Yesterday I read an article in The Washington Post about the two Republican female senators who, because of their opposition to the GOP health-care effort, face backlash from men in their party. Some of the comments even included possible physical retaliation. The author of the article believes that “the language of retribution” adopted by Republican men “reflects Trump’s influence.” When the leader of a party shows that it’s okay to use the kind of language Donald Trump used during his campaign, it “catches on at other levels.”
This development is nothing new for those of us who have watched political developments in Hungary and are only too aware of the shabby treatment the few female members of parliament have had to suffer in the last seven years by brutish males whose socialization in Fidesz circles practically destines them to behave in a manner that is anything but civilized. Viktor Orbán himself has never uttered any openly demeaning epithets about women, but he has made it apparent that he doesn’t consider them to be quite equal to men. Moreover, because of his firm belief that Hungarians should “be fruitful and multiply,” women necessarily must take a back seat behind the head of the family. After all, having five children, as the Orbáns do, is pretty much a full-time job for at least fifteen-twenty years of the mother’s life.
These thoughts came to mind when I was reading articles by government-hired hacks on the “provocation” by Andrea Ladó, a native of Transylvania, who had the temerity to go to Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tușnad with the intention of expressing her opposition to Viktor Orbán’s policies. She was armed with a parasol to which was attached a sign protesting RDE Hargita Kft., a Hungarian-owned company in Székelyudvarhely/Odorheiu Secuiesc whose activities apparently pollute the environment. In addition, she carried a whistle which she planned to use to express her frustration with Orbán’s policies.
Initially she hoped for a larger crowd because she had called on friends on Facebook, but in the end she was alone. A day before Orbán delivered his speech Tamás Pindroch, nowadays of Figyelő, Mária Schmidt’s recently acquired publication, got wind of the plan and predicted that whistling in Tusnádfürdő might not be such a good idea because “the Szeklers are not such long-suffering folks as those in Budapest. Their answer to a whistle blow is a punch.” He advised them to prepare for the worst. It’s not a good idea to take advantage of the hospitality of the Szeklers.
And indeed, in no time Andrea Ladó was grabbed by her hair and thrown to the ground. A brave Szekler warrior attacked her from the back, and after a brief struggle with a security guard she was led out of the crowd among screaming men and women. The attacker turned out to be the husband of an employee of the Hungarian consulate-general in Csíkszereda/Miercurea Ciuc. Since then Péter Szijjártó announced that the man’s behavior was “totally unacceptable,” and therefore he will no longer be employed by the Hungarian foreign ministry as an occasional photographer.
Since this incident, we have learned a fair amount about Andrea Ladó, who was not a stranger to the region. She was a Szekler herself, originally from the small town of Lövéte/Lueta. For the last seven years she has been working in Budapest as a software engineer. She describes herself as a former devotee of Viktor Orbán, but she slowly came to the conclusion that her idol is marching in a direction she finds abhorrent. The last straw was Orbán’s turn to Putin’s Russia. She is also passionate in her opposition to the extension of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant. The events in Tusnádfürdő provided the final push. She is planning to join LMP.
The government press published at least six or seven slanderous articles in which they spared her no abuse. She was accused of being on drugs and therefore incoherent. She staged the whole episode in cahoots with the “liberal media hyenas” to take attention away from the gravely important message of Viktor Orbán that sets the stage for Hungary in world affairs. How else could it happen that the cameraman of HVG photographed the scene from the very first minute on? Of course, the “journalists” who write this trash also try to minimize the seriousness of an attack by a musclebound man against a small, skinny woman, especially attacking her from behind. According to László Szentesi Zöldi of Pesti Srácok, one of the most despicable right-wing journalists around, the opposition papers make “a mountain out of a mole hill.” It might not be very brave to pull a woman’s hair, but “a provocateur must be ready for the worst.” Anywhere in the world provocateurs will be beaten, will be thrown to the ground, and eventually will be led away. “It’s not nice but it’s understandable.” Moreover, Szentesi-Zöldi continues, “this is Szekler land and not Dob utca,” which is a not too subtle reference to a possible connection between Index’s journalists and their Jewish background.
Another journalist from Pesti Srácok, Szilveszter Szarvas, on Lőrinc Mészáros’s Echo TV expressed his surprise that the good Szeklers didn’t grab a knife or an adze. His companion, also a right-wing journalist, even provided a video his crew took, which naturally didn’t include the actual attack on Andrea Ladó. Those who know some Hungarian should definitely spend a few minutes to get the flavor of this so-called panel discussion.
Ladó might have been slightly incoherent at the time, but she certainly wasn’t after she returned to Budapest and gave an interview to Olga Kálmán of HírTV. Her best line was: “I’m the one who is at home in Tusványos, not Viktor.”
And that leads me to an article I received from a reader of Hungarian Spectrum. It appeared in Transindex, an internet site from Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca, and was written by Szilárd Horváth-Kovács, a faculty member at Babeș-Bolyai University. The title of the piece is a take-off on one of those Hungarian-language posters addressed to the “migrants” which warned them that they have to respect Hungarian culture. It reads: “If you come to Transylvania, you must respect our culture.”
Horváth-Kovács finds the Hungarian government’s efforts to force its own views on national-cultural identity based on “stable ethnic composition” on Transylvanian Hungarians unacceptable. The kind of nation state Orbán advocates is incompatible with the interests of the Hungarian minority in Romania, for obvious reasons. What if the Romanian government adopts such a policy? What will happen to the Hungarian minority? Further, he argues, cultural identity doesn’t depend on ethnic homogeneity. A slogan like “Europe belongs to the Europeans” also means that “Hungary belongs to the Hungarians.” Does it mean that “Romania belongs only to the Romanians”?
Orbán’s fight against Brussels is not in the interest of the Hungarian minority in Romania. It is the European Union that guarantees their rights. Transylvanian Hungarians cannot logically be opposed to George Soros’s open society because it is that concept translated into reality that allows them to keep their ethnic identity while they are loyal citizens of Romania. At the end of the article Horváth-Kovács explains that Viktor Orbán’s ideas about nation states, his attacks on NGOs, his denigration of human rights are all against the interests of the Hungarian minority. “We used to think that Hungary is our future, but now we believe that we are the future of Hungary,” which may bring a more peaceful, more tolerant, more open Hungary. The message is quite clear: please leave us alone. Your presence is suffocating, it takes the air away from us. Please go away.