United States, where debates over political correctness were taking place already in the 1980s and 1990s. Viktor Orbán was the one who popularized, and denounced, the concept.

trump-and-orban

A few days ago 444.hu put together a handy list of quotations from Orbán’s speeches over the years, to which I added a few of my own. Perhaps from the contexts in which the expression appears we will have a better understanding of what he himself means by political correctness.

The first references to political correctness can be found in Orbán’s speeches, interviews in 2012 when he announced that “in order to maintain the facade of political correctness we no longer talk about things that are essential to the very core of our civilization.” I assume he is referring here to such foundational beliefs as family values.

A year later he was more explicit. The context was the 2008 world economic crisis, which in his opinion resulted in “the long-term decline of Europe.” But because of political correctness “this question cannot be debated openly.” This is a very unusual definition of political correctness because what Orbán is saying in effect is: “I know that the long-term decline of the West is a fact. Although other people actually agree with me, political correctness prevents them from saying so.”

By 2014 Orbán equated “political correctness” with “the old political world,” which he hoped would soon be over. That old world is “a political system riddled with taboos, which deprives us of the opportunity for innovative and honest talk.” Here he goes so far as to equate political correctness with liberal democracy, which defines Europe and the Atlantic community.

In January 2015, early in the migrant crisis, he blamed “political correctness” for Europe’s inability to defend itself “against the cruel barbarism” coming from the outside. A few months later he freely admitted that he stands on the side of “political incorrectness.” In fact, he said he was speaking in the name of the whole nation. “The Hungarian people by nature are politically incorrect, i.e., they haven’t lost their sanity. They are not interested in bullshit [duma], they are interested in facts. They want results, not theories.” So, here we have an entirely new description of “political correctness.” It simply means the opposite of bullshitting, the opposite of idle chatter about ideologies and theories.

In May 2015, as the migrant crisis grew, “political correctness” became the scapegoat for the European Union’s, in his opinion, mistaken refugee policy. It is political correctness that “tries to convince people that there are no problems here, let’s open the gates wide and invite all who want to come.”

Two months later he accused western politicians of “coyly keeping under wraps police statistics, which prove that where a large number of illegal immigrants live the crime rate has risen dramatically.” In his view, “political correctness transformed the European Union into a kind of royal court where everybody must behave well. … Liberalism today no longer stands for freedom but for political correctness, which is antithetical to freedom.”

For someone who has been such ardent proponent of the fight against political correctness, it is no wonder that Donald Trump’s victory is an affirmation of the soundness of his own views. Originally Orbán’s support of Trump as a candidate rested on Trump’s vicious anti-immigration rhetoric, when within the European Union Orbán was being criticized for the fence he was building. Here is a man who thinks like him, a man of “common sense” who also wants to build a giant wall. He and many other Fidesz politicians, trying to explain away Orbán’s meddling in the presidential race, emphasized repeatedly that it was only Trump’s anti-immigrant policies that appealed to the prime minister. But after November 8 Orbán no longer had to hide his ideological affinity, over and above the migrant issue, with Donald Trump.

In his speech to the Hungarian Diaspora Council, about which I wrote yesterday, Orbán dwelt at length on political correctness, which is supposed to be “a voluntary restriction,” but which he didn’t experience as such. If he dared talk about the nation, he was labeled a nationalist; if he talked about “the dimensions of human existence and creation,” he was branded clerical, feudalistic, a man of the Middle Ages; if he talked about the family, he was typecast as a sexist and a homophobe.” He indicated that with Trump’s triumph “we can hope that we can escape from this spiritual oppression.” He expressed his belief that changes will take place in Europe similar to the transformation of American politics under President-elect Trump. What he has in mind, of course, is the coming ascendancy of parties whose worldviews are similar to his own. They would join him in his crusade against Brussels and would champion the idea of nation states. His opponents dearly hope that he is wrong and that his aspirations will remain unfulfilled.

December 2, 2016
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gdfxx
Guest
I don’t know enough about how political correctness is understood in Hungary, Wikipedia defines it as follows: “The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct, commonly abbreviated to PCor P.C. or to p.c.) in modern usage, is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to particular groups in society. In the media, the term is generally used as a pejorative, implying that these policies are excessive.” In my opinion, PC, as defined above, at least in the US is much too prevalent. It reached a level, where invited speakers are chased out of universities (without any repercussions), where so-called “safe areas” are implemented at universities, to protect those who may be offended by some speech etc. Unfortunately, nowadays these tendencies are only criticized by the right. Where are the 1970s when the ACLU sued the town of Skokie, Illinois (and won) to force it to allow the march of the local neo-Nazi party through a neighborhood inhabited by many holocaust survivors? In the US the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution, and that includes speech that is offensive to others. This includes such things as Holocaust denial, homophobe, xenophobe or racist… Read more »
Reality Check
Guest
Reality Check
Guest
“[1] It reached a level, where invited speakers are chased out of universities (without any repercussions), [2] where so-called “safe areas” are implemented at universities, to protect those who may be offended by some speech etc.” 1) Is incredibly rare. Often what happens is students protest the presence of a controversial figure and that figure speaks anyway. So, both get their say. There are very few instances were speakers are out right banned, but of course these incidents get the most press. I teach at large public university with a very diverse students body in one of the most progressive states in the US. We regularly have speakers who from the right and even on occasion from the so called “alt-right” who are controversial. No speaker has ever been turned away, but they may have to deal with protests or difficult questions. Again both sides get their say. 2) You are ignorant of what safe spaces are. There are places were students can express themselves without resorting to hate speech and bigotry. Where women are less likely to be called names and have recourse if they are. Where LGBTQ can live with less fear of being harassed and when they… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

I see the words often, the expression “incredibly rare”. I don’t know where you taught but these things happened. Once is too much, in my opinion.

I suggest you read this:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/silencing-religious-students-on-campus/497951/

Melanie Zuben
Guest

I like this version the best:
‘Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of sh*t by the clean end.’
Apparently, there was a competition of some kind and the above quote was the number one winner!

webber
Guest

PC is the whipping boy of the right. They depict it as more important and pernicious in its social effects than racism, murder (by guns), homelessness, unemployment, poverty, and a slew of other social ills they prefer not to talk about.

ferenc
Guest
OV stands for politically incorrectness, which summarizing his quotes IS about facts, results, innovative honest talk, freedom and still having sanity and NOT about theorie, bullshit, voluntary restriction. Why is it used by OV and several other politicians so much these days? Seems they have opinions, with which they feel they are in a minority, so they call politicians with an opposed opinion politically correct (PC) and themselves incorrect (PIC). The strange thing here is that PIC is claimed here to be positive, while incorrectness itself is obviously negative. So the other componont, being politically, must cause the values to be twisted around. This can only happen when politics itself is negative, remember double negative makes positive. So by the self-claimed PIC politicians politics itself must be seen (and/or felt) as negative. For people, like Trump, who fairly recently became involved in (by them as negative felt) politics, it might be bearable to cope with. In the case of OV, having started his political party in 1988 March and involved in politics ever since, this must be very difficult and could very well have caused distortions in his brain. Personally I feel both terms political in- and correctness as meaningless,… Read more »
e-1956
Guest

ferenc – my compliments to your analysis. i prefer life anchored in measured truth, free of lies.

Istvan
Guest
Trump like many male Americans his age, and my age, do exclude what Trump calls “locker room talk” among men in more or less exclusively male environments as being public discourse. The proponents of political correctness in the USA, especially as it relates to gender and LBGTQ issues do not. Trump’s references to the media figure in the USA of Rosie O’Donnell are a violation of Trump’s ethos of locker room talk, because he was very public in trashing her for her public lesbianism, liberalism, and being overweight. This war was fought for years on numerous media platforms. He found that very public sexism yielded advantages. But the situation of the Trump-O’Donnell wars are more complex because they both gained media recognition and very possibly Nielsen Media Research points which equal millions of dollars for each of them in revenue. (http://www.eonline.com/news/54134/trump-s-ratings-not-bad-not-rosie) While Rosie ain’t Trump, she is still worth at least $120 million which is significant. Nielsen and Twitter now produce a “Nielsen Twitter TV Ranking,” that rank TV shows based on the Twitter activity of the micro blogging site’s 140 million active users. So PC and anti-PC here in the USA is also a commercial activity. Orban and Fidesz… Read more »
e-1956
Guest

Political correctness is one of the tools of the russian active measures. It is applied exclusively to the west. It is a weapon of the disinformation class.

As the best response, the ideals of the western enlightenment can be applied against the anarchy of pc, without lies and disinformation to defend our societies.

Joe Simon
Guest

Orbán is a populist, so is Trump.
George Washington was a populist and so was Martin Luther.
Even Cromwell could be added to this list.

Istvan
Guest

Trump’s populism is vastly different than Orban as to how he uses anti-PC and overt sexism. Orban is staid and buttoned down in comparison.

Guest

This comment in the Guardian says it clearly:

Trump is just a spoiled child …
Probably even w.ith ADHS or something similar
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/02/donald-trump-white-house-obama-scandal

Istvan
Guest

By the way Trump’s public overture yesterday to Taiwan has gotten the Chinese government into hysterics and the right wing here just loves it. If one goes to the Brietbart blog today you can read comments like this: “Just put some nukes in Taiwan that will surely make them happy. Soviets did the same in Cuba we should do the same in Taiwan. Chinese government whines too much and be hypocritical on foreign affairs, especially what they do it Tibet then complain about Israel. Saying junk like Palestine should be state, wait a min then first we should make Tibet a state.”

By the way Wolfi if Trump does have ADHD it is unfortunately a media advantage given the superficial and shallow mass media in the USA. Keep it to 140 characters or less is now the rule for most news coverage not just twitter.

gdfxx
Guest

I would not call it an overture. After all the Taiwanese president called him, not vice-versa. Let’s hope that whoever the Secretary of State will be, is going to handle this kind of stupid missteps. Sometimes it seems that Trump stopped developing after his sophomore year in high school…

But he was elected.

Istvan
Guest

Trump personally took the phone call and went public with it. I would call that an overture.

petofi
Guest

It seems that the Russians are pushing Trumps buttons, as they do Orban’s…

petofi
Guest

I’m sure we’ll find in the future that Trump was elected by help–in several ways–of the KGB.

webber
Guest

Well, that’s a welcome change from you!
Not so long ago you were saying that Trump would be miles better than Clinton.

petofi
Guest

Please don’t do that: I never said that Trump would be better than Clinton. I said only that Clinton was toxic–who can trust a person who says she ‘knows the cares of the average American’ when she takes down $450,000 in a 1/2 hour speech? She sold out to Wall Street and Big Business long ago.

Trump is clearly a disaster. What is truly problematic is that no decent, self-respecting person will try for the Presidency (excepting Sanders who was railroaded anyway).

If you want to know what America is about nowdays, go see a film called,
“The Conversation”. (As always, the artist is 40 years ahead of the rest of the world…)

webber
Guest

My memory is not that bad.
You said you rooted for Trump on election night, and even your wife asked why. You said something along the lines of Trump could change for the better, but Clinton could not.

So, you have changed your tune, to my ears anyway.

petofi
Guest

webber,

you are holding the feet of a 67-year old (soon to be 68, god willing) to the fire–you are correct. But, as with most of my pronouncements, part of it was ‘tongue-in-cheek’.

Trump is a loose cannon, but there’s something beneficial in that: in foreign affairs, others don’t quite know what you will do. As with Reagan, ‘not knowing’ keeps others in check…

Istvan
Guest
Webber at least if petofi is reevaluating president elect Trump, petofi has moved in a sane direction. The bulk of the mass media in the USA is now in the mode of – well maybe Trump won’t be so bad after all, after they spent months trashing Trump. If Eva watched the Public Broadcasting News Hour program last night in the USA she got to see the networks two major political commmentators talking up what a great cabinet pick General Mattis was for Secretary of Defense even though legally the General should be ineligible for the job because he hasn’t been retired long enough from the military and it would require Congressional action. The General is younger than I and I had no interaction with him during my service years. The General lost a good number of Marines in the Battle of Fallujah which is well depicted in the book No True Glory. He was without question a brave officer. But his quotes which are all over the Internet are blood shilling. Here is one: “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to… Read more »
2016
Guest

In my book, Petofi is pragmatic, sane, and visionary. All of you have to graduate from a good international school to understand him.

petofi
Guest

Oh pleeease, Istvan!
“Re-evaluating”? You must be daft. Trump is a no account shyster, con-artist, liar and thief. No self-respecting party should’ve allowed him to even run in the primaries.

The religious, silent majority must be over joyed–Trump will no doubt lead them to the ‘rapture’…

webber
Guest

Majority:. 2.3 m. more people voted for Clinton than for Trump. I personally don’t know anyone who is overjoyed, but I admit that there surely must be some people like that.

gdfxx
Guest

This is the American system. It gives some power to the smaller states too. If all people eligible to vote in California would have voted for Clinton, her popular vote majority could have been in the order of more than 10 million. It it would not have mattered.

gdfxx
Guest

I know nothing about the Marines or the army forces in general. Your evaluation of Gen. Mattis surprises me because all the experts I heard interviewed about his selection were giving him high marks. Also, although the present law is that a former member of the armed forces has to be out for seven years before taking the job Gen. Mattis was offered, Congress can wave this requirement, as they did once before.

ferenc
Guest

OT: state sponsoring newspaper MI with dubious ads:
http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1113276-draga-reklamok-a-barati-sajtoban—de-mit-is-hirdetnek-valojaban
translation here: http://budapestbeacon.com/news-in-brief/state-owned-company-places-dubious-ads-government-aligned-publication/42543
All ‘mouthpiece’ media should permanently monitored for state related ads and results published on a special blog/site or whatever (but together).
Furthermore related contracts/invoices/money-flows should be permanently investigated and published.
PS: former members of ‘his media system’ (HirTV, Simicska. former Mediaworks managers?) could be asked for assistance and suggestions…

Guest

Imho “political correctness” or “political in-correctness” are terms not applicable to Trump and Orbán at all – because they are not politicians and don’t have any “policies”!

They just decide on impulse – let’s do this or let’s do that, raise this tax, lower the other tax, invent a new tax, whatever comes to their childish minds …

Guest

Trump and Orban challenge diplomatic correctness as well as political correctness and factual correctness.

ferenc
Guest

So they can be simply considered INcorrect?

Guest

Too simple. I have no objection to challenging political correctness. About challenging diplomatic correctness I am not so sure. About challenging factual correctness (lying) I am disgusted.

Tyrker
Guest

“Viktor Orbán was the one who popularized, and denounced, the concept.”

He may have been one of many that denounced the concept, but he wasn’t “the one” to have popularized it. PC talk has been a hot topic in the Hungarian press for at least twenty years.

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