The Orbán government and its American media supporters

While researching media reactions to Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the union address, I came across Breitbart News‘s take on the speech, which was illustrated with a photo of Juncker in the company of George Soros. Breitbart, as well as other alt-right publications, are riding high on Soros-bashing. What does Soros have to do with Juncker’s vision for the future of Europe? Nothing. The article otherwise was sprinkled with Nigel Farage quotations. In general, Breitbart News is fascinated with both George Soros and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

I also visited Fox News, where I found an elevating article on the same subject titled “EU power grab: A hunk of Junck” by John Moody, executive editor and executive VP of Fox News. This opinion piece is also peppered with Nigel Farage comments, but Moody also devotes considerable space to Viktor Orbán, who called immigration “poison” and a “Trojan horse for terrorism.” Orbán is Moody’s man, someone who “will not bend” no matter how much he is being threatened by the European Union. “Sounds like a tough-talking populist candidate who bucked the political system in the United States last year. Whatever became of him?” he asks mournfully.

If some of the mainstream English-language newspapers spent as much time on Hungary as Breitbart News does, the world would be a great deal better informed about Hungarian reality. Alt-right publications are indiscriminate supporters of the Orbán regime. Here are a few headlines: “Hungary looks to ‘sweep away’ Soros-linked organizations,” “Hungary: Left-wing EU Soros puppets are attacking us for opposing mass immigration,” “Hungarian PM: We won’t let ‘Europe’s kingmaker’ Soros have the last laugh,” just to mention a few. Many of these articles were written by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D., the Vatican analyst for CBS, who left the priesthood in 2012 after fathering a child. Two days ago he published an article in which he rejoiced over the fact that “Hungary takes NY Times to school on Europe’s migrant crisis.” He is referring to an article Zoltán Kovács wrote as an answer to a New York Times editorial titled “Hungary is making Europe’s migrant crisis worse,” which appeared on September 8.

Kovács’s answer, which appeared on his official website, was subsequently reprinted in several English-language government publications. Williams located it on abouthungary.hu, and he found Kovács’s answer to the “sanctimonious op-ed rife with errors and misconceptions regarding Europe’s migrant crisis and Hungary’s role in protecting Europe’s borders” to be brilliant.

I took a good look at The New York Times editorial and couldn’t find all the errors and misconceptions Williams was talking about. The editorial bemoans the fact that Hungary, which opened its borders in 1989 because it was guided “by generally accepted international principles of human rights and humanitarian considerations” now behaves very differently. The country now refuses to allow refugees even to enter the country, despite the verdict of the European Court of Justice that found Hungary and Slovakia’s refusal illegal. “It is particularly sad to see countries that so poignantly celebrated the lifting of the Iron Curtain now argue, as Hungary does, that being asked to take in a small number of Muslim immigrants is somehow a violation of European laws and values.”

Zoltán Kovács’s response was titled “The New York Times editors really still don’t get it.” Why did Kovács insert the word “still”? Because Kovács already wrote a letter to The New York Times: “Dear New York Times Editors: You just don’t get it, do you?,” which Breitbart News faithfully reported on at the time. His objections to the Times’s editorial are numerous. He questions the assertion that East European countries “have stubbornly blocked entry to refugees.” He objects to the description of Viktor Orbán as a “hard-liner,” and he bristles at calling Orbán’s demand for EU reimbursement of half of the cost of the fence Hungary built to keep the refuges out “arrogant.” The overarching problem with the editorial, Kovács asserts, is that the editors simply don’t understand the European migrant situation. As he puts it, “Admittedly, it’s not easy to grasp this ‘indisputably difficult problem’ from the comforts of Midtown Manhattan.” However, Kovács is ready to share “some basic facts”–for example, that “Hungary is securing an external border of the 510 million-strong European community,” which is “a meaningful demonstration of [Hungary’s] solidarity.” He objects to the editorial’s references to international law and European values that “appeal to the ‘limousine liberal’ readership of the Times” because there is no international law, no European treaty that gives Brussels the authority to decide on immigration. Kovács closes his response with these ringing words: “As the government responsible for the safety and security of Hungarian citizens—as well as the citizens of Europe—we will not apologize for continuing to assert our right to make our own decisions on immigration and to keep Europe’s borders strong.”

Although Kovács thoroughly dissected the text, he ignored the editorial’s reference to “Hungary’s callousness.” Perhaps he decided to ignore the affront since the treatment of refugees in Hungary is widely known to be glaringly inhumane. Unfortunately, it is not only officials who treat them abominably; ordinary citizens also often show them no mercy. Perhaps you recall Index‘s report on an Iranian-Afghan couple with their three children and a fourth on its way. I told their story in a post titled “Life in the Hungarian transit zones” about a month ago. In this particular instance the husband didn’t get any rations because he had gone through Hungary once on his way to rescue his family in Macedonia. The sequel to their story was just published, which is every bit as heart-wrenching.

The Iranian-Afghan couple at the EU-financed refugee camp

After months of imprisonment in the transit zone came a surprising development: the family received asylum. They could go to a refugee camp in Hungary and be safe but outside of the transit zone they continued to receive harsh treatment. One has the distinct feeling that this behavior is intended to encourage even those who receive asylum to move on. For example, throughout the long trip the officers didn’t allow the couple to have baby formula on hand. As a result, the ten-month-old baby cried bitterly for hours. The husband was forbidden to accompany his wife to the gynecologist, although she doesn’t speak any English. They asked for an interpreter; their request was denied. As for the behavior of ordinary Hungarians, the poor man had another bad experience. He and one of his children, who had cut his hand, were taken to the hospital in Győr (18 km away), but they had to take the bus back to the camp. He gave the driver 5 euros since he had no forints. The driver took the money but wouldn’t allow them on the bus. It took them three hours to walk back to the camp.

Two days after he told his story to the reporter, the family was already in Germany. He is certain that he will not be deported back to Hungary because “people abroad know how Hungarians treat the refugees. The European Court of Justice decided in our favor twice. I have the decisions on my phone. If I tell them what treatment we received here, they will not send us back.” And, indeed, Germany hasn’t sent any refugees back to Hungary since April 11. Defending the borders of Europe is one thing, cruelty is another.

September 15, 2017
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Member

Orban and his ilk are edging into the indelible annals of infamy…

Member

“Defending the borders of Europe is one thing, cruelty is another.”

It is perhaps the most disturbing thing about Orbán and Fidesz supporters generally- there is a clear element of sadism running through their character.

They actually collectively relish the thought of young children and pregnant women being physically abused and tortured- if they are “non-white” young kids or muslim ladies then so much the better.

It is a part of the DNA of cowardly “Christian” Hungarian male culture to despise the defenceless “other” and to give him or her a good kicking if the Fidesz bullies can get away with it.

This is the fundamental basis of the regime which the European Union continues to financially support.

Istvan
Guest
Defending national borders often requires what psychologists call “adversatives” or “adversative stimuli.” Basically the consequences of illegally gaining admission to a country have to out weigh the benefits of successfully gaining entry. These negative consequences have to be disseminated among the target population of illegal border crossers. Hungary succeeded in this area I would argue, refugees circumvented Hungary whenever they could out of fear of potential brutality. They began to avoid Macedonia too out of pure fear of being murdered by gangs encouraged by police authorities. If European border security is seen by very desperate people as a game, effectively if I get caught all I am out is the money paid the smugglers and can try again Europe is in very deep trouble. The reality of global warming, the ecological degradation, and war in much of Africa and the Middle East means desperate people will be knocking on the doors of the EU for many, many years to come. All this is hard to fathom for people in the civilian world, it’s hard to accept what is in effect institutional cruelty as in any way being appropriate. It is part of the reality of police and military forces internationally.… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

The claim by the Hungarian government that “they are defending the borders of Europe, and doing that in a proper way”, is as truthful as the statement by a German AfD leader that “we [German people] have the right to be proud of the achievements of German soldiers in two world wars.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/14/afd-co-founder-alexander-gauland-says-germany-needs-to-reclaim-its-history

PS: The Guardian (and other EU/Western media), please send some of your experienced reporters to Hungary for a short while, with the mission to report about the current state of the media, press freedom and democracy in general in that EU country.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – ATV’s new ‘anchor’
Internal investigation was started against Zsuzsa Demcsák at ATV
http://comment.blog.hu/2017/09/16/belso_vizsgalat_indult_demcsak_zsuzsa_ellen_az_atv-nel

Member

Beyond belief! She is a clueless, tasteless troll. It’s not (just) a drinking problem; it’s not (just) a vulgar vanity problem (though there’s plenty of primping and grimacing), and it isn’t (just) her obvious IQ deficit. She uses the mechanical troll formula (see below) so reflexively that I don’t even think it’s that the Orbanite mafia has gotten to her, through perks or threats. Nor even that the ATV reactionary wing primed her that Szányi was a loose cannon and it was alright to hector him. (He actually reacted with restraint, though in his usual style.) She just oozed naturally into the belligerent Breitbart badgering paradigm:

Q: You think the hurricane was damaging?
A: Well, yes, houses were uprooted and cities were flooded.
Q: Did you see the flooding?
A. Well, not personally, but in the media.
Q: And you think the media are trustworthy?
A: Not always, but this footage was overwhelming.
Q: So you have no direct evidence?
A: Direct evidence? But Madame Interviewer, I’m not a law court.
Q: Are you a military officer?
A: Of course not. Why do you ask that?
Q: Is it not true that you are called “Captain Szányi”?…

Ferenc
Guest

Interesting series started at HVG about ‘private equity fund’ [magántőkealap] as the new ‘offshore’
1.Offshore is over, but here’s the new way to hide
http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20170915_Az_offshorenak_vege_de_itt_az_uj_modszer_a_titkolt_cegekre
2.Law protected: This way the private equity fund can be the new offshore (2017.Sep.16)
http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20170916_Torveny_altal_homalyosan_igy_lehet_az_uj_offshore_a_magantokealap

PS:don’t understand all the details, but seems very interesting for translation by somebody with ‘financial know-how’

Istvan
Guest

By the way, going back to Eva’s discussion on Ukraine and Hungarian language rights the other day. I read two very interesting short articles in English on the internal debate in Ukraine over language and law. Its in http://ukrainianweek.com/ and can be found by going to http://ukrainianweek.com/Society/195245 and http://ukrainianweek.com/Society/195242 . As I noted in our discussion the Hungarian population is a secondary concern to the Russian speaking population.

Guest

Rather OT but a rehash of “discrimination theories” which will surely be used by the Hun government again in its fight against foreign companies:

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/sep/15/food-brands-accused-of-selling-inferior-versions-in-eastern-europe
Multinational food and drink companies have “cheated and misled” shoppers in eastern Europe for years by selling them inferior versions of well-known brands, according to the European commission’s most senior official responsible for justice and consumers.

There is a permanent discussion going on whether this is true or companies just adapt their recipes from country to country to different tastes (like sugar vs fructose syrup: HFCS) or different price levels …

Ferenc
Guest

Let’s check which EU Commissioner said this: Věra Jourová, Czech and member from the center-right populist ANO party (remember I commented here before about that party and it’s leader Babis, basically I don’t trust them for one ‘koruna’). And let’s not forget also a V4 member, it was Slovakia who started this “food discrimination” discussion. Of course the Hungarian government stepped into the, and did it’s own ‘investigation’ basically proofing that in one product was used maracuja, while in the other ‘inferior’ passionfruit…

Istvan
Guest

That was an excellent Guardian article Wolfi, thanks for linking it. The interesting aspect of this is the EU’s obsession with using bureaucracy rather than market forces to curb inferior products marketed under brand names in Hungary and throughout Central Europe. This can be done by providing standardized consumer information and letting them decide if they want to purchase the bogus Birds Eye products and at what price point. Or more informally as in Mexico.

In Mexico, for example there are Walmart stores that sell lower cost US labeled products and there are higher end stores for the monied elite that market the real thing at much higher price points. So in the Walmart world of Mexico it has different grocery venues, Superama, Walmart hypermarket stores, Bodega Aurrera the lowest end stores, and Sam’s Club is a membership warehouse stores. Mexicans know when they are effectively buying faked food products and pay accordingly. There is no need for a massive EU bureaucracy to enforce standards for named brand products.

Guest
Well, only after the EU bureaucracy enforced standards did brands become more honest … Before that you’d get “pork sausage” which contained only 20% pork e g …, with other things she prefers the Hungarian variety! My wife is very determined and outspoken there – she buys some stuff only in Germany, other things only in Hungary! So we always have a large shopping list before “commuting” between the two countries – and we also bring lots of stuff for friends and family – not only because it’s cheaper but often because it’s better or even not available at all in the other country! Luckily for us even 10 kilos of German sausage, 10 kg of butter, cheese and sour cream and 20 kg chocolate isn’t really much for our small car. And wine, dry beans, goose liver, paprika and other spices and those fantastic free range eggs find their way to Germany too – I have three cooling boxes. And often we bring 20 or 30 bottles of mineral water from Hungary too … A bit OT re Mexico and products: I’ve been following the discussion on HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) which is a cheaper alternative for sugar… Read more »
Guest

Sorry for the mistakes – “with other things she prefers the Hungarian variety” is redundant, obviously it concerns my wife who sometimes uses just one brand, while with other stuff she doesn’t care – anything goes …

Ferenc is right:
This whole discussion is nonsense in a way, mainly propaganda again by the right wing – inside the EU there are no trade limits, so if you prefer Austrian stuff – just go from Hungary to Austria and vice versa …
The larger problem for many people is not having a car e g to go to Tesco, Auchan, Spar, Aldi or Lidl and being forced to shop in the local over-priced Fidesznik owned monopolist CBA …

What Fidesz obviously is angry about is the fact that these horrible “foreign owned” chains have better and cheaper products and are preferred by most Hungarians!

Ferenc
Guest

And furthermore when people in Hungary are complaining about ‘inferior’ products at even higher prices, well that’s only to blame on the world record VAT, hajra…

Guest

That’s a reason the Hun government doesn’t want to hear …
In addition the smaller market also means that the costs of distribution are higher.

PS and a bit OT:
I have to admit that I’m lazy – still haven’t understood/found out which products have the lower VAT rate (18% ?). In Germany essentials like food and books (!) are taxed at 7% compared to 19% for other stuff …

And even more OT:
In addition to the usual offers (take 3, pay 2!) every few weeks we get an advertising brochure from Tesco with a coupon – 1000 HUF discount if you buy for more than 10 000 HUF. This brochure is only distributed in the villages, the regular brochure doesn’t have the coupon …

Of course we always find some stuff to buy – cat and dog food, mineral water or detergents or … are alternatives.
But if you don’t have that spare money you can’t use those offers and coupons – which means if you just buy what you urgently need from your money you pay much more …

Ferenc
Guest

An article about the latest Nébih test (2017.Nyar, early August)
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170808_nebih_nyugati_termekek_magyar_termekek_osszahasonlitas
Didn’t find the test itself yet, will post link when I’ve ‘catched it’

Ferenc
Guest

Here’s Nébih special page with links to all the ‘tests’ and ‘test reports’ they’ve managed to produce this year
http://portal.nebih.gov.hu/termek-osszehasonlitas-2017
All in all imho a big big joke…

bimbi
Guest

Wolfi7777 @ 9:46 a.m.

“Comments” for the Guardian article were “opened in error” on that article and only 14 appeared. As I remember there was nothing specifically about or from Hungary in the article.

In my view the whole question remains open but European Commissioner Jourová was very forthright that a real problems of disparate food standards exists between East and West Europe.

Unfortunately, what is desperately needed is some real scientific testing to be applied and not the shoddy finger-end-taste-tests that passed for justification in Lazar’s complaint from Hungary.

Guest

Bimbi, this discussion has been going on in Hungary for some time – it’s part of the Fidsz propaganda show “everybody is discriminating against us”!
Just look here:
http://www.politics.hu/20170809/farm-ministry-test-shows-double-eu-food-standards/
“Discrepancies have been revealed” in about a third of 39 identically labelled food products sold in Hungary and in western Europe in the latest quality tests ordered by Farm Minister Sándor Fazekas, the ministry said. The discrepancies characterising products generally consumed in the summer “confirm the existence of double quality standards within the European Union”, the ministry said.
or here even earlier
http://www.politics.hu/20170331/food-processor-federation-no-double-standards-hungary-food-production/

Minister Fazekas seems sold on this – he doesn’t get it that tastes obviously are different …

wrfree
Guest

Mr. Kovacs earlier in defense of his country noted that ‘democracy is fine’ reminds one of the government spokesperson ‘Baghdad Bob’ back in the Iraq war who , while his army divisions were being destroyed left and right flanks saw that ‘Everything was fine! We have them on the run! They are retreating everywhere! He said this with a straight face no less while things were going from bad to worse and worse. Eventually hearing all this continually made him into a big joke because nobody took him seriously. Mr. Kovacs too might want to take heed of that reality as he fashions other ones in his rosy-tinted communications strategies.

It is astounding how the illiberalist notion of ‘communications of integrity’ can be said so straight and yet so bent as to be completely disjointed from realities. The last time probably anyone heard anything bordering on something close to truth there has to be when they fell off their dinosaur.

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