Situation report on the fight for Central European University

Yesterday Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy at Central European University who as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote a bitter letter on her Facebook page. She said that she and her husband left the United States in 2001 at considerable financial sacrifice in order for her to return to Hungary and join the faculty of CEU as an associate professor. It was a dream come true until April 4, 2017. As of that date, she finds herself part of an institution that “meddles in the internal affairs of Hungary and represents foreign interests.” What she finds most disappointing is that “colleagues, friends, and family don’t stand by her wholeheartedly.” They keep saying “the laws must be observed, and their glances indicate disapproval. Or, ‘I’m sorry; I don’t dare because I may be blacklisted.’”

Honest words, an honest description of what’s going on in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, but one must ask: Dear Diana, how is it possible that you haven’t noticed that something is very wrong with the party you dutifully voted for every four years? How is it that you as a proud Christian who gave birth to seven children and who, as you feel necessary to mention, “all attend parochial schools,” haven’t realized that this government’s alleged Christianity is hollow? Is it only now, when your own job is at stake, that you discover that something is wrong with the government you helped keep in power? Her statement ends with a whimper: “I am grateful for the support of those who dared to speak, dared to demonstrate, dared to share. Many of them are government-honoring [kormánytisztelő] Christian citizens, who for the first time said that this shouldn’t have been done.”

Fortunately most members of CEU’s administration, beginning with its president, Michael Ignatieff, are determined to fight and win. The contrast between the timid Hungarian academics and the international administration and faculty of CEU couldn’t be greater. Although President Ignatieff and Provost Liviu Matei have emphasized the support they have received from Hungarian colleagues and other Hungarian institutions of higher learning, the truth is that few have stood by CEU. Most of them have been quiet, but there was one “chancellor”—a newly appointed government watchdog over and above the university president and the senate—who outright welcomed the move of the government against CEU. The chancellor of the University of Debrecen pointed out that other Hungarian universities are at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting foreign students because of CEU’s ability to grant American degrees. The administration of Corvinus University was not exactly supportive either. President András Lánczi, the man who got the job as president of the university at the express wish of Viktor Orbán, also stressed the need for “a level legal playing field” for all Hungarian universities. It is true that 250 students and members of Corvinus University’s faculty published a supporting statement, but András Lánczi immediately fired off an e-mail reminding them of the university’s “ethical code,” which obliges members of the university community to maintain the good name of the university in their communications with the world.

Meanwhile the government is doing its best to mislead and intimidate. Two days ago an incredible number of policemen surrounded the parliament building on the occasion of the second demonstration in support of CEU. What was most disturbing was that in front of the row of policemen were apparent civilian strongmen who, as a video shows, provoked some members of the crowd. As it turned out, they were plainclothes policemen. While the uniformed police stood by motionless, these characters were belligerent. Almost as if they wanted to create a reason to arrest a few of the demonstrators. After a while they were recalled by a man in civilian clothes standing behind the police lines.

Last night two organizers of the demonstrations, a Hungarian and a foreigner, received unexpected visits from the police. Government papers want the public to believe that the demonstrators were almost exclusively foreigners. Magyar Hírlap­ reported that the government, as a result of the protest against the treatment of CEU, will be able to uncover the whole Soros network, which engages in such activities as “destabilization efforts by CEU graduates in states along the migration route, for example in Macedonia and Albania.”

The “parrot commando” keeps repeating the same false accusations against CEU, which they persist in calling Soros University. Until recently, László Palkovics, who is in charge of higher education, was given the task of explaining how eminently rational the Hungarian government’s position on CEU is. He steadfastly refused to admit that the amendments’ real purpose was to drive CEU out of the country. On the other hand, his boss, Zoltán Balog, minister of human resources, at last told the truth in a radio interview. “There is no need to beat around the bush. There is no need to hide. We ought to say straight out that we don’t want Central European University to function in its present form.” He added that if the United States and CEU want to continue in the present legal framework, “they have to invest.” That is, build a brand new campus in the United States.

The outcome envisaged by Balog is unlikely to materialize. President Michael Ignatieff is in the United States at present and, according to the latest news, has already conferred with Thomas A. Shannon, undersecretary of state for political affairs in the State Department, and Hoyt Brian Yee, deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. (Ignatieff was certainly more successful at the State Department than Hungary’s foreign minister, who visited Washington about two weeks ago and couldn’t meet with anyone at the Foggy Bottom.) He also talked with Fiona Hill, a member of the White House’s National Security Council who advises the president on European and Russian affairs. Next, Ignatieff is off to Berlin and, I trust, to Brussels as well. Angela Merkel’s spokesman already articulated the German government’s position on the matter.

Meeting with Thomas A. Shannon, undersecretary for political affairs

The European Parliament is also responding. Five of the eight political formations have condemned the Hungarian government’s attack on CEU. Even within the caucus of the European People’s Party (EPP), to which the 12-member Fidesz delegation belongs, a storm is brewing. It was the leader of the Fidesz group, József Szájer, who provoked the storm by writing an e-mail to the other members of the EPP caucus in which the Fidesz members contended that critics of the law have been “gravely mislead (sic) by the propaganda and private agenda of the American billionaire Soros” and are fighting with a “virtual reality.” They added that “as in the world of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, there are the equals and there are some more equals (sic) than others.” This e-mail apparently prompted an angry reaction. EPP’s leader, Manfred Weber, tweeted that “Freedom of thinking, research and speech are essential for our European identity. EPP group will defend this at any cost.” Frank Engel, a member of the EPP from Luxembourg, was less polite. He replied in an e-mail: “Forget the crap. We know what is happening, and why. Why don’t you leave both the EPP and the EU on your own terms? … You’re practically and factually out anyway. So go. Please go.”

Time and again the European People’s Party caucus has saved Viktor Orbán’s skin in Brussels. It has been reluctant to expel its Fidesz members, who really don’t belong in this group. The Fidesz delegation would feel much more at home in the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists of Europe, joining their Polish and euroskeptic British friends. But the EPP doesn’t want to lose 12 members from its caucus. Although it is the largest in the European Parliament, its lead is not overwhelming. Still, even without Fidesz it would remain the largest caucus, with 205 members. The Socialists and Democrats have 189 members. To shield a dictatorial regime for the sake of a few votes is too high a price to pay.

April 6, 2017
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Istvan
Guest

In case Spectrum readers don’t know who Dr. Fiona Hill is, whom Eva noted in her essay, she is the co-author of the Brookings Institution book “Mr. Putin Operative in the Kremlin.” When I read she was going on the US National Security Council at the request of General H. R. McMaster I knew the General had gotten a majority on the NSC with an understanding of the real danger of Putin’s Russia.

So just yesterday we can read this article http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/bannon-mcmaster-national-security-council-236921 that describes how the General organized the removal of Steve Bannon from the NSC. Dr. Hill is fully aware of the level of Russian involvement in Hungary. My guess is that Sebastian Gorka’s days of foreign policy influence are largely over too.

While Trump is very unnerving, having Dr. Hill on the NSC is somewhat reassuring for me.

András B. Göllner
Guest
The Hungarian Christian Right’s anti-liberal anti-Jewish hatred is the key to why, a wonderful Hungarian University, founded by a liberal Hungarian Jew, George Soros, is being persecuted. This is why, George Lukács’s statue has been sent packing, this is why the anti-Semitic hate-monger Zsolt Bayer was given a State decoration by President Áder, this is why the last remaining bastions of free, and liberal thinking will be shut down soon in Hungary. Hungary’s population either does not want to, or is unable to put up a fight. It watched when the 460,000 were crammed into cattle wagons and sent to Auschwitz. And it will do little to stop this deportation. The Christian Right in Hungary, for the past hundred years, has always looked upon liberals as Jews, looked upon liberalism as an alien creed created by the Jews to suffocate, overwhelm, destroy this Christian nation state. This anti-liberal, anti-Semitic phobia is a real “Hungaricum”, an ancient recipe, concocted well before WWI, by the likes of Hungarian Catholic Bishop Ottokár Prohászka, and consumed today by the likes of Viktor Orbán and his power crazed cronies. Anti-Semitism didn’t come to Hungary from Germany, it went into Hitler’s head from Hungary, after he… Read more »
Member

To be fair, whilst most of the University hierarchy in Hungary are nothing short of despicable Quislings, lapdogs of a fascist regime, ELTE did stand behind CEU with this statement:
http://www.ceu.edu/article/2017-04-03/eltes-leadership-supports-ceu

pappp
Guest

Also Szeged University (all of the deans of the several schools) was openly supporting CEU – but it is the exception for sure.

BMO
Guest

The greater Hungarian public and the EU itself seems to be missing the big picture here. It’s not the quotas, the universities or the anti-Brussels rhetoric.

These separate issues are the silhouettes of the real underlying problem: A de-facto Russian protectorate or a vassal state in the making, under the very aegis the Union.

In my opinion, we are beyond the point where the EU or external forces can apply a quick “fix” to the problem. What has been a political nuisance may soon become a geopolitical risk.

Sooner or later Germany or the US will have to step in as Orban won’t stop at leaving the EU, NATO could be the next issue. The lackadaisical foreign policies and inertia of these aforementioned countries may be enough to let Orban leave the EU, but they cannot tolerate a NATO country to be associated with Russia to the extent where we are headed..

Member

A little addition: not only has Orbán’s daughter studied at the Ecole hoteliere in Lausanne which operates with US accreditations exactly like the CEU, President Áder’s daughter as well is studying at “Richmond, The American International University in London” (http://24.hu/belfold/2017/04/06/ader-janos-lanya-is-amerikaban-akkreditalt-diplomaert-tanul-londonban/ ). This piece of news provoked a heated discussion in one of the pro-CEU Facebook groups, with many people pointing out that Ráhel Orbán and Orsolya Áder as innocent private persons should be left in peace. I found it very difficult to understand the gist of this debate. Of course, these young ladies are innocent of their fathers’ crimes, but nobody is condemning them! The whole thing is about their fathers’ double standards – those who rule don’t have to keep to the rules – and it’s strange that some people just don’t realize this any more.
And speaking of double rules: has anyone heard of further reactions to the statement of Victor Ponta in Romania? A few days ago he promised to submit a “Hungarian-style” law amendment proposal against foreign universities operating in Romania (http://hvg.hu/vilag/20170331_Romaniaban_maris_lemasolnak_a_CEUellenes_javaslatot ), and this might affect the Hungarian-funded Sapientia University in Transylvania and the Christian [!] University of Partium in Nagyvárad/Oradea.

Member

Rahel Orban is hardly innocent. She and her husband benefit handsomely from her father’s corruption and crime. She, unlike her brother, has taken an active role in promoting the virtues of daddy’s mafia state. Facebook criticism should be the least of her worries.

Orsolya Ader has not used her father’s position for purposes of self-promotion. However, under US media law, she is a public figure simply because she is the First Daughter. Anyone who is a publc figure is subject to public scrutiny, even if they get thrust into the public eye through no fault of their own.

This “just leave them alone” mentality is part of what makes Hungary’s opposition so weak. When Orban is shoving his medieval version of Christianity down the country’s throat, and his daughter gets caught on video rubbing her crotch against a male dance partner at a music festival, that is part of the public interest. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Guest

I agree with you 100%, Alex Kuli.

Guest

If the CEU is shut down then both Orbán’s and Áder’s daughters should be sent packing home. They can then enjoy universities here in Budapest, led by Fidesz-supporting rectors.

Guest

These “girls” are just spoiled brats – they probably consider themselves aristocrats’ daughters worth every € that’s invested in them by their lords!

Just like a hundred years ago …

pappp
Guest

Poor Prof. Ürge-Vorsatz what she received on facebook was exceptionally harsh. Last time I checked all of the comments were civilized but very very harsh. She received zero sympathy from anybody. Basically she was completely, 100% loyal to Orban and his regime until the point when it turned out her job was in danger. It’s a case study of how not to behave.

As long as ordinary people were bullied and oppressed by Fideszniks, looting the country, or fired for being not-loyal enough to the regime she was happy as a clam.

But whereupon realized that she just became a collateral damage to Orban destructive insanity she went mad. As long as it happens with other why bother, right?

Anyway, better late than never.

Observers
Guest

Good points:

The comments reveal the typical Hungarians attitudes (worse than others’). Most of them know they are sly and subservient and try to compensate with vociferous moralizing and viscous attacks on weak targets.

The Prof. Ürge-Vorsatz case thickly underlines the faith factor in the Orban sect. She was deaf and blind and kept the faith against all realities. But now that she has spoken against it, the believers, similar to radical Islamist, want her (socio-political) death, as due to all apostates.

Observer
Guest
Member

Interview with Mr Ignatieff:

“I had a message this morning [April 6] that the U.S. State Department is sending people to Budapest next week.[…]
The support of the United States government has been unwavering, which has sent a ripple back into Europe, and the Europeans have become a little less cautious. […]
I will say that Mr. Orbán’s assumption that a Trump administration wouldn’t care if an American institution gets kicked around is wrong.”

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Attack-on-Central-European-U/239729?key=XaMJFpx9opKst2jyIKXWQvMQ1PODj5VF-2W5nMFz2SUBLdw-b3XAr2VLI7ivWuhxTHZUOGIyd3M5eVUxVEVBQ19CY2F2c0IwZ2NGcEdWemZjT2ZCNWxEZ2V3Zw

Guest
“…how is it possible that you haven’t noticed that something is very wrong with the party you dutifully voted for every four years? ” If Diana Ürge-Vorsatz is an example of intellectual rigour, then it should be no surprise that Hungary is in such an abysmal state! How, indeed, can a university professor, especially one steeped in Western democracy, be bamboozled by Orbán’s propoganda, and have repeatedly voted for him? It is Orbán’s clever use of rhetoric, which depends on the ignorance of foreigners regarding the former Soviet bloc countries, which has blinded Fidesz loyalists, including Űrge-Vorsatz, to the real issues in Hungary. In Hungary, the words socialist and communist are always confused, so all Orbán has to do is say Socialist, and he has everyone running in fear. Hungary was a small satellite country under communist Russian rule. Therefore it was a communist country, not a socialist one, and that a distinguished academic like Ürge-Vorsatz is ignorant of the difference, is quite shocking. To see socialism at work, visit England, which is a socialist country, even when it has a conservative right-wing government in place. That means there is free education, free health care, welfare for unemployed and a… Read more »
Member

“It is Orbán’s clever use of rhetoric, which depends on the ignorance of foreigners regarding the former Soviet bloc countries, which has blinded Fidesz loyalists, including Űrge-Vorsatz, to the real issues in Hungary.”

I’d say you’re being rather charitable. Nobody with a pair of functioning eyes could be blinded to the real issues in Hungary. Urge-Vorsatz did whatever she did with full knowledge of the consequences.

The question of “why” remains open. I’ll allow that she might have had good intentions in her own mind.

Guest

Then it must be true that many voters in Hungary have malfunctioning eyes!

Even a family member of mine, for instance, who relocated from the UK to Hungary, with British family, voted for Orbán last time around – and why?
Because of the communist/socialist rhetoric, and sheer ignorance of the situation here. It caused serious family rows.

But Ürge-Vorsatz has no such excuse, as a “learned” academic.

aida
Guest

Clearly they have no sense. To choose voluntarily to live in Hungary already shows seriously curtailed judgment. The vote for Fidesz is not unexpected in the circumstances.

Member

“To choose voluntarily to live in Hungary already shows seriously curtailed judgment.”

Not sure that’s fair, Aida. Choosing to live in one’s homeland is perfectly normal. Especially if you have family there.

Not long ago, an unknown man in a pub near my house approached me and asked me why I, a US citizen, chose to live in Budapest. He was not satisfied with my answer and proceeded to opine that I was living in Hungary because I was not talented enough to “make it” in the US.

I have no idea how he learned about my citizenship. I told him to bugger off.

Guest

Thank you for support, Alex.

There are a lot of very good things about Hungary, which try as hard as he likes, Orbán cannot claim credit for.

The climate is great, with 4 proper seasons, and property is still cheap, compared to the UK and there is a lively cultural life, still functioning though we don’t know for how long….

And that is another thing about the CEU, which has hosted and been a venue for important lectures, open to the public and delivered by world- renowned experts and specialists.

I recall one of them, many years ago, where mention was made about Horty, and a whole row of Fideszniks in the audience were outraged by suggestions that Horty was anything other than wonderful…No doubt that such lectures, of an international standard and imprtance, are one of the main reasons for wanting to close the most excellent university.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘And that is another thing about the CEU, which has hosted and been a venue for important lectures, open to the public and delivered by world- renowned experts and specialists’

Absolutely. Prodigious in its educational power.

All this makes me think of my university days here being taught by a Polish professor of history. I appreciate how she taught me much in 19th and 20th century history especially on that ‘backwater, Eastern Europe. Oh we had a few ‘summits’ in class when it came to Russia, Poland, the US and Europe. Free speech at its best. Perhaps at this moment she too looks on at the CEU situation. If I know her the EU has seen fire and brimstone from her and all of it is ‘no surrender!’

Ferenc
Guest

“like this might be a wake-up call for Ürge-Vorsatz”
Let’s hope that’s true (OV support -1, and counting down….).
BUT what if she get’s offered a job at another Hungarian university (e.g.Debecen), and then she has to decide (go to there and vote like before / not support OV&Co anymore)?
Well what’s it gonna be girl? YES or NO………

Member

I have searched on Facebook for Urge-Vorsatz’s page, but nothing comes up. Could it be that this courageous woman has now deleted her page?

Ferenc
Guest

Petition: “Tell EPP To Finally Kick Out Fidesz”
https://www.change.org/p/european-people-s-party-tell-epp-to-finally-kick-out-fidesz
petition will be delivered to: Viviane Reding – European People’s Party

Guest

I’ve said it before (btw my wife totally agrees with this as a Hungarian):

Hungary is on the way back into the “good old times” of being a class society – and it’s almost there!

We have a small upper class (consisting of Fideszniks and their dependents) who form a kind of aristocracy which lives in heaven …
The middle class is fighting to get by, but politically quiet, because they are afraid …
And the large majority of sheeple doesn’t count!

As Lázár said:
If you have nothing then you are nothing!

PS:
Now our media in Germany report evry day on the crazyness of O and his politicians – many in Germany have strongly criticised Hungary, waiting for the final straw …

Member

@tappanch April 5, 2017 3:20 pm

“Chemical attack by Assad in Syria.
Russia keeps supporting Assad.
Trump is angered by Putin.
He fires his pro-Russian advisor Bannon.
If Russia vetoes the UN resolution against Assad, Trump will bomb Assad’s airplanes. […] Orban looks like a Russian puppet by using the same methods as Putin (closing independent university, trying to silence independent organizations).”

An hour ago:

“Moscow suspends US-Russia memorandum on flights safety in Syria.”
http://tass.com/politics/939940

Istvan
Guest

We (the USA) have attacked and fully destroyed a Syrian airbase with 59 BGM-109 Tomahawk missile that cost about US$830,000 each. The action has created a deep split among Trump supporters as this article shows https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/us/trump-far-alt-right-syria.html?_r=0

This action was cheered by members of the armed forces in particular because the US notified the Russians of the attack and told them they would die if they did not evacuate the base. My understanding also is that the Russians were told if the Syrians attempted to move their aircraft to avoid the impending attack the US would shoot them down.

Even more exciting and encouraging for the US armed forces was that Trump welcomed Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife to his private club in Florida on Thursday evening, and then announced he had bombed Syria, one of China’s allies. That was the type of in your face action that just thrills his supporters in US the armed forces.

Ferenc
Guest

If OV&Fidesz are finally kicked out and/or leave the European People’s Party (EPP) I have serious doubts if they will be able to join / will be accepted by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists of Europe (ECR), which is mainly build around the British Conservative Party. Their Polish friends are there, but the other remaining (so except the British) don’t seem so friendly to them. So when still in the EU, they might be accepted by Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), which at the moment includes a.o.Front Nationale (Le Pen), German AfD (Frauke Petry) and Dutch PVV (Wilders).

pappp
Guest

Orban is sorry but the famous Norwegian NGO fund monies will have to be distributed by the government not by some independent institution.

Sure, Orban may “only” want a veto in the process but it is the same thing any lawyer would tell – Fidesz is after all a party of lawyers.

Fideszniks are usually much smarter than their naive adversaries who swallow any promise or signed paper (even if say it’s non-binding or can be terminated at will).

Orban was unlikely ever to agree to anything that is good for non-governmental institutions, he always wants to retain ultimate control. Anything else was just a lie. But this is how a diligent autocracy works.

Orban knows that the NGOs are starved so that if he is pushy enough he can force the NGOs themselves to capitulate and lobby for submission by the Norwegians.

http://24.hu/belfold/2017/04/07/a-kormany-ratenne-a-kezet-a-norveg-alap-60-milliardjara/

webber
Guest

Orban is stark-raving mad.

Observers
Guest

Guys,

I am happy that most see the situation in Hungary for what it is,
his budding Fascist regime blossoms with more poisonous flowers. And from flora to fauna: once we have identified the (political) animal we know what to expect from it.

E.g. The supporters of academic independence/CEU are now blamed with destabilizing whole countries (along the migration route), hence criminals of the highest order, ergo – deserving the harshest treatment/punishment.

BTW, I notice dozens of plain-cloth police in the crowd at the March 15 “celebration”.

bencus
Guest

This is becoming more insane and delusional by the day.

It really looks like Orban really wants to force the Trump administration to deal with him (to get at least one f***ing photo opportunity which Orban can then spin as a huge endorsement) by blackmailing Americans with CEU (or rather what Orban and Szíjjártó imagine as a blackmail).

It’s exactly like when a pathetic drunken homeless provokes fights on the street because he is looking for a communication, any kind of communication. A homeless is often so extremely lonely and desperate that it doesn’t even matter to him that he will be beaten up, just the very act of a single communication (in the form of an eventual beating up) is worth the temporary escape from such unbearable loneliness.

https://444.hu/2017/04/07/a-magyar-kormany-ratette-a-ceu-nyakara-a-kest-es-most-szerintuk-trumpeknak-kell-lepniuk

Alex Antypas
Guest

The vast majority of demonstrators have been Hungarian-many of them students. And many Hungarian academics have reached out and supported CEU, the obvious omissions, especially from many rectors, notwithstanding. ELTE has indeed been especially supportive. This is very important for those of us at CEU as the attack has been absolutely viscous and brings a tremendous sense of personal and collective vulnerability. Many of us have children here and we now find ourselves instructing them on what to say and not say in public for fear of their personal safety. Exaggerated or not, the fear is already there. For the CEU community to survive through this we need as much support in Hungary as possible.

bencus
Guest

Hopefully the Sunday demonstration will be big. Already many people are planning to attend. Perhaps it will be the biggest in a long time.

Orban and Fidesz are much weaker than what they imagine themselves to be (which is good, let them think they are popular) even if admittedly this is a liberal issue that doesn’t really affect rural poor and working class people who by default resent the urban elite.

CEU’s example in Hungary will itself be a case study for the university to teach. I imagine that Soros established CEU exactly because of such instances. He instinctively knew that the CEE is lacking the stability of Western Europe although none more so than Hungary itself as it turns out.

But Orban is in the final, declining phase of his political life. And there’s nothing he can do about that.

Hungary will soon come up for air and get rid of this ballast which is relentlessly pulling the nation down.

I am absolutely certain that CEU will prevail over this corrupt and incompetent bunch of gangsters.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘I am absolutely certain that CEU will prevail over this corrupt and incompetent bunch of gangsters’

Hopefully. One thing we can be all certain about is that CEU with much backing has the will to fight. And where there is a will there’s a way through the thicket.

What I am a bit puzzled about is seeing nothing on the issue by the AHF. Now if they have a comment or position on the dissolution of CEU I don’t see it. Amazing since we are the bastion of the free world and have a major stake in making sure ‘gangsters’ all over the world refrain from hijacking freedoms to satisfy lusts for power.

Member

Writer György Konrád wrote an open letter to Orbán yesterday evening:

“Your propaganda machinery, with Goebbelsian enthusiasm, show the Jewish Soros as the origin of all problems.”

http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1125942-konrad-gyorgyvalaszlevel-magyarorszag-miniszterelnokenek

Guest

Pappp likes to tell us that the Fidesznik lawyers are “smarter” than the rest of Hungary – but this antisemitic action by O tells everybody (at least those observers outside Hungary) what kind of fascist regime he has built!

So as others and I already said, this idiocy might be the final straw.

Now the EU and the EPP have to react – and if Fidesz joins the group of Wilders and lePen we will all see clearly …

petofi
Guest

“..the final straw..”

Don’t be daft.
Orban will lower gas/electrical fees; and continue to vehemently attack CEU–which, after all, is the work of ‘jews’–and the average Hungarico will be as happy as a pig in shit.
The real culprit in Hungary–the backbone of the illiberal idiocy–is the Catholic Church. Give credit where credit is due.

HAJRA MAGYAROK!!!!

Guest

I’m not counting on the Hungarians – the pressure must first come from outside. What I wanted to show is that the EPP (with Mrs Merkel etc) and of course the EU is losing their tolerance for the antics of Fidesz – that’s more important imho.

Member

Given the rate of church attendance, I somehow doubt the Catholic Church can exert a large degree of influence over the Hungarian public.

Orban (ab)uses religion as a substitute for communism. Everything was “allami” under Kadar; Orban simply switched the terminology to “nemzeti” and declared himself a disciple of Jesus Christ instead of Marx and Lenin. He then proceeded to solidify a cult of personality based on “Christian conservative” principles that have nothing to do with Christianity or modern-day conservatism. The majority of people bought it.

wrfree
Guest

Re: the Catholic ‘templom’

Jaysus, there has to be some clear-sighted clerics with a moral squint combined with a dutiful sense of conscience nervously jiggling their rosary beads at this bent ‘Christianity’. Christ looking on he can only say, ”Father forgive them for they know not what they do’.
The ‘clerics’….absent without leave.

petofi
Guest

The indoctrination of Hungarians begins at the age of 5 when they start attending Sunday school…

pappp
Guest
Alex, you fundamentally misunderstand the church’s influence in Hungary if you think that’s based on attendance. That said, according to various research for 8-15% of the voters religion is the determining issue at voting (reliability as a Christian, some kind of loyalty to the churches). That’s not a small constituency, especially in rural districts where the ratio is higher, among elderly it’s higher still. The church is a nationwide network of disciplined people to whom the left has no access which is an almost insurmountable disadvantage for them n rural places. Rural education is overwhelmingly parochial, especially for the rural middle class. If you’re a left wing party how do you even find somebody you can talk to about politics in Zala county (where Fidesz and Jobbik have 85% of the votes), let alone find good candidates? For Fidesz all it takes is a call and you get names you can talk to. In rural places but also in general people may not go to church and are not religious, but the church represents a clean, orderly, traditional way of life to which to aspire. And therefore it has respect. The traditional churches are strong (were made strong by conscious… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
Honestly both Petofi and pappp are correct. Hungarian Catholicism is deeper than attendance at mass or survey data. I consider myself a practicing Catholic here in the USA, but I do not follow the rules on attending mass or taking communion regularly. I disagree with celibacy for priests and sisters. I don’t agree with the Church’s position on outlawing abortion in civil society, but I am opposed to abortion except when the life of the mother is endangered. I think opposition to birth control by the Church is ignored by innumerable Catholics. I will for sure go to mass on Easter Sunday and take communion at Saint Stephen King of Hungary Roman Catholic Church here in Chicago. I actually look forward to going because I see many of my childhood friends before and after mass, people I went to Hungarian language school with, possibly a woman when she was an adolescent I was infatuated with, and it goes on and on well beyond religious devotion. Catholic Church is a community. I am not sure whether or not Petofi would consider whether Hebrew School is “indoctrination,” which is typically taught on Sunday and on one day of the week either Tuesday… Read more »
Member

There are so many things with which I disagree about your post. If you wish to discuss, please write @ alex_kuli@yahoo.com.

pappp
Guest

Alex, you’re kind but I stand by my assessment. Best, p

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘idiocy might be the final straw’

And perhaps where their vision was blocked they will begin to actually ‘see’ as opposed to be just ‘looking’.

Now some ‘artful’ Magyars by simply looking for example at Bruegel’s ‘Procession to Calvary’ might learn a bit about their experience with their leaders. If they just ‘look’ at the picture they will miss the most important part since (Christ falling under the cross) is practically invisible in the center of the picture. To ‘see’ that requires effort and determination by the viewer. Bruegel really makes you work!

Arguably right now the nation in a way is experiencing a sort of ‘Calvary’ period particularly with its relatiinship to democratic traditions. Perhaps the tumultuous CEU issue will now show them what is really smack dab right in front of their eyes.

petofi
Guest

When, as a people, you have been habituated to psychological pleasures–such as the abuse of gypsies and jews–you are hard pressed to appreciate reality. For that, there has to be a long process of extracting public education from the grip of the Catholic Church; and the reestablishing of civilized norms and values.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘The government of the United States, is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion’
George Washington

Magyarorszag perhaps could’ve used a guy like George to say a few things before the founding…;-)….

The country unfortunately now pays the price of having the Church ‘in the bag’ by and with the state. And being co-opted just seems to be painless for the clerics. I’d think they are reading a different catechism. Really it looks state-subsidized.

Member

Ürge-Vorsatz is probably the type who thinks the Orban regime’s shenanigans are just collateral damage in the fight for Christian values. Just be careful when you trash them – they will vote for Orban in 2018 out of fear.

pappp
Guest
Gabor Török, the most trusted ‘politologist’ says that liberals demonstrating against Orban is a net positive for Orban, it makes him stronger. Orban is happy about those. It’s because liberals are a despised minority in Hungary and when liberals seem strong and livid (György Konrad, Peter Molnar, Gabor Demszky and so on) the traditional right wing base becomes fired up too. Török says that the Trump Administration may be able to influence Orban, but the demonstrations won’t. Orban will just lough at liberals who don’t get that his base is also getting worked up and will resist a liberal resurgence. The demonstrators supporting CEU must cross over to poor conservatives and must tell them why CEU must stay why this urban issue is important for people of Szolnok or Bátonyterenye or Csurgó. But the reasons must not be freedom of speech, democracy, or autonomy of universities – the poor people simply don’t give a shit about any of these. But they sure like Orban’s ideas about cutting utility prices and they hate urban liberals who care more about democracy at a time when they in Tapolca or Kisvárda don’t even have money at Békéscsaba to buy a decent bacon for… Read more »
Member
“The demonstrators supporting CEU must cross over to poor conservatives and must tell them why CEU must stay why this urban issue is important for people of Szolnok or Bátonyterenye or Csurgó. ” Convincing “Poor conservatives” to turn against their Messiah ? To reject the living god who reduced their electricity bills by 500 forints? Please tell me, You are having a laugh? Complete and utter waste of time trying to try to talk intelligence to that mob. Orban tells those redneck morons the earth is flat and that he is the reincarnation of St Istvan, they believe him. Regarding 99.9% of the rest of the Hungarian population, CEU means diddly squat to them, no point taking the argument to them when the time can be utilised by ensuring much greater pressure can be put on the fascists from outside. One EPP representative in Brussels turning away from Fidesz equals probably 20,000 Hungarian voters in terms of damage done to the Orban mafia. Convince enough of the powerbrokers in Washington and Brussels and watch Orban and his hencemen start to panic. No, you are right in one thing, decent people marching against the fascist regime will have probably zero effect… Read more »
pappp
Guest

Don’t get me wrong. I did protest and will continue to do so. Absolutely.

(i) But as long as this is a compartmentalized, educated, urban thing most voters won’t care. (ii) Not only that but the conservative base will actually be fired up fearing that the liberals might be gaining ground and be getting stronger.

This is why I suggested that instead of (or in addition to) university presidents (which is fine too) also stars or celebrities who are respected by such conservative, uneducated, rural voters also endorse CEU and speak out against the banning. Only Balazs Sebestyen did so in one single morning radio talk show. This isn’t enough I am just afraid.

Member
” But as long as this is a compartmentalized, educated, urban thing most voters won’t care. ” That was my point… if we are waiting for Feri Bacsi in some god-forsaken videki kocsma to put down his palinka long enough to rise up against his fascist overlords then we will be waiting for too long a time. Sorry, lost cause…you are a hopeless idealist if you really think that is a possibility Democracy has failed in Hungary, or to be more exact, it never really got started in the first place. Two things will bring down Orban. 1. Outside pressure, ie from the EU and the US, possibly even Putyin if his puppet wavers too far from the prepared path. 2. Internal pressure, that is internal within the deep state within Hungary if they feel their own selfish interests are being threatened. Possibly, to the smallest of degrees, decent people in Hungary can influence the external players. But that is about it. No chance with the rural living dead, they are a lost cause for at least a generation. We can march, write blog posts even (as Budapesters) piss off Viktor with her little victories like with the Olympics. But… Read more »
pappp
Guest

They won’t do anything but if enough celebrities endorse something they change their minds. And that can show up in the polls which Fidesz are monitoring. Rural people won’t ever rise up against anybody, that can only happen in Budapest. But sentiments can change and people’s opinions can be influenced – but not by rational arguments (that’s a liberal myth) but by seeing among others that a star football player also supports some cause.

Guest

Pappp, if I said this to my wife – she’d call me crazy and insinuated that I hate Hungarians, calling them stupid/idiots/you name it …

Are you telling us that all/the majority of Hungarians are really like this?

Then we can give up hope for Hungary – its people deserve this return to the 19th Century. Those who think differently (or rather think at all) will emigrate – just as they have been doing for many years!

Guest

Pappp, come on!
I almost pity the poor Hungarians, but:

If the average Hungarian (as you imply …) really thinks that it’s the Jewish Liberals’ fault that he’s poor – while at the same time he sees his Fidesz representative in his big black Audi coming home to his big luxurious house from a visit to an exclusive restaurant – then petofi is right:

Hungarians are even stupider than (insert expletive here) …

If they are happy with the kind of class society we see developing right now, ok, they want it that way.

PS and rather OT:
It’s laugh not lough …

pappp
Guest

This is not a rational contemplation. Rural people all over the world just resent smartly dressed urban people because among others they feel that the urbanites look down on them. But in Hungary they are the majority because outside of Budapest everything is culturally rural. Which means rural voters will overlook the Audis because they hate “the liberals” much more than they hate Fidesz. The urban people are “the other” while their feudal fidesznik overlords are one of them (only more powerful and richer).

Guest

It struck me that the demonstrators I saw on TV were too well dressed to appeal to village people. Well, village people didn’t see them.

petofi
Guest

“..government-honoring..” ?

And she lived in the US? You kid me, surely.

When Lincoln said, ‘ government for the people and by the people’…that applies to all democratic governments. Wherein does Orban’s government adhere to that?

This woman is a crying ninny who, when she sees the application of unfair, illegal, undemocratic practices applied to herself…cries like a banshee.

She might’ve been taken out of Hungary, but Hungary has never left her-

petofi
Guest

ps. I hope she doesn’t find the means to leave that god-forsaken country and must remain to stew in Orban’s specially concoted juices…

pappp
Guest

The amount of trolling (especially by fake ID trolls) at pro-CEU posts on facebook is now staggering.

Either the Russians are helping in or the Hungarian government has now an centrally directed army of trolls too.

This concentrated effort of trolling is unprecedented. Apparently Fidesz is using any and all means to defeat resistance.

petofi
Guest

“…to defeat resistance.”

This is a good point and rather Machiavellian. The good Florentine thought that the best means of control is to keep
the citizenry poor and struggling. Fear and Want is the most effective means of control…ask the basement boys-

Member

A couple of updates: the French government tells Orban straight:
http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/hungary/events/article/hungary-central-european-university-statement-by-harlem-desir-minister-of-state

And the organisers of tomorrow`s demo have moved it further along the rakpart as a lot more are anticipated now than wasoriginally expected. Brilliant weather also here predicted so it could be such a great photo opportunity to prove to the international media that (unlike the impression given by the fascist regime) we are not all racist, anti-Semitic brain-washed scum following unquestioningly the diktats of The Dear Leader.

Member

Just back from the CEU demo, it was big, perhaps not quite as big as the organisers are claiming but certainly 50k +.

Several observations: the cops were much younger than usual, whether this was a strategic decision I dont know but they were much more empathetic than ones on previous demos.

Secondly, the atmosphere walking to Kossuth was like (for Brit readers) the Notting Hill Carnival ... for Americans, what I imagine a music parade is like in New Orleans. Great tunes, people dancing in the streets.. leading to the feeling that protesting against the authorities is cool.

Thirdly, the audience make-up was seriously young and predominately Hungarian.

Finally, and it is a small point, but most of the speeches etc were in Hungarian, which I understand from a PR pov makes sense, but a few translations wouldnt have gone amiss.

pappp
Guest

Istvan Hegedus has in interesting interview about CEU and Orban. He is not optimistic at all about the prospects of CEU in Hungary, Orban has been planning this war for years, the fideszniks are prepared and united.

Basically what Hegedus says although not in such terms is that Orban is sadistic, he needs tormenting others just because he can and needs it to feed his ego.

And if Erdogan and Putin could get away with shutting down schools Orban figures he has the right to do so too.

http://index.hu/belfold/2017/04/09/orban_fejeben_a_ceu_testesit_meg_mindent_ami_ellen_harcolni_kell/

Member

Orban`s problem is that he, unlike Erdogan and Putyin, only trusts braindead loyalists to work for him.

Member

So… what is the craic in the videki conservative heartlands Papp?
In Budapest, the message is clear.
Fidesz 0-1 Democrats.

pappp
Guest
Sorry to disappoint but nobody knows what’s going on in Budapest. They hate Budapest anyway. MTV and TV2 or Kossuth radio don’t say much as you know and people in rural heartlands don’t read 444.hu (in fact few people read it in general, perhaps 250k out of 8m+ voters). Even if some people knows about CEU, the issue is about some university attended by urban liberal folks and foreigners, when people there can barely write and read and are happy if they can pay their utility bills. Don’t count on their sympathies. The demonstration was nice but will Orban retreat? Only if deep state (and the oligarchy) would do something and I don’t see too many signs of this yet. Or because of foreign pressure, meaning pressure from the US because Orban knows the Europeans are just impotent, they are basically irrelevant. However this is where US pressure may come in handy. The demonstrations don’t try to influence Orban directly but rather the public and the people around Orban. Similarly a tough US response will have a bigger effect on the deep state than on Orban, but the oligarch, state security people can eventually influence Orban. The resistance by CEU… Read more »
Member

Apparently now your boys are now in complete disarray… there are groups breaking off in all directions- I am at the Oktagon now with about a 1000 other democrats, at Heroes Square there are 1000s afak…

Member

You arent watching TV2 by any chance Papp? ;)
His woman
s fank shop in Nador Utca has just got raided 🙁

Member

Interestingly enough…the cops couldnt give a toss, not much loyalty to the Dear Leader. As long as we dont push it too far,…

Member

Massive sitdown at the Oktagon apparently, we are down at Kiraly, others at Hosok so it is going get bigger. Where are the Orbanists papp?

Member

Mr Papp…you still there? Shush… connectting in with Moscow for an update?
We have you on the run.

pappp
Guest

D7 Democrat: I went to sleep yesterday. I think you don’t follow my comments too closely because you would know that I am an absolutely uncompromising enemy of the Orban-system.

I was actually at the demonstration for hours, from the beginning till the (official) end. I have close personal connections to CEU – what more do you want?

All I’m trying to make you understand – and I realize I’m failing in that – is that Orban is not afraid of urban liberals – he is ‘afraid’ of the white, uneducated working class.

The former is a 10-15% constituency who anyway would never vote for Orban, the latter is a 70% constituency which either already admires Orban or is a potential supporter of Orban. In the political calculus of Orban only the latter group matters. This is why in order for any political movement to win it absolutely must cross over to that majority.

(Note that Netadó demonstrations were all over rural Hungary, CEU had no such offshoot demonstrations, Berlin had it, yes, but those Hungarians can’t vote in practice so they don’t count for Orban).

This isn’t a very complex idea, but apparently many people refuse to get it.

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