Official prizes for far-right neo-Nazis and members of the lunatic fringe in Hungary

I have been complaining for some time about the state’s meddling in artistic and intellectual life by awarding hundreds of decorations and prizes to “worthy” individuals. This practice began some time in the nineteenth century, albeit on a very limited basis. There was the Order of St. Stephen, established by Queen Maria Theresa, which ceased to exist after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In 1930 Regent Miklós Horthy established the so-called Corvin Chain. From the list of recipients it is clear that ideological commitment was an important consideration in the selection process. Viktor Orbán already during his first stint in office worked to revive the spirit of the Horthy era and reinstated the Corvin Chain. After the lost elections, the socialist-liberal government scrapped it. I wrote about these old and new decorations in November 2011.

In any case, if it depended on me there would be no state prizes given out to writers, scientists, actors, and artists because it is becoming evident that these twice-a-year (March 15 and August 20) awards are for the most part payback for services rendered to the party and government. This is bad enough, but what happened this year is beyond the pale. The Orbán government, in addition to rewarding its political favorites, decided to decorate far-right extremists and charlatans.

Viva stupidityBelonging to the extremist category is Ferenc Szaniszló, a reporter for Echo TV, whose program Világ-Panoráma was considered unacceptable even by the Media Council; the station was fined for broadcasting Szaniszló’s antisemitic racism. And now he has received the highest honor a reporter or journalist can get, the Táncsics Prize.

I watched a few of his programs and came to the conclusion that he is not only a political extremist, he most likely doesn’t have all his marbles. Because what can one conclude when Szaniszló stands in front of the camera saying that there was a Bulgarian fortune-teller whose prophecies have come true 80% of the time and who has foretold that in 2015 aliens will arrive from outer space who will seek out the Hungarians because they are the only ones who can solve the problem of communication between themselves and earthlings. The reason: Hungarian is an “ancient Ur-language.”

During the same tirade he goes on and on about the terrible liberals (he calls them “liberos” and the liberos are the Jews)  who wanted to destroy the country by insisting on a professional army whose members are mercenaries of globalization. Hungarian soldiers are sent far away from Hungary instead of being kept at home where they could fight “terrorism.” Here the word “terrorism” is a euphemism for “Gypsy crime.” So, Szaniszló, the democrat, would use the Hungarian army against the country’s citizens. Behind all this terrorism are the Jews who defend the Roma in order to destroy the Hungarians. In any case, the country is divided into three distinct groups: the Hungarians, the Gypsies, and the Jews.

Elsewhere Szaniszló talks about the garbage (szemét in Hungarian) that covers the entire country and plays fast and loose with the similarity in pronunciation between “szemét” and “szemita.” He is “anti-szemét” because it is the desire of these “szemetek” that everything should be theirs. But “we will clear them out of the country.”

It would take pages and pages to list all the nonsense this man can come up with. So, here is a video that will give those who speak Hungarian a glimpse into Szaniszló’s world.

Several earlier recipients of the Táncsics Prize renounced it in protest. Among them, Péter Németh (Népszava), György Bolgár (Klubrádió, ATV), Katalin Rangos (Klubrádió), Mátyás Vince, György Nej, Zoltán Horváth, to mention only a few.

But Szaniszló is not the only one whose contribution to Hungarian culture is questionable. Another awardee is Kornél Bakay, who claims to be an archaeologist. It is true that he was a student of Gyula László, a researcher into the early history of Hungarians, but eventually Bakay ended up in a far-right non-accredited “university” in Miskolc. According to him, runic writing is a variation of Sumerian; the Hungarians are the direct descendants of the Scythians and the Huns. He claims, very much like the “scientists” in Hitler’s Germany, that Jesus was not a Jew but a Parthian prince and that Jews in general were slave traders. He denies the very existence of ancient Israel. He even “proved” that the loss of Hungary to the Turks in Mohács (1526) was the work of Jews. Bakay’s knowledge of Hungarian history is so poor that even his facts are wrong. He goes so far as to suggest that ancient Greek culture is somehow connected to the Hungarians. In 2003 he organized an exhibition: “Soldiers of Horthy and Arrow Cross Men of Szálasi” that eventually was closed due to its obvious adulation of the Hungarian far right in the 1930s.

Varga Tibor, dr. szekelymagyar.huport.hu

The founder of the Szentkorona Szabadegyetem,  Tibor Varga, a legal historian / szekelymagyar.huport.hu

Another strange choice is Ajándok Eöry.  Apparently “Ajándok”  is an old Hungarian name that means “Gift of God,” the male form of Ajándék. It is a very rare name, and I have the suspicion that Eöry didn’t come into the world with it. If you want to be amused, you can listen to his lecture on YouTube about the fanciful theory that the Chinese learned acupuncture from the Hungarians. Proof? There is a slang expression in Hungarian “ennek lőttek,” meaning “that’s finished,” but its  literal  translation is “it was shot at.” Why? Because ancient Hungarians shot arrows into the dead lying in their graves in order to get “the evil spirit” out of them!

The lecture was delivered at the Szentkorona Szabadegyetem (Free University of the Holy Crown) whose founder is Tibor Varga, who calls himself a legal historian. It is worth taking a look at the website of Szentkorona országa (Country of the Holy Crown). According to the website, Hungary was at one time a country in the middle of which God lived!! All of the lectures that are listed are “way out,” and the speakers for the most part are charlatans who belong to the lunatic fringe. Even the qualifications of better ones, like László Bárdi of the University of Pécs, are questionable. He became a Chinese expert and began publishing on Chinese-Hungarian cultural relations via the Huns only in the 1990s. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and eventually a supervisor of teachers.

The guitar player János Petrás of Karpatia, a true neo-Nazi band, also received a decoration. Karpatia composed the official anthem of the Hungarian Guard.

What does Zoltán Balog, the minister who handed out these decorations and prizes, have to say to all this? He claims that he got the list from different committees and assumed that everything was all right. He didn’t check on any of the recipients’ credentials. He contends that he had never heard of Ferenc Szaniszló. Hard to believe. Instead, one must look upon this list of recipients as a gesture from the Orbán government toward Jobbik and the extreme right.

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70 comments

  1. Ron :
    OT Have you seen what is going on in Cyprus. In the past Cyprus was used as a Holding structure for some of the Hungarian companies (MOL for one was using Cyprus). I am not sure how these Companies are effected by this.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21814325
    However, if they still have money there, than they will be shareholders of banks in Cyprus. I wonder if VO meant that with his 50% nationalization.

    This is scary. They are just taking 10% of the deposits? Wow. Ok, technically they are changing 10% of the deposit into shares in the banks… but still, in essence it is a 10% tax on savings. It is scary because it may give Orban ideas how to raise money when he needs some.

  2. Győr Calling!

    I fully concur with the ‘fatigue’ on here – I responded in a similar vein last week.

    And to those who think the answer lies in the students – think again.

    Nowhere, except Hungary, are the students so right-wing – of those that stay that is.

    The video showing the brave students invading Fidesz’ headquarters against the elderly morons are far and few between.

    After Orban tricked the students with his ‘vague’ promises – HaHa and Kiss – they faded away. Where have they been in providing cohesion between the opposition parties?

    Nowhere.

    I did wonder, in vain, if they would start to protest like liberal students did in the 60s, 70s and 80s – in the US against the draft; the French students; and the English CND students.

    The sensible ones have gone – the remaining rump are in Jobbik.

    Just a few brave souls in Hungary.

    Echo TV is unique in its off-the-wall journalism and paranoia and is dangerous because of its Government ‘sponsorship’.

    In England we have a good laugh at our paranoia freaks – here’s one:

    David Icke!

    Bonkers, bonkers, truly bonkers!

    Regards

    Charlie

    http://www.davidicke.com

  3. Csaba K. Zoltani :
    Apparently having run out of ideas on how to improve the Hungarian economy, the left has retreated once again to ad hominem attacks and Hungary bashing. Criticism of the leadership is convenient, even sometimes justified, but except to replace the center-right with center-left what is their specific suggestion?
    In the U.S. polls show that the vast majority think that Congress is doing an awful job and most think that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Yet, the intellectual elite is not planning to go elsewhere. There is an inconvenient message here for the self-proclaimed Hungarian ‘elite’.

    Dear self-proclaimed Hungarian elite (yes, you Csaba)!

    Instead of these general statements, would you indulge me, for the first time, with your own opinion?

    Namely:

    – What do you think about the Fidesz government giving the highest decoration to idiots, like Szaniszlo? Do you think his performance in the Echo TV is a value? Do you think he deserved the Tancsics award?

    – What do you think about the government’s actions handling this blizzard crisis? Do you think the centralization mania of the Orban government helped with quality of the emergency management? Does the government do it better?

    You know, here, without actually having an opinion and explaining it, you are just a, khmmm, “self-proclaimed” intellectual, like Mr Szaniszlo.

    PS: I said it many times. I do not consider myself “left”. I consider myself a moderate conservative. But there is one thing I absolutely agree with the left, whatever it is. That is the substandard performance of the Orban government.

  4. Jean P :

    muttdamon :

    Minusio :
    For me it is getting exceedingly difficult to utter any more opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s like flogging a dead horse that will probably not be resurrected for the next ten, fifteen years.

    Don’t let the Fidesz fatigue set in! You are the champions of a sane Hungary!

    The comment by Minusio and its subsequent endorsement by Bowen and Paul can be understood as a signal to Eva to stop shooting. I hope it was not the intention and I hope that it has made no dent in Eva’s fighting spirit. Eva, please go on!.
    Those who are disappointed that their comments have not had any visible effect have overestimated the influence they are likely to have as commenters on a blog. The most one can hope as a commenter is to add a few atoms to public opinion.
    Needless to say that I agree with Muttdamons remark: “Don’t let the Fidesz fatigue set in!”.

    Whatever I wrote was never intended to undermine Éva’s blog. Her work – and Pester Lloyd – have been the only reliable sources of information for me as someone who doesn’t speak Hungarian but who has a Hungarian girlfriend. I care about her and her family (or what’s left of it…). And she is Jewish – which shouldn’t make a difference in a “normal” country!

  5. Sorry to disappoint you, but I do not proclaim myself to be ‘what-ever’. Unfortunately I do not have the time to watch the opinion pieces of the left, right or the center. Still, I recommend that the points of view of all shades of opinion be ‘consulted’ and having all the facts before forming an opinion. Finally, before I hit the road, I check the weather prognostication and road conditions from several sources. Of course, this may deprive me of being able to blame someone else if road conditions are not up to my expectations. So be it.

  6. Csaba K. Zoltani :
    Sorry to disappoint you, but I do not proclaim myself to be ‘what-ever’. Unfortunately I do not have the time to watch the opinion pieces of the left, right or the center. Still, I recommend that the points of view of all shades of opinion be ‘consulted’ and having all the facts before forming an opinion. Finally, before I hit the road, I check the weather prognostication and road conditions from several sources. Of course, this may deprive me of being able to blame someone else if road conditions are not up to my expectations. So be it.

    So, basically, you have no opinion (because you have no time!), and all views you get are of equal weight, right? The only thing you care for seems to be the weather forecast (which is now taxed as well). What a special sense of humor!

  7. @zoltani: “Finally, before I hit the road, I check the weather prognostication and road conditions from several sources.”

    But that was the problem. There were no warning. And they didn’t close the roads. You are not too well informed.

  8. Our young one just read somewhere on the internet that the people responsible for catastrophe management had a big party (on wednesday ?) and were not in their offices ( a hangover maybe ?) so they couldn’t respond in time to calls ????

    Seems they were all newly appointed by Orbán and were drinking to the money they now make …

    Sounds really strange, but there must be some truth in this story – maybe someone can look it up ?

  9. Jabba:

    I know that Fidesz thievery is a different order of magnitude. My problem with MSZP is that they had no qualms in ripping off the public purse where they could. And they did
    back-stab Gyurcsany for trying to reform the party. All in all, not a party one can turn to
    in trying to find an alternative. Add to all that that Mesterhazy is undermining future coalition plans…and it’s quite obvious that in the serious state the country finds itself in, MSZP is still
    primarily concerned with its own political aims rather than the relief of the country.

  10. Csaba K. Zoltani :
    Sorry to disappoint you, but I do not proclaim myself to be ‘what-ever’.</p

    Neither do we or your perceived left for that matter. So let’s leave it at that.

    Unfortunately I do not have the time to watch the opinion pieces of the left, right or the center. Still, I recommend that the points of view of all shades of opinion be ‘consulted’ and having all the facts before forming an opinion.

    Yet you seem to be very opinionated. I hope you can find some time in the future to explain your views. We are truly eager to hear it.

    Finally, before I hit the road, I check the weather prognostication and road conditions from several sources. Of course, this may deprive me of being able to blame someone else if road conditions are not up to my expectations. So be it.

    Are you suggesting that those people, who were falsely prophesying the road conditions (based on several sources), are to blame for being left in the cold for 20 hours? If it is so, then why do we need an emergency management agency in the first place?

  11. “the people responsible for catastrophe management had a big party” – I think they’ve been having a big party since April 2010…

  12. I wish all these commentators who accuse myself, Minusio, etc of pessimism, defeatism, trying to undermine Éva, etc would address our comments and questions, instead of just coming up with the knee-jerk labels.

    For a start, anyone who’s been on this blog for a while will know I have a long history of both supporting Éva (where would we be without her?) and serious, considered analysis. You may not agree with at analysis, but I wish you’d tell me where I’m going wrong, rather than just calling me names. I would love to be proved wrong, I have a great deal, both physically and emotionally, invested in Hungary and would much prefer to believe that a solution to Orbán is possible. But the facts speak for themselves, it hardly takes an Einstein to work out where they are leading.

    Let’s briefly summarise where we are:

    1) Orbán has won – no one has been able to stop him and it looks very unlikely that anyone will be able to.

    2) The opposition is disorganised, disunited and almost completely ineffective.

    3) Orbán has effectively rigged the electoral system so that he can’t lose (and even if he does, he has made sure that any other incoming government will be impotent).

    4) There is no real sign of any organised or effective opposition towards Orbán building outside of the political parties (e.g. students). In any other country, there would have been mass demonstration, civil disobedience, and probably riots by now – in Hungary there are a few dozen protestors. I can’t see this changing.

    5) Even if there is eventually a ‘people’s uprising’, Orbán will never give up without a fight and Hungary will descend into the sort of mess Syria is in right now.

    6) We don’t know what Orbán will do next. It’s possible that, having achieved all he wanted, he will settle back and just run the country gently into the ground. But no one who has studied Orbán will believe that – he is almost certainly going to carry on in the same vein. Things are going to get a great deal worse.

    Now, as I have asked before, if anyone disagrees with that analysis will they please tell me where its faults are and how anyone can draw any different conclusions. And no piros, fehér and zöld glasses please, just stick to the reality.

    And, please, let’s attack the facts and the analysis, not the author.

  13. An :

    Ron :
    OT Have you seen what is going on in Cyprus. In the past Cyprus was used as a Holding structure for some of the Hungarian companies (MOL for one was using Cyprus). I am not sure how these Companies are effected by this.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21814325
    However, if they still have money there, than they will be shareholders of banks in Cyprus. I wonder if VO meant that with his 50% nationalization.

    This is scary. They are just taking 10% of the deposits? Wow. Ok, technically they are changing 10% of the deposit into shares in the banks… but still, in essence it is a 10% tax on savings. It is scary because it may give Orban ideas how to raise money when he needs some.

    Mmmmm. An, thanks for this — projecting the line of possible behaviours forward. Maybe it’s time to shift funds away from K&H, across the border…

  14. it’s terrible that the progressive students are leaving… understandably, sure, but they’re the only hope for Hungary’s future. good luck to those who do weather the madness and struggle for equality for their fellow citizens, the world needs more people like you

  15. Seriously, what’s new in any of this? Hungarians – of which you are one – have been xenophobic for centuries. You have a useless language that no-one else cares to speak. Your society lacks charisma (compare yourself with an Italian, French or Brazilian). You are globally insignificant. Your economy is a sweat shop, low wage production paradise. The majority of your citizenry still believe that being a defeated colony of the Hapsburgs means that Trianon was unfair (that’s the biggest joke).

    So really, does anyone really care? (Cue sound of dramatic violins, images of 1848, 1919, 1956).

  16. @shambles:

    Yes, in the 20th century only the Jewish scientists etc were leaving – to become Nobel Prize winners in some other country

    In the 21st century every able Hungarian is leaving – a country of pig raisers remains, plus a few Fidesz oligarchs …

  17. Steve :
    Seriously, what’s new in any of this? Hungarians – of which you are one – have been xenophobic for centuries. You have a useless language that no-one else cares to speak. Your society lacks charisma (compare yourself with an Italian, French or Brazilian). You are globally insignificant. Your economy is a sweat shop, low wage production paradise. The majority of your citizenry still believe that being a defeated colony of the Hapsburgs means that Trianon was unfair (that’s the biggest joke).
    So really, does anyone really care? (Cue sound of dramatic violins, images of 1848, 1919, 1956).

    Your have some attitude, don’t you? Attitudes like this only fuel the xenophobic right-wing lunatics.

  18. The “good minister” lied. First Balog claimed that he awarded the prize to Ferenc Szaniszló on the recommendation of the committee made up of right-wing members of the media. He didn’t even know who he was.

    Today Heti Válasz reported that the committee in fact didn’t recommend Szaniszló but Balog overruled them. The paper also seems to know that it was János Halász, the new undersecretary in charge of culture, who suggested Szaniszló to Balog. Another nominee was a journalist of the Vatican Radio who didn’t receive the unanimous vote that was necessary. Halász and Balog also overruled their recommendation and gave the prize to her as well.

  19. An :
    Your have some attitude, don’t you? Attitudes like this only fuel the xenophobic right-wing lunatics.

    He IS a xenophobic right-wing lunatic troll … He want’s us to retort.

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