Tag Archives: Islam

The Orbán government’s international conference on the future of Europe, with Milo Yiannopoulos

Yesterday the Hungarian media got wind of an international conference on The Future of Europe, to be held between January 23 and 25, 2018 in Budapest’s Castle Garden Bazaar. The conference is heralded as “an outstanding cultural and scientific event of the V4 Hungarian Presidency” and is being funded by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Századvég, the Fidesz think tank, and V4 Connects, the fancy name for the Hungarian presidency of the Visegrád Four, are “partners,” while the organizer of the affair is a foundation created during the first Orbán government under the watchful eye of Mária Schmidt, who still serves on its five-member board.

According to the conference’s webpage, it “represents an extraordinary opportunity to analyze the full array of political and cultural processes as well as to put our identity-creating cultural values in the limelight.” The conference is advertised as a gathering of leading politicians, renowned professors and well-known public figures [who] will share their views with each other and with the audience of visitors.”

There will be panel discussions on topics like the “cultural war for body and soul” of Europe, or, to put it another way, “shall we, out of cultural guilt or simple calculation, sacrifice Christianity, freedom and our way of life?” As for geopolitical challenges, the invited guests will discuss such issues as the nature of a European army. The question is whether this army “should consist of soldiers or machines and algorithms.” They will touch upon digitalization, which tomorrow “may radically transform humanity’s own identity or even our physical existence.” Finally, emphasis will be placed on the Visegrád Four as “the engine of Europe’s economy” and what opportunities the emerging giants of the world economy–China, India, Indonesia–offer the Visegrád nations. “Will our region be able to jump several stairs at once and make Europe become a leading force in the future world economy?”

When it comes to “the gathering of leading politicians, renowned professors and well-known public figures,” the keynote speaker on the opening day of the conference will be Milo Yiannopoulos, described as a political commentator, publisher, blogger, journalist, and the author of Challenges of the Western World. The next day Frank Füredi, author, commentator, and sociologist, will deliver a lecture on “Populism and the European Culture Wars.” In the afternoon, Götz Kubitschek, described as a publisher, publicist, and philosopher from Germany, will conduct a panel discussion on “migration, resettlement and the future of Europe.” The closing presentation, still untitled, will be given by Pascal Bruckner, a French philosopher and author of a book on France and Islam. The last day will be given over to such luminaries as Péter Szijjártó, who will deliver a speech, most likely on Europe’s geopolitical challenges, and Tamás Deutsch, who will inquire whether “artificial intelligence is our future.” Closing remarks will be delivered by Sándor Csányi, the president of OTP, Hungary’s largest bank, and the richest man in the country.

Who are these people? Let’s start with the lesser-known characters. Götz Kubitschek is a right-wing activist who espouses ethnocentric positions and is one of the most important protagonists of the Neue Rechte. Apparently, he was instrumental in the consolidation of the German branch of the Identitarian movement, commonly viewed as far right. He has been a frequent speaker at PEGIDA rallies in Saxony. He is also close to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Frank Füredi, as his name indicates, is of Hungarian origin. With his parents he arrived in Canada as a refugee after the Hungarian revolution of 1956. He has been living in the United Kingdom since 1969. In the 1970s he became involved in left-wing politics and was the founder and leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Nowadays, however, he shows quite a bit of sympathy for populist ideas. I suspect that he was invited to this conference because only a few months ago he published a new book titled Populism and the European Culture Wars, which “argues that the current outburst of anti-populist anxiety is symptomatic of a loss of faith in democracy and in the ability of the demos to assume the role of responsible citizens.” Even more importantly, the book focuses “on the conflict between the European Union’s Commission and the Government of Hungary” and “explores contrasting attitudes towards national sovereignty, popular sovereignty and the question of tradition and the past as the main drivers of the culture wars in Europe.”

Pascal Bruckner was most likely chosen because of his ideas on Islam and the white race, about which he wrote in La Tyrannie de la pénitence. His general criticism of Islam kindled an international debate about ten years ago when he wrote a polemical article titled “Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?” In it he talked about an “enlightened elite who deny the benefits of democratic rights to the rest of humanity.” This is an idea that fits in very nicely with the Fidesz ideologues’ hatred of the liberal elite.

Of course, the most controversial character among the invitees is Milo Yiannopoulos, a former senior editor of Breitbart News. He is a critic of feminism, Islam, social justice, and political correctness. He is often described as a member of the alt-right movement, a label he rejects. But in October 2017 leaked emails revealed that he had repeatedly solicited neo-Nazi and white supremacist characters for feedback and story ideas for his work at Breitbart. The same emails also revealed that some of his Breitbart articles were ghost written. His book, which was supposed be published by Simon & Schuster and for which he received $255,000, was eventually rejected and the contract broken. A few days ago an article was devoted to the editor’s notes on Yiannopoulos’s rejected book, which reveal the man’s total inability to write something publishable. One of the funnier remarks by the editor was that the author needed “a stronger argument against feminism than saying that they are ugly and sexless and have cats.” A recent article compares him to Donald Trump in the sense that he “grew out of a grotesque convergence of politics and the internet, and thrived by turning hate speech into show business.”

Milo Yiannopoulos

Well, this is not how the Fidesz far-right looks upon him. Yesterday Pesti Srácok published an article in which Balázs Dezse, the author, talked about Yiannopoulos’s visit to Budapest as a “historic moment” which “for many people is a dream come true.” Dezse is obviously is one of them. According to the admiring author, Yiannopoulos played a key role in the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. The argument is that it is hard to label this man as a Nazi because, after all, he is openly gay, he prefers African-American partners, and he is partly Jewish. As for his firing from Breitbart for his controversial remarks about pedophilia, this was an attempt by liberals to silence him. He had been molested by his own father, and his remarks about the case were simply twisted by his enemies. Dezse, in an earlier article, also published in Pesti Srácok, describes Yiannopoulos as “the most exciting and most controversial figure of the alternative right.” With great enthusiasm he covers every step that Yiannopoulos has ever taken, showing a deep familiarity with the man’s career and the foreign-language sources that have covered his activities. The article is titled “A brilliant and dangerous fagot, evil doer of the internet alt-right.” (Yiannopoulos called himself a “dangerous faggot.”)

The more mainstream Fidesz papers, like Magyar Idők and Magyar Hírlap, have so far remained quiet about the conference. Mária Schmidt’s Figyelő couldn’t quite ignore it since, after all, Schmidt was involved in the organization of the event. So, an article attacked the liberal media’s criticism of inviting people like Milo Yiannopoulos to an international conference organized by the Hungarian government. The author rejects the label of “extreme right,” which is an arbitrary designation that is given by the so-called independent media and a few liberal politicians. These people complain that “Yiannopoulos as a newspaperman considers his chief mission to be the criticism of feminists, left-wingers, and human-rights activists. This is 100% correct and that’s why we love him.”

Zsolt Jeszenszky, who described himself as a political hobbyist and who has a Bannon 2020 banner on his Facebook page, called the criticisms mere hysteria by the “Hungarian alter egos of Guy Verhofstadt.” In his opinion, “the fellow is extremely well educated, well informed” and often makes fools of his opponents. He is “the greatest enemy of the liberal establishment.” Jeszenszky in this article intimates that conservative Republicans were behind Yiannopoulos’s downfall at Breitbart, taking advantage of his comments on his pedophilic experience.

As time goes by, Viktor Orbán is becoming increasingly open about his far-right ideology and orientation. Looking over the participants of this conference, I find it hard to imagine a group further to the right, unless Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz will decide to invite white supremacists and neo-Nazis to their next international conference on the future of Europe.

December 29, 2017

Johanna Laakso: Friends and foes of “freedom”

Johanna Laakso is a professor in the Finno-Ugric Department of the Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft at the University of Vienna. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Helsinki, where she also taught until 2000, when she moved to the University of Vienna. Besides her native Finnish, she speaks English, German, Hungarian, Estonian, Swedish, Russian, and French. Professor Laakso is known to the readers of  Hungarian Spectrum as Sentrooppa-Santra and is one of our frequent contributors on linguistic topics as well as on politics.  In 2014, at my request, she wrote a post when the Orbán government established one of its newfangled institutes, the Magyar Nyelvstratégiai Intézet (Hungarian Language Strategy Institute). Her article, “Brave New Linguistics,” not only informed us about this institute but also summarized some of the most important developments in the study of linguistics in Hungary over the last couple of centuries.

The Finnish original of this article was published on Professor Laakso’s blog at http://sentrooppasantra.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/vapauden-ystavat-ja-viholliset/

♦ ♦ ♦

Mária Schmidt should already be known to the readers of this blog. She is a kind of a court historian of Viktor Orbán, and the general public will probably know her as the director of the “House of Terror” in Budapest, the museum which in a somewhat debated manner shows the Nazi and the Communist dictatorship as two parallel cases. She also played a very visible role in the official programme of the recent memorial year of the revolution of 1956. In her research career, she has worked with the history of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy and the fates of minorities in Hungary in the turmoils of 20th-century dictatorships. She also teaches at the Catholic Pázmány university in Piliscsaba. According to the Hungarian Wikipedia, she was ranked by the Napi.hu portal as the 30th most influential person in Hungary in 2017, which is probably due to her political connections rather than to her academic merits. In the years 1998–2002, Schmidt was officially the counsellor of the Prime Minister, and now she leads one of the new research institutes founded by the government: on its homepage, the XXI. Század Intézet (21st Century Institute) states that its tasks comprise “supporting research on politics and numerous other activities connected to the research of politics”.

These numerous other activities, in turn, obviously include a fresh publication which appeared in early December: the book by Mária Schmidt, entitled Nyelv és szabadság (‘Language and Freedom’). Curious to know what Schmidt, a historian, has to say about language, I ordered the book for my holiday reading, despite certain forebodings. Sadly enough, the reality was even more terrible. In what follows, I’ll try to analyze my bewilderment at Schmidt’s book.

The Enemies: Muslim immigrants, left-wing liberal elite, Soros

The book is a compilation of Schmidt’s political columns and opinion pieces from the last couple of years. These texts do not form a logically ordered whole but mostly repeat the same things with slightly different words. Moreover, they do not attempt to argue or to give reasons. It seems that the goal is simply to hammer the basic ideas into the readers’ heads: who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, what is the real problem in today’s political situation. For the problems, three culprits are identified. First, the “migrants”, especially Muslim ones. Second, the left-wing liberal elites and decision-makers who invite and bring them to Europe, especially the German Chancellor Merkel and her associates. And third, behind all these, pulling the strings – ta-dah, George Soros!

Why “The Man in a Bowler Hat” by René Magritte was chosen as the cover illustration remains a mystery. True, Schmidt’s book does emanate a surreal atmosphere.

The immigrants who flooded Europe in 2015 are, of course, no real “refugees” (menekült), as the “left-wing liberal media” want to call them. In Schmidt’s opinion, they all, as a caste (no exceptions are mentioned), constitute a “mobile intifada”. The “migrants” are violent, they are murderers and rapists, they are men “of fighting age” (katonakorú), they come from “areas controlled by jihadists” (p. 139), they are “militant, combat-trained troops” (p. 132), and their “luggage most certainly is full of weapons, drugs and who knows what” (p. 134). They behave rudely and insolently, even towards the “patient and humane” Hungarian authorities, do not show gratitude for the help they are given, they expect a Western European standard of living without any duties. Their goal, and the goal of Islam in general, always and everywhere, is of course to conquer and repopulate Europe. For Schmidt, Islam is not a world religion with zillions of different interpretations and practices in different environments and traditions (as is the case with Christianity as well) but a monolithic system for terror and world domination. Accordingly, the Muslim invaders do not represent different nations, cultures, or political systems: a herdsboy from a tribal village in Afghanistan and a middle-class urban entrepreneur from Syria are both part of a homogeneous mass of “Muslims”, and behind all of them looms a mysterious power with oil and money.

The flood of immigrants is made possible by the fact that Europe, after losing its national values, has turned powerless, spineless, and unable to defend itself. The words in its languages have lost their meaning, due to the tyranny of political correctness, and the political organs of the EU are held captive by the Marxist elite. What is even worse, this elite has the nerve to criticize Hungary, for instance for harassing NGOs, for closing the archive museum of György Lukács (Schmidt: only because Lukács was a Communist!) or for terminating the newspaper Népszabadság.

As for Népszabadság, the paper of the state-holding party in the party state, it is a shame that even in 2017, there can be members of the European Parliament who dare to position themselves in support of a former Communist paper! As if some thirty years ago people had worried about the fate of the Völkischer Beobachter! (p. 197)

A particularly ferocious attack is directed at Angela Merkel (who, according to Smith, hates Europeans and especially Germans, because of their Nazi past…) and at Germany as a whole: Germany is not only burdened by its Nazi past, but Socialism as well was invented in Germany, Schmidt reminds. The EU, in turn, is in practice ruled by Germany, because Germany more than any other country profits from the EU. Schmidt also plays the Nazi card (“the dream of a unified Europe was already cherished by Hitler”, p. 130), as at the end of the following example, invoking an association to the concentration camp transports:

A normal man or boy will know his duties and defend his wife, daughter, mother, or sister. Only these Germans of today have turned so brain-washed and unmanly that they are not even capable of that. The Merkelian language has by now depoliticized and thus debilitated the whole public discourse in Germany. Not only because it is endlessly tedious and monotonous, but because it lacks any content, because it never says anything, it means just letting out hot air. Merkel let the flood of Muslim migrants invade Europe without showing any need to argue for her strategy or to make her strategy public. The German citizens are content with Wir schaffen das. As if they were merely facing a logistic challenge. These people will arrive here, be collected and selected here, divided into quotas there, and then transported to their goals. If only this logistically oriented mode of action were not so familiar already! (p. 29)

The reason for the weakness of German or, more generally, Western elites is that they have failed in their Vergangenheitsbewältigung, dealing with the past. Schmidt thinks that the Western upper class and intellectuals are clinging to their victim status and guilt. Because “only the victim deserves attention, recognition, and privilege” (p. 48), elites and privileged, well-to-do groups also want to be victims. This gives rise to #metoo campaigns, the collective self-castigation in the spirit of “collective guilt” which is continuously practised especially by Germans, or more generally, the mania of former colonial overlords to blame themselves for all possible wrongdoings the colonized peoples have experienced. (As Schmidt reminds, Hungary, in contrast, has never colonized any country. Of course, one might ask how the Magyarization policies of the Hungarian half of the dual monarchy towards its ethnic minorities in the late 19th century prepared ground for the ethnic conflicts which took place throughout the 20th century. But this is probably not the proper place to discuss these issues.)

This situation, then, creates new opportunities for those interested in “migrant business”. The immigrants are not invading Europe merely out of their own free will or driven by their Islamic ideology, but they are being invited, directed, and transported. This is done by fake NGOs “intertwined with human trafficking gangs”, by diverse human rights organizations and the European Court of Human Rights and other organs of justice, whose actions are causing disaster “like a loose cannon” (p. 133) – because “invoking the state of law means questioning the people’s representation”, it amounts to “juristocracy” (p. 202). For these organizations, human rights are a “rubber concept” which they can “extend and apply at will, depending on each current need” (p. 175). (What “extending human rights” in this respect might mean is not explained in more detail, nor are examples given.) The fake NGOs, in turn, are funded especially by George Soros, the super-villain as shown to the people of Hungary in recent hate propaganda campaigns; Schmidt quite seriously compares Soros with the mighty villains who aspire to world domination in James Bond films.

Both the left-wing liberal elites and the decision-making machinery of the EU are controlled by Soros, Schmidt claims. As evidence for this, she mentions the “gas pipe Socialists” who after or alongside their political career have turned into lobbyists of big enterprises, and – believe or not – the fact that Saturday Night Live once called Soros “the owner of the Democrat Party”. If even the authors of a political satire show “treat this like a fact”, it must be a fact…

Whatever motivates Soros and his buddies to do this (beyond the simple fact of being evil) is hardly taken into scrutiny, no explanations are sought. Is “migrant business” really that profitable? Schmidt does claim that the “migrant business” is based on Western enterprises’ need for cheap labour, but elsewhere (p. 139, for example) she states that the “migrants” are unwilling to work (and unable as well, being largely uneducated analphabets), especially for small wages: they merely expect a comfortable life on welfare.

In any case, alongside the Soros network or the Soros plan there exists even a “Sorosism” or a “Sorosist world view”, probably roughly the same thing as the ideology of the “left-wing liberal elite”. The Central European University was also founded to spread this Sorosist ideology, and there – as in Anglophone universities in general – nobody will be accepted or given the floor who does not agree with “militant Sorosists”… But of course, the 87-year-old Soros is not operating alone, but probably he is being used as a gallion figure by “groups behind him who represent a certain part [egy meghatározott rész] of international speculative capital” (p. 250). Who or what are the people who constitute this “certain part”? No answer is given, but I’m afraid that many readers will find one in no time.

The Heroes: “Populists”, “Patriots” – and especially Viktor Orbán

The opposite to the opportunism and indifference of the “elite” and also the target of the elite’s implacable hate are those whom the elite dubs “populists”.

Populist is what they call a politician who is doing what the voters are expecting from him/her. In other words, a democrat. (p. 14; Schmidt presents this as a quotation from The Spectator, no more precise source is given)

Among those who are called “populists”, especially Eastern Europeans, those to whom Schmidt often refers with the pronouns (“we”, “us”) or inflection forms of the first person plural (“we know”), are particularly dangerous to the Western villains and importers of immigrants. The reason is that these “we” have already during Soviet times learnt to recognize the “Communist, Trotskyist, later Post-Communist or left-wing” (p. 93) method by which the innocent are made guilty and the hostile invaders glorified as heroes. These people, therefore, are immune to the propaganda of Soros and the arrogant Western cultural Marxists, because they still retain their national basic values and a self-respect based on them, which gives them courage.

Courage or audacity (bátorság), in turn, is the central characteristic which Schmidt in one of the last chapters of the book attributes to Viktor Orbán. Audacity is shown, for example, in the campaign to lower utility costs (rezsi), even called “the rezsi fight” (a trick by which especially elderly voters are made happy by seemingly smaller gas and electricity bills). To Schmidt, organizing “national consultations” also counts as an example of audacity, as they are based on the audacious idea that “outside of the elite, even other people can have an opinion which counts” (p. 217). (And this opinion can be expressed by checking a “yes” or “no” box following a suggestive and weighted question.) In general, audacity constitutes the core of Orbán’s political credo:

We should not wonder if these groups, lacking and not understanding any quality, are irritated by Orbán, the freedom fighter. The same Viktor Orbán who on the 16th of June in 1989, at the reburial of Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs, on the Heroes’ Square in Budapest burst into the world of politics, being the first one in the whole region to publicly demand free elections and the withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces from the country. This required real audacity, as only twelve days earlier, on the Tiananmen square in Beijing students demanding democracy had been murdered in heaps.

This myth of young Orbán as the first one who dared to challenge the occupation forces of the collapsing empire has, in fact, already been debunked. Already in March 1989, an agreement with the Soviet Union about the withdrawal of the occupation forces had been made, that is, three months before Orbán’s speech, and in April the first Soviet soldiers had already left the country. The agreement was not yet public knowledge, but the committee in charge of the reburial ceremonies was informed, and they had also discussed the issue with Orbán. The reference to China is also somewhat baffling: basically the same regime which had freedom-loving students shot to death is still holding the power, and recently, Orbán has made demonstrative approaches to the decision-makers in China. But obviously Schmidt trusts her fearless and clear-sighted readers not to draw any further conclusions.

Time for confrontation

A major part of the bewilderment which Schmidt’s book can cause in a reader outside her target group is due to style. Although the text is written for a broad and general readership, an academic author, a university teacher, might be expected to base the credibility of her text on rational and logical argumentation. One would thus naïvely expect neutral formulations which strive to objectivity and avoid a heated, emotional tone. However, Schmidt writes in the style of an agitator in early 20th century. She is not afraid of vulgar and colloquial expressions such as komcsi ‘Commie’, migránssimogató (could be freely translated as ‘migrant hugger’), or mocskos bolsi ‘filthy Bolshie’.

Schmidt’s most essential rhetoric tool is confrontation and one-dimensional highlighting and exaggeration of opposites. Whoever fails to support us and our basic values, whoever dares to criticize something we have done or said is not just positioning herself/himself as the infallible supreme judge of all deeds, s/he is our adversary in all respects and the enemy of anything good and noble. There are no options and no nuances, there are only good guys and bad guys. In politics, the choice is only between unconditional loyalty, “adoration” and “implacable hatred”.

There is a remarkable connection in how, when the USA is led by a God-fearing, conservative and value-based government, the anti-Americanism of the left-wing elite in Europe knows no limits, but when a government representing the opposite values takes over, the same Europeans suddenly start adoring America. (p. 21)

If Western European left-wing politicians criticize the policies of Hungary, this means also implying that they alone are entitled to judge others’ actions. Voicing criticism of the actions of Hungarian authorities means denying the sovereignty of the Hungarian nation. Diversity of values and cultures, cultural tolerance, the usual blah-blah of Western liberals, means hating one’s own traditional culture or a “war on traditional values”: Schmidt seems to think that appreciating a foreign culture necessarily means despising one’s own. Acknowledging the value of third-world cultures or the wrongs which third-world nations have experienced means, in Schmidt’s interpretation, that these cultures are considered “more valuable”. Similarly, speaking of the universal human rights of refugees means demanding “privileges” for “invaders”, speaking of the crimes of colonial rulers means denying “that mass murders ever happened in other parts of the world”, and fostering religious freedom and diversity of religion is, of course, “an attack against Christianity”.

This continuous simplification of a diversity of issues into one-dimensional oppositions gives rise to an endless parade of straw men. The liberals of Europe, Schmidt claims, want to “delete the borders” and make “unlimited immigration” possible. They prohibit and censor: Schmidt has also found a reference to a statement given by the German journalist Claudia Zimmermann in a Dutch radio broadcast. Allegedly, Zimmermann claimed that the WDR channel had instructed its employees to report about the refugee crisis in a positive tone, in line with the German government (WDR has demented this claim, while Zimmermann has retracted her statement and apologized for the misunderstanding). Schmidt’s army of straw men also includes the popular allegation that Western liberals do not condemn violations of human rights or equality if committed by Muslims. No examples, of course, and no evidence.

Moreover: it is claimed that liberal elites want to delete gender roles and genders or sexes in general. A good old strawman is brought forward again: “men should no more be called men, women should not be called women”. Concerning political correctness, one of the last chapters presents a rich collection of urban legends and fake news. Schmidt, as we are informed, is well acquainted with Anglophone universities which now are devoted to the “self-realization” of narcissist individuals in the spirit of the post-truth era. Wishing somebody “merry Christmas” is now automatically considered a hate crime, says Schmidt. A Canadian professor of psychology is threatened by jail after he refused to use neologistic gender-neutral pronouns in referring to persons of trans- or non-binary gender. (Refusing to conform to the university code of conduct also as concerns the use of gendered vocabulary might in principle be a problem even in the light of the new Canadian criminal code, but nevertheless the claims of prison punishment are grossly exaggerated, jurists say). Schmidt also claims that at the SOAS [School of Oriental and African Studies] in London, philosophers from Plato to Immanuel Kant have been included into the index of forbidden books because they were white and male; in fact, a demand of “decolonising the syllabus” was presented by students at some point but never taken seriously. And, as you may have heard, at university campuses in the English-speaking world normal relationships between men and women have become impossible, says Schmidt, because male students are so often terrorized by made-up charges of rape or sexual harassment…

Owls and sparrows

Already somewhere in the first part of the book, I found myself scribbling not only question and exclamation marks to its margins but also the letter combination BV as a note to myself. In my head, I kept hearing the Hungarian saying Bagoly mondja verébnek, hogy nagyfejű (‘The owl says to the sparrow that it has a big head’), the equivalent of “the pot calling the kettle black”. Take, for instance, the above-mentioned claim about how German journalists are instructed to report on the refugee crisis. How can Schmidt claim something like this while her own government has turned the state-controlled media channels into a propaganda tube of the Fidesz party and redistributed most of the existing traditional media outlets to certain circles close to the government? Or how does the alleged double standard of Merkel’s Germany, friendliness to the West and coldness towards Eastern Europe, differ from the political “peacock dance”, as Orbán himself has called his European policy?

“Owls and sparrows” together with diverse logical somersaults of similar character can be found on almost each and every page of the book. For example, Schmidt sneers at the Western elites who whine about their sufferings, without seeing the central role of ritualized self-pity (“boo hoo, our nation has suffered more than any other people in the world”) in Hungarian patriotism ever since the 16th century. The Western Marxist elite (?!) is accused of still concealing and downplaying the crimes of Socialist systems – but this is also done by the Orbán government, which still refuses to publish all the names of collaborator agents in the Kádár era. (According to the historian Krisztián Ungváry, this is already a tradition in post-transition Hungary; different governments have chosen to keep the names secret in order to be able to use the data for political blackmailing.)

The Western Marxist elite, says Schmidt, “will not tolerate debate, open discussion, arguments” (p. 182). Instead of critical thinking, they will repeat mantras and readymade formulations sent in from Berlin (as from Moscow in olden times), because “it is much easier to incite hatred and excommunicate all those who ask and argue than to invest effort into tinkering with the answers” (p. 74). Does it ever occur to Schmidt that this excellently applies to the campaigns against immigration and George Soros as orchestrated by the Hungarian government in the last few years, or to the way in which Orbán and his government avoid all questions and criticism from the opposition? In analysing the programme speech of the rector of the CEU (or “Soros University”), Schmidt points out that Rector Ignatieff will not bother to investigate the flaws of Communism separately but bundles it together with Stalinism – the same accusation, although in the other direction, has also been presented to Schmidt’s own “House of Terror”. And if Merkel’s Wir schaffen das! is an empty and void slogan, not saying anything about what and why (p. 248), in what respect is Orbán’s Magyarország jobban teljesít (‘Hungary performs better’) any better?

Moreover: in criticizing the “immigration business” Schmidt wonders what will happen to the migrants’ countries of origin, as they lose their educated young people to Europe. (Elsewhere in the book, she states that contrary to the expectations of Western liberals, most refugees are illiterate barbarians unable to get integrated.) Now this is a question we could ask of Hungary as well, considering the current exodus of educated and young people which has already led to shortage of trained labour in many areas, not only in the health care system. Schmidt can, of course, make sarcastic allegations to the behaviour of Jean-Claude Juncker, “the leader of Europe who is in a very good mood already before noon”, and the notorious unclarities around his taxation. But take Viktor Orbán, who is also known for seldom refusing a good drink, with his rumoured mental health issues and with the dense cloud of suspicions of corruption surrounding him, his family and friends – is he any better?

In Austria, the decades of “red-black” (Social-Democrats and Conservatives) coalitions did lead to stagnation and “pillarization” of society on the basis of opportunistic party membership, but how can Schmidt criticize the role of party membership in recruitment or allocation of state funding in Austria, considering how critical media in Hungary has been almost completely silenced and the holders of numerous positions and offices owe maximal loyalty (and silence) to the ruling party? And when Schmidt writes about the Western elites who have ended up “lightyears away from those who do not belong to their circles, so that they will not understand each other any more” (p. 103), I must think of the strange charity action by Zoltán Balog, the minister for human resources, four years ago: Balog took 40 poor children to a posh restaurant to eat a fancy meal including, among other things, goose breast in calvados sauce.

And in general – Schmidt, as populist politicians and speakers in general, can rage against “elites” or the “upper class” without noticing that she herself, as holder of high academic and political positions, as a protegée of decision-makers, a businesswoman who a year ago bought the weekly paper Figyelő for 240 million forints, is irrefutably a member of the elite as well. Schmidt also confidently condemns the style and behaviour of today’s “left-wing elites” (“they lack good manners and refined style, they do not offer a model”, p. 154), obviously without asking herself how this relates to her own writing style.

The worse for the facts

Schmidt not only exaggerates and sets up strawmen, she also brazenly presents some completely untrue statements. In general, her pamphlet texts seldom argue, present facts or source references, but where there are references to facts or figures, these are sometimes modified or do not correspond to truth at all. For example, in Sweden, she claims, the Muslim immigration has led to a dramatic increase of rape and violence (in fact, the high rape rates in Sweden are due to the high readiness of victims to report these crimes – in contrast to many other countries – and very wide criteria of “rape”) and more than 15% (p. 59) – or “close to ten per cent” (p. 140) – of the population are Muslims. I don’t know where her figures come from, but this looks like a decimal error. According to the statistics of the central organ of religious communities in Sweden, the membership of all Islamic communities in sum amounts to some 140,000 people (less than 1.5% of the population). The Swedish Wikipedia gives inofficial estimates up to 400,000 but notes that these are based on the country of origin or on personal names and will not help to exclude secularized ex-Muslims or people of other affiliations (for instance, Christian immigrants from the Near East).

Some statements arouse the suspicion that Schmidt is relying on extreme right-wing alternative media with their alternative facts. (As for the so-called mainstream media in Germany at least, Schmidt claims that it has by now deserved the Nazi term Lügenpresse, ‘press of lies’.) At least one such source is mentioned by name: the German Udo Ulfkotte (1960–2017), a political journalist who after the turn of the millennium increasingly published on the alternative fora of extreme right-wing and racist circles. Similar sources are probably behind Schmidt’s statement (which I find difficult not to call a brazen lie) that Alexander Van der Bellen’s victory in the Austrian presidential elections of 2016 was “rigged” (p. 152). In fact, there is a vast body of research and reporting on this issue.

The second round of the Austrian presidential elections in 2016, which Van der Bellen narrowly won against the right-wing populist (FPÖ) candidate Norbert Hofer, had to be repeated due to “irregularities” or what some would call typical Austrian sloppiness. In some electoral districts, postal vote envelopes had been opened too early, unauthorized people had been present at the counting of votes or observers had signed protocols without reading them. However, these were mostly electoral districts in the countryside where Hofer had won the vote, so that election fraud in the sense of really manipulating the votes would have required an incredibly cunning precision work. In fact, no evidence of manipulation of votes was ever presented, nor did the mathematical analysis conducted at the University of Michigan find any indications of fraud. Hofer and other FPÖ functionaries never presented any official and explicit accusations, but with continuous insinuations, they maintained suspicions of fraud among their supporters. Although Hofer admitted his defeat after the repeated election, the belief in electoral fraud continues to live on some right-wing populist fora, and Schmidt presents it as follows (this is also a nice example of her style):

Also in the Austrian election of 2016, they [= the left-wing elite] made fools of themselves. With organized fraud, although by a very narrow margin, they managed to get a typical Western politician elected, a representative of everything that we find impossible to accept or digest. A man with a Commie past [Van der Bellen has publicly admitted having voted for a Communist candidate back in his youth, at a local election – J.L.], a freemason, who later tried his luck among the Greens, now an “independent” candidate gathered to his supporters, perfectly naturally, all public figures from the past of Austria, to testify to the hopeless stagnation of the country’s political life. The left-wing liberal elite of Austria, which used to seize and still seizes every opportunity to lecture us, is still trying to hide the fact that the election had to be repeated due to organized and massive frauds and irregularities and international observers were invited for the new election round. This was an unprecedented election scandal in Europe. I hereby declare myself available as an observer, and if needs be, I can also give a short informative lecture on the importance of the integrity of free elections.

Language, freedom, and democracy?

The closing chapter is authored by Márton Békés, research director of the 21st Century Institute, a young historian already well known on certain right-wing fora. The chapter starts with these words (italics as in the original):

This book creates a home in the language. It deals with political freedom as an extension of freedom of language, and it restores the original meaning of words. While reinstantiating the meanings of concepts which already seemed to be disappearing, it will realize a conservative revolution and restore their origins. (…) The author joins Orwell in declaring: one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.

Nevertheless, I don’t really understand what Schmidt’s book has to do with language. To me, it doesn’t seem very probable that Schmidt or his afterword author Békés have even read George Orwell’s famous “Politics and the English language” (1946), from which they quote. In his essay, Orwell chastises the stupidities of political language use of his times: pretentious diction, vague and meaningless formulations, stale or crippled metaphors… He also gives insightfully chosen examples of different types of stupid texts – and the fourth of them, an excerpt from a contemporary Communist pamphlet, shows a haunting resemblance to Mária Schmidt’s writing. Similar pathetically serious attempts at sarcasm with scare quotes (“the best people”), similar exaggeratedly emotional, yet worn-out attributes, similar political or quasi-religious lingo which, in effect, serves to alienate anybody not devoted to the author’s cause. Just read the following example and compare it with the excerpts from Schmidt’s book given above.

All the ‘best people’ from the gentlemen’s clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.

Schmidt and Békés are not attempting to bring about “some improvement”; they are merely seeking the “right” language. Like many non-linguists they naïvely believe that each word has its “true” meaning, that is, the meaning that “we” use (and that who belongs to “us” and who doesn’t is a similarly self-evident issue). “Freedom” means freedom in our sense of the word, “corruption” is something that “they” have but “we” haven’t. And the political credo of our leader is based on “courage”, because we have decided to see things that way. This has nothing to do with the facts that this “courageous” leader has already long ago stopped giving interviews to other than his own trusted journalists (not to speak of risking a public debate with a political adversary), that he will answer an opposition politician’s unpleasant question by simply wishing her merry Christmas, or that he can have the protocols of debated political decisions declared secret (as in the case of the Paks nuclear power plant deal).

Freedom is an often-used decoy for freeing a people of its freedom, as the Finnish humorist Olli (Väinö Nuorteva) wrote already decades ago. There is nothing new in questionable uses of the word “freedom”. More interesting questions arise in connection with the concept of democracy or – this term surfaces a few times in this book – “majority democracy” (többségi demokrácia), which Márton Békés in his afterword connects with the concept of majority-rule democracy in the sense of the American right-wing politologist and philosopher Willmoore Kendall (1909–1967). But I will rather leave this to politologists. As a linguist, I’ll return to my own business, silently wondering how a university teacher and a professional scholar can produce – even in a book written for a general readership – such shallow text which seems to shun all rational argumentation.

December 28, 2017

Hungary is unique after all: Pew research on terrorism and refugees

A couple of days ago the Pew Research Center published a survey taken between February 16 and May 8 in 38 countries, asking about the respondents’ sense of threats to national security. People were supposed to rank eight things they consider to be truly threatening as far as their well-being is concerned. Heading the list were “Islamic militant group known as ISIS” (62%) and “global climate change” (61%). Cyber attacks (51%), condition of the global economy (51%), large number of refugees (39%), U.S. power and influence (35%), Russia’s power and influence (31%), and China’s power and influence (31%) followed in that order.

The 38 countries surveyed are widely scattered, and naturally their concerns vary according to their particular geographic and cultural settings. For example, South American countries found “global climate change” a greater problem than ISIS. In European countries the large number of refugees was obviously a greater concern than, let’s say, in Vietnam or Chile. But in all countries, including European ones, the fear of terrorism was greater than alarm over the refugees. There was one exception, not just among European countries but on all four continents: Hungary. Hungarians dread refugees (66%) more than they worry about terrorism (64%). To compare Hungary to some of its fellow EU members, here are some figures. In France, which had its share of terrorist attacks, people rightfully consider terrorism a very serious threat (88%), but only 39% think that the large number of refugees is something one has to seriously worry about. In Germany there is even less anxiety about the refugees despite their large influx (28%), while 79% believe ISIS to be a serious menace. Even in Poland, a country whose population receives similar messages from the government as do Hungarians, the fear of terrorism is slightly higher (66%) than concern about refugees (60%).

The only explanation I have for this phenomenon is the success of the massive brainwashing by the incessant government propaganda against the “migrants” that has been going on for more than two years. The official of the Hungarian Fencing Association who, while visiting Leipzig, saw marauding refugees all over the place was most likely under the influence of this propaganda campaign. All he heard about the German situation at home programmed him to see a country under siege by invading Africans and Middle Easterners.

His case calls to mind an article I read yesterday in The Guardian about the Norwegian anti-immigrant group Fedrelandet viktigst (Fatherland First), which mistook a photograph of six empty bus seats for a group of women wearing burqas. When the group posted the photo on Facebook, racist commenters went wild. One of the more telling comments was: “I thought it would be like this in the year 2050, but it is happening NOW.”

Those frightening burqas

Of course, the Hungarian anti-refugee propaganda is promulgated not only on huge billboards but also in the government media, which by now means almost all print newspapers, especially the regional papers. I think it is enough to point out, as an illustration of the seriousness of the situation, that Lőrinc Mészáros alone owns 200 regional papers, all of which spout the same pro-government propaganda. And these regional papers are still read by large numbers of people.

The flagship of the government media is Magyar Idők, in which I found a typical article by Gábor Czakó, a writer whom the Orbán government found worthy of the Kossuth Prize, the highest prize a Hungarian writer can receive, in 2011. I must admit that I have never read anything by this man, but his name sounded familiar. After a bit of research I found the occasion on which I encountered Czakó’s name. In 2012, in a television conversation, Czakó extolled the habit of men physically punishing their wives and children. He told a family story in which a fisherman, who came home only every two weeks, found that his wife in his absence didn’t do any housework. He finally became tired of the situation and beat her. The beating did miracles. She became, at least for the next two weeks, a perfect wife. As he put it, “she practically begged for the beating.” Czakó, the father of seven, also explained that his beating of his boys was always done with due preparation “because if you lose your head you will beat him until blood flows.”

So, now that you know something about the author, let’s see what wise thoughts he has on the present refugee crisis. According to Czakó, these refugees are part of an army of conquerors who came to wage war “against us and our civilization of thousands of years.” They are colonizers whose aim is to make slaves of the inhabitants of Europe. They came to destroy the nations of the continent. The liquidation of nations is a necessary element of the Islamic conquest, which rests on religious foundations. With the destruction of nations comes “the loss of love, culture, family, and the values of the common past.” Czakó’s projected new world will be devoid of friendship, loyalty, perseverance, self-sacrifice, and bravery. Truth will also disappear. The conspirators behind this invasion are “creating a babelic world without truth.” This image of the Armageddon that will be created by the refugees is meant to be terrify Hungarians, to poison their souls and stupefy their minds.

This is the kind of vision Hungarians have been confronted with day in and day out. And with time the claims of the mortal danger to European civilization become increasingly forceful and harrowing. It’s no wonder that in the Pew Research Institute’s study Hungary stands alone, with an obviously warped sense of reality.

August 3, 2017

Gábor Vona and the transformation of Jobbik

Great was my surprise this morning when I discovered that Gábor Vona, chairman of the right-wing party earlier known for its anti-Semitism and its condemnation of Israel as a terrorist state, had announced that Jobbik from now on “will respect Israel’s right to exist, form its own identity, opinions and articulate its interests.” As the Reuter’s headline put it: “Jobbik ditches far-right past” in order to be taken seriously as a challenger to Viktor Orbán at next year’s national election.

A couple of days ago I devoted a post to Gábor Vona’s Hanukkah greetings to heads of religious organizations. One of the recipients was Slomó Köves, head of the Chabad-based Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregations. Köves was taken aback by the “gesture” because of the strongly anti-Semitic past of Jobbik and its leader. An exchange of open letters followed Vona’s original message, which prompted a lively public debate.

What I didn’t mention in my post was an article written by T. Gábor Szántó, editor-in-chief of Szombat (Sabbath and also the Hungarian word for Saturday), who gave some advice to Vona about “how Jobbik could become part of a civilized, democratic society.” While Szántó acknowledged Jobbik’s “slow metamorphosis” and the “expulsion of the most extremist members of the leadership,” he noted that “Jobbik bears serious responsibility for the legitimization of anti-Semitic discourse in Hungarian public life.” Such transformations have also been observed in West European far-right parties, he noted, but the Hungarian extreme right is still very much behind in this respect.

If Jobbik wants to become a respectable, civilized, democratic force, the party and its forums must turn against their former views. To achieve that goal, first they must define their attitude toward the Holocaust and accept the Hungarian state’s responsibility for acts against its Jewish citizens in 1944. Second, they must clarify their party’s relationship to openly anti-Semitic and racist groups and forums. And finally, they should articulate their views on Israel’s right to exist and on the fundamentalism and terror of Islam that threatens the values of the western world. After such changes, assuming these changes remain permanent elements of Jobbik’s political views, one might discuss the possibility of a dialogue between the Jewish community and Jobbik.

It looks as if Vona took Szántó’s advice to heart. Jobbik a few years ago was guilty of holding all three unacceptable political positions that Szántó outlined. Let’s start with Jobbik’s attitude toward the State of Israel. I could, of course, find hundreds of examples. But here’s one, from 2012: a demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy. The demonstration was organized to call attention to an Israeli attack on Gaza. Here, Vona, with a Palestinian scarf around his neck, said that while Israel constantly talks about the Holocaust, it maintains, with the assistance of the United States, the world’s largest concentration camp, Gaza. He suggested making a list of “Israeli capital” that exists in Hungary. He claimed that Viktor Orbán during his first administration signed a pact with Poland and Germany, according to which in case of trouble these three countries can settle 500,000 Israelis. He called Israel a terrorist state and said that all Hungarian politicians must be vetted to find out who are dual Israeli and Hungarian citizens.

A year later Vona had quite an exchange with Ilan Mor, the Israeli ambassador. The reason for the spat was Mor’s letter complaining about the decoration an openly anti-Semitic reporter at Echo TV received from the Hungarian government. Vona saw “in Ilan Mor’s behavior the Jews’ aspiration for world domination.” He assured Mor that he “will never be Israel’s dog as all the other parties” in Hungary are. Once Jobbik governs the country “we will politely send you [meaning Mor] home.”

As for Jobbik’s admiration for Islam and Muslim nations, this had been well known even before they won something like 16% of the popular vote in 2010. At a conference in November 2009 Vona astonished his audience by talking about Iranian-Jobbik ties. By the end of 2010 Vona published a fairly lengthy treatise on his views of the Muslim world, in which he recalled that as a university student he attended a youth conference in Yemen where he realized the plight of those people. His opponents think that this sympathy for Islam “is just more proof of [his] anti-Semitism.” But, he insisted, his admiration for Islam has nothing to do with his alleged anti-Semitism. It is rooted in his reading, which led to his realization that the Renaissance and the Enlightenment ruined European society, which had been pure and good in the Middle Ages. I gather from this that what he admired in Islam was its reliance on tradition and the negation of modernity.

By 2012 the western press discovered that Jobbik’s leader was infatuated with Islam. The International Business Times found an article in The Morocco World News which quoted Vona saying that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.” In the same speech he talked about Russia, Turkey, and Hungary as “the three nations [which] are European and Asian at the same time, due to their history, fate, and disposition…. These nations are destined to present the Eurasian alternative.”

However, as Christopher Adam of the Hungarian Free Press noted last summer, “the Hungarian right’s fascination with, and relative respect for, Islam is coming to an end, perhaps as a result of the Charlie Hebdo killings in France earlier this year and maybe even more so due to the large waves of Muslim refugees fleeing Syria and Afghanistan.”

Outright Holocaust denial was never Jobbik’s official dogma, but there were many signs that the party and its leader considered it to be an overblown topic. Here is a good example. In 2010 Vona said in one of his speeches that all that talk about the Holocaust was coming out of his ears (a könyökén jön ki). In a note he wrote on his Facebook page on October 3, 2013, he reacted to a lecture János Martonyi had given at an international conference on “Jewish life and anti-Semitism in today’s Europe” organized by the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest. Vona suspected that because of the seventieth anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust and the coming elections the topic of the Holocaust will be center stage. Unfortunately, said Vona, the goal of these events will be not peaceful remembrances but the creation of a sense of guilt. Therefore, Vona warned his followers to be cautious and not fall for provocations. Jobbik supporters shouldn’t give any ammunition to their adversaries.

I have not encountered any admission of the Hungarian government’s responsibility for what happened in 1944 by either Vona or any other leading member of Jobbik. However, we ought to keep in mind that Fidesz stated in its constitution that the Hungarian government was not responsible for the Holocaust, and therefore I think it would be unrealistic to expect more from Vona’s Jobbik.

I didn’t collect all this information on the anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli views of Jobbik to deny Vona’s change of heart. In almost all of his comments lately he has compared the old Jobbik to a teenager who has done a lot of stupid things. But, he says, this teenager has now grown up. Reading through his essay on Islam, my first reaction was that he was a very confused man who was trying to find some coherence in his world but was just grasping at straws, ending up with an incoherent philosophical mess. When he was talking about his favorite writers–Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Mircea Eliade, Rüdiger Safranski, Konrad Lorenz and “his all-time favorite, Meister Eckhart,” I had the distinct feeling of intellectual confusion which then was unfortunately translated into political action. Let’s hope that he is correct and that he has grown up. And that his party has grown up with him.

January 17, 2017

Mária Schmidt’s “Israelification of Europe” and Mária M. Kovács’s review

Well-known pro-government “intellectuals” often create blogs on which they write articles paid for by the Orbán government. Mária Schmidt, by contrast, offers her services gratis. She doesn’t need the few thousand forints the Orbán government coughs up. She is a wealthy woman who got even richer thanks to the good offices of the current administration.

On her blog, “Látószög” (Viewing Angle), she and a handful of other people post regularly. She herself writes at least one article a month, sometimes two. Her August piece is devoted to her favorite topic of late, Islam’s threat to Europe. The title of her article is “Israelification of Europe.”

Budapest Sentinel translated the full article, for which I’m most grateful because it has stirred up quite a controversy. I’m reprinting it below.

♦ ♦ ♦

Mária M. Kovács, history professor at Central European University, wrote a short article about this Schmidt piece with the ironic title: “The Bayerization of Israelization.” A year ago an article appeared in The Times of Israel by Emmanuel Heymann, a young Israeli who has written extensively on international relations, titled “The Israelization of Europe is under way.” In it he talks about waves of Muslim immigrants who “have enriched old Europe and positively transformed European societies.” But this immigration “also brought with it new challenges, most notably in integration and assimilation.” Religious enclaves in larger European cities have sprung up and many of the newcomers don’t feel part of their adopted countries. In addition, terrorism has reached the European continent and there are security concerns. Israel has had to face similar challenges throughout its existence. Perhaps now that radical Islam has reached Europe, Europeans will have more sympathy for Israel’s handling of its own problems. Israel and Europe share similar values, the values of liberal democracy, and Europe will also have to recognize that these values are incompatible with the “totalitarian political ideology of Islam.”

Mária Schmidt’s “Israelization of Europe” sends a very different message. Her Europe, as Mária M. Kovács aptly describes it, “is Zsolt Bayer’s frightening, dehumanized world full of demons.” In this world everybody is threatened by foreigners, people of other races and religions. No individuals exist in this world, only groups. And every group is homogeneous, with a common goal and common will.

Not only are the alien groups homogeneous; “the political leaders and members of the intellectual elite are also uniform.” In her view, the “whole European mainstream is made up of aberrant and mentally ill people who are so stupid that they can barely wait to be enslaved.” They want to “become victims” in order to escape from the guilt they feel for Europe’s past.

For years Zsolt Bayer has been saying almost the same thing. In Bayer’s Europe events are directed by conspirators. Immigrants who want to conquer Europe and all the European politicians, churchmen, and intellectuals who don’t share Bayer’s and Schmidt’s worldview are in effect collaborators.

“The Europe of Heymann and Schmidt don’t resemble one another. Heymann’s Europe is multi-faceted and able to handle political debate. Bayer’s and Schmidt’s Europe is led by sick, aberrant people with whom one shouldn’t, in fact mustn’t, find consensus. For Heymann the foundation of mutual understanding are the principles of liberal democracy. For Schmidt liberal democracy cannot be the foundation of understanding and empathy. The ideas of Heymann become an inexorable attack in Schmidt’s hands. She turns Heymann’s call inside out and attacks the very European and Israeli values in whose defense Heymann wrote.”

♦♦♦

Revisionist historian Mária Schmidt warns of the “Israelification of Europe”

Schmidt Maria3

“If people living in a given area are unable to defend their lands, they are going to lose them. Meanwhile they are forced to share their acquired and accumulated possessions with the invited or uninvited settlers, which leads to calculable social tensions. Because every community exists by the grace of its borders, and works by distinguishing between insiders and outsiders.” – Mária Schmidt, historian

Translation of Terror House director Mária Schmidt’s op-ed piece “The Israelization of Europe” posted by Látószög (Viewing Angle) on August 26th, 2016.

“If we want to be generous, we need borders.” – Paul Sheffer

When I first traveled in Israel, before the first intifada, in spite of being a blonde woman I walked alone in Jerusalem’s old town. Later, as I visited every ten years, I noticed that everyday life there became more tense, and the feeling of safety came to be in short supply. The little bus we took six years ago with friends and family for excursions in the Holy Land was stopped every 500 meters by soldiers who came on board and inspected it. The horrific security procedures at their airports have already become normal in other parts of the world. In spite of how painful it might have been for Jews who had broken out behind the closed walls of the ghetto, they had no choice but to encircle the territory of Palestine with border walls in hopes of controlling and identifying terrorists, whose ingenuity and determination grow day by day. Those who take Israeli lives with knives, with swords, with bombs, with guns. Those Muslim fanatics, who don’t value worldly life, and who believe their acts of evil to be tickets to paradise.

We are on the road to the Israelization of Europe. This is clear by now to everyone except the left-liberal elite. How and why are they anesthetizing themselves? How much will they give up to show that they are carefree, acting in good faith, and “humane”? We’ve already learned that no one is stupid for free, especially those who are used to getting paid handsomely for it. (It’s not an accident that Gerard Schröder became a lobbyist for Gazprom after he had signed an enormous contract with the company as Chancellor. It wasn’t an accident that Barroso ended up at Goldman Sachs after he had shown that he was sympathetic to their problems during the 2008 financial crisis. Tony Blair, the Clintons, the Bidens, the Kerrys, etc., all receive millions of dollars for their services as lobbyists, advisers, lecturers, or from the mandates of their sons and relatives.) I wouldn’t be surprised if in time we receive news of a new “accommodations” where one of our current “migrant-lovers” ends up in the services of Soros, or some Saudi company.

But until then let’s look a bit more thoroughly at exactly what we’re facing. Let’s try to answer the following question: Why has the West, so ashamed of its past, so effortlessly glided over Muslim colonization of a significant part of Europe which has for centuries meant threat, invasion, and the loss of millions of lives? Hungary lived for 150 years under Turkish rule, which hindered development and led to a demographic catastrophe (of 4.5 million Hungarians, only 1.5 million remained by the end of the Turkish occupation, many of which were slaves) which had to be remedied with the mass settlement here of foreign ethnicities. Spain, southern France and the Balkans were under Muslim domination for centuries. Because Islam, when it could and can, and where it could and can, came and comes as a conqueror.

“Every virtue, if taken too far, becomes immoral.” – Bernhard Vogel

Islam is one of the world’s religions. Its followers are found in every part of the world. In many places theocracy is operating at the same time as secular power. Elsewhere, following the principle of separation of church and state, they focus on moral and religious questions. In its past and present, the same kinds of acceptable and unacceptable elements are found in Islam as are found in Christianity. Why is it that Christianity has for decades been in the crosshairs of criticism, and recently on a daily basis is exposed to attacks by the advanced West, while, according to these same critics, it wouldn’t be suitable and in fact isn’t permitted to criticize Islam? In its disorientation of the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Western left-liberal intellectual elite found a new object of adoration in the Third World. They came across the Palestinians, and took them, and the whole region and Islam with them, into their patronage. They compensate with condescension their turning of a blind eye to the qualities of Islam which the Western world would not tolerate, and thus don’t consider them equal parties. This all means in practice that they use a double standard. The first is maintained for the European left, which considering the sinful nature of communism, sympathizes with all manifestations of left-wing terrorism. The other is for the “exploited” and “oppressed” Third World, where for them the denial of equal rights before the law for women and sexual minorities is no problem, nor are acts of terrorism as political pressure. This standard the other side of the political spectrum imposes on us and institutionalizes with incessant intellectual carpet bombing.

The Western elite is convinced that the turban-wearers and burnoose or robe-wearers’ minds are not developed, and that Muslims are reliant on their patronage, for which they expect gratitude. They do not presume that Muslims think in long-term strategies, and that they thoroughly plan and precisely implement their steps. The occupation of Europe is an old project of theirs, the implementation of which is launched through excessive demographic relocation, placing ideological pressure on the shoulders of the West with their conscious and aggressive political and economic power, and above all, with the threat of turning off the oil tap. They buy weapons from the West which they use against each other and against the West, and they buy cutting-edge Western technology while flooding Western cities with migrants. They use a part of this migrant community as a fifth column, as hidden terrorist cells, as pressure points, and as a political “ace-in-the-hole.” Whenever and for whatever they need to. Western progressive intellectuals are truly playing the role again of the useful idiot, as they were in service of the goals of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. If in anything, in this they are practiced.

In Hungary in 2013, 19 thousand asylum-seekers were registered. In 2014 their numbers grew to 43 thousand, and last year to 177 thousand. The numbers speak for themselves. And we aren’t even a migration destination country!

This kind of large, quickly expanding foreign community with a different culture, different language and different religion is impossible to integrate. It wouldn’t succeed even if they weren’t arriving with instructions and intentions to demand their own schools, and churches, and separate cemeteries, and ritual butchers, and community centers, so that they can keep and care for their own customs and live uninterrupted in their own closed world and develop their own communities. Of course, the accepting state would be responsible for financing all of the above. Additionally the Quran schools and prayer houses, and the preachers who are responsible for the replacement, recruitment and activation of the extremists, will be paid for in large part by the Saudis. The internet culture and social applications which support and allow separation and the exclusion and outlawing of dissent will also move toward the closing off of their own groups. With the help of their satellites they will have their own television stations, so that they can receive in their own language the ideological ammunition to shame and reject the way of life of those receiving them. No other voice reaches them, only the noise of their own group’s extremists. So they have less and less chance of integration; the majority live on welfare and stay poor. Of course, it’s not the kind of poverty they knew back home in their leaky houses, but the meaning of this will quickly slip away, since in their new homes they will have become affluent. But this standard of living will remain unattainable for most of them, because their lack of language skills or professional skills will make them incapable of getting a good and therefore well-paid job. The spirit of Western tolerance will describe a whole new generation on an ethnic or “cultural” basis while assisting in the emergence of an inferior religiously and ethnically based social class. 26 percent of Somalis, 34 percent of Iraqis, 42 percent of Afghans and 62 percent of Iranians had employment before the great migration waves. Today the statistics are even more abysmal.

“The opposite of good is good intentions.” – Kurt Tucholsky

Chancellor Merkel doesn’t fret on these questions. “We can do it!” (Wir schaffen das) she says, while thinking of what kinds of logistical steps are needed to spread all over Europe these migrants who still don’t want to assimilate. But she is indifferent to how the regularities of coexistence might be formed, because she represents the kind of Germany which is ashamed of its past, ashamed of its present and can hardly wait for, as a citizen of the globalized world, for someone, say, the Muslims to conquer them and absolve them of their Nazi past, of their eternal perpetrator status, which by themselves they are unable to let go of, unable to move past. (Adolf liked Islam too, and did business with his uncle Arafat, Chief Mufti of Jerusalem.) How great it would be, if they could finally play the role of a victim! Well, wouldn’t it be an enviable status? They don’t look for an answer to the question, that if to them Western Christian culture is worthless, because in the European Union’s proposed constitution they couldn’t even refer to it, and if Europe is not Christian anymore, then what is it? What is the community of values to which the newcomers must adapt, that they must accept, embrace? What do we require of them? How will they have to form their communities so that we will be able to live with them? Or will we adapt to them? Do they have no such duty? Where does the practice lead where we excuse the terror attacks that threaten the existence of our communities as psychological disorders? And if this doesn’t satisfy popular opinion, then comes the common mantra: that misery and the colonial past are responsible for terrorist acts. However, as they advertise it: “This is a war led by Allah between Muslim nations and the infidel, pagan nations.” The command is clear. “Kill the infidels,” as Allah said. “Then destroy the idol worshipers wherever you find them.”

We’re familiar with this spurious intellectualization. But we also know that the poor things aren’t terrorists, and they know other methods of suicide that don’t involve the destruction of others. We also learned that some people can take up arms to war and kill in God’s name, for its defense, or its diffusion. Hatred of unbelievers or followers of other faiths was not foreign to our culture in our past. Today, however, we fight religious wars in the form of culture wars, and we fiercely continue bloodless struggles. In this war, the “tolerant”, that is the left-liberal elite and their lackeys, proclaim that they don’t differentiate between cultures and values. In other words, there is only one type of culture and one type of value system, and that is theirs. With their full arsenal they propagandize that those who are arriving here have the same values, intentions and ambitions as they do, and they consider the same things useful and valuable as they do. If our values and culture are no different than theirs, then how can we expect them to adopt them? The equality of women, for example? I wonder if the Western left-liberal elite is simply stupid, or if some suicidal tendency has taken away their common sense and is spreading like an epidemic in Europe’s “credible” institutions, think tanks, universities, and in the air-conditioned left-liberal witches kitchens? And where are they coming across Soros’s dollars? The progressives have a particular tendency for guilt. They consider victims everyone who comes from a different part of the world or who has different colored skin, and they swoon that now finally they can prove how good, humane, tolerant, and multicultural they are! They look in the mirror and their very humanity looks back at them. Great! They can finally be proud. Because the Dutch, Germans, Swiss, etc. have not been able to be proud lately, because of all the sins of their ancestors. However, if they had been proud on an occasion or two of something like, say, a European Championship football match, they would have fallen immediately into the sin of nationalism, which is already almost racism, an unforgivable sin punishable by excommunication! This is how Western Europe is populated, brimming with fine good people!

The last 68-ers, the progressive party’s dying mummies.” – Houellebecq

In certain areas of Africa and the Near East, it took decades for people living there to get off their carpets and out of their tents, leave their dirt roads and cross into the age of skyscrapers, supersonic airplanes, television and internet. In a few years they had to be pulled forward centuries. This is a huge task, a burden, but also an achievement. This kind of turbo-modernization results in a state of shock, which the severing of tribal ties and forced integration into the alienating world of big cities only makes worse. Islam, in this context, provides a solid ground for those masses who end up in a disorienting world. Because Islam is law, rights and instruction. Roots and guidance. Patterns of behavior and a value system. In the context of someone coming to Europe, all of this could not be made any more important and indispensable for someone also having to deal with linguistic, racial and cultural differences. This all increases almost to the point of unbearability the identity crisis those migrants will face who left their homes for the false promise of an easy and successful life, and also for those who came by their own will. Upon arrival they will find that the kafirs, the unbelievers, the antisocial, barbaric, unclean, uncircumcised, depraved masses will not accept them. They will humiliate them with some kind of immigration procedure, they won’t give over their wives and daughters to them, the food and drink will not be what they are accustomed to, and the money they give them won’t be enough to provide them immediately with what they need to live comfortably. They will always be expecting gratitude from them everywhere, and expect that they should know what good people they are for having accepted and helped them. However, they know, and have learned, that if they were actually good people, then they would be Muslims.

In the tribal culture in which most of the influx was socialized, women are property to be bought and sold. The family, the tribe, the man’s good reputation and honor, are all dependent on the obedience and good behavior of the women in the family – meaning, her virginity and marital fidelity. This explains the practices of female genital mutilation and the death penalty for extramarital sexual relationships. Wearing of the headscarf, hijab and burka are compulsory. All of this, spiced with forced marriages and polygamy, is incompatible with the culture of gender equality practiced in the West. While the left-liberals supposedly advocate for same-sex marriage, the denial of basic human rights for sexual minorities by Muslims goes unnoticed. As does the European Jewish community, whose existence, independent of the Palestine-Israel conflict, is a thorn in their eyes. Let us not forget that most migrants’ mentality and worldview remains tribal, regardless of whether they also use 21st century technology developed in the West.

Let us note the argument of the migrant-lovers. They reference humanity, that is, morality, and at the same time demographic and labor needs. They argue that guarding the borders is impossible, and also that international laws dictate that we let everyone in. These are all lies. The fences raised on our borders meant noticeable and immediate relief from the pressure of immigration. They were forced to alter their itineraries, and the entry into Hungary’s territory became ordered, regulated, and lawful. These refute the empty dreams of the liberals that the borders are unnecessary, dreams that are contemptuous of the limits of democracy. If people living in a given area are unable to defend their lands, they are going to lose them. Meanwhile they are forced to share their acquired and accumulated possessions with the invited or uninvited settlers, which leads to calculable social tensions. Because every community exists by the grace of its borders, and works by distinguishing between insiders and outsiders.

The protection of EU borders is entrusted to Erdogan by Merkel and the union leaders panting at her heels, as they entrusted Kadhafi with Libya and Morocco, to crack down ruthlessly on African immigrants if need be. We wash our hands, and we pay. This way we stay good people and can educate everyone on democracy, humanity, and Europeanness.

I agree with Konrád György, that “after Nazism and communism, Islam is the third totalitarian ideology which seriously threatens Europe.” I also agree that “today’s refugees are not singular people who desire to be European citizens. Rather they are a faceless mass, which will in time develop into a parallel society. Along with the growth of their confidence, conflicts will also proliferate, because the Bible accepts the Quran, but the reverse is not true. Europe cannot be good and moral if it is also weak.”

The progressive intellectuals disregard all of this, without exception, and support Muslim migration. Because they feel that finally their opinion matters, and they can see themselves as important and as chosen, like they once did in the Maoist, Trotskyist and Communist movements, in the sit-down strikes and demonstrations of ’68. In the leftist salons they always spoiled that part of the intelligentsia which unscrupulously served progress, whatever class-warrior or multicultural costume they wore at the time. The progressives, who by now have become the politically correct Western mainstream, have for us caused the greatest damage by wanting to deprive us, European citizens, of our self-esteem and self-confidence. And this can hardly be approved of.

September 4, 2016

Scare tactics: The coming of an Islamic Europe

Reactions to the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor of London depend on people’s attitude toward Islam and multiculturalism. Those who are optimistic about the integration of the newly arrived refugees from the Middle East welcomed this tremendous victory by the son of Pakistani immigrants. It capped a distinguished political career over the last ten years or so. Khan served as minister of state for communities and minister of state for transport in Gordon Brown’s government.

Yesterday Khan gave an interview to Time Magazine in which the name of Donald Trump came up in connection with the presidential candidate’s anti-Muslim sentiments. Back in November Trump told Yahoo News that he would consider requiring Muslim-Americans to register and mandate that they carry special identification cards. By December he was calling for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. Although Khan would like to meet with the mayors of New York and Chicago, he said in the interview that “if Donald Trump becomes the President, I’ll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith, which means I can’t engage with American mayors and swap ideas. Conservative tacticians thought those sorts of tactics would win London and they were wrong. I’m confident that Donald Trump’s approach to politics won’t win in America.”

Trump’s answer to Khan came yesterday in an interview with The New York Times. He said that “there will always be exceptions” to his proposed ban, and naturally Sadiq Khan would be exempt. He hoped that Khan will do a good job “because I think if he does a great job, it will really — you lead by example, always lead by example. If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing.” As you will soon see, Trump sounds like a raging liberal in comparison to the Hungarian right’s attitude toward Muslims in general and the election of Sadiq Khan in particular.

To illustrate the hate campaign being waged in Hungary against Muslims I’m turning today to an opinion piece written by one of the shining lights of Fidesz journalism, János Csontos. On paper he looks terrific. Since 1991 he has published 13 volumes of poetry and 22 volumes of prose, has produced five theatrical productions and at least two dozen documentary films, and has received 11 prizes, most for his documentary films on architectural monuments. However, he also received a couple of prizes for “journalistic excellence” from strongly right-leaning groups. His only literary prize came last year from the Orbán government, which considered him worthy of the once prestigious Attila József Prize. I managed to read only one poem by Csontos, “A sentence on lie,” which calls up Gyula Illyés’s famous poem written in the 1950s, “A sentence on tyranny.” Csontos’s alleged masterpiece is about Gyurcsány’s speech at Balatonőszöd.

His article, “Londonistan,” is full of factual errors, as an article written by Elek Tokfalvi, a pen name that is a mirror translation of Alexis de Tocqueville, points out. First of all, Csontos wants his readers to believe that the municipal election in London was not a battle between the candidates of the Conservative and the Labour parties but a “desperate struggle … between the child of a penniless [csoró] Pakistani immigrant and the rich Jewish child of a Rothschild,” which, by the way, Goldsmith is not. Csontos, following Samuel P. Huntington’s thesis, considers the outcome of the election a victory for Islam over Christianity.

For Csontos it is especially galling that the people of London could overwhelmingly elect a Muslim because, “after all, London is not a small town somewhere in one of the Benelux countries but it is the second largest financial center of the world whose first citizen will frequent mosques in his spare time and will ask the help of Allah against the faithless giaours [non-Muslims].” Surely, Csontos writes, it would be time to stop talking about Christian anti-Semitism. Instead, “in the spirit of the Scriptures, Christians and Jews should unite against Muslim expansion.” Csontos is obviously trying to set Jews against Muslims and minimize the political fallout of anti-Semitism, which in his view is no threat to European Jewry.

Let’s not abandon the Jewish theme in this nauseating article so quickly. Csontos describes a horrid future for both Christians and Jews, but Jews have more to worry about than anyone else. Jews are wrong in thinking that “everything will be politically correct in Eurorabia, whose leaders will be worried about the proper way to deliver speeches at Holocaust memorials.” He continues: “Do you think that a Muslim Tarlós [the mayor of Budapest] would allow György Soros’s private composer, Lajcsi Lagzi, to slink around on Vörösmarty tér in the hope of a tip?”

In order for non-Hungarians to understand this sentence I have to give some linguistic and cultural cues. Of course, Soros’s private composer is Iván Fischer, conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, here thinly disguised as Lajcsi Lagzi, a musician who had a couple of popular programs on TV2 until he was arrested in September 2015 for fraud. “Lagzi” is the familiar form of “lakodalom” (wedding). So, we are talking about a musician who plays at weddings. Now we can move on to the verb I translated as “to slink.” The word is borrowed from the Romani language, “bazsevál.” It describes a Gypsy violinist who has focused on one of the guests, playing his favorite song in hope of a tip. And I don’t think it is a coincidence that Csontos uses another Gypsy word, “csoró,” to describe the penniless state of the Khan family.

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Chief Rabbi Mirvis. They seem to be getting along fine

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Chief Rabbi Mirvis. They seem to be getting along just fine.

Back to London (and reality). As Elek Tokfalvi noted in his article, the very first official act of the new mayor of London was to pay his respect to the millions of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. A detailed description of the event can be read here.

But in Csontos’s view of the future, in the center of which is an Islamic Europe, little Prince George will be forced to marry an Arab girl one day. It will be politically incorrect to teach the French Song of Roland or the Hungarian Eclipse of the Crescent Moon, a twentieth-century novel popular among young readers. What a juxtaposition! Instead, Hungarian kids will have to watch a film about Suleiman the Magnificent from which they will learn that the depraved Hungarians deserved what they got in the Battle of Mohács (1526).

I assume Csontos is relieved that this apocalyptic future is not here yet. Hungarians can still assert their superiority here and there. Turks have complained about a children’s song, taught in Hungarian kindergartens, about a stork’s bloodied leg that was cut by a Turkish boy and healed by a Hungarian child. A French woman living in Hungary also had objections when her child had to learn the song. Not to worry, Hungarian psychiatrists responded. At this early stage in a child’s development, any anti-Turkish message the song might send will not plant any seeds of prejudice. I don’t know, but I wonder whether the children will ever ask how it can happen that the stork’s leg is healed by a pipe, drum, and a violin-shaped instrument (nádi hegedű) made out of broomcorn. I had to look up the last instrument, the description of which I found in the Hungarian dictionary of folklore available online.

Kindergarteners might not comprehend the message of the ditty about the Turkish and Hungarian boys, but the readers of Csontos’s piece will get the message just fine. After all, the Hungarian parliament just approved the referendum on unwanted immigrants.

May 10, 2016

György Konrád’s “Human flow”: An analysis

György Konrád, a highly respected Hungarian writer whose first book, The Case Worker (1969), brought him international fame, wrote an article “Human flow” (Emberfolyam) in the March 25 issue of Élet és Irodalom. It is an argument against the influx of Muslim refugees. Konrád, to the great disappointment of many of his admirers, hasn’t hidden his negative views on mixing cultures and religions in Europe. For at least a year he has been voicing his opinions in the public media and, in fact, went so far as to write an op/ed piece for The New York Times in which he praised Viktor Orbán for his farsightedness in recognizing the danger of the “migrants.”

The influx of over a million refugees to the territory of the European Union is, of course, the subject of fierce debate. Many people who are not at all xenophobic fear the consequences of such a sudden, large influx of people coming from a different culture. They are convinced that the refugees cannot be absorbed by the mainstream and foresee “parallel societies” developing within the European Union. On the other side are those who, for both practical and humanitarian reasons, argue that the refugees should be accepted and assisted. The practical consideration is Europe’s aging population due to its low birthrate. Most of these newcomers are young people, as is the case in any mass movement of this kind.

Konrad2

As I noted earlier, we have known Konrád’s views for quite a while. But this was the first time that he put his thoughts into writing, aside from the short English-language piece in The New York Times. If I read the general reaction of Konrád’s admirers correctly, it is one of total dismay over the message he delivered. The opposition media has acted as if the article had never been published. Only Magyar Idők and Pesti Srácok talked about Konrád’s “conquering immigration” in an approving way. So, I decided to tackle certain parts of the text in an attempt to decipher Konrád’s views on Islam.

This is not an easy task because a great number of Konrád’s assumptions about the Muslim refugees are just that, assumptions. He also paints with a broad stroke. He doesn’t distinguish between the moderate form of Islamism and the ideology of those jihadists whom we see on TV beheading their victims. For him, all varieties can be called “Islamofascism,” a controversial term which, according to most scholars, should be avoided. Yet Konrád chooses to draw a direct parallel between Islamism, Nazism, and communism. All three are enemies of democracy. He admits that not all Muslims are jihadists, “only their minority, but the majority of Muslims are Islamists.” Hence the majority of the arrivals are Islamists “who possess a totalitarian mindset and who are ready to employ ruthless measures against those standing in their way.” These are most likely completely wrong assumptions about the refugees, who in many cases escaped from precisely those relatively few jihadists of whom Konrád is rightly afraid.

What other characteristics does Konrád attach to the refugees, with whom he has had no direct contact whatsoever? According to him, “most of the Muslim totalitarians feel oppressed, and because of their backwardness due to a lack of freedom they have a good dose of resentment.” At the beginning they are grateful, but “once they become stronger they will present their demands.” They will not integrate easily because “they don’t consider European culture and humanism superior to their own.” Konrád believes that in Muslim societies “communities exist not next to each other, but the order of communities is vertical: one is either above or below.” Once they are the majority they will be on top and the Jews and Christians beneath them. So, most Muslim refugees look down on European civilization and democracy and consider Islam superior. Eventually, they will want to change and take over the land that welcomed them and gave them shelter.

A refugee or immigrant should be eternally grateful: “in the olden days immigrants greeted the natives politely, not like now.” As these people settle, they become more self-confident and actually want to “change the skyline.” That means they want to build mosques. Those Europeans who took these people in will notice that “the newcomers are not so grateful anymore; they demand more and more. And the immigrants will realize that the natives are not so kind anymore.” So, if I understand Konrád correctly, immigrants can never really be members of the accepting society with the same rights as natives. Immigrant communities shouldn’t be able to worship in their own churches. Well, let’s leave the Muslim community for a moment and, in a thought experiment, apply these same measures to Russian and Polish Jews or for that matter to the downtrodden Slovak and Hungarian peasants who arrived in the United States before World War I. They eventually had the temerity to build synagogues and churches where their own rabbis, priests, and ministers looked after the immigrant flock. What would we think of a society that made a distinction between immigrants and their descendants and the so-called natives who must be politely greeted? A preposterous view.

Konrád also shares his view of the nature of the “human flow.” Although he is certainly right that integration will be more difficult than if only 10,000 people had arrived in Germany, it is shocking to discover that Konrád’s ideas are practically identical to those of László Földi, the Islamophobic intelligence officer from the Kádár era who is convinced that these masses have been sent to Europe by their Islamist leaders. As Konrád puts it, “with the newly arrived migrant masses came their superiors” who will keep them in the fold. A little later he is quite explicit. “The wandering masses don’t follow the authorities of the countries they are heading toward, but they are regulated by those under whose guidance the march is conducted.” Moreover, “the immigrants are not individuals but parts of the extensive Muslim nation who will become members of a minority parallel society.” This is a total denial of these people’s individuality and free will. Their “superiors” move them about as if they were pawns on a chess board.

Although there are several more outlandish assertions in Konrád’s article, I will close this post with his not at all original argument that these people are not really refugees because, if they were, they would stay in the countries neighboring Syria. But no, they want to settle in countries with high living standards. Therefore, one becomes very suspicious of their motives.

If we compare the present flow of refugees to the Hungarian case after 1956, it becomes evident that this argument is unsound. The 1956 refugees were quite numerous, all fled within a couple of months, and if the Hungarian and Russian forces hadn’t managed to close the borders by the end of the year more people would have packed up and tried to cross into Austria. Where did most of these Hungarians go? To the United States and Canada and other “rich” countries. I very much doubt that a Hungarian refugee, if he could have chosen, would have picked Colombia over Canada, the United States, or Germany. If one has the choice one will pick the country considered to be most advantageous. This is human nature. It has nothing to do with the Muslim psyche.

Moreover, in Konrád’s view their decision to settle in “rich places” might backfire. “They heard this and that, but they don’t know what is waiting for them.” Although he doesn’t spell out just what it is that awaits them, he writes that “to bear homelessness in richer Western European countries” is more difficult than elsewhere. This is so even for those “central Europeans who are looking for better paying jobs in these countries.” I don’t know where Konrád gets the idea that Hungarian immigrants in Germany or the United Kingdom have a particularly difficult time and that perhaps their integration would be easier in Poland or Romania. The newcomers’ “natural habitat is the Near East and North Africa,” where they should have stayed. Similarly, Hungarians and Poles also have their natural habitat where they feel at home. Thus, Konrád practically ties people to their homelands and claims that life outside a certain geographic area is unnatural and in the final analysis goes against human nature.

As I said at the beginning of the post, there has been a deafening silence in the Hungarian opposition media since the appearance of Konrád’s article. But I saw an interview that Krisztina Bombera conducted with him. At the end of the interview she asked Konrád whether those Orthodox Jews who escaped to America from the pogroms of Tsarist Russia were not in a similar situation to the Muslims arriving in Europe today. They also came from a very different culture. Didn’t Konrád see parallels here? No, he didn’t.

I’m sorry that Konrád felt compelled to write this article.

April 5, 2016