Tag Archives: hate campaign

The seeds of hatred taking root in the Hungarian countryside

What happened in Őcsény shocked people who have been watching with growing concern the Orbán government’s perilous anti-refugee campaign. For some time one could hear anxious comments about the dreadful consequences of the brainwashing that has been taking place in Hungary over the last two and a half years. Some professionals familiar with the repercussions of such mind-changing techniques predict it will take a generation to alter the mindset of the approximately two-thirds of the population that has been heavily affected by Viktor Orbán’s hate campaign.

Of course, this is not the first such incident. I reported on one about a month ago, which was followed by a second one in the same vicinity. In these two cases, the region’s Fidesz member of parliament, instead of calming the situation, inflamed it. The distinguished legislator showed a total ignorance of the law when he advocated restrictions on the free movement of refugees who had already received asylum in Hungary. These two incidents demonstrated that the constant lies with which the population, especially the rural population, is barraged through the government media have resulted in genuinely frightened people.

The first two incidents were, however, nothing in comparison to what happened in Őcsény. In the first cases mostly older women expressed their fears and said all sorts of silly, uninformed things. In Őcsény, on the other hand, there was solid hate. As one of the inhabitants said on a video I saw, 99% of the population of the village shared her hatred. Venom was pouring out of these people’s mouths and physical force was used. Death threats were uttered, tires were slashed, and bricks were thrown. I heard one person justify the use of force as a legitimate defense against the onslaught of migrants.  And those who didn’t go that far screamed inarticulately, without listening to the people who tried to calm their fears. They simply didn’t want to hear any of it. The only bright moment was an uneducated Roma with bad grammar who had more understanding of the world than the misled inhabitants of the village.

Connected hatred

The events in Őcsény are different from the earlier incidents in another respect. The hatred and violence were directed not only against the refugees but against those who help them. It would be high time for Viktor Orbán to face facts. The seeds of hatred he planted might be politically useful for him, but in the long run it is a devastating strategy. It is a strange election campaign in which everything turns on the largely bogus migration issue. As it stands now, the election will pit Fidesz, which is defending the country in the face of the migrants, against the left-of-center opposition, which, with the help of George Soros, wants to open the floodgates to the immigrants. Utter insanity.

Yes, this is a dreadful situation, but what came today is the greatest shame of all. Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, stood by those who threatened to kill the people giving shelter to refugee children.  Speaking to reporters ahead of the European Union’s Digital Summit in Tallinn, he said that he sees “nothing wrong with the protest.” Hungarians “don’t want to accept migrants into the country or into their village. They have been so often lied to in migrant affairs that if they are told that they’d be receiving children, their response will be: ‘first children, then parents, then family reunification, and then we’re in trouble.’ It was quite right that they expressed their opinions categorically, loudly, and clearly.”

So, Viktor Orbán approved the actions in that village, actions that are contrary to existing Hungarian laws and as such are punishable offenses. This is how far he is ready to go. Where will all this lead?

September 29, 2017

The moral and financial cost of the Hungarian hate campaign

Today Publicus Intézet came out with another poll indicating that most likely fewer than 4,136,313 people, the number necessary to have a valid referendum, will cast their votes for a meaningless question on “compulsory” migrant quotas that would allegedly mean the eventual forcible settlement of tens of thousands of refugees in Hungary against the will of its inhabitants. Publicus conducted two polls a week apart. The one released today shows 8% fewer people intend to participate in the referendum than a week ago.

What would the fate of Hungary be if the people don’t support the government in its heroic efforts to save Hungary and Christian Europe from the Muslim hordes? Zsolt Bayer, in an opinion piece today, describes the dire consequences of population explosion in Africa and Asia and Europe’s significant population loss in the past and most likely in the future. “We, the European natives, European white people” are threatened. What is waiting for Europeans is “complete annihilation.” It is just a question of time before “European, Christian, white civilization will disappear forever.” Perhaps Europe, the continent Bayer imagines, already no longer exists because if one goes to Vienna, Munich, Rome, Naples one can only weep. “Go to the steps of Sacré Coeur where blacks who overrun everything sell their junk….  Our gorgeous Europe of yesteryear can today be found only in Prague, Cracow, Warsaw, Bratislava, Kosice, Sopron and Eger. Because we are Europe today. Europe was driven back to the despised, ridiculed, vilified Central Europe. This is the Europe we must defend. At any price.”

This racist rant is what is pounded into the heads of Hungarian adults and children. Viktor Orbán shamelessly announced the other day that without his government’s heroic efforts to keep the refugees out of Hungary Europe would have fallen already. He has already spent incredible sums on building fences along the Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian borders and employs 10,000 soldiers and policemen to guard them. In addition, in the last half a year he has spent a fortune on a hate campaign against the “migrants.” But, if we are to believe Bayer, when it comes to the defense of white Europe price doesn’t matter. So, let’s see just how much money Orbán has spent on the lead-up to this meaningless referendum.

The invasion of Europe according to Fidesz propaganda

The invasion of Europe according to Fidesz propaganda

According to estimates by atlatszo.hu, an NGO devoted to unearthing corruption and political wrongdoing, the Hungarian government so far has spent 15 billion forints or €48.6 million on this hate-filled campaign in a country of 9.9 million inhabitants. That is more than the €42.7 spent on both sides (stay and leave) of the Brexit campaign, where the organizers had to reach 64.1 million people. So the Hungarian government spent €5.00 per person on its single-sided campaign while the Brits spent only €0.66. Atlatszo.hu thus concludes that the Hungarian campaign cost the taxpayers 7.3 times more than the British campaigns did.

There is another way at looking at the numbers. The Hungarian government estimated that the upkeep of one refugee for a year would cost 1.56 million forints or €4,705 but the generous EU promised €6,000 instead.  If we divide the €48.6 million spent on the campaign by the 1,294 refugees Hungary would have been obliged to take, we arrive at the incredible figure of €37,642 per person. Or, in other words, about 7.5 years of their maintenance was spent on billboards, posters, and pamphlets filled with fear-mongering and incitement against the refugees, much of which went to loyal Fidesz oligarchs.

The greatest calamity of course is not the money spent but the damage done to the soul of the Hungarian people. A year ago, when refugees were pouring into the country, between 7,000 and 8,000 a day, anti-refugee sentiment was relatively moderate, somewhere between 45% and 55%. Today this figure is close to 85%-90%. It is heartbreaking to hear that schoolchildren call each other “migrants” as a pejorative term. One nine-year-old asked his mother whether he could carry a pocket knife when the migrants come. And a little girl who couldn’t even pronounce the word “migráns” envisaged being killed when they arrive in Hungary.

Here are some bizarre official and semi-official pronouncements on the refugee question. A well-known rock star claimed that “it’s 1,000% sure that they will rape all the women. They came here to occupy this land but they don’t want to work. I will not dare to let my children and grandchildren outside.” The deputy prime minister, Zsolt Semjén, came out with this brilliant observation: “If we make a mistake now it can never be remedied. If many hundreds of thousands of Muslims come here we will never be able to get rid of them, and our children will attend school with girls with hijabs and we will have to live under the threat of Sharia law.” In Nógrád County an organization sent out a short message that said “we hold on to our pork, good wine, and a little pálinka,” which naturally are threatened by the migrants.

I don’t know how long it will take to undo the damage Viktor Orbán’s political ambitions have inflicted on the country. I’m afraid it may take decades, especially if this man is allowed to continue his dictatorial rule for many more years.

October 1, 2016

Hatemongers in their own words

With three weeks to go until the Hungarian referendum on refugees, the government campaign has intensified. A host of politicians and government officials, from ordinary backbenchers to the president of the country, the president of the parliament, and all the cabinet ministers, have been mobilized to spread fear of the “migrants” at town meetings. Members of the pro-government media have also been enlisted to support the government’s efforts to achieve a valid, successful referendum, which allegedly would thwart the plans of the European Commission to foist masses of unwanted people of an alien culture on Hungary. And Viktor Orbán is ready to employ the basest instruments of coercion, including blackmail.

Let’s start with his speech at the opening session of parliament on September 12. After accusing the European Union of planning to relocate “migrants” to cities under socialist leadership, he warned local politicians that “it will be decided [by this referendum] whether there will be and, if yes, where the migrant settlements will be, so [local leaders] should watch out and make sure that large numbers of people go and vote.” He added that if the local politicians don’t like this message, they shouldn’t blame him because he is only relating the words of Martin Schulz. Of course, this is not at all what Schulz said when he visited Szeged in March, one of the few socialist strongholds in Hungary. He simply said in an interview with Stern after his return from Hungary that there are places in the country which, unlike the Hungarian government, do not reject migrants. He brought up Szeged as an example of a city where “any migrant would be safe to go.” But then came an op-ed piece in the right-wing Magyar Hírlap by Ottó Nagy, who charged that László Botka, the socialist mayor of Szeged, had made a secret pact with Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, promising them that if and when he becomes prime minister he will accommodate migrants in Szeged.

Orbán emphasized that this nationwide referendum is also thousands of local referendums, meaning that the government will judge each city, town, and village according to the outcome of the referendum. If they don’t manage to turn out the (correct) vote, they will see what will happen to them. In plain English, he is blackmailing local leaders, who in turn will most likely blackmail the inhabitants, who already fear the migrants more than the devil himself. The word is spreading: if you don’t go and vote “no” or if there are too many spoiled ballots, your city, town, or village will have thousands of migrants who will rape your girls and blow up your churches.

Not surprisingly, local governments with left or liberal leaderships were outraged, especially because the story was immediately picked up by the pro-government media. Even Fidesz mayors found it too bizarre for words. Others, often Fidesz-supported independents, objected to the pressure coming from Fidesz to add their names to the government’s locally distributed campaign literature.

I’ve already written about the pressure being applied to the Roma population, who are told that if Hungary has to admit refugees they will be deprived of government assistance. In the first place, by now there is hardly any government assistance given to anyone. Most unemployed Roma do public work for a meager salary. So, that is an idle threat. But what is a serious matter is that their eligibility for public work is determined by the mayors, who can easily pressure the local Roma to make sure they vote the right way. Otherwise, no public work. As usual, the Orbán government found its man, Attila Lakatos, the Gypsy “vajda,” a kind of leader-judge within the community, who was willing to put out the call to his fellow Gypsies “to defend our children, families, work, and the country in which we live.” He is convinced that if the “immigrants come here we will have to worry about our daughters, wives, and children because they will be unsafe.” Soon enough a number of anti-government Roma mayors got together to reject the government’s hate campaign, but I’m afraid their voices will be drowned out in the din of government propaganda reaching the majority of the Roma population.

Among the journalists of the pro-government media Zsolt Bayer is the most popular. Every locality wants him to deliver one of his inspirational lectures. His first stop was in Kecskemét, the city where Mercedes-Benz has its plant. Ironically, he delivered his hate-filled speech in the auditorium of the Piarist high school. The place was filled to the brim with people who greeted him with extended applause. After delivering the government’s favorite conspiracy theories about the forces behind the recent migration, his parting words were: “Those who don’t go and vote or who vote “yes” are traitors who cannot be called Hungarian.”

hate

Bayer’s fellow extreme right-wing journalist, András Bencsik, editor-in-chief of Demokrata, a far-right weekly, is another important spokesman for the government. Bencsik’s paper is not a Jobbik publication, though you would never know it by reading the articles published there. Bencsik and his staff are steadfast supporters of the Orbán government and Fidesz. He, alongside Bayer, was one the chief organizers of the Peace Marches staged in defense of Viktor Orbán, whom foreign governments allegedly wanted to remove from power. The marches, which were supposed to be spontaneous affairs, turned out to be government-sponsored, government-organized demonstrations to which thousands of people were bused from all over the country. Viktor Orbán was extremely grateful. He later claimed that without the organizers he would have been unceremoniously ousted. Bayer, Bencsik, and a few others saved him. So, we are talking here about an important Fidesz and Viktor Orbán supporter.

Bencsik wrote an op-ed piece titled “Where shall we put them?” He begins by explaining that if the referendum is valid and successful, there is a good likelihood that regardless of how much the Brussels bureaucrats “resort to subterfuges, they cannot disregard the highest expression of popular sovereignty.” So then the migrants will not be coming to Hungary.

But what if there is not a sufficient number of votes and the referendum is not valid? We will find ourselves in an interesting situation. According to the plans of the Union’s bureaucrats, in the first round Hungary will have to settle 13,000 people, but they have already put forward another proposal which doesn’t specify an upper limit. So, if the referendum is not valid and the judges in Strasbourg [where Hungary attacked the decision of the settlement of the 1,294 migrants] decide against us, then whether we like it or not, the migrants will be coming. Yearly at least 13,000.

How will they be divided among 3,000 Hungarian localities? These people cannot be locked up in camps because they are citizens of the Union. Clearly, they will be dispersed according to how the people in each locality voted. The towns where many people went to vote and the ratio of “nays” was high may not receive one single migrant or perhaps only a few. But where this question was not important enough for the inhabitants and they didn’t bother to answer the referendum question, in those places surely the people will not mind the arrival of happy Muslim families. There will be plenty of them.

In those towns the girls will not go out after dark. Or, if they do, they will have to be followed by three male members of the family with pitchforks in hand. Girls will not go to discos; they will not bicycle in shorts; they will not leave the house on New Year’s Eve. They will celebrate the new year in the cellar; they will not dare go to the swimming pool, but if they do, they will not wear a bathing suit. Young boys will not walk alone on the street because, after all, it is a different cultural milieu and one never knows.

All this is no joke but is taken from daily occurrences in Western Europe. There will be parts of towns where first at night, but later even during daytime it will not be advisable for a Hungarian to enter. And in time there will be explosions, assassinations, constant tension, jitteriness, and so on.

This is what’s at stake in the referendum that will take place in three weeks. Either Europe will be the victim of forcible change of epic proportions and a thousand-year-old civilization will irretrievably fade away or Europe will resist the pressure and defend itself.

This is a typical anti-refugee message of the Orbán government. It is one thing to read in general about the intensity of Hungarian government propaganda and an entirely different thing to be confronted with an example of the message the Orbán propagandists have been delivering for well over a year. Whipping up hatred day in and day out on state television and radio, even during the Olympic Games, the government has succeeded in gripping the population in a state of mass hysteria. And the effects of this indoctrination will not disappear after the referendum. They will linger for many years to come, reinforcing and amplifying an already lamentable Hungarian xenophobia.

September 18, 2016

The European Summit has begun: Viktor Orbán arrived with a plan

Here are a few examples of what a government-led hate campaign can do. About three weeks ago a Facebook group was formed where venom spews out from hundreds of comments. Some people openly discuss killing all the refugees. Then “there would be silence,” one of them wrote. A few days later a proud owner of an expensive Porsche with a Slovak licence plate threatened two women with a hand grenade because they gave a lift to a Syrian family on M1 on their way to Austria. A week later some students of a private high school in the New Buda district of Budapest spat into the dough of scones (pogácsa) the school was going to donate to the refugees. And today we learned that in a school in the third district a boy in the seventh grade held a knife to the throat of a half Nigerian-half Hungarian six-grader demanding that he leave the country because he was “an immigrant.”

This shameful anti-refugee propaganda intensified after the clashes between the security forces (TEK) and the refugees at Röszke. The more I read about this incident the more convinced I am that the members of TEK, which most people call Viktor Orbán’s private army, actually provoked the incident in order to reinforce the population’s antagonism toward the refugees. The more Hungarians fear these people the more grateful they will be to their brave, unyielding prime minister. The strategy has worked. Hungary’s reputation may have suffered immeasurably, but Fidesz’s popularity has shot up. Since the refugee crisis Fidesz has gained 300,000 new followers. The same strategy is working in Slovakia. I suspect that Robert Fico’s uncompromising stand in Brussels has a great deal to do with the fact that there will be national elections in Slovakia in six months’ time. As it stands, Fico’s party (Smer-SD) has gained support since the beginning of the crisis.

Over the weekend the Hungarian media learned that Viktor Orbán was ecstatic over the political gains he had achieved as a result of his position on the refugee crisis and his determination to keep the country Christian and ethnically pure. The next day Ipsos’s poll came out, confirming that the prime minister’s strategy was indeed a great political success. We don’t know, of course, how long Orbán can hold out against Brussels. What will happen if Hungary eventually has to permit EU officials to establish “hot spots” where uniform standards will be applied in determining who is granted asylum? As it stands now, one reason for the refugees’ refusal to be registered in Hungary is the low percentage of positive decisions about their status. While in Germany more than 40% of the asylum seekers succeed in gaining asylum status, in Hungary in the past few years that number was 9%.

The establishment of “hot spots” would also mean the presence of large refugee camps in the country to house the refugees until their cases are decided and they can be moved to a community that would handle their integration. In this case, the Hungarian government’s efforts to keep refugees out of the country would have been in vain.

Yesterday it became clear that, despite Viktor Orbán’s protestations, refugees will be coming to Hungary. Moreover, although the ministers of interior of Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia voted against the plan, the fourth country of the Visegrád4–Poland, on whose support Orbán counted–voted with the majority. Thus Orbán can no longer rely on a united front by the Visegrád4 countries.

Viktor Orbán arrives at the summit / Reuters / Photo: Francois Lenoir

Viktor Orbán arrives at the summit / Reuters / Photo: Francois Lenoir

Before the summit began Viktor Orbán gave a press conference in which he emphasized certain parts of the agenda that are close to his heart. According to the press release issued by the Hungarian prime minister’s office, “the most important issue [of the] EU summit is the protection of the Greek borders.” If Athens is unable to secure them, then Europe should be allowed to step in. If Greece’s borders cannot be defended, “he must obtain support [from the EU] to enable Hungary to enforce the Schengen Agreement.” And, he added, “if they do not support us in this effort, they should state clearly that the Schengen Agreement is no longer binding, and we should then organize a corridor through which migrants may reach Austria or Germany.”

I doubt that the matter of the Greek borders will be the most important issue at the summit. Although Donald Tusk also talked about strengthening the borders, he emphasized that this by itself will not solve the problem. And defending the borders of Greece, a country that is made up of an incredible number of inhabited islands (variously cited as between 166 and 227), is well nigh impossible. More important is support for the United Nations agencies that operate refugee camps in Syria and Turkey. One reason for the recent influx of people from Syrian and Turkish refugee camps is that, in the last few months, life in the camps became very hard due to a lack of food and other necessities of life. The UN can no longer provide adequate support due to a lack of money. Donald Tusk indicated to the prime ministers that this question “can no longer wait.” The member states will have to make financial sacrifices. The goal is to collect one billion euros for the United Nations World Food Program from the 28 member states.

Viktor Orbán also has his own six-point plan of action. (1) EU countries should offer help to Greece in defending its own borders. (2) Determination of asylum status should be determined outside of the Schengen borders. (3) The European Union should draw up a list of safe countries. (4) In order to gain additional monies each member state should raise its contribution to the EU budget by 1% while they should reduce their expenses by 1%. This would produce three billion euros. (5) Certain countries should create “special partnership agreements.” For example, such a partnership could be developed between Turkey and Russia. (6) The refugees should be distributed worldwide to ease the pressure on Europe.

Whether Orbán’s plan will be discussed is hard to tell. Commentators believe that Brussels should respond to these ideas, some of which, in my opinion, deserve consideration. It’s too bad that Viktor Orbán, instead of discussing a joint problem with the rest of the European Union, decided to build a fence by which he managed to alienate everybody. It may be too late for a constructive plan from Hungary.