Hungarian Roma dilemmas

I decided to return to yesterday’s discussion on the latest developments in the “Bogdán case” because I think it is a much more complex issue than meets the eye or my short summary of the recent events would suggest. Yesterday I didn’t go into the serious differences of opinion between László Bogdán and some Roma human rights activists over the right way to handle the “Roma problem.” In order to understand the situation in which Bogdán finds himself, it is necessary to hear the criticism they level against the mayor of Cserdi. And then there is Bogdán’s offer of Cserdi as a place where refugee families are welcome which, according to some interpreters, might be the reason for the Hungarian media’s suddenly discovering Bogdán’s run-in with the law in 2010.

Let’s start with the latter because it is easier to sort out. First, some background. Bogdán spent three weeks in the United States in March and April, where among other things he gave a talk about the situation of Roma women at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. How did this trip come about? First, in 2015 the Hungarian government made Bogdán Hungary’s ambassador charged with nurturing talented youngsters. Therefore we must assume that the Orbán government considers László Bogdán someone who can represent the country abroad. And indeed, it was Réka Szemerkényi, former Hungarian ambassador to Washington, and Ferenc Kumin, consul-general in New York, who organized his trip. As Bogdán explained to BaMa, a Baranya County news site, they arranged his program, which included trips to 17 American cities. Of course, the highlight of the trip was his speech at the UN where “as a representative of Hungary [he talked] about the Gypsy community in Hungary and his Cserdi initiative.” He reported from the United States to BaMa that he celebrated March 15 with George Pataki, former governor of New York, and was the guest of former U.S. ambassador Colleen Bell at a charity event.

George Lázár suggests in an article in The Hungarian Free Press that László Bogdán’s recent problems stem from his decision to sponsor a Syrian family’s stay in Cserdi. Lázár points out that Bogdán was the “darling” of the government, whose trip to the United States was organized by high officials of the Orbán government. But, he continues, “Everything changed when recently Mayor Bogdán announced that he would welcome refugee families to vacation in his village.” Suddenly, the media suspected that there was something not quite right with László Bogdán. George Lázár, this morning on Facebook, noted that it is hard to imagine that the Hungarian government was unaware of Bogdán’s conviction in 2014, and it cannot be a coincidence that PécsMa discovered this story just now. Did the Hungarian government know about Bogdán’s troubles with the law when, for example, in 2015 he was appointed “ambassador”? I don’t know. But the conviction became final in 2014, just a year before his appointment to the post. Whether the Hungarian government is behind this story surfacing now is hard to tell.

The other aspect of the controversy surrounding László Bogdán is his standing in the Roma community. Roma human rights activists—and independent experts on Roma issues—have serious objections to Bogdán’s ideas. Shortly after his return from the United States, an article appeared in 168 Óra written by András Balázs, an assistant professor of sociology, criticizing the speech Bogdán delivered at the United Nations. His talk at the UN was about the exploitation of Gypsy women by Gypsy men, who look upon them as baby machines. Early marriages and too many children, and thus by the age of 30 they are grandmothers and at the age of 40 they consider themselves to be old. Balázs asserted that Bogdán’s focus on violent Roma men is “internalized racism,” which only strengthens the prejudice of the majority population. Moreover, when the people of Cserdi gave away produce to needy people, he came up with the slogan “We didn’t steal them from you; we grew them for you.” His paternalistic leadership is not conducive to the development of local initiatives. Balázs also blames the media, whose darling “the ambitious mayor” became, while the true Roma human rights activists’ voices can barely be heard.

And that leads us to the fateful meeting between the leadership of the Roma Parliament and László Bogdán on September 25, where the first alleged assault on the mayor took place. The video is available on YouTube, included here. At the meeting there was a clash between two entirely different views. The chief aim of the human rights activists is to reduce the majority community’s prejudice. László Bogdán, by contrast, maintains that the prejudice against the Roma is not entirely unwarranted and that in order to minimize or eliminate prejudice the Gypsy community must change. They must become hard-working and responsible members of society. His opponents consider some of his ideas outright racist. During the two-hour meeting Bogdán received a lot of criticism from Roma leaders who don’t share his vision. Aladár Horváth, who is the president of the Roma Parliament, opened the meeting by comparing the Cserdi model to Jobbik’s Érpatak model, where a bizarre character, Mihály Zoltán Orosz, runs the show “with an iron fist.” As I wrote in a post about Érpatak, “law and order dominate” the village. After this less than complimentary introduction, Bogdán delivered a speech in which he praised the Cserdi model which, one must admit, works very well. In the question and answer period there were some sticky questions about his conviction, and several people compared Bogdán’s ideas on Roma issues to those of Jobbik. There were people who called him a Nazi. At the end, Jenő Zsigó, an important Roma human rights activist, rose and delivered a powerful speech.

Jenő Zsigó at the Roma Parliament meeting, September 25, 2017

Jenő Zsigó, unlike Bogdán, has a stellar background. He comes from a family of musicians, a group that was always considered to be the aristocracy of the Gypsy community. He received two diplomas from ELTE, one in education and the other in sociology. Both of his theses were related to questions about the Roma community. He has been especially active in propagating Roma art and folk music.

In his speech Zsigó compared Bogdán to Gábor Vona, the leader of Jobbik. He accused him of developing a “system of dependency,” a kind of “feudalistic system” where in Cserdi everything depends on him. When Bogdán says that “there is no need for human rights advocates,” he denies the rule of law. When Bogdán says that there is no need to break up the Gypsy ghettos, he is promoting segregation. The speech was an indictment of the things that the human rights advocates find reprehensible in Bogdán’s model.

Unfortunately, Bogdán had to leave, and therefore we don’t know what kinds of arguments he would have used in the face of Zsigó’s criticism. But he promised that, if invited, he would gladly return. I suspect that if Bogdán had had the opportunity, he would have said: “And how much have you managed to achieve with your human rights advocacy? Is there less prejudice today than 30 years ago? I at least can show a village that is thriving.” As a friend remarked to me: “Zsigó is an excellent civil rights and minority leader, who is very convincing. In turn, Bogdán is also an excellent man with real results. The question is which is better in improving the life of the Gypsy community. Both positions have their weaknesses. Zsigó’s fight for equality and tolerance meets head on with the majority’s pejorative opinion, while Bogdán’s talking about ‘good Gypsies’ (people of Cserdi) and ‘bad Gypsies’ (the overwhelming majority) only adds to the prevailing racism in Hungary.”

November 6, 2017
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Michael Kaplan
Guest

Dear Eva, you have done a better job-in my opinion- in writing this article as compared to the one prior given your analysis today, let alone the presentation of additional facts. So your instinct for a follow up was a good one. Perhaps you have not solved the sudden change in Mr. Bogdan’s coverage by the press; however, you have raised some important issues e.g. there are multiple Roma spokespersons with different models. Additionally, I think you hint at the likely reasons in government change toward Mr. Bogdan e.g. the ever present refugee “crisis”. Best, Michael

petofi
Guest

Bogdan has positive results: Zsigo has platitudes and theoretical flights of fancy which reads well in sociology books but garners no results whatever.
I’ll take 100 Bogdan’s before I could make use of 5 Zsigos…

petofi
Guest

It is interesting how the Fidesz hacks turn on one like a pack of dogs as soon as one leaves the party line…

1956
Guest

Somewhere there is a not so hidden enemy.

All Hungarians have to sort out this puzzle.

After understanding it, enlightened people can live in peace with each other.

wrfree
Guest

The country for all intents and purposes is primed for engaging in ‘wars’ within and without. They perhaps can get to enlightenment but first I’d think they will have to overcome the exhaustion which will keep eating away at them if things keep up. Too much energy gone to distasteful things and people know it.

Guest

Following my wife one problem with Hungary is that most of the media now are just fake news providers – so it’s dangerous to believe anything you see or read, especially on “North Korean State media” as she says.
Or you might compare it with Kádár or even Goebbels propaganda.
The so called news programs on tv are a joke – and that means a bad one.
Really sad or rather abominable!

Ferenc
Guest

That’s the main thing which keeps flabbergasting me!
WHY do the people in Hungary NOT ONE THING about/against the public/state media (aka. North Korean State media). Not looking when you have other channels available, OK, but not anybody even trying to do something about it!
I mean it’s done with 100% public money, THEIR tax money!!
And when time goes on, OV&Co wouldn’t even need the public media anymore, they’ll have TV2, Echo, and who knows what’s more going in their pocket. But don’t expect them, when staying in power to ever give away freely any influence by others on what’s shown with the taxpayers money…
Demonstrate, Demand Time on the Media, etc or request in Referendum that ‘all voices’ have to be equally (i.e.like election result – popular vote) present on public media!! Do something!

PS: all distorted remarks about refugees/migrants/Soros by people from villages (e.g.Ocseny), I’ve recently seen, come for 99% from the ‘info’ spread by North Korean/Hungarian TV!!

Guest

Funny that you feel the same, Ferenc!

I still remember when we got Hungarian tv here – before I met my wife we just had the satellite programs, mainly watched the German programs of course.
There were no longer any Hungarian programs on Astra so my wife asked for a cable connection in 2007. When I looked through the channels and saw HIRTV as news my wife immediately remarked: No, don’t watch that, it’s just Orban-TV, can’t trust it …

She liked to watch “Heti Hetes” in those days but says that even that is totally boring right now – just reads the news on the internet. So we don’t even switch on the tv on many days …

Ferenc
Guest

my suggestion for a name of the action group to demand change in the currently unacceptable public media:
AKIK – A Közmédia Igazán Közös Mozgalom
(The Public Media Really For All Movement)

Observer
Guest

This particular case notwithstanding, there are so many examples where too much PC have undermined worthy causes by pushing unrealistic, too much too soon agendas high in turn alienate the public. The latest being the overdone Wilkommenpolitik of Merkel, which drew additional numbers and created a crisis with the negative political consequences we often discuss.
Ballancing the desired with the possible, that’s what politics is about.

Marty
Guest
Hungarians just love Trump, they think he’s defending the little guys (see link below). I can attest to that as I know several working class or poor Hungarian families who just adore him, seriously. Trump represents everything they want from a politician – of course these voters know at some level that their life will not improve but otherwise are too primitive to understand how the Republicans want to make (or Fidesz is making) their life worse (killing ACA, loosening gun laws, cutting taxes for the rich etc. etc.). By the way WaPo has a nice article about polls which suggest that Trump would still beat Clinton if the elections would be held today. No matter how unpopular Trump is Clinton also remains extremely unpopular and Clintonite voters don’t care about her any more while Trumpist voters are still very enthusiastic about him. Of course this is just a game but the point is voters still hate the educated elite which doesn’t seem to care about them, so much so that they rather vote for people like Trump who will then make things even worse by enacting tax cuts for the rich etc. etc. Voters are not rational, they want… Read more »
Guest

Seems I’m lucky then that German voters (at least the majority of them …) aren’t as stupid as ‘Muricans or Hunkys?

Once again:
Mr Kretschmann, our Prime Minister in Baden-Württemberg (the home of Mercedes, Porsche, Bosch etc ..) aka the country of the Schwabs is a Green – and Merkel’s CDU is the junior partner in his coalition …
And we also have Green Mayors in most university towns and in Stuttgart, our Capital!
Am I allowed to be proud?

Ferenc
Guest

Very lousy article!! Just trying to be ‘sensational’, and not bringing the data fair. To use a word, I never liked, but seems most appropriate in this case: ‘fake’.
When really checking details for people in Hungary from the pew report:
*Confidence in djT to do right in world affairs:
=>a lot & some = +29 / not much & none = -57
=>others show better: Putin (+34/-57) and Merkel (+37/-57)
*Relations between HU and US because of djT will be:
=>better +26 / same 42 / worse -20
*Opinion about djT
=>totals for charisma, strong leader, cares ordinary people, well qualified president (all positive yes/no), arrogant, intolerant, dangerous (all negative no/yes) is +275 against -285
When comparing results for Hungary with other countries, the thing which can be stated is that people in Hungary are LESS NEGATIVE towards djT…

Conclusion: anybody claiming “Hungarians just love Trump”, should STOP SPREADING FAKE INFO!!

Guest

It seems to me that this is the Englsih version of the Pew report:
http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/08/16/publics-worldwide-unfavorable-toward-putin-russia/
You’re right, Ferenc – Trump may be just a little bit less liked than Putin (that’s true almost everwhere?)

Ferenc
Guest
Ferenc
Guest
Ferenc
Guest

Wolfi, this is the Pew report I’m referring to (and used by index.hu for it’s lousy article)
http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/11/07/europe-north-america-publics-more-supportive-than-experts-of-direct-democracy/ (check pdf for details about HU)

Will smith
Guest

They are unable to integrate….not in the genes….even after hindreds of years….doesnt matter where they go …same result…they just like to get their social assistance…off civilized industrialized countries….rhey know how to whine and complain….perhaps emigrate back to india and see how that works for them…or to their brothers in israel…whom seem to always champion their cause…just to sneakily cause shit for europeans…or host country…but in reality they dont give a rats ass about them.

Guest

Eva please delete this!
Or is it supposed to show the (Hungarian?) general xenophobia, especially Romaphobia, antisemitism and idiocy?

PS:
Why doesn’t he mention hating the Pirez? They are the worst!

Jean P
Guest

The Gypsy/Roma have lived in Hungary longer than most “Hungarians”. During the last thousand years the Hungarians have acquired fresh genetic material from all around whereas the Gypsy/Roma have been inbreeding. Think of the situation in Cserdi where according to Eva “almost every second person is called Bogdán.” The results of inbreeding are an overwhelming burden for the Gypsy/Roma. This is rarely talked about in politically correct circles. It must be acknowledged before remedies can thought out.

Guest

Interesting!
Inbreeding was also a big problem in many smaller German villages until WW2 – after which you found refugees from Eastern Germany e g everywhere.
It was one of the reasons (or the main reason?) why there usually was in each village at least one Dorftrottel aka village idiot or a whole family of them …
And even after WW2 when I was young we heard these stories that a young guy was attacked because he tried to flirt with a girl from a neighbouring village. This was especially risky when the villages had different Christian denominations – like where I grew up:
Most villages were Lutheran/Protestant (“evangelisch”) but some villages and small towns had belonged to Austria 200 years ago – and were still Catholic!

Guest

TotallyOT but interesting:
The German military (aka Bundeswehr) asked experts to analyse six possible scenarios for the world’s political/economic development until 2040 – the scenarios range from “Happy Global West” to the EU’s division into a Western block and an Eastern subsidiary of Russia. Another scenario describes a confrontation between USA and EU on one side and Russia/China on the other.

The study seems to be still secret, I’m waitiing for it to be available …

The Russian propagnada site sputnik of course decribes in detail all those ideas about an EU which falls apart …
https://de.sputniknews.com/politik/20171105318170729-bundeswehr-zukunftsszenario-eu-zerfall/
Another article describes the idea of Austria/Hungary as a new power in Europe – almost funny!
https://de.sputniknews.com/politik/20171026318033203-oesterreich-ungarn-neues-machtzentrum-europas/

PS:
One has to remark though that the original study was published in Feb 2017 so maybe the importance of Trump’s presidency wasn’t considered yet …

Ferenc
Guest

Re – Russian media (in HU?)
Acc.rumours currently under investigation: R(ussia)T(oday) media rent(ed) studio/office space from MTVA (HU public media). Questions have been asked, so far MTVA replied: “We don’t understand your question”.
Now more detailed questions have been send, awaiting to be answered…
Source: https://english.atlatszo.hu/2017/11/02/hungarian-public-service-channel-does-not-understand-questions-about-rt-possibly-renting-studios-at-its-location/

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