The following is a guest post by Dr. Mária Schmidt, director general of the House of Terror Museum and the XXI Century Institute. The original, Hungarian text is available here.
Viktor Orbán’s portrait has been a more common sight on the front pages of the print media in the West over the past few weeks than the images of the leaders of any of the purportedly advanced democracies. There have been twice as many well-informed writers sharing their conclusive judgments about Hungary as about Italy during the recent elections there. Needless to say, most of those who expressed such final verdicts about Hungary don’t speak a word of Hungarian. They haven’t visited our country lately and if some of them have, they never consulted anyone apart from those who share their views and who have long served as their sources. That remark may be a very benevolent hypothesis on my part, for actually prestigious and knowledgeable authors at those many authoritative media outlets don’t need any information in order to perfectly know what they should think. Jan-Werner Müller, for one, a professor at Princeton expressed his opinion about our country in the April 5 edition of the unbiased and of course authoritative New York Times, in an Op-ed piece entitled “ Democracy Still Matters.” Princeton has seen better days but by now it has become one of those campuses that are at the vanguard of imposing limitations on free speech. To make it worse, it unleashes onto it it’s students people like the highly biased Mrs. Scheppele who specializes in Hungarian affairs or her friend, Mr. Gábor Halmai who has been living outside Hungary for a long time or again the above-mentioned Professor Müller. They are the ones who, either being funded by Mr. Soros or by their own initiative, make statements without any arguments, evidence or proof – in a conclusive style of course. Being exceptional authorities in their fields, they can certainly afford to disregard the facts. They simply don’t need them. The reason is that they are among the high priests of a creed whose believers follow them with unconditional devotion and content themselves of their revelations. This one for example:
“Mr. Orban has spent the past several years weakening his country’s democratic checks and balances; he has attacked independent civil society, and he has brought the media under the control of oligarchs close to his government. … it is not just the rule of law that has been under threat. Rights essential for democracy itself — especially rights to free speech, free assembly and free association — have been systematically attacked. As media pluralism disappears, citizens cannot get critical information to make up their minds about their government’s record…”
Are you sure? The president of the National Judicial Authority has just been sentenced by the court in a first instance verdict. The Supreme Court had ordered the prime minister’s and the government’s billboards to be removed and Viktor Orbán was fined by the National Electoral Committee because he had had himself photographed in the company of children during a campaign event. What should we make of that? When have Mrs. Merkel or Mr. Obama been sentenced for anything by any of their checks and balances? When has any of those checks and balances invalidated the electoral posters of an electoral favourite in those advanced countries? As far as the independent civil society is concerned, it has never been attacked by anyone in this country. There are over 60,000 such organizations operating unhindered in Hungary. The organizations claiming to represent civil society, on whom the government intends to impose additional regulations, rather than being independent or part of civil society, are political lobbyists funded and activated by George Soros. They have used their civil society cover long enough for anyone to clearly see that they are being financed by a Hungarian-American speculator and their lobbying is subordinated to the political and economic interests of their master. It is high time for us to counter their illegal chase for influence by applying the principle of checks and balances and following the relevant method employed in the United States, in an act of self-defence. The USA has been tormenting itself for over a year about whether a foreign power tried to influence the American presidential elections in 2016. Soros has openly interfered with the latest Hungarian elections. Using Facebook algorithms financed and controlled from outside the country as well as personalized political ads directed at specific groups and individuals, he attacked the public sphere, paid activists, organized anti-government programs, financed websites urging a change in government. That simply cannot be allowed!
As for the media, anyone just superficially acquainted with conditions in Hungary knows perfectly well that the number one commercial TV network is in German hands, just like some of the domestic press is still owned by German investors. Until most recently, most of the Hungarian media was owned by Germans or other foreigners. (The two nationwide commercial TV stations that were for a long time the most important sources of information were owned by one and the same German business group. That was perfectly all right for today’s critics, of course.) Control over another half of Internet sites and the tabloid press is shared by Mr. Soros and two anti-government oligarchs. They also own a news-and-talk television and advertising surfaces. Articles critical of the prime minister and expressing contempt toward the government abound. Most of the weeklies being published in the capital are left-liberal and resolutely anti-government. (The score is 5 to 2, with five extremely anti-government weeklies – HVG, 168 Óra, Magyar Narancs, ÉS, Heti Válasz – versus two pro-government ones – Demokrata, Figyelő.)
The freedom of assembly is unimpeded. People are free to demonstrate against the government. On the first Saturday following the elections, a huge demonstration was held without impediment against the victory of Fidesz in Budapest and in several towns outside the capital. Never once over the past eight years has any demonstration been disbanded by the police, which maintains public order during those marches. No meetings have been disbanded, nobody’s right to free speech has been curtailed. That is something that is being done in “advanced” countries – in Germany, for instance, repeatedly. Or by Facebook, which since having been attacked by Soros at Davos, has been frantically censoring messages. Earlier that was only being done by them in Germany upon a personal request by the chancellor and then under a German law, which carries the characteristic name Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz. Mr. Mueller is thus uninformed, superficial and substandard. Apparently, he should not have bothered to attend all those top universities in the West, for he hasn’t picked up anything he could put to proper use.
The BBC, another institution that has seen better days, has been occupied and ruined by leftists. It recently came to light that it forges entire documentaries; thus, political and historical misrepresentations must be part of the daily routine there. I am still surprised by a long and boring text by Nick Thorpe, “The man who thinks Europe has been invaded.” Mr. Thorpe speaks Hungarian and is versed in life over here because he has been living here for decades. He is an old acquaintance. He is also extreme left-wing, environmentalist and an unrelenting supporter of homebirth. He apparently is unable or unwilling to get rid of British colonizing reflexes. This must be why he unashamedly tries to use all kinds of private channels to influence president János Áder to pardon gynecologist Ágnes Geréb who has been definitively condemned to a term in prison. Does such a practice exist in Britain? Thorpe would certainly try and approach the entourage of Elizabeth II, for I just cannot suspect that he would deem such behavior shameful in his country of origin but would have recourse to it in Hungary. I must admit not having read the entirety of what he wrote for I was upset by the very first sentences to the extent that I had to stop reading on account of my blood pressure problems. Mr. Thorpe who knows something about Hungarian history claims that Hungarians have long memories of foreign invasion – of being overrun by the Turks, the Austrians and the Russians. In World War Two, most of her large Jewish population was murdered in death camps, and in the post-war deportations she lost many of the Germans who had settled in Hungary since the 18th Century.
Now then, once he lists all those who have invaded and occupied Hungary in the past, why does he include the Austrians and omit Nazi Germany? Why doesn’t he mention that Hungary’s Jews were deported from a country occupied by the Nazis, as ordered by the Nazis, and were murdered in Nazi concentration camp by Nazis? Just as the deportation of Hungary’s Germans was prescribed as compulsory by the victorious powers. I must congratulate the Germans! Based on their achievements in elaborating the Holocaust, they propelled themselves to moral heights that have allowed them to almost entirely extricate themselves from that story. Scores of hacks and politicians are discovering that Auschwitz and the rest of the death camps were the work of Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian mass murderers. It is no coincidence that the Poles had to pass legislation on prohibiting speech about alleged Polish death camps, for those were Nazi camps in occupied Poland. There was a time when fact-checking was the norm in the western media. Now we are left with just “fake news,” low professional standards and ignorance, coupled with malignancy and contempt.
Another famous publication sympathetic to Soros is POLITICO, which happened to threaten Viktor Orbán with a jail sentence. Not even with a trial but with the verdict itself. The author seems to ignore that in Hungary that reminds everyone of The Witness, a film by Péter Bacsó in which the principal character Pelikán, the future witness, receives from Gábor Péter, the chief of the political police, not the text of his testimony but the text of the verdict.
We should by no means forget to mention an interview by a publicly owned Austrian newspaper, Wiener Zeitung, with Ágnes Heller. She is well known for having been a Zionist, a communist, a liberal and a socialist. She happens to be Jobbik’s supporter at present. (If I were Jobbik, I would be ashamed of that.) But that is unimportant. What counts is that she always knows everything and she is just as infallible as her friend and comrade Mihály Vajda, who claims that Fidesz people are all peasants, or rather serfs, while they, Jewish intellectuals are all helicopters. According to Heller, left-wingers should have voted for Jobbik. She thought that to be a good idea because that would have meant an alliance struck by the voters rather than by the parties. An alliance for what? Fasten your seat belts, for here comes the answer. “Jobbik used to be on the far-right. Now, however, Fidesz is more to the right and most vigorously so. It is racist, anti-Gypsy and anti-Semitic. And lies day and night. Jobbik has positioned itself in the centre.” There should be no misunderstanding. It is not due to her advanced age that Heller talks nonsense. She has never had any inhibition to say whatever came to her mind. Let’s have a closer look at this one. Those who lied day and night were Gyurcsány and the Socialists – and the Communists before them – those people who used to enjoy Heller’s enthusiastic support at the time.
Racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsyism have always been the founding principles of Jobbik. Nothing indicates any change about that. Fidesz has never been anti-Semitic or racist or anti-Gypsy. The Hungarian postal service has just issued stamps with the portraits of the Gypsy heroes of 1956 drawn by a Gypsy artist. That is absolutely unprecedented – and not just in Hungary but world-wide. According to Heller, Fidesz achieved a two-thirds majority in parliament in 2010 and in 2014 because of the anomalies of the Hungarian electoral law. Let’s forget that the elections in 2010 were held under the old electoral law with two rounds. I know that at the extremely high level where the lady philosopher operates facts are not part of the game, unlike fierce emotions and hatred.
Now after the elections, Jobbik is apparently returning to its most extremist anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy roots and is about to elect two co-chairmen (two at one go) who represent that very attitude. That will obviously lead to an even deeper ideological and political alliance of the kind that has been struck with Heller and her comrades. The domestic media, and the authoritative western press and media in its wake, were hissing for 28 years at the very sight of an Árpád-striped flag. At the time, Heller and the rest of the tremblers were in the front lines of the booing. Back then, the Árpád-striped banner meant the equivalent of Nazism alloyed with Fascism; Holocaust denial and Jew-hatred. Whenever one of their provocateurs hoisted just one of those flags, they used it as a piece of evidence to incriminate the non-left-wing forces. Now, this is not the case anymore. On April 14, 2018, demonstrators protesting the re-election of the Orbán Government, including Gyurcsány, Kunhalmi, Vona, Kuncze, Hadházy, Juhász Fundraiser Péter,not only walked hand-in-hand but demonstrated unity and cohesion along with the crowd, which was carrying European and Árpád-striped banners. The Árpád-striped flag has become acceptable because who and what is acceptable is under any circumstances decided by them, the left-liberal elite.
I dare mention only sotto voce that in Austria, the FPÖ, a party that they consider as far-right, is a member of the governing coalition. It is the same party that, because they became part of the government in 2000, the nameless of Europe even refused to shake hands with the Austrians. Meanwhile just recently, the staff of Mandiner was expelled from Vienna’s Café Museum, where they were interviewing Graf Peter zu Stolberg-Stolberggel, because they were supposedly extreme right-wing, which was intolerable for the owner. Vienna, the leftist Viennese scene, is not just discouraging but pitiful as well. I hope everyone will remember the name of that café and will boycott it in the future.
What has blown a fuse among our professional tremblers lately was an article published in Figyelő. It included a list of several people from among the employees and grantees of Soros organizations, although far from all of them. By now, anyone who intended to be respected in left-liberal circles has joined the protesters against ‘listing’. That includes the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, among whose members we can find mummies of the communist era as well as their disciples, and quite a number of tremulous lecturers at Corvinus University. Apparently, the pundits of the Batthyány Professors’ Circle and of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also started trembling. There must be a great deal of fear among intellectuals for sure as they started self-listing themselves to take George Soros’s side and demonstrate how unadvisable it is to play games with them, for anybody confronting them will become a target of their ire, which is meant to be lethal. Those not included or not stepping forward to be included on one of the lists that they have compiled have only themselves to blame and had better know that they have no future in academia or in the intellectual world in general.
I felt compelled to ponder what was that sudden interest in Figyelő due too. And I found an explanation. It looks very much like one of the main funders of the opposition media, the non-oligarch Lajos Simicska has thrown in the towel. George Soros and a few foreign investors are the only ones who remain in the ring. Therefore, the struggle is on for the title of the “most important media outlet of the resistance” and the “most fervent dissenter,” either of which would offer the promise of a prolonged tenure. I sincerely hope that their endeavors will not be followed by disappointment.