Washington Post reporter lost in translation and bias

Earlier this month, the Washington Post published an article on page one with the enticing, clickable title, “Hungary intends to stop migrants with ‘hunters’ near border wall,” by their Berlin-based correspondent, Anthony Faiola. Unfortunately, he got a few things wrong.

I understand that the style of today’s journalism enjoys the sensational, clickable headline, but this correspondent has pushed it too far in saying that Hungary’s border security is deploying “border hunters” to patrol the border. He is referring to what we call in Hungarian határvadászok. The vadász is a particular figure in civilian security and the more accurate translation would be border rangers or civilian border patrol.

Mr. Faiola got himself lost in translation, perhaps. But an experienced, and fair, foreign correspondent would have questioned whether that was really the right term. Border hunters? Really?

This civilian border patrol provides additional protection on what has become one of Europe’s most sensitive frontiers in the struggle against illegal immigration and human traficking. The so-called Western Balkan migration route, and specifically Hungary’s southern border, became the busiest transit route for illegal immigration into the EU in 2015, according to the EU’s border protection agency Frontex. “Compared with the population of each Member State,” Eurostat reported in May 2016, “the highest number of registered first-time applicants in 2015 was recorded in Hungary.”

That’s why Hungary has increased border security and built a fence – not a wall – on the border to protect against illegal crossings.

The correspondent then makes claims that the Hungarian government is “instilling fear,” “fueling the public rebellion against Muslim migrants,” and “mainstreaming racism.” He fails to mention that last year, before the border fence was built and more border security present, ISIS exploited the porous borders to smuggle terrorists into the European Union, who later committed acts of terror. The best known example of one who took advantage of the migrant route to bring in trained fighters is Salah Abdeslam, organizer of the November 2015 Paris attacks, in which 130 people were killed and 368 were injured. If something similar were to happen in the U.S. and it became known that weak border security was to blame, one can imagine the reaction. Faced with the facts, any responsible government would take proper security measures.

The article quotes a UNHCR official saying “it is a basic right that if a person wants to ask for asylum, they have the right to cross the border in an irregular manner and make such a request.” But the rules also say that the asylum-seeker must make that request in the first safe country he or she reaches. A quick look at the map will tell you that the migrants who have reached Hungary’s southern border – and who have rioted in demand that the border be opened to them to pass through – have already crossed several safe countries. The uncomfortable fact is that the vast majority of them continue to ignore the international rules.

The picture that emerges from the Washington Post correspondent’s dispatch is woefully biased. Hungary has granted asylum to refugees from these recent conflicts. We received a large number of Muslim asylum seekers during the Bosnian War. Hungary is providing many scholarships to Syrians to study in Hungary and sending doctors, medication and other forms of aid to the people in the conflict zones. But we do not believe that Europe receiving millions of migrants each year is the solution. Instead, Europe should help them rebuild their own countries. Our purpose is not to keep asylum seekers out but to maintain Hungary’s, and Europe’s, law and order, before helping anybody else reclaim theirs.