Like Any Racist Dog, Orbán Is Worried About "Race-Mixing"
I was listening to an NPR report about Hungarian fascist Viktor Orbán the other day. Orbán, it turns out, lusts for a bigger role on the world stage… but he was born in a shitty, backward little country where authoritarianism in part of the national DNA. I bet Orbán wishes his progenitors had emigrated like millions of Hungarians did. The U.S. alone took in over 1.5 million Hungarian and Canada over 300,000. Germany, Israel, France and Britain took in at least a quarter million each and there are substantial numbers who sought refuge in Latin America, Australia and even Russia.
But Orbán is stuck where he is and he’s a big fish in a tiny, muddy little puddle. So you can only imagine the joy it has brought him to become an icon to a resurgent American fascist movement (MAGA). I have no doubt that if he moved to America and Trump decided not to run, Orbán would be a real contender for the Republican nomination. Nor would a DeSantis/Orbán ticket be in any way far fetched.
A recent poll by Morning Consult for Politico found that 15% of Americans (9% strongly) oppose interracial marriage being legal in the U.S. Yes, I said recent. That would be the Orbán base. On Sunday, Shaun Walker and Flora Garamvolgyi, writing for The Guardian, reported that Orbán “has lashed out against the ‘mixing’ of European and non-European races, in a speech that immediately drew outrage from opposition parties and European politicians. ‘We [Hungarians] are not a mixed race … and we do not want to become a mixed race,’ said Orbán on Saturday. He added that countries where European and non-Europeans mingle were ‘no longer nations.’ Orbán has been making similar claims for years, but these comments were couched in stark far-right terms.”
As far as I can remember, Hungarians certainly are a mixed race, more so than any other Europeans. They don’t even speak a European language, but an Asia— Uralic— language. Originally what is now Hungary was settled by the Huns. It was colonized and ruled by the Romans for 300 years. After the Romans, Goths, Vandals, more Huns, Lombards, Gepids, Slavs, Avars all settled in modern-day Hungary. In the 13th Century the Mongols invaded and raped every Hungarian woman so, so much for “not a mixed race.” And the Turks conquered Hungary in the mid-1500s and occupied it until the early 1700s. Plenty of mixing and once the country was liberated, Germans flooded in and settled. I don’t know who, besides himself and some MAGA-morons, Orbán thinks he’s fooling.
Walker and Garamvolgyi quoted a Romanian member of the European Parliament who tweeted that “Speaking about race or ethnic ‘purity’, especially in such a mixed region such as central and eastern Europe, is purely delusional and dangerous. And so is Mr Orbán.”
Orbán made the remarks during a showpiece annual speech in Băile Tuşnad, Romania, where he has previously floated major policy ideas or ideological directions. It was there, in 2014, that he first said he wanted to build an “illiberal democracy” in Hungary.
This year, Orbán gave an apocalyptic speech predicting the decline of the west and prophesying “a decade of peril, uncertainty, and war”. He also sharply criticised western military support for Ukraine, positioning himself as Moscow’s foremost ally inside the European Union.
“The more modern weapons Nato gives the Ukrainians, the more the Russians will push the frontline forward… What we are doing is prolonging the war,” said Orbán during a speech on Saturday.
Hungary is a member of Nato, but the far-right Orbán has long had warm relations with Putin, and spent five hours in Moscow talking to the Russian leader in February, shortly before the Russian invasion. The speech came two days after his foreign minister made a surprise trip to Moscow for talks, and puts him far outside the European consensus on the war.
Orbán said the job of the west should not be to hope for a Ukrainian victory, but to mediate a peace deal. “We shouldn’t be on Russia’s side, or Ukraine’s side, but between the two,” he said, adding that the policy of imposing sanctions on Russia had not worked.
Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, described Orbán’s claims as “Russian propaganda.”
Orbán won a fourth consecutive term in office in an election earlier this year, with his government accused of stifling media freedom and backsliding on democratic norms since his Fidesz party won power in 2010. Since the 2015 refugee crisis, Orbán’s government has used far-right anti-migration rhetoric as its main talking point.
On Saturday, he made frequent nods to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which claims there is a plot to dilute the white populations of the US and European countries through immigration. He said it was “an ideological trick of the internationalist left to say the European population is already mixed race.”
He named demographics, migration and gender as the main battlefields of the future, on the same day that thousands of people rallied in Budapest for the city’s annual Pride march.
The European Commission is currently suing Hungary over a recent anti-LGBTQ+ law, a copy of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law. It bans gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows aimed at minors.
Orbán’s position on Ukraine has lost him support among some of his previous ideological allies, notably Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, which has criticised his equivocal stance on the war.
“He’s further away from the European mainstream than ever before,” said Péter Krekó, of the Political Capital thinktank in Budapest. “I think he really believes that migration pressures will mean the united west is soon over and every government will become far right … It’s also clear he wants Russia to win this war.”
Orbán will be hoping for Italian elections in September to return a rightwing coalition, and is also rooting for the return of Donald Trump in 2024. Next month, he is due to travel to Dallas, Texas, where he will address CPAC, a large gathering of American conservatives. Earlier this year, CPAC hosted a special session of the conference in Budapest.
At home, Orbán’s battle with European institutions seems likely to intensify further. The EU has frozen several billion euros of recovery funds earmarked for Hungary over corruption and rule-of-law concerns. Orbán’s harsh speech may be a sign that the Hungarian government has given up on receiving the funds.
Yesterday the AP published a piece by Nicholas Riccardi and Justin Spike ahead of Orbán’s trip to rally American fascists at CPAC next month in Dallas. He won’t be seeing Biden on the trip, just Señor Trumpanzee and Georgia crackpot Marjorie Traitor Greene.
Orban’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he’ll be joined by former President Donald Trump and right-wing icons such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is the most dramatic indication yet of how a leader criticized for pushing anti-democratic principles has become a hero to segments of the Republican Party.
Orban has curbed immigration and stymied those who envision a more middle-of-the-road European democracy for their country. He’s done so by seizing control of Hungary’s judiciary and media, leading many international analysts to label him as the face of a new wave of authoritarianism. He also is accused of enabling widespread corruption and nepotism, using state resources to enrich a tight circle of political allies.
The U.S. conservative movement’s embrace of Orban comes as it echoes Trump’s lies that he did not lose the 2020 presidential election, punishes Republicans who tried to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and embrace new voting restrictions. Many experts on Hungarian politics fear the GOP might aspire to Orban’s tactics.
“The Trumpist side of the Republican Party is coming for the rhetoric, but staying for the autocracy,” said Kim Schepple, a sociologist at Princeton University who has studied Orban. “I’m worried the attraction to Orban is only superficially the culture war stuff and more deeply about how to prevent power from ever rotating out of their hands.”
Is the appropriate time to mention that Sunday on This Week, anti-fascist Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan won’t be supporting “QAnon whack job” Dan Cox who just won the Republican gubernatorial primary in his state. Noting that the Democratic Governors Association spent $3 million to help get Cox the nomination, Hogan called the primary “a win for the Democrats. It's a big loss for the Republican Party. And we have no chance of saving that governor's seat. We actually had a chance if they hadn't gotten together and done that… [I]t was a very small turnout. So, first of all, only 20 percent of the people in Maryland are Republican, and 20 percent of them showed up to the polls. So about 2 percent of the people in Maryland voted for this guy. It's not going to be the same in November, I can tell you that. So it's not a big win. It's really a loss. And we're just going to have to wait a few months to... I would not support the guy. I wouldn't let him in the governor's office, let alone vote for him for the governor's office.”