László Bartus: A couple of slaps in the face (Népszava)
Below is a translation of an article that appeared in today’s Népszava (Hungary). László Bartus is the editor-in-chief of the Amerikai Magyar Népszava, the oldest Hungarian-language paper in the United States.
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Since the server kuruc.info used at the time was very close to my apartment, I simply visited the owners and asked them whether they had any idea about the contents of kuruc.info. After requesting the services of an official interpreter, the owner whose name happened to be Joshua announced that he had never in his life read so much filth. Kuruc.info was immediately shut down. However, within an hour kuruc.info was back in business. They found another server whose owner also didn’t have the foggiest idea what was being spread on the Hungarian-language website. If he knew, he most likely would also have shut down kuruc.info. Thus, it should be clear by now that within half an hour kuruc.info would be functioning again from another server. This fact should be known to Viktor Orbán because, after all, this incident took place during the previous administration and was widely discussed in the media.
Getting rid of kuruc.info cannot be approached by a futile chase of server owners but by eliminating the activities of the editors. The website is edited in Hungary and not in the United States. So, instead of demanding satisfaction from the United States the Hungarian government could easily gather the editors of the website at any time which would mean the end of kuruc.info. If the Hungarian national security office hasn’t been able in the last ten years to discover the persons responsible for the publication of kuruc.info it should be disbanded because of incompetence. According to news reports one of the editors is a member of parliament who is scraping together his meager livelihood at the taxpayers’ expense. If there are no legal grounds for the editors’ arrest, the present government with its two-thirds majority could easily take care of that. That is, if it had any such intention. But it doesn’t.
I’m reminding people of all this not because anyone thinks that Viktor Orbán in his letter to the fifty U.S. congressmen is really worried about kuruc.info. Rather, the Hungarian prime minister in his answer makes the United States responsible for anti-Semitism in Hungary. As if it were kuruc.info’s responsibility that there is anti-Semitism in Hungary. Orbán insinuates that Hungarian anti-Semitism is being assisted from the United States. As if the renting of a private server would mean active assistance. He implicitly accuses the United States government of being a supporter of anti-Semitism. This is slander and outrage. The foreign ministry of a democratic country doesn’t permit sending such a letter to members of a foreign legislature.
But the problem is even greater than this calumny. Orbán’s own letter actually proves that the government winks at the far right. This letter sends a message to the anti-Semites. In an indirect way he insinuates that American Jews are behind Hungarian anti-Semitism. And the real target is him, not the Jews. Orbán’s tone resembles the style of kuruc.info. It makes the American congressmen sound ridiculous, he cynically mocks those who express their concern over the human rights of the Hungarian Jewry. To put it mildly, this is not done in the United States. This style reminds people here of Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Orbán cannot speak with American congressmen as he does with Előd Novák, Jobbik MP, in parliament. Such talk is understood in the United States for what it is. The Hungarian prime minister is causing immeasurable moral and material damage to Hungary. A statesman cannot send such an insolent answer, especially since the Americans wrote a very polite letter in which they spoke highly of Hungary and talked exclusively of the anti-Semitism of Jobbik, not that of Fidesz.
Orbán should explain why the government parties tacitly support the cult of Miklós Horthy who was responsible for the deportation of the large majority of the Hungarian Jewry. Why do they include Albert Wass, an anti-Semitic war criminal, in the national curriculum? Or why does László Kövér during a memorial service ask Hungarians to embrace the intellectual heritage of a fascist writer? And what about the “freedom fight against international capital”? Only anti-Semites speak of “colonizing international finance capital.”
Before the elections Orbán promised to take care of extremists. Quoting Miklós Horthy, he announced that a couple of slaps on the face and he will chase them all the way home. By now the situation has come to the point that he should slap around some of the people, including himself, within his own party because they speak the language of the anti-Semites. But instead he apportioned a couple of slaps to the United States which most likely is greatly appreciated by the Hungarian extremists. But those who are laughing now might cry later because perhaps now people in the United States understand that in Hungary the greatest problem is not the kuruc.info and not Jobbik. The problem lies elsewhere.