The ceaseless culture war against Hungary

The ceaseless culture war against Hungary, by Frank Furedi.

If you listen to the Western media, you might think that in the weeks following the outbreak of Covid-19 the government of Hungary had transformed itself into a brutal dictatorship. There was a constant stream of articles claiming that democracy had died in Hungary. Opinion pieces insisted that the Hungarian government had exploited people’s concerns about the pandemic to impose a 1930s-style authoritarian dictatorship. …

These alarmist accounts of democratic backsliding in Hungary were a key theme in these Culture Wars. On the anti-sovereigntist wing of the cultural conflict, Hungary was held up as symbolic of an ideology of evil. …

Evil dictator, or just another European leader with emergency powers in response to Covid?

The Economist responded to Hungary’s enactment of a state of emergency by claiming that Viktor Orban, the prime minister, ‘has in effect become a dictator – in the heart of Europe’. The Guardian declared that the ‘world must not let Hungary get away with this power grab’. Writing in the EUobserver, Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, claimed that Hungary was now a dictatorship and therefore the EU had ceased to be a bloc of democratic states. …

The hypocrisy:

It is worth noting that other governments that enacted emergency powers in response to the Covid pandemic were not accused of such malevolent intent.

Why was Hungary held to a different standard? The answer was devastatingly simple. ‘Orban cannot be trusted’, Western observers implied. It was really another way of saying: ‘We don’t like him.’ …

What in fact happened:

This week, the Hungarian government initiated procedures to end the state of emergency. It will end on 20 June. This means Hungary has acted more speedily than many other governments to bring to a close its Covid measures.

Will those who spread the idea that Hungary had become a dictatorship acknowledge that they were wrong? Will they apologise for their slanderous statements about Hungary? Don’t hold your breath. It really doesn’t matter what the Hungarian government does; its adversaries in the West will always portray it as a dangerous dictatorship threatening European values. …

Inconvenient truths about Hungary are always met with a wall of silence in most of the Western press. …

The role of Hungary in the culture wars:

In the current Culture Wars, Hungary has become a kind of lightning rod through which the negative sentiments of the Western cultural establishment — especially their anti-sovereigntist views — can be expressed. …

Whenever a British, German or American newspaper editor or observer denounces the ‘dictatorship’ in Hungary, they are also indirectly attacking movements and politicians in their own countries who oppose the prevailing cultural norms. That is why those of us who supported Brexit in the UK, and who call for the valuation of national sovereignty in countries around the world, have a real interest in supporting Hungary against its Western detractors.

hat-tip Stephen Neil