Scandal after scandal: trying to hide the real meaning of “ethnic homogeneity”

It doesn’t happen too often that I have to return to a topic that I thought we had discussed quite thoroughly only yesterday. But this time such a revisit is definitely warranted. Without it, the story is incomplete. Readers would not be able to grasp the extent of the depravity and duplicity of the government that rules Hungary today.

Of course, I’m talking about the controversial speech Viktor Orbán delivered on February 28 at the annual gathering of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce. When I’m writing about a speech, I normally wait to have the full text in front of me as opposed to relying on summaries that appear right after it is delivered. I consider the written text to be more reliable and more detailed, allowing me greater room for analysis. So, I checked the prime minister’s website several times for the appearance of the complete text.

In my piece I concentrated on two paragraphs. The first was about the “ethnic homogeneity” desired by Orbán, and the second was about “the greatness” of the Hungarian nation. In both cases I translated practically the whole text.

There was one sentence, which happened to be the lead sentence of the paragraph on “ethnic homogeneity,” that after some pondering I decided to leave out. It was jarring. It didn’t make any sense. So I decided that the best solution was simply to omit it, especially since it wasn’t vital to our understanding of Orbán’s message. It read: “First, I find the preservation of cultural homogeneity very important.” This lead sentence was followed by two sentences that I did translate: “By now one can say such things. A few years ago one could be executed for such sentences, but today one can say it because life confirmed that too much mixing brings trouble.” These sentences, coming one after the other, made no sense to me. One may think that “cultural homogeneity” is desirable, but one cannot be branded for life for espousing such a thought. So, as I said, I decided that the best solution was to drop that first sentence.

It now seems that my instinct was correct. We learned today that someone in the prime minister’s office changed the original sentence “I find the preservation of ethnic homogeneity very important” to “I find the preservation of cultural homogeneity very important.” Who ordered the change we don’t know. Was it the prime minister himself who upon reflection decided that such a statement was inappropriate or was it one of his subordinates who concluded that this sentence would cause an uproar? It really doesn’t matter because the falsification of facts is unacceptable, or at least it should be unacceptable. But in Hungary’s case one can say with confidence that there will be no fallout from this latest “editing.”

It is bad enough that high government officials fiddled with the true message of the prime minister, but one would have expected more finesse from them. What good does it do to change the wording in one instance but in four other cases in the same paragraph leave “ethnic homogeneity” unaltered? Moreover, when the video of the speech becomes available on the government website, this tinkering with the transcript will be called out in no time, as it was this afternoon at János Lázár’s Thursday afternoon séance, “government info.”

Faithful readers of Hungarian Spectrum surely remember Ildikó Csuhaj of Népszabadság, who was known for her scoops on the affairs of Fidesz. She was always the first one to come up with breaking news on people close to Viktor Orbán. Now that there is no more Népszabadság, Csuhaj got a job at ATV as a provider of background news. She was the one who brought up the presence of “ethnic homogeneity” in Orbán’s speech at Lázár’s press conference. Lázár and his faithful companion at these occasions, Zoltán Kovács, were outraged: Hungary’s prime minister said nothing of the sort. Lázár even told Csuhaj to stop bothering them with such annoying and obviously nonexistent claims. Kolozsvári Szalonna captured their pique in its headline to the story: “Ildikó, you little goose, don’t bother the gentlemen with your nonsensical questions.”

I’ll bet they were not so happy after the press conference was over

Interestingly, Ildikó Csuhaj’s take on Orbán’s racist remarks came from a vantage point quite different from that of the reports and analyses coming from abroad. Foreign assessments objected to the racism inherent in the concept of “ethnic homogeneity” in general. Ildikó Csuhaj’s probe, on the other hand, centered around Orbán’s attitude toward the introduction of a guaranteed basic income, which had been proposed by László Botka of MSZP and the leadership of Párbeszéd. Orbán, as a believer in a “work-based society,” naturally rejects such a plan out of hand, but he finds its introduction especially problematic in his own country because “ethnic relations in Hungary are complicated.” That was translated to be a specifically racist remark in connection with Hungary’s Roma population. Even if Orbán were in favor of a guaranteed basic income, given the presence of the large Roma population the idea couldn’t be introduced in Hungary because of the enormous unemployment in the Gypsy community. The reasons for this high unemployment? Well, “ethnic relations in Hungary are complicated.”

The Orbán government must have been embarrassed because it moved to salvage what could be salvaged abroad. Zoltán Kovács wrote an opinion piece for a new government propaganda site called About Hungary. Here we learn that it wasn’t the Orbán government that falsified the prime minister’s remarks; the culprit was “the liberal media.” Kovács had the temerity to summarize Orbán’s speech this way: “The prime minister, after delivering a speech at the Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, was talking about threats to Hungary’s strong economic performance and stability. One of those threats is illegal migration, and he said that preserving the European cultural identity of Hungary is a priority for the well-being of the country.” After these introductory words, he quoted Orbán’s lead sentence correctly but cagily left out all the sentences in which the phrase “ethnic homogeneity” appears. As Kovács put it, “if you’re having trouble seeing why that’s racist, that’s because it’s not. He was talking about preserving the ethnic identity we have, and that’s associated with culture, language, sometimes religion, and so on.” Indeed, in his version it is difficult to find the original meaning of Orbán’s message. According to Kovács, “the loud, ideologically-driven press simply don’t have ears to hear the real meaning of a statement and refuse to report the full picture. Instead, these journalists with an agenda quote out of context.”

I was spared, unlike Lili Bayer, a freelance journalist working out of Budapest, who has written some excellent articles on Hungarian affairs for Politico and lately a piece for The Forward on Sebastian Gorka’s connections with the Hungarian far right. Kovács discovered the following tweet by Bayer: “Today Orban called for ethnic homogeneity in Hungary. 73 years ago my grandma was taken to concentration camp by others making same argument.” Kovács accused her of “manipulative editing” and decried “the rigged media [which] is … blinded by their own bias.”

The Hungarian government works exceedingly hard to massage the news to their political advantage, and domestically they have had significant success with their propaganda campaigns. Internationally, however, as is clear from Kovács’s pitiful attempt to explain away this latest scandal, they are much less successful at pulling the wool over our eyes.

March 2, 2017
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Observer
Guest

It has been a week of brazen lying most western readers wouldn’t believe (before Trump).
Following Kovacs and Làzàr the carousel of lies was joined also by Bertalan Havasi, PM’s Office spokesman.
Earlier genius Mcsy was praising himself as being something the best in 150 years.
Làszlò Paragn, Chairman of the Hungarian Chamber of Trade and Industry was rhapsodizing about the state of the H economy, while the recent recaps of the 2016 figures confirmed the poor performance and mostly downward trends.

These lying sprees come on the heels of the media conquest (still going on). I guess the strategy is to knock out all free media and saturate the waves with a flood of brazen lies – in the lack of other signals some will get conditioned “four legs good, two legs bad”.

Observer
Guest

I don’t know how was that “translated to be a specifically racist remark”, but there are acute problems there and the “ethnic relations in Hungary are complicated.” describes mildly an ugly truth. For the life of me I can’t see what is racist about the phrase, Orban’s policies, on he other hand are and that’s what we should focus on.

Member

Portraying “ethnic homogeneity” in itself as something self-evidently positive is inherently racist (everything’s OK as long as there’s only us, and everything will go to the dogs as soon as we start accepting people of other races or religions).
And of course there are numerous social problems with the Roma population – but how can Orbán simultaneously speak of the “homogeneity” of the Hungarian nation as something now existing and worth preserving, and the “complicated ethnic relations”, that is, the presence of Roma who, obviously, do not belong to the Hungarian nation?

petofi
Guest

“..Roma who…do not belong…”

Orbie at his best: mocking the average, stupid, Hungarian…since he’s Roma himself!

Observer
Guest

Sentroopa S

Of course there isn’t much logic in Orban’s jumble and he is all of what we have called him here, but this is besides my point.
Your line of thought has some logic, but it is a very, very long shot. By so laboring the issues and finding reds under every bed the PC brigade only hurts their good cause. Such radicalism and lack of good judgement has been turning people off, actually abetting the anti liberal surge. Good intentions are not enough.

Guest

Sovereign kings often invited people of other religions and cultures to settle in their countries. They usually gained by it.

Orbán is not made of king material.

Ferenc
Guest

1.The official English translation is available, really wondering if the “ethnic item” is correctly translated, anybody here can review this??
-official translation at http://www.kormany.hu/en/the-prime-minister/the-prime-minister-s-speeches/prime-minister-viktor-orban-s-speech-at-the-hungarian-chamber-of-commerce-and-industry-s-ceremony-to-mark-the-start-of-the-2017-business-year
-full video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltWPFjXNNh4
(at 30:40 the ethnic item, just before that he spoke about ‘great[er] Hungary’ showing his dreamed size of Hungary!!)

2.Government Info #80 (with the two bad clowns)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQnhG3AAg9I
47:20 – ethnic item (note: they seemed to have been prepared for this word, may be they always have everything directly at hand, but that seems humanly impossible to me)
49:10 – “the text is always important, we know”
50:35 – about two parallel societies/worlds in German cities: “one with a German reality and the other one with another reality (he doesn’t say. but clearly means ‘immigrants reality’)”
56:50 – criminality rates down with 47% since 2010 (of course acc.their data) – anybody can fact check this?? or direct to where data can be found for fact checking??

Observer
Guest

Ferenc

Why bother? It is perfectly obvious – in the transcript/translation Orban used “ethnic” seven times and “ethnic homogeneity” twice, add his remark about the danger of being executed for such use. These leave no doubt what he meant. The rest is the routine flat lies (Oh, where is GyF with his innocent little pranks?)

As for level of the speaker/translation: “I’m convinced that if we maintain ethnic homogeneity, and if we can keep cultural diversity within certain limits of cultural homogeneity”

Ferenc
Guest

I want to cut and subtitle parts of the video, and send it around, so people outside of Hungary understand where it’s PM is heading at.

pappp
Guest

Never mind what Orban says.

Orban says it so that people – like the commenters of Hungarian Spectrum – would talk about him instead of the orruption, immigration away from Hungary, lack of well paying middle class jobs, degradation of rural Hungary etc.

This worked for Trump and could very well work for Orban too.

These controversies totally displace other discourses which would be more helpful for the opposition.

The liberal media always, without fail takes the bait and dutifully repeats what Orban says.

But the more the liberal media is upset, the more the voters will voter for Orban whose personality is that of an anti-elitist revolutionary (like Trump’s). Never mind that just like Trump Orban is the Hungarian elite personified. Voters hate the “elite” which includes intellectuals, journalists, experts.

There’s only one solution to Orban’s media strategy: Orban must be ignored and at most mocked as a loser, as a corrupt, mentally sick individual.

Ferenc
Guest

when younger OV had dreamed of being an actor, here are parts of his original screentest

start – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690#t=2m05s
invalid referendum – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690#t=2m50s
no modification of Constitution – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690#t=3m10s
smashed Olympic Dream – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690#t=3m40s
reactions to Feb.28 speech – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690#t=3m50s
to be completely published soon…..

bimbi
Guest

Comment on yet another jumped-up would-be dictator. Anyone we know looks like this?

“If you’re a political outsider who wants to move fast to the top job in a democracy, how to do it? The quickest way, [the book says], is to have fortune on your side from the outset, with plenty of inherited money and a leg up through family connections. If lying and breaking your oaths help you crush the opposition, so be it. Make the people your best friend. Promise to protect their interests against predatory elites and foreigners. Fan partisan hatreds so that you alone seem to rise above them, saviour of the fatherland.

The book is The Prince, its author Niccolò Machiavelli.”

From an article by Erica Benner in today’s Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/03/have-we-got-machiavelli-all-wrong

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance as they say in the US and Hungary was ripe to be gullible.

Member

Thanks for the link. Prof. Benner, now at Yale, taught for many years at Central European University in Budapest. She is no doubt very familiar with what is happening nowadays in Hungary. (I can attest that she is also incredibly smart and an all-around wonderful person too!)

wrfree
Guest

Prof Brenner would also no doubt be up on ‘Mach scales’. Many years ago while at university I was was introduced to a lab where subjects were tested in their degree of exhibiting and using manipulative behavior in power relationships. Scoring of that tendency was in the ‘Mach scale’ where one can be considered ‘high’ Mach or ‘low’ Mach in the management of their relationships. Considering what is going on at the highest levels of government I’d venture to say it’s a place of ‘high Machs’ running wild. If one was on the ‘low’ scale it would look as if they cannot have a chance to compete in the shark-infested waters of those who practice the dark side of Machiavellianism. The pathology and actions of the drive for power simply overwhelms them.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘ethnic homogeneity’

Magyarorszag at its highest level at this point looks the country of ‘storytellers’ with a number of ‘authors’ in the wings trying to present an Orban short story to the nation. This incident is indicative of the fact that they can’t get things straight when it comes to delivering the message. The change of words shows how language has now taken its place as a way of slyly obfuscating the leadership’s intent of taking the nation onto a ‘homogenous’ demographic ride.

For so long truth in communication has been constantly eroded in this swamp of leadership. This situation shows the country taking another hit along those lines. One wonders how long the obfuscators can keep up the semblance
of instilling belief and intent in their ‘stories’. This is a leadership where facts or anything said always floats on a sea of malleability. One day the country will drown because of it.

Member

Why they felt the need to lie is interesting more than the lie itself. Orban talks the same filth as the drunken racist scum in the kocsma would talk because he knows that is the only language the typical Fidesz voter appreciates and indeed, understands:
“Keep Hungary White? You hate the gypsies and the Arabs? Keep Hungary White? Me too!!”
Appealing to the lowest common denominator within his own sewer-dwelling, support-base in other words.

However, within hours of the speech it had been reported widely in the international media…along the lines of “Hungarian PM vows to keep out the blacks”.

The fascist and proudly racist Daily Mail in the UK quoted him in glowing terms but most civilised media outlets recoiled in horror. Hence the (attempted) damage limitation by Orban`s lackies yesterday and meaning (surpisingly enough) even with racist nationalism on the march throughout the democratic world there are still limits…

Guest

A bit OT re “The Daily Mail”:
The Mail seems to be on a breitfart course – snopes has just debunked a really crazy (and easily disproved!) story by them on Obama):
http://www.snopes.com/2017/03/02/valerie-jarrett-move-in-obamas/
Here’s the original article:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4271412/Obama-confidante-Valerie-Jarrett-moves-Kaloroma-home.html
Of course this was immediately repeated by breitbart …
They’re funny in their stupidity in a way – but of course some (many?) of their readersbelieve this.

Roger Király
Guest

“ethnic homogeneity”?!? I can understand, though not approve, Orbán wanting racial homogeneity in Hungary, but ethnic homogeneity? Hungarians are mutts and that’s not a bad thing—”hybrid vigor”—and by saying this I’m also branding myself as a mutt.

Gardonista
Guest

Just to state the obvious: Orban’s statement about ethnic homogeneity is absolutely 100% unadulterated racism. It is so brazen and new that I consider silence about this issue racism.

Tyrker
Guest