The Conversation, which calls itself a source of “in-depth analysis” and “academic rigour,” recently published an essay by two academics at American University in which they claim that “Viktor Orbán’s use and misuse of religion serves as a warning to Western democracies.” By the way, I read about the piece in the independent, Hungarian weekly HVG.
To present an analysis like this as in-depth and rigorous is a bit of a stretch. It’s been a while since I’ve read such a hodgepodge of all the recycled points with such utter neglect or ignorance of the Hungarian response to these slanted arguments. It’s not worth a lengthy response, but just to show you what I mean, here are a few examples:
The migrant invasion and defense of Christianity. “Although most migrants to Europe were trying only to transit through Hungary, Orbán declared that Syrian migrants were trying to invade the country and change its culture and religion,” write Gallaher and Martin, criticizing Hungary’s border defense at the peak of the 2015 migrant crisis. Apparently, we should have just let illegal migrants pass through.
But we shouldn’t have; actually, we couldn’t. These self-proclaimed “experts in European politics” would surely know about a treaty called the Schengen Agreement. One of the many clauses in the Schengen Agreement declares that member states on the external border of the Schengen Area, like Hungary, have a treaty obligation to defend and control their borders to prevent illegals from entering the common, Schengen zone. By attempting to keep illegals out, Hungary, unlike many other EU members, honored this obligation.
So yes, we tried to stop the invasion. Because that’s what it was. Nearly half a million people broke into the territory of Hungary – and the EU -- illegally and refused to abide by our laws. As to the PM’s other statements in light of this event, he has been reinforcing the importance of preserving our cultural identity, which comes from our Judeo-Christian roots. That’s historical fact, not political manipulation, and each nation state’s identity is meant to be protected by the EU Treaties, per the original agreement.
And yes, we know well our history from the 16th and 17th Centuries. Like our Polish brothers and sisters, we know what it’s like to be nearly wiped off the map by foreign conquerors and occupiers. It’s easy for some to condescend to that simply because they come from a country that has never experienced it.
Hungary’s attitude toward European integration. “[Prime Minister Orbán] has changed his tune on many major issues, from being a firm supporter of European integration to becoming a strong defender of national sovereignty,” we read in The Conversation.
Once again, anyone with at least a decent understanding of EU affairs should know that being a supporter of European integration does not exclude standing up for national sovereignty. With one of the highest EU approval rates in the bloc, Hungary, just like PM Orbán, remains a great advocate of European integration; in fact, we support further enlargement. But we seek a strong Europe based on strong nation states, not one dictated by unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels.
And my all-time favorite: anti-Semitism. “Orbán has also resurrected older anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jews and leftists to consolidate his Christian credentials.” Wait, what?
I’ll write this down for the 100th time: No, Hungary’s campaign against George Soros had absolutely nothing to do with his Jewish heritage. It, however, had everything to do with the biased, political activism of his network of unelected, unaccountable civic organizations, funded mainly by the notorious Open Society Foundation. Soros has chosen to become a political actor in Hungary and he has said so explicitly.
Furthermore, it was PM Orbán who apologized for Hungary’s role in the Holocaust, banned far-right paramilitary groups who were targeting Jewish and Roma communities, and granted state funds for the construction and renovation of several synagogues in Hungary, to name just a few of the steps taken in regard to strengthening Hungary’s Jewish community, which has been enjoying a renaissance here. The Jewish community is identified as a constituent part of the Hungarian nation in the Fundamental Law, Hungary’s constitution that was promulgated under an Orbán Government.
Perhaps most annoyingly, it is the Hungarian left-wing parties that are currently in bed with the far-right, anti-Semitic Jobbik. They even recently stood behind a joint candidate with a long history of stomach-turning comments aimed at Jews and Roma. I wonder, will these parties ever have to face accusations of anti-Semitism by the same international, mainstream media that relentlessly refuses to get its facts straight when it comes to Orbán?
I could go on, but all of this information is available online in English for the genuinely inquiring mind. For academics who call themselves experts in European politics to produce an opinion like this and pass it off as “in-depth analysis” without taking the time or effort to include information that’s part of the public record is shoddy work. Clickable? Yes. Scholarly? No.
Photo credit: Facebook - Orbán Viktor