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Nov 08, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

The irrational Orbanophobia of Anne Applebaum

Under Soviet occupation, November 7 was a compulsory holiday in Hungary. Since the end of communism and the re-birth of a free Hungary, we remember the one hundred million victims of communism. In her recent piece in the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum uses November 7 as an opportunity to disparage democratic political parties and leaders – including Prime Minister Orbán – whom she dislikes, bizarrely comparing them to Bolsheviks.

I almost enjoyed the first 2,000 words (!) of her lengthy article entitled 100 years later, Bolshevism is back. And we should be worried. Applebaum, a member of the Post’s editorial board, offers an interesting review of the so-called Great October Revolution.

She recalls a joke well-known in this part of the world, one that Prime Minister Orbán also tells: “The great October socialist revolution took place a hundred years ago. It was in fact neither great, nor in October, nor a revolution, but a minor November coup financed from abroad.” The Bolsheviks and Communists have never had a problem distorting facts when they get in the way of their ideology.

We remember it well. Today we can tell these jokes openly, but it wasn’t the case before 1989. A little inappropriate humor or misplaced criticism, particularly in the dark days of 1950s Hungary, could attract the attention of the Communist police, easily landing you in prison and facing persecution.

Ironic then that Applebaum, similar to the Bolsheviks she rightfully disparages, resorts to a similar distortion of facts to make a feeble point about the future. Here goes:

“Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Jaroslaw Kaczynski: although they are often described as ‘far-right’ or ‘alt-right,’ these neo-Bolsheviks have little to do with the right that has been part of Western politics since World War II, and they have no connection to existing conservative parties” she writes. A few months ago, Applebaum argued that Prime Minister Orbán was encouraging fascism. Today, he’s a neo-Bolshevik.

No connection to conservative parties? Prime Minister Orbán has introduced the lowest corporate tax in the European Union. The Orbán Government has brought deficits under control, is diminishing what was once upward spiraling, Greek-like levels of state debt, and achieved record-low unemployment. Our pro-family policies have seen an increase in the number of marriages, a dramatic decline in the number of abortions, and an increase in the birth rate. The border fence has reduced illegal immigration to near-zero. I could go on, but her argument is so flimsy, it’s not worth it.

Applebaum describes at length how the Bolsheviks seized power through a ruthless, bloody coup. Yet her list of neo-Bolsheviks, President Trump, Viktor Orbán and – I suppose, the most difficult to stomach for Applebaum – even Jaroslaw Kaczynski are democratically elected. But why let facts get in the way when they undermine the click-bait argument that Bolshevism is back?

Applebaum then recycles all the tired accusations used against these politicians by the international, political Left. Her evidence that Prime Minister Orbán, one of the most staunchly anti-Communist political leaders in the former Eastern bloc, has become a neo-Bolshevik?

“Orban has hidden the probably corrupt details of Russian investment in a nuclear plant in Hungary.” And that’s it. That’s all she’s got to say about the man who courageously stood up in 1989 to demand that the occupying Soviet troops leave the territory of Hungary. But no need to convince the other members of the WaPo’s editorial board.

It’s a painfully twisted argument. According to Applebaum, who has somehow come to the conclusion that the Paks II deal must be corrupt, this resembles the radical ideologues that violently overthrew government, funded by foreigners, to build a wretched dictatorship that would kill untold millions.

At first blush, this disparaging of Hungary’s prime minister seems deeply offensive. But frankly, her point is so shallow, it’s kind of funny.

With this, Anne Applebaum joins an illustrious group, including communist collaborator Paul Lendvai, who seem to suffer from an irrational obsession with Prime Minister Orbán. I call it Orbánophobia, that strange condition that leads people to depart from reason and objectivity and discredit themselves by indulging in an irrational animosity toward Prime Minister Orbán. This neo-Bolshevik baloney from Applebaum is just the latest, if weirdest, example.

Calling attention to the sins of communism is something we believed we had in common with Ms. Applebaum. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case anymore. To Applebaum, her irrational dislike for democratic governments that don’t share her ideological view is apparently more important than bringing justice to the victims of communism.