It’s been a long time since I wrote about Zsolt Bayer, a notorious columnist for Magyar Hírlap, a pro-Fidesz publication of the more radical sort. One could say that tabloid journalists like Bayer are a dime a dozen, but he is no ordinary scribbler. He holds the #5 membership card of Fidesz. (László Kövér, president of the Hungarian parliament, is the proud owner of #1, ahead of Viktor Orbán.) Bayer might be a vulgar, hate-filled hack, but he is still closely associated with the top political leadership of Fidesz. If Viktor Orbán wanted to shut him up, it wouldn’t take more than a quick telephone call. But clearly he doesn’t want to. In fact, just lately Bayer had some very distinguished guests on his new program, “Deep Magyar,” on Echo TV, a companion to Magyar Hírlap, starting with Viktor Orbán himself and followed by László Kövér. So, Zsolt Bayer is still an important man in Fidesz and a much-needed one. He is the one who is supposed to keep the radical wing of the party happy.
Zsolt Bayer is always handy to have around, but this time, when the Orbán government decided to reap political benefits from people’s fear of the thousands of refugees who are moving across Hungary, he has been a godsend. He can whip up hatred like nobody else. And nowadays, in addition to his weekly column in Magyar Hírlap, he also started a blog, where those who are not satisfied with one dose of Bayer hate-speech can always find more of the same.
Of course, Bayer is in his element at the moment. It’s the perfect stage for a man whose hate-filled words fire up those under the spell of Viktor Orbán. And, indeed, Bayer of late has turned his attention to the refugee issue. His latest piece titled “Is it unavoidable?” begins with the situation on the island of Kos, which is one of the first stops for arrivals from Turkey.
The state of affairs on Kos, according to Zsolt Bayer, is desperate. Seven thousand “intruders” have arrived. “The tourists have escaped and the hotels are empty, the population is angry and desperate. The horde doesn’t know anything about this. They are just pouring in. But on Tuesday it began….” The “horde” began a demonstration. “‘We want papers! We want to eat!’ they kept screaming,” and they sat down in the middle of a highway. The Greek authorities tried to shepherd “the beasts” into a stadium because “everything else on Kos was already filled with the beasts.” In the stadium a fight broke out and the police had to use billy clubs. Thursday the horde attacked the police. Giorgios Kynthsis, mayor of Kos, said that ” the situation is out of control…. Blood will be shed.”
Now let’s now turn to western descriptions of what happened on the Island of Kos. First of all, Bayer’s description of Kos as a tourist paradise now empty of well-off European visitors is false. “Sunbathers tan on the beach, metres from where migrants camp on the street. Tourists queue for €20 ferry rides to the Turkish shore–a journey that a nearby refugee will have paid 50 times more to complete in reverse.” The hotels are full.
Yes, it is true that there were two occasions when fights broke out among the Syrian and Afghan refugees who have been on Kos for months, waiting for a piece of paper that will allow them to move off the island. Athens, which has had a lot on its plate in addition to the refugee crisis, simply neglected to lighten Kos’s burden. According to the UN Refugee Agency, “conditions for migrants on Kos and other islands are shameful.” They don’t have adequate housing. A Syrian banker told a journalist from The Guardian that he, along with 2,000 of his fellow countrymen, was sandwiched in on a sandy beach for over a day without a drop of water or food. They didn’t even provide open public facilities for them. Apparently, Mayor Giorgios Kynthsis “agreed with the suggestion that no refugee should be given even a bottle of water.” The head of Greece’s reception system claims that “on the island of Kos we don’t have the cooperation of the mayor at all. He thought that if he doesn’t facilitate our operation, the people would go away.” Perhaps this background would make the revolt of “the beasts” more understandable.
By today, the mayor of Kos was described by Reuters in an entirely different light: “overcome by emotion, the mayor of Kos handed out water, milk and food to hundreds of Syrian migrants on Friday as a huge passenger ship docked on the Greek island to serve as a floating reception center and dormitory.” I suspect that earlier Kynthsis wanted to call attention to the untenable situation on the island in an effort to prompt Athens to do something in a hurry.
Bayer himself mentions the arrival of the passenger ship because the Greek government “at last got its senses back, but the question now is whether it will be brave enough to deploy the riot police and a battleship. If they do, the Greeks will make history. If they dare to employ the troopers and if necessary the army and at last rid Kos of these hordes, then at last something will begin. But only then…. We will write history only if they send them home packing and eliminate them from the middle of Europe. Once and for all.”
I’ve concentrated on Bayer’s version of what was happening on the island of Kos. But at least half of his article deals with atrocities committed this week in two European countries by non-Europeans. During a police raid in the resort town of Salou in Catalonia, a Senegalese man jumped out of a third-floor window. This set off angry clashes between the police and about 200 people, “many of them believed to be members of the African community.” Here comes Bayer. “The Senegalese was a criminal. They wanted to arrest him. Instead he jumped. So what? It was his decision. He jumped and died. That’s all.” The Spanish authorities “should have handled the situation right then and there. All of them should be cleared out from Spain. They can go home.”
Then he moves on to Sweden where in an IKEA store two men from a nearby refugee center stabbed two people to death. Bayer describes the men as being cooperative with the police and adds that it would have been better if they had resisted arrest because then “the police could have shot them as one does a mad dog.” Now the Swedes have two murderers from Eritrea and two dead white Swedes. “Surely, the exchange was worth it. Long live liberalism! Long live human rights! Except when we talk about the rights of the European, white, Christian race.” Here Bayer uses the word “rassz,” which is practically never used in modern Hungarian in this sense.
Bayer’s conclusion is that Europe must be defended. “It must be freed from this horror. If necessary with arms in hand. If everything remains the same, there will be bloodshed. These hordes believe that only the blood of Europeans can be shed.”
Bayer’s racist rant is dreadful but, let’s face it, the only difference between Bayer and the members of the Hungarian government is that he can freely express his desire for a white, Christian Europe while Viktor Orbán can only hint at such a goal. And if that is not possible, at least the prime minister can try to prevent the “hordes” from the Middle East and Africa from entering Hungary.