Tag Archives: Mária Schmidt

Viktor Orbán’s next target: Central European University in Budapest

One after the other, independent publications have been taken over by Fidesz loyalists. I covered the sad fate of Népszabadság and spent a considerable amount of time on the acquisition of regional papers, which are valuable additions to the growing network of the government propaganda machine.

One takeover I didn’t cover was the purchase of Figyelő (Observer), a highly respected financial weekly established 60 years ago. The new owner is Mária Schmidt, court historian of Viktor Orbán and director of the historically misleading House of Terror. Of course, Mária Schmidt is well known to the readers of Hungarian Spectrum, but perhaps I didn’t report sufficiently on her wealth. She inherited a fortune when, in 2006, her husband died suddenly at the age of 53.

Figyelő had been ailing financially for over a year when Schmidt decided to “save” the paper in December 2016. She promised not to intervene in the day-to-day running of the paper or to interfere with its content. A month later, however, she appointed three prominent Fidesz ideologues to head the editorial board. Several journalists promptly resigned. That was at the end of January.

A few days later the new issue of Figyelő appeared with an article titled “Can the Soros-School stay?” Unfortunately, the article is not available online, but from the summaries by other publications we can reconstruct the gist of the story. According to Figyelő, in the summer of 2016 Viktor Orbán and George Soros had a discussion about Soros’s pride and joy, Central European University (CEU), which he established in Budapest. At that meeting the strong man of Hungary apparently reassured Soros that “he will not touch” CEU. But, continued Figyelő, “since last summer the international situation, with the election of Donald Trump as president, [has changed]. The Hungarian government might think that it can risk attacks against the university that it wouldn’t have tried earlier.” Figyelő claimed to know that one of Orbán’s ministers talked about CEU “as the main target in 2017.” He indicated that what they would really like is the departure of the whole institution from Budapest. The article was also full of untrue assertions about CEU, its students, and its faculty.

Michael Ignatieff, the new president of CEU, responded with a dignified open letter addressed to the “editor-in-chief” of Figyelő. He pointed out the benefits CEU has brought to Hungary in the last 25 years and the excellent relationships the university has with other academic institutions in Hungary and abroad. At the end of the letter he noted that the university is proud of George Soros, a Hungarian patriot, but the administration of the university is entirely free from outside pressure.

Anyone familiar with Mária Schmidt’s modus operandi should have known that President Ignatieff would get an answer. And that it would not be dignified as Ignatieff’s was. Instead, it would be a base attack on him, the university, and anything that has anything to do with liberalism.

Indeed, her response is a disgusting piece of prose, at the center of which is an attack on the speech Ignatieff gave at the launch of a project called Re-thinking Open Society. (A summary of the speech is available online.) In her rambling article, titled “An open society and a liberal revolution,” Schmidt talks about foundations financed by Soros as “military outposts of the U.S. State Department” and Ignatieff as “the Canadian liberal” whose “field of operation happens to be” in Hungary at the moment. He is “a passionate liberal.” That for Schmidt is the greatest sin anyone can commit.

Ignatieff is further accused of being soft on communism, which she says is especially disgraceful from someone whose ancestors were refugees from the Red Terror, “a fact that he doesn’t consider especially important.” (Ignatieff’s paternal grandfather was Count Pavel Ignatieff, the Russian minister of education during World War I, and his great-grandfather was Count Nikolay Ignatieff, a Russian statesman and diplomat.) How do we know that Ignatieff, who gives lectures on the subject, doesn’t know the first thing about the horrors of communism? Because “he always talks about communism in connection with Nazism and he always compares Hitler to Stalin.” Until now, Hungarian anti-Communists accused liberals of making excuses for communism and focusing only on Nazism, but if we can take Schmidt seriously they now consider communism even worse than Nazism and the horrors it brought to the world.

Ignatieff mentioned Václav Havel in his speech, who is not exactly Schmidt’s favorite. “Havel is significant for Ignatieff and the other liberals only because he published several articles in their most important publication, the New York Review of Books.” So much for Václav Havel.

Soros himself is accused of collaborating with the communists in the late 1980s and preferring left-wingers and liberals when it came to his grants. (Schmidt herself was a beneficiary of Soros’s generosity.) To quote her precisely: “Soros in Hungary as well as in other countries became the keeper of washed-out komcsik and libik. He is the embodiment of everything that deserves our contempt. Today Soros’s name means liberal and liberal means SZDSZ and SZDSZ means everything that is loathsome, unpatriotic, arrogant, and unacceptable.”

I guess these few lines will give the readers of Hungarian Spectrum a sense of Mária Schmidt’s latest masterpiece. I could go on and on about her defense of populism, Brexit, and Donald Trump, but that would take us too far from our topic: the fate of Central European University. The essence of the lengthy article comes at the very end: “CEU is George Soros’s outpost in Europe.” The implied verdict: Soros’s university has to go.

Schmidt’s attack opened a floodgate. A few days after her article appeared, Magyar Idők reported that CEU is letting 17 faculty members go because the university’s business school will merge with the department of economics. The pro-government mouthpiece claimed that all 17 professors were Hungarians and that they were extremely popular with the students. Magyar Idők also stated that the salaries of foreign faculty members are double those of Hungarians at CEU. A day later another article was published in the same paper, titled “They are cooking something in Soros’s witch’s kitchen.” The same unfounded and unverified accusation that Hungarian faculty members were fired solely because they were Hungarians was repeated. In vain did CEU try to explain that the faculty members of the Business School were not all Hungarians and that there are not different pay scales for foreign and native faculty members. Magyar Idők was not giving up. Today a new article was published in which they try to discredit CEU’s press release that pointed out the paper’s false statements. Magyar Idők claimed that CEU didn’t satisfactorily deny that only Hungarians were fired.

That’s where we are at the moment. What happens to CEU may depend, at least in part, on how successful Donald Trump is at implementing his plans at home and abroad. If he moves American democracy toward an illiberal state and if his followers keep bashing Soros, most likely Viktor Orbán will feel free to banish CEU from Hungary. But if he fails because of internal opposition and foreign resistance, perhaps these attacks will subside. Let’s hope so.

February 11, 2017

Sebastian Gorka’s road from Budapest to the White House

A few hours ago Sebastian Gorka triumphantly announced on Twitter: “Well the radio silence is over. Congrats to those who guessed! Honored to be Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States,” most likely on the National Security Council. Faithful followers of Fox News may be familiar with his name since Gorka has been a frequent guest as an expert on Islamic terror. He is one of those people who are convinced that the Western world is at war with Islam, a war that could have been won if the president of the United States had been serious about the mission, as Barack Obama obviously wasn’t. Trump, however, “sees that this is an actual war that he wants to win.” It was this theme that Gorka developed in his 2016 book Defeating Jihad: A Winnable War. Gorka is also a regular contributor to Breitbart News and a protégé of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, or, as GQ magazine called him, “our president.”

Sebastian Gorka with Donald Trump

Sebastian Gorka’s name is not exactly a household word in the United States, but in Hungary it has a more familiar ring. In the years after 9/11 Sebestyén Gorka, as he was known in Hungary, was a national security analyst who, according to some less than charitable TV viewers, was usually wrong.

Gorka was born in Great Britain in 1970, the son of Hungarian refugees Zsuzsa and Pál Gorka. The father, according to Sebastian, was sentenced to life in the 1950s and was freed in October 1956. A few years ago Pál Gorka, who moved back to Hungary after 1990, wrote a book about his experiences before and during the revolution.

The young Gorka received a B.A. in philosophy and theology from the University of London and, upon graduation, joined the British Territorial Army reserves, serving in the Intelligence Corps. In 1992 he followed his parents to Hungary, where his meager military training and intelligence experience were sufficient to land him a job in the Ministry of Defense. There he worked on international security issues and Hungary’s future accession to NATO. Gorka spent five years in the ministry, during which time he also earned a master’s degree from Corvinus University in international relations and diplomacy. Later he received his Ph.D. from the same institution.

Anyone who’s interested in the career of Sebastian Gorka should consult his Wikipedia entry which, I suspect, he wrote himself. There is no need to repeat all that information. Instead I will concentrate on his time in Hungary.

Hundreds of articles have appeared in the Hungarian media in the last few days about Gorka’s fabulous career. He and his family left Hungary for the United States only nine years ago, and yet he will be an important adviser to the president of the United States. These articles note that he was also an adviser to Viktor Orbán. Some of the better informed pieces report that he eventually became disillusioned with Orbán and established a party, Új Demokratikus Koalíció. Interestingly, in his many resumés one finds not a word about his position as adviser to Viktor Orbán, which is odd since one would think that it might be a plus for his political ambitions.

Gorka established and was the executive director of a conservative think tank, the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security, in Budapest. By 2006 he decided to chart his own political course. In September of that year he gave an interview to Magyar Nemzet in which he explained why he was running against the Fidesz candidate for the mayoralty of Piliscsaba, a picturesque village in the Budapest metropolitan area where he and his family lived. A few days later he talked to someone from the New Telegraphic Agency who complained about the red-and-white-striped “Árpád” flags favored by Magyar Gárda. Gorka explained to him that the flag-wavers “are a soft target, because how do you prove you’re not a fascist?” And, he continued, “if you say that eight centuries of history can be eradicated by 19 months of fascist distortion of symbols, you’re losing historical perspective.” Gorka was a bit off; Ferenc Szálasi’s Arrow Cross regime lasted only about four months.

In January 2007 he and three others established a right-wing party. After Viktor Orbán lost the election in 2006 a lot of people within his own party came to believe that Fidesz cannot win an election as long as Orbán is at the helm. Gorka was one of the “insurgents.” He identified three groups within the party. One was the Orbán-Simicska line. The other was a group led by István Stumpf, head of the prime minister’s office during the first Orbán government, and Mária Schmidt, director of the House of Terror and today the court historian of Viktor Orbán. The third group was led by Zoltán Pokorni which, according to Gorka, was the weakest of the three. It was under these circumstances that Gorka wanted to establish a party in opposition to Fidesz. He added that he was hoping that some Fidesz leaders would join him. He specifically mentioned János Áder, today president of Hungary.

Jobbik, which had just started to become an important factor in the country’s domestic politics, sent an observer to the press conference that set out the goals of the new party. He came away with the feeling that the ideology of the Új Demokratikus Koalíció was confused. The leaders of the party counted on the right-wing followers of Mária Schmidt, the left-winger followers of Gyula Horn, and the “völkisch-national-socialists” of Katalin Szili. No wonder that Gorka’s attempt to establish this new party was a total flop. Most likely it was his political failure that prompted him to leave Hungary and not, as he later claimed, “the chaos created by Gyurcsány.”

The last time Gorka gave an interview to a Hungarian newspaper was in September 2016. The reporter of Magyar Nemzet asked his opinion of Viktor Orbán’s Russian policy, and he was anything but complimentary. He harshly criticized Putin’s policies and found Orbán’s balancing act between NATO and Moscow to be both dangerous and unsustainable. Orbán, he said, will have to decide between the West and the East. Given Gorka’s family background, it makes sense that he would be no fan of Russia or Putin, the former KGB agent.

Hungary might think that it is gaining influence in Washington by having Sebastian Gorka in such a prominent position. But given his low opinion of Orbán, whom he considered already in 2006 unfit to lead the country, the Hungarian prime minister might not get the kind of reception from Trump that he expects.

January 31, 2017

An inveterate liar: Mária Schmidt’s celebrated freedom fighter

Today’s story is a sad commentary on the gullibility of some of the leading supporters of Fidesz. It’s the tale of a man who among his colleagues is known to be a habitual liar but who, over the past 30 years, has managed to fool an awful lot of people.

Pathological liars are not rare. I myself have encountered at least two. But most of us sooner or later realize that the stories they tell don’t add up. And we certainly don’t defend the truth of these stories in the face of evidence to the contrary. Here, however, once hard facts proved that our man had been lying through his teeth, Mária Schmidt, the chief organizer of the sixtieth anniversary of the 1956 October Revolution and allegedly a historian, came to his rescue. She attacked the media for trying to ruin her precious event and besmirching the halos of the “pesti srácok,” youngsters who fought on the streets of Budapest.

The man I am talking about is László Dózsa, an actor whose career has not been distinguished. He currently directs plays staged in the Újpest Színház, which doesn’t strike me as much of a theater. Yet shortly after Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz won the election in 2010, he was awarded the title “érdemes művész” (actor of merit). Admittedly, as far as awards in the theater world go, this one is fairly lowly. Even so, in one of his interviews a reporter asked him whether anyone had ever suggested that he received the award not so much for being an actor but rather for being a “freedom fighter.”

It would seem that his alleged activities in 1956 are central to his self-identity. In his Wikipedia entry, which most likely he wrote himself, he is described as “1956 freedom fighter, actor, director, actor of merit” in this order.

This year Dózsa made it as the freedom fighter of all freedom fighters. A painting based on a Life Magazine photo, depicting a young man with a rifle and captioned László Dózsa (1942-), was plastered all over Budapest. He must have felt on top of the world. But soon enough his world collapsed. It turned out that the boy in the picture was Pál Pruck (1941-2000). Once Pruck’s family learned that Dózsa had assumed his identity, they decided to act.

dozsa

It was high time to put an end to Dózsa’s outrageous stories about 1956. Dózsa was always known to tell tall tales. When after 1989 he began regaling people with his exploits during the revolution, his friends didn’t unmask him even though they figured the stories were lies. They thought the lies were harmless.

After a while the media became interested in the adventures of this extraordinary man. One of the first of these interviews, “The man who has three lives,” appeared in the October 2005 issue of Hetek, the fundamentalist Assembly of Faith’s weekly. This story was repeated over and over in several more publications, with new embellishments. It is difficult to create a coherent story from Dózsa’s recollections which were, I assume, purposefully vague, but there are a couple of fixed points: he joined a group that gathered around the Divatcsarnok at the corner of Rákóczi út and Szövetség utca and he joined the group after November 4.

According to his story, once the fighting was over the Russians made them, about 30 young boys, stand against the wall of the Rákóczi movie theater and killed everyone except him. He escaped with his throat half destroyed by a bullet. He was then taken to a prison hospital where he was interrogated and was so badly beaten that he was eventually pronounced clinically dead. He was taken, together with other dead bodies, to the cemetery on Kerepesi út and thrown into a common grave. They even poured lime on the bodies. The gravediggers, however, discovered that he was alive and returned in the darkness of night. They took him to the Jewish Hospital on Szabolcs utca where two professors operated on him. These two good men hid him until it was safe to return “from the dead.” Because of “international pressure” he was not prosecuted.

On its face the story is bizarre and unbelievable. And, after reading an interview with László Eörsi, the historian who has written scores of books on these small fighting groups, one can be pretty certain that not a word of Dózsa’s story is true. Eörsi describes himself as an “event historian” (eseménytörténész). I have several of his books, which are basically minute-by-minute descriptions of the activities of these groups. Eörsi interviewed Dózsa at one point but came to the conclusion that his stories were bogus because they could not be corroborated. No one had ever heard of the murder by the Russians of 30 people in the center of the city. Dózsa claimed that the Russians bombed the Divatcsarnok when in fact they didn’t resort to air attacks. He talked about firing squads against civilians at the Nyugati Station, but that occurred only on December 6.

So, let’s turn to Pál Pruck. Once the Pruck family found out that Dózsa had assumed the identity of the deceased Pruck, they complained. Dózsa, after the story broke, magnanimously agreed to take his name off “in reverence” to the deceased’s relatives. But he still maintained that he was the one who appeared in the Life Magazine photo despite convincing evidence to the contrary. Tamás Pruck, Pál Pruck’s son, remembers his father telling him that he had been sent by the guys of Corvin-köz (Corvin alley) for bread when a foreign photographer stopped him and took a picture of him. “But he never spoke about being such an important freedom fighter.” He was just a “srác interested in guns.” Apparently, he never received any decoration but he never asked for one either.

The Life Magazine photo

The Life Magazine photo

Yesterday I was sure that Mária Schmidt would remain quiet. The evidence against Dózsa was far too strong. I was wrong. Today Schmidt called the poor deceased Pruck a criminal and insisted that Dózsa was an outstanding national hero. At the same time she launched an attack against the opposition media, which insists on debasing the memory of the ’56 revolution and its heroes.

The photos Pál Pruck and László Dózsa at the time

Photos of Pál Pruck and László Dózsa at the time

Her defense of Dózsa stretched the limits of logic. 444.hu summarized it well. (1) Dózsa is credible because he received a lot of decorations for the heroism he demonstrated in ’56. (2) In 2007 Dózsa himself wrote that this was a photo of him, something that nobody questioned. (3) Normally photographers don’t identify their subjects in a wartime situation or they give them phony names. That’s why the photographer gave an existing person’s name to a photo depicting Dózsa. (4) This is not the first time that the wrong name is attached to this photo. (5) Dózsa years ago in a video taken at the House of Terror identified himself as the boy on the picture. (6) Nothing is known about Pál Pruck’s activities during the revolution. (7) He himself said in a television interview that he doesn’t know how the photographer got his name. (8) Pál Pruck was a criminal who was in jail several times. He was also used by the Kádár regime’s propagandists to discredit the revolution. (9) The relatives of Pruck didn’t come forth although the photo was widely known. (10) It is suspicious that Pál Pruck didn’t suffer any reprisals after the revolution.

This is the best that Orbán’s court historian could come up with. Pitiful and embarrassing. But, I said to myself, isn’t it also embarrassing that Dózsa received the Officer’s Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit in 2006 during the Gyurcsány government? At least this is what I read in his Wikipedia entry. Well, I checked the list of recipients and there is no sign of László Dózsa. He even lied about that in his Wikipedia entry.

On the other hand, he has been richly rewarded for his faithful service to right-wing causes since 2010. I already mentioned his becoming an “actor of merit” in 2011. But the big prize came this year, on the sixtieth anniversary of the revolution. He became an “honorary citizen” of Budapest. Apparently, Mayor István Tarlós and the Fidesz majority’s choice was Dózsa while Csaba Horváth (MSZP) argued for László Nemes Jeles, director of the Oscar-winning Son of Saul. Tarlós put an end to the discussion by saying that “László Dózsa is our son of Saul.” What a gift. Tarlós, Schmidt, and the rest can now contemplate how to rescue Dózsa for posterity.

November 3, 2016

The fate of a journalist, Gergely Brückner, who told the truth

Népszabadság is not the only Hungarian publication that has been harassed by the authorities, although its shutdown on October 8 was the Orbán government’s bluntest attack on the Hungarian media. Shortly after the destruction of Népszabadság came an assault on a journalist who had investigated one of the Orbán government’s dubious financial transactions. This time the Hungarian National Bank “filed a complaint against an unknown perpetrator,” actually Gergely Brückner, a highly regarded journalist at Figyelő (Observer), a financial weekly whose most important articles are unfortunately not available online. Kolos Kardkovács, head of the central bank’s legal department, filed charges against him for “infringement of trade secrets” in connection with the purchase of MKB Bank. The article Kardkovács objected to appeared in Figyelő’s very first issue in January 2015.

Let’s backtrack a bit to mid-December 2014 when I wrote a post titled “The first state-owned Hungarian bank is already in trouble.” MKB Bank was supposed to be sound since its former owner, Bayerische Landesbank, prior to the sale pumped 270 million euros into it. This was supposed to be enough to cover all possible losses over the following few months. Government officials were sure that the bank would be profitable by 2016 “at the latest” and that “the reorganization of MKB Bank will not burden either the state or the taxpayers.” Yet three months later Viktor Orbán and György Matolcsy, at a joint press conference, said that 300 billion forints are urgently needed to keep MKB Bank afloat. Orbán announced that since “the consolidation of MKB Bank will be done by the Hungarian National Bank, it will not cost the budget or the Hungarian taxpayers anything.” The same lie that was used to justify the establishment of the central bank’s foundations.

Between September and December 2014 Brückner gathered background information for a series of articles on the less than transparent purchase of MKB Bank. During 2015 and 2016  he published at least a dozen articles on the reorganization and eventual sale of MKB Bank to several investors of, again, less than transparent identity.

The decision of the National Bank to file charges against him, however, is based on a single sentence from his initial reporting. The sentence reads: “Our paper has learned that shortly after Lázár became the owner [of MKB Bank] he received a letter from Matolcsy in which the bank president indicated that even in the short term tens of billions of forints will be necessary in order to avoid bankruptcy and that may not be the end of the reckoning [cech]. (Our sources talk about 75 billion forints and later another 200 billion capital increase).” The Hungarian National Bank never denied any of the information provided by Brückner about MKB Bank. They never asked for a correction. Nothing. But suddenly, 22 months later, they discovered that Brückner is guilty of the infringement of business secrets.

Gergely Brückner

Gergely Brückner

Brückner did what a good journalist should. He pointed out that the purchase of MKB Bank was a very bad deal, for which the Hungarian taxpayers have paid dearly ever since September 2014. Whoever sealed the deal either didn’t exercise due diligence or, what in my opinion is more likely, Viktor Orbán was so eager to acquire a foreign-owned bank and transform it into a bank which would eventually be in Hungarian hands that he simply didn’t care about the exorbitant amount of money it would take “to reorganize” it.

The policemen who questioned Brückner demanded that he reveal his sources, which he refused to do. Later he said that in fact he no longer remembers who his source was for this particular piece of information. He had conversations with at least 15 men and women who had information about the case both in Hungary and in Bavaria. He didn’t think this sentence was of any great significance and therefore paid no special attention to it. It was the overall picture that interested him, that the purchase of MKB Bank was a very bad business deal.

This case is yet another example of the warped legal system in Hungary and of the government’s attempt to clamp down on media criticism. Although scores of people have filed complaints in connection with the shady affairs of Antal Rogán and György Matolcsy, neither the police nor the prosecutors move a finger. Their usual answer is that there is no reason to investigate. But if a journalist accurately reports on a disastrous bank purchase, the police are ready to jump and insist that he reveal his sources, which according to current Hungarian law are protected. We don’t yet know whether the investigative judge will decide to go forward with the case.

János Lázár, who can quite often surprise us, once again did so in this case. Last Thursday at his usual press conference he expressed his disapproval of harassing journalists, pressuring them to reveal their sources. I think it’s safe to assume that he was not himself the source; that is, he presumably did not make public the letter he received from Matolcsy. But the information must have come either from his office or from Matolcsy’s, perhaps too close for comfort.

How badly have Hungarian taxpayers been burned by the deal? It had to be a colossal loss. The bank into which 300 billion forints was poured, over and above the 35 billion purchase price, was sold in March 2016 for 37 billion forints. It was sold to a consortium of domestic and foreign equity funds, with Hungarian owners getting a majority stake. One member of this consortium is a Hungarian private equity fund called Metis, which will have a 45% stake in MKB Bank. Metis was launched only recently with a registered capital of 100 million euros. The other prominent member is Blue Robin Investments SCA, whose owners are apparently Indian and Chinese investors. It will also own 45% of the bank. A Hungarian pension fund will hold the remaining 10% of the shares.

By July Brückner learned that “the most important and real owner” behind Metis is László Szíjj, owner of Duna Aszfalt, which people usually refer to nowadays as the new Közgép. Közgép was Lajos Simicska’s firm, which in the past used to receive most of the government contracts. Now that Simicska is one of the chief enemies of Viktor Orbán, his place has been filled by a number of oligarchs, one of whom is Szíjj.

One more thing about Figyelő. Although the weekly is profitable, it is up for sale because of an acrimonious ownership dispute that has been going on for about two years. The journalists who work at the weekly are almost certain that the new owner will be Mária Schmidt, the court historian and director of the House of Terror who became a very wealthy woman after the unexpected early death of her husband. If Schmidt does indeed become the owner, I’m sure Gergely Brückner will quickly become “redundant.”

November 1, 2016

A more fitting celebration of the 60th anniversary of ’56 in Washington

About a week ago I included a sentence about the reception Réka Szemerkényi, Hungarian Ambassador in Washington, was giving for the sixtieth anniversary of the outbreak of the October Revolution. I reported that to the best of my knowledge a number of important American officials serving in the White House, Congress, and State Department had declined the invitation over concerns about the alarming political developments in Hungary. In addition to their general concerns, they may well have also noticed the systematic falsification of Hungarian history, which includes the events of the ’56 uprising as well. Mária Schmidt, Viktor Orbán’s court historian who had already perverted the history of the Hungarian Holocaust, rewrote the history of the revolution for the anniversary. The result is a monstrosity that bears no resemblance to reality.

This assault on the revolution prompted a group of people in Washington to organize a gathering to celebrate the real events of sixty years ago. They chose not to celebrate with those who claim that executed Imre Nagy “died nicely but wasn’t a hero.” Yes, this is a direct quotation from the chief organizer of the anniversary, Mária Schmidt. Thomas Melia (who as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, had extensive dealings with Hungary), former Hungarian Ambassador to Washington András Simonyi, and Professor Charles Gati of Johns Hopkins University organized the event that took place last night. About forty people attended, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser; Charles Kupchan, currently special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council; Damian Murphy, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and her husband, Robert Kagan, well-known author, columnist and foreign policy commentator; Hoyt Yee, deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; André Goodfriend, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest between August 2015 and January 2016;  Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post, who writes many of the paper’s editorials on foreign affairs; and Pál Maléter, Jr. son of the minister of defense in the last Nagy government who was reburied along with Imre Nagy on June 16, 1989. Anthony Blinken, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, couldn’t make it but sent his greetings.

Professor Gati briefly retold the story of the revolution, which is admittedly complex because the intellectual unrest that preceded it began as a factional struggle in the communist party between the Stalinists and the reformers but quickly led to a coalition government in which four parties were represented. This coalition government, which naturally included the communist party, decided to leave the Warsaw Pact. Gati emphasized that the revolution was “profoundly democratic—demanding freedom of the press and checks and balances (called ‘socialist legality’ )—and profoundly pro-Europe. These demands were at the top of the list presented by the students.”

One of the few pictures of members of the Nagy government: Zoltán Tildy, Imre Nagy, and Pál Maléter

One of the few pictures of members of the Nagy government: Zoltán Tildy, Imre Nagy, and Pál Maléter

Of course, we know that the Orbán regime’s narrative is very different: the revolution was transformed into an anti-communist crusade led by right-wing representatives of the pre-1945 period. Those intellectuals who were disillusioned communists were removed from the historical narrative prepared for the anniversary celebrations, as were social democrats and liberals. As if they never existed. They simply don’t fit into Orbán’s worldview.

Professor Gati then moved on to the situation in Hungary today and brought up the speeches of Péter Boross and László Kövér. “This Monday, the speaker of the Hungarian parliament blamed the United States not Moscow for crushing the revolution while another high official spoke of the heinous deeds of U.S. imperialism,” adding “I’m not making this up.” And, Gati continued: “Even in Washington, where Hungarian officials work hard to mislead us by praising transatlantic relations, on Sunday they somehow forgot to read Vice President Joe Biden’s message to their invited guests; I guess their feelings were hurt that they didn’t hear from President Obama.”

Gati told his personal story as a refugee after the revolution. “I came here penniless and was treated fantastically by everyone: the International Rescue Committee, Indiana University, and various employees of Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, even the State Department.” He recalled that the quota for Hungarians (4,400) was quickly filled but that within days Congress was authorized to allow another 40,000 Hungarian refugees to come. He contrasted this behavior with the situation today. In Hungary they build a razor wire fence to keep refugees out and even in the United States some people contemplate building walls. “My hope is that the old spirit of generosity will guide us again someday soon. There is another Hungary there that deserves our attention and support,” he concluded. I think that every Hungarian refugee should join Charles Gati in remembering the generosity of Austrians, Germans, Brits, Swedes, Swiss, Canadians, Australians, and Americans in those days and feel profoundly sad at the behavior of the Hungarian government, which incited ordinary Hungarians against the refugees.

I should add that Anita Kőműves, a young journalist who used to work for Népszabadság, happened to be in Washington and was invited to speak. The applause that followed her words honored those journalists who paid for their bravery with their livelihood because Viktor Orbán doesn’t believe in a free press, one of the very first demands of the Hungarian students in 1956.

October 28, 2016

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.

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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.”

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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

The Orbán regime and culture: oil and water

When I heard that Mária Schmidt was appointed government commissioner in charge of the “Memorial Year of the 1956 Revolution and War of Independence,” I swore that I would refrain from being popping mad every time I heard yet another crime against the memory of those days. I said I would just ignore the whole thing, although I knew this would be difficult given the amount of money–13.5 billion forints ($49,245,000)–that the Orbán government is spending between October 23, 2016 and October 23, 2017 for the sixtieth anniversary of the event.

Ten years ago, at the more important fiftieth anniversary when scores of heads of states gathered in Budapest to commemorate the event, Viktor Orbán made sure that the whole thing ended as a major embarrassment for the government. He cared neither about the country’s reputation nor the memory of 1956. Perhaps, when his followers along with skinheads and football hooligans turned downtown Pest into a veritable battleground, he was dreaming of another revolution. He himself, however, fled from the rally as soon as he delivered his incendiary speech.

Now, for the sixtieth anniversary, the Orbán government will celebrate themselves and their regime for a whole year while rewriting the history of the 1956 uprising to match their own ideological agenda. The work has already begun. As early as January, at a symposium organized by the Foundation of the Sins of Communism, Bence Rétvári, undersecretary of the ministry of human resources, mouthed off about anticommunism being one of the foundations of democracy, in connection with 1956. The only trouble with that interpretation is that the revolution was not an anticommunist uprising. It was a revolt against Stalinism, something we will never hear about in the “Memorial Year.”

I’m sure Viktor Orbán was mighty upset that he wasn’t the prime minister of Hungary in 2006. Although he is trying to compensate now, I can tell him ahead of time that the sixtieth anniversary of an event is nothing like the fiftieth or the hundredth, no matter how much money he throws at the project. Moreover, this government is known for its incompetence, so we can anticipate many mishaps along the way.

The celebrations hadn’t even started when the first blunder came to light. For some reason this government thinks that songs celebrating an event or an idea have a beneficial effect on the population. For example, in 2013 Tibor Navracsics’s ministry of public administration and justice gave its blessing to a theme song for the Day of National Togetherness, June 4, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Trianon. The song as well as the lyrics turned out to be “horror itself.” Here are a few lines from the lyrics: “I dreamed of a peach tree under which everybody dances / I stood in a large circle with you, in the soft grass on a dewy field / Our hands touch, the soles of our feet step on each other / The light of happiness burns in our eyes./ Join the circle! / Dance as your blood dictates, feel the heart of the earth beating with you because we are all in one together.” At that time Bálint Ablonczy, a right-wing journalist, suggested that the government “should leave that culture thing alone. It is not your thing.” Since then the infamous song has died a quiet death.

Unfortunately Viktor Orbán didn’t listen to Ablonczy. On the spur of the moment during his trip to the United States he asked Desmond Child to write a song celebrating 1956. Child is of Hungarian-Cuban extraction and, although he speaks no Hungarian and has had little to do with the country until now, he decided to become a Hungarian citizen. Child agreed but either was not inspired or was simply lazy. He merely re-orchestrated a song he wrote for the University of Miami Hurricanes in 2007, “The Steps of Champions.” That’s bad enough, but what got the goat of Hungarians was that the Orbán government allegedly paid Child 50 million forints ($182,388) for his work. The Hungarians who negotiated with Child–Mária Schmidt and Gábor Tállai, one of her co-workers at the House of Terror–knew nothing about the background of the song. As for the price, they thought it was dirt cheap. As Tállai said, “anyone who knows anything about this profession will think that it was a steal.”

The Hungarian negotiators claim that they paid Child $182,388, while the composer, who is all upset, claims that he received no money for the re-orchestrated piece, now called in Hungarian “For a Free Country”(Egy Szabad Országért). He did his work gratis. He wrote on Facebook: “I’m extremely surprised and disappointed how a part of the Hungarian media has launched a full-blown and unworthy attack against the project, my person and my family life. I feel especially hurt that they would politicize even this sincere tribute to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution which lives forever in our history to promote their own current agendas.” Considering that Child knows no Hungarian, someone must be feeding him the lines about the antagonistic and unfair media which tries to politicize the sacred anniversary of the revolution. Who is telling the truth? We don’t know.

And then there are the Hungarian lyrics written by Tamás Orbán, editor of light entertainment at Duna Televízió, which is part of MTVA (in English: Media Services and Support Trust Fund), which can best be described as the Orbán news factory. He is perhaps most famous for his Hungarian lyrics for a TV series for children, “The Smurfs,”called “Hupikék törpikék” (Gaudy blue little dwarfs). 444.hu found quite a few hilarious lines, such as “you have been worn away between many fires”; “you don’t need to know the past in order to gain understanding”; “this landscape is not a map”; “neither misfortune nor enemy can tear us apart.”

fishes

The enunciation of the singers is also problematic. The line “Magyarország halld szavunk, hány arc és név” (Hungary, hear our pledge, how many faces and names) sounds very much like “Magyarország, halszagú , hányatsz és mész” (Hungary, fishy smelly, puke and leave). So a lot of people are having loads of fun with this new hymn of the revolution. But don’t worry, this atrocity will soon be forgotten like others before it. There was, for example, the Hymn of the Republic that was supposed to replace the national anthem. I remember that many of its words were either historical or archaic and that we as children had no idea what they meant. One line went: “Hullt a pór, hullt a gyereke” (The peasant fell, and also fell his child). “Pór” is an old-fashioned word for “paraszt,” peasant. Well, we didn’t know “pór” but we knew “por” (dust) and dust falls, doesn’t it? We didn’t bother with the nonsensical “dust’s child.”

No one will remember the lyrics of the tribute to 1956 and no one will sing it, although I’m sure that the state radio station will blare it at least once a day. But it will simply not stick. Orbán and Company should have left “culture” alone. Not their thing.

August 21, 2016