The embattled Géza Jeszenszky and Viktor Orbán

Jeszenszky’s troubles are far from over. This rather unfortunate affair is being prolonged partly because of Géza Jeszenszky’s well known graphomania and partly because of the assistance Jeszenszky’s friends offered to the beleaguered historian-diplomat.

The first supportive letter was fired off by eighteen American-Hungarians of a more conservative bent, including Csaba K. Zoltani who occasionally expresses his dissatisfaction with some of my posts and with readers’ comments. That letter didn’t surprise anybody, but when the media found out that three American liberals also wrote a supporting letter on behalf of Jeszenszky the right-wing media had a heyday. Heti Válasz introduced its article on the subject with these words: “Exclusive! A turning point in the affair of the ambassador.” Magyar Nemzet happily announced that “Not just anybody stood up for Jeszenszky.” The signers of the brief letter were Charles Gati of Johns Hopkins University, István Deák, professor emeritus at Columbia University, and András Simonyi, Hungarian ambassador in Washington between 2002 and 2007.  Both letters attested to the fact that, although the signers knew Jeszenszky for a long time, they never heard him utter a word that would have indicated prejudice.

Charles Gati, who is a friend of mine, after reading yesterday’s post wrote this letter to me and gave me permission to publish it:

By now everyone who reads your blog must know that you and I tend to agree. You publish some of  my comments, and I keep recommending your blog. Let’s face it: I’m a fan. Everyone interested in Hungary should read you every day — as I do and as I will.
 
This time, with the greatest respect for you, I disagree. There’s no “Jeszenszky Affair.”  I know a lot about his work as an ambassador to Washington and I’m familiar with his scholarship. For some three years we were barely on speaking terms. I’m offended when he reaches out to  primitive emigres in the US defending the Hungarian rightwing — people with whom Mr. Jeszenszky has little or nothing  in common. But at issue now is one sentence in a long book, a sentence that’s both unfortunate and wrong.
 
While you — but not always others — focus on important things (like how Orban has turned a functioning democracy into a semi-authoritarian regime and how he turned Hungary against the IMF, the EU, and the US), suddenly there’s a small furor over ONE SENTENCE in a book published years ago and probably unread. Until someone sought to divert attention from the real issues facing Hungary.
 
I have reason to believe firmly that Mr. Jeszenszky is not an antisemite. I have no reason to believe that he is a racist. I’m convinced that he’s a supporter of Western values. 
 
One sentence doesn’t make a negative “Jeszenszky Affair.” What matters to me and what should matter to all is that Orban has led Hungary away from the paths of pluralist democracy and Western values.
 
Please continue to inform us about these painful issues as you have so brilliantly done over so many years.
As I understand it, István Deák signed the letter for somewhat different reasons. He found Jeszenszky’s exclusion from the meeting that he helped to organize unfair because of a number of sentences that he wrote on the Roma minority’s marriage practices in a textbook eight years earlier. He argued that if that rule had been applied to some Hungarian historians and other intellectuals, they would have not been allowed to enter the United States where many of them taught at prestigious universities. After all, they were supporters of the Rákosi regime before 1956.
I can’t quite agree with that comparison. A lot of young intellectuals, especially those of Jewish background, truly thought that the Soviet system would be able to obliterate antisemitism and prejudice. They also believed in an ideal society that was promised by the communists. Naturally, they were wrong and by 1953-54 they themselves were not only disillusioned but in 1956 they were the first ones to turn against the regime. The Rákosi regime was a brutal dictatorship with everything that such a dictatorship entails. Jeszenszky wrote his primitive lecture notes eight years ago in a democracy and republished it at his own expense a few years later.
The other difference I see is that universities are places for the exchange of ideas. Academic communities welcome diversity and public debate. In fact, they thrive on it. Historians, for example, not only write about the past but constantly debate among themselves about interpretations of that past. So, I think that Marxists and non-Marxists, liberals and conservatives can prosper intellectually in that kind of community. But a research institute that is committed to the equality of minorities can’t really have a participant who writes in a prejudiced manner about an ethnic group.
As for Jeszenszky, he wrote an open letter to the president of Corvinus University objecting to banning the use of his textbook. He claimed that a large majority of the teaching staff is with him on this issue.
For those who care about ferreting out the truth, two of our readers (Minusio and Some1) called our attention to some literature on Roma marriage practices.
Finally, taking my friend Charles Gati’s advice, let’s move on to another, undoubtedly more important issue. Even Magyar Nemzet admitted that Viktor Orbán was under fire today in parliament.

Viktor Orbán under fire / Magyar Nemzet

Perhaps the most telling encounter was between Tamás Harangozó, a young MSZP member of parliament, and Viktor Orbán. Harangozó reminded the prime minister that in the 1980s he fought hard against the dictatorship but since then a lot changed. “Soon enough there will be no dictatorship left that [Orbán] didn’t visit…. He seems to entertain a pathological attraction to post-communist dictatorships.”

Orbán’s answer was that he “didn’t struggle against the dictatorship but against people who maintained that dictatorship and these people were your comrades [actually párttársak].” He went even further and objected “in the name of all people that members of a party that is the successor to the former communist party is lecturing us about democracy.” What makes the encounter worth parsing is that Orbán insisted on clarity of speech before he explained his relationship to the dictatorship of the old regime.
Harangozó, who was born in 1979 and thus was ten years old at the time of the regime change, was quick to retort. He claimed that Orbán with this answer admitted that his only problem with the dictatorship of the one-party system was  that “it wasn’t he who sat in Kádár’s chair.” He continued, saying that the prime minister has no moral authority to lecture him when his government and party are full of former MSZMP members and agents. Harangozó called Orbán’s attention to the fate of Berlusconi.
I’m sure that Orbán wasn’t happy to be reminded of his former friend Silvio Berlusconi who may (though probably won’t) end up in jail if his appeal fails.

72 comments

  1. I don’t care what Mr. Gati says.

    If you don’t want to look racist don’t say racists things. It’s this simple. If you do, apologize. If this rule applies to me, it applies to the smart guys too.

    Look at the “Cheney affair”. People didn’t line up assuring the public that Dick Cheney is a good guy. Instead he apologized.

    Jeszenszky is arrogant prick. He should take it back.

  2. I think that

    “didn’t struggle against the dictatorship but against people who created that dictatorship”

    would perhaps be better translated into
    “I didn’t fight against dictatorship, I fought against the people who were doing (=running) the dictatorship”

    I mean, really… and he did introduce it by saying “using words correctly has its advantages”.

  3. There is more to be said about Gati’s letter. But if he had thought about this one sentence of his own he should not have written it: “I know a lot about his work as an ambassador to Washington and I’m familiar with his scholarship.” Many people know about his eyebrow-raising qualities as an ambassador, and Éva pointed out that it was his shoddy scholarship that made him make his sweeping false statements (more than one sentence) about the Roma. That was what she was writing about. She didn’t say he was an antisemite or a racist.

    So what does Gati want with this knee-jerk letter? Cui bono? In fact, Jeszenszky belongs to the “real issues facing Hungary”: unqualified personnel crawling out out the web of nepotism.

  4. For me, the problem with such works is not so much an occasional clumsy sentence, it is the underlying racist assumptions. Assumptions we don’t even notice because we take them for granted ourselves.

    For most Hungarians (and, I fear, for many others reading that title) “The New (Post-Communist) Europe and Its Ethnic Problems” means “the problem with Gypsies”. The word “ethnic” has become a code word to express a subtle level of racism that we otherwise would be ashamed of. I haven’t read the work in question, but I would be very surprised if the “ethnic problem” the author has in mind is the non-Roma-Hungarians.

    But, in reality the “ethnic problem” in Hungary is not what the Roma do or how they behave, it is the intolerance towards them from the majority non-Roma-Hungarians.

    A similar unconscious racism was displayed in a post a few days ago, when a regular poster unthinkingly used the phrase “the ethnic Hungarians”. By which he meant “the non-Roma-Hungarians”. But the unintended message this phrase gives out is that the Roma are not Hungarians. They are ‘other’, they are ‘outsiders’ – it’s not a big leap from that to they are inferior, they are the problem, “the Gypsy Problem”. To the average Roma-Hungarian, the non-Roma-Hungarians are far more of a problem to them than the “Gypsy Problem” is to ‘us’.

    The same, of course, is true of the Jewish Hungarians – they are thought of as Jewish, rather than ‘Jewish-Hungarian’, and never as just ‘Hungarian’. Although those of us on the progressive side of politics are at least aware of this and authors and posters will try to remember to write ‘Jewish-Hungarian’, rather than simply ‘Jews’. But it’s taken us half a century to get even that far.

    Just as with appalling late acceptance of the suffering of the Roma in the Nazi Holocaust (memorials finally being set up nearly 70 years after the end of the war), with our attitudes to the Roma-Hungarians we are still in the eighteenth century.

  5. Here is my take, and I truly hope Mr. Gati would consider my point of view. Yesterday I have stated that I cannot make a judgement call on the Jeszenszky affair, as I am not familiar with Roma marriage or relationship practices. I also asked, if we are mad at Jeszenszky because he lied, or because he made some assumptions that a scholar should not make without proper references? At any case, today I got on the Internet to do some research, and less then half an hour I was able to dig up some very interesting material on the subject that were properly researched, and supported by proper references. Now, I assume that the same access is available to Mr. Jeszenszky. I am also sure that by now he must understand how his opinion or more so the echo of his opinion fuels the “dark side”, still he decided not to correct himself, not to explain, not to apologize if what he meant to say is lifted out of context. Mr. Gati you choose to defend Mr, Jeszenszky as a man who you believe in, but would you defend him now, that he failed as a human being? He has had the chance to distance himself from the Jobbik, the same way as you choose to rise to his defence as a liberal.

    By the way, my Jewish grandparents were cousins from the carpathian region.

  6. An example of what maybe Gati was referring to, was, two weeks after Bajnai announced he would found an association (egyesület) to contest the elections, Fidesz changed the electoral law so that associations can no longer endorse candidates.

    A friend told me tonight, and a quick google search couldn’t find any article or evidence, that the renovations of Erzsébet híd will mean that Milla and Bajnai can’t protest there. I was told the construction permit, or whatever, ends the day of the election.

    Also Éva, you may have covered it, but I can’t recall it, was the sudden overnight shutting down of all but the favoured casinos. Conspiracy theories are rife..

  7. After giving it some thought, I agree with Gati. Jeszenszky was wrong in writing those sentences and he should correct himself but on a purely scientific basis, e.g. publishing a paper that cites actual data.

    This is because the phenomenon might pretty well exists to some extent and doing a big apology-trip would render the possibility of actual research in this direction impossible. In these recent days I read it in a blog that apparently did some digging that even though Jeszenszky is wrong about brother-sister marriages, cousin weddings are actually a pretty common phenomenon and it is also true that disorders of supposed genetic origin are significantly more frequent in the Roma community than the general population. This has nothing to do with race, the phenomenon is well known from the history of some of the royal families of Europe. I can’t find the link now, but since this comment is not intended to be a scientific contribution, I think I’ll live with that.

    The attacks on GJ were mostly just as primitive as his lousily written sentences and I think he’s reaction is logical on some level. If he started correcting himself and apologizing on a general level that would equal an admission of being racist which I believe that he’s not. (Regardless of his performance as a foreign minister, a teacher or an ambassador.) He stated a fact that turned out to be not exactly true but at that point it might have been his best knowledge which is not the same as hating the gypsies. One should be very careful about using the labels racist and antisemite. If you overuse them for the wrong people they loose power quickly.

    Some1: “By the way, my Jewish grandparents were cousins from the Carpathian region.”

    Then I suggest you feel very glad that your mom/dad turned out to be ok. Sorry if I read it wrong but I don’t think this is something to be proud of. Marriage between first cousins is illegal for a reason in several countries. Unlike Jeszenszky’s lousy paper, this is hard science.

  8. Jano :
    If he started correcting himself and apologizing on a general level that would equal an admission of being racist which I believe that he’s not.

    Which he is. Again, if you are saying things like “the Roma have many retarded because they tend screw their siblings” you are racists. We may let it go if you don’t have a history to say things like this, but you have to apologize.

    That’s a very interesting and very Hungarian logic there about apology. We don’t do it because we would admit guilt. Duh! You do it exactly for this! To admit guilt. Because we are guilty.

  9. Mutt: “if you are saying things like “the Roma have many retarded because they tend screw their siblings”

    If you say it like that then you are racist. If you said what Jenszenszky wrote that’s a statement that is either true or false. Hopefully and apparently, it is mostly false this time. I haven’t seen the data, but I assume neither do you (I just briefly glanced through Some1’s and Minusio’s link for which I’m thankful). Can you say it for sure that cousin marriage is not more accepted in Roma communities than in the general population? That has nothing to do with race, that’s a question of culture. Just as the statement “Many muslims have 4 wives and therefore they are more likely to have a lot of children.” is a cultural reference not a racial one and is free of any prejudice as it stands in itself

    The difference is that if the statement about the Roma is true to just some level that might have devastating effect on the Roma population which is highly undesirable and detrimental towards their integration to society which has to be the ultimate goal.

    Also notice that he never said that incest is something every Roma does or Romas are retarded, he falsely claimed that this is a somewhat common unfortunate practice.

    I think in your last paragraph you completely misunderstand what I said. He should and has to apologize. But not for being racist (as you want him to) which he is not (or at least not according to these sentences) but for being a lousy scholar laying a claim that’s capable of inciting prejudice without backing it up with sufficient data (especially that the standards are a lot higher due to the sensitive nature of the topic). And this is best done in a scholarly way publishing a correction paper. (He did apologize to some extent by the way)

    Having said all this, I don’t have a high opinion about Jeszenszky. I agree that he is a perfect example of nepotism and a mediocre diplomat at best. But I strongly object against labeling everybody who has ever uttered the word gipsy in any other context than that they are lovely a racist. I especially do so because it is my firm belief that this weakens our position against the real racist people not to mention making us look like ridiculous labeling machines.

  10. Let me remind you that once Mr Jeszenszky announced that the reason he had joined the KISZ (Communist Youth League) in Kadar’s regime was that he wanted to destroy it from the inside (belülről rohasztani). No question that he is doing the same with the current government.

  11. London Calling!

    You apologise simply, because you are wrong – and you are sorry for being wrong – and sorry for causing possible damage or offence.

    An apology is not a Machiavellian device for maintaining a position.

    Géza Jeszenszky’s position, and defence of it, underlies what is seen in many professions in Hungary:

    Arrogance.

    “How dare you question my authority.”

    In addition Paul is right – and chimes with my experience.

    When Racism, Ante-Semitism and even Nationalism are all pervasive in society it is hard to realise that you are yourself being racist etc.

    It is just to a greater or lessor degree – as demonstrated by Mutt

    And I still think it’s the beard!

    Regards

    Charlie

  12. ….reminds me of George Burns (re the reasons for an apology)

    “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

  13. Many citizens of Slovakia of Roma nationality in cenzus in Slovakia identified themselves as Hungarian (minority) – of course Roma living in south part of Slovakia (for example Gemer where many Romas do speak hungarian and roma languages and their slovak language is “weak”; some changes were also in parts of Slovakia with higher Roma population in northern parts of Slovakia – for example Spis, but there are not Hungarians and Romas speaking hungarian language). But in last cenzus many Roma start doing self-identification. I thing than decrease of number on Hungarians in Slovakia is also (mayby mainly; of course together with low natality of Hungarians in Slovakia but it is similar with situatiion in Hungary) result of self-identification Roma as Roma.

  14. Mutt :
    I don’t care what Mr. Gati says.
    If you don’t want to look racist don’t say racists things. It’s this simple. If you do, apologize. If this rule applies to me, it applies to the smart guys too.
    Look at the “Cheney affair”. People didn’t line up assuring the public that Dick Cheney is a good guy. Instead he apologized.
    Jeszenszky is arrogant prick. He should take it back.

    I think you’re right, Mutt, but you forget one thing: Hungarians are constitutionally–in both senses of the word–unable to apologize…for anything. Again, signs of a mightily frail identity.

  15. Dubious :

    Also Éva, you may have covered it, but I can’t recall it, was the sudden overnight shutting down of all but the favoured casinos. Conspiracy theories are rife..

    No, I didn’t although I should have. However, The EU is investigating.

  16. dvhr :
    Let me remind you that once Mr Jeszenszky announced that the reason he had joined the KISZ (Communist Youth League) in Kadar’s regime was that he wanted to destroy it from the inside (belülről rohasztani). No question that he is doing the same with the current government.

    If you believe that, then there’s a bridge with lions on it that I can let you have at a bargain rate…

  17. This business of destroying from within. It was a fairly common excuse for party membership too. Sure, 800,000 destroyers! Because that was the size of the party membership in 1989. I mentioned that one of the books I read after “Sandy” was Zoltán Ripp’s book on the political events of 1987-1990. He has a few interesting things to say about the support of the Kádár regime in those days. I will certainly write something on the subject because I found it fascinating.

  18. @Ed
    In the “pure” Székely counties of Romania, i.e. Harg(h)ita & K(C)ovas(z)na, about 15% of the Hungarians are Gypsy, a fact Hungarian nationalists fail to mention.

    The anti-Gypsy propaganda has even reached elementary schools, unfortunately.
    Especially in schools of the districts inhabited by the richest of Hungary, where the children can hardly encounter any Gypsy children.

    [I use the word Gypsy (Cigány), instead of Roma, because I do not feel it pejorative, and I regard Roma as politically too correct]

  19. cheshire cat :

    I think that

    “didn’t struggle against the dictatorship but against people who created that dictatorship”

    would perhaps be better translated into
    “I didn’t fight against dictatorship, I fought against the people who were doing (=running) the dictatorship”

    I mean, really… and he did introduce it by saying “using words correctly has its advantages”.

    Yes, I think I could have done a better job on the translation. What about “to maintain the dictatorship”?

  20. Re: Orban

    Orban is not the first one in world history who hates a dictatorship just because the dictator is not him, but likes the dictatorial way of governing. History has lots of examples.

  21. Jano :
    After giving it some thought, I agree with Gati. Jeszenszky was wrong in writing those sentences and he should correct himself but on a purely scientific basis, e.g. publishing a paper that cites actual data.
    This is because the phenomenon might pretty well exists to some extent and doing a big apology-trip would render the possibility of actual research in this direction impossible. In these recent days I read it in a blog that apparently did some digging that even though Jeszenszky…. He stated a fact that turned out to be not exactly true but at that point it might have been his best knowledge which is not the same as hating the gypsies. One should be very careful about using the labels racist and antisemite. If you overuse them for the wrong people they loose power quickly.
    Some1: “By the way, my Jewish grandparents were cousins from the Carpathian region.”
    Then I suggest you feel very glad that your mom/dad turned out to be ok. Sorry if I read it wrong but I don’t think this is something to be proud of. Marriage between first cousins is illegal for a reason in several countries. Unlike Jeszenszky’s lousy paper, this is hard science.

    Yes, we turned out to be Ok.WE have judges, phd recipients, artists in our family. I am not proud or not-proud, I am simply stating a fact. I am saying this to support what I said on the previous thread, that I assume you did not read. For that matter it seems that you did not read many of the other comments based on your letter. My point is that it is not only the gypsies who may or may not had sexual relationship amongst cousins. It happened in small tight communities, and not only amongst jew, and amongst gyspsy, but HUngarians too. For that matter Jano, you should look back on the family history of Hungarian nobility. Hmmm. That explains a lot. I appreciate that you try to educate me about the hard science, and I can see how smart you on the subject. Now, that is something to be proud of. You were able to read on it! Now, get over yourself and consider that your comment is as offensive as Jeszensky’s. You telling me off because because of a simple fact I stated. Jeszensky makes an assumption that most gypsies have sex with their family members. NOw if Jeszenszky wanted to know more, he could of read up on the marriage tradition of gypsies, or their sexual behaviour.
    I do not encourage sexual relationship amongst relatives, but what my grandparents did was not my choice. BY the way I underwent a study at the U of T (21st of the best universities ranking), and I do not carry any degenerative genes. Yes, some of us get informed before making decisions that could affect the lives of others. Your are clearly not one of them.

  22. London Calling!

    Sometimes it’s best not to dignify Jano with a response.

    Sometimes mouth and brain are out of synch. But he can be witty.

    He once implied that the Nazis concentration camps were inspired by the British (when in most conflicts the antagonists ‘confine’ anyone inside the territory who might be a threat).

    So the British inspired the extermination of the Jews? Hardly, Jano, hardly.

    Regards

    Charlie

  23. Above Charles Gati is quoted:”But at issue now is one sentence in a long book, a sentence that’s both unfortunate and wrong.” I wonder what Gati thinks about the Helen Thomas controversy in 2010.

  24. dvhr :

    Above Charles Gati is quoted:”But at issue now is one sentence in a long book, a sentence that’s both unfortunate and wrong.” I wonder what Gati thinks about the Helen Thomas controversy in 2010.

    Good old Helen Thomas was gone within 24 hours.

  25. OT: EU’s highest court rules that Hungary’s reduced retirement age for judges is discriminatory

  26. I’m afraid I may be identified as the next Nazi here, but I really think Gati and Jano are right. This is a question of lousy scholarship, and that is it. Some comments are really below the belt. I’m disgusted by this constant digging for unconscious racism and people demanding excuses wherever they smell sin. Please, argue about facts, no-one appointed you to sit in moral judgement.

  27. Some1 :
    OT: EU’s highest court rules that Hungary’s reduced retirement age for judges is discriminatory

    Now why couldn’t a Hungarian court rule
    likewise?

  28. Some1: Seems to me that you don’t read my comments either. I never said that it’s your doing that your grandparents were cousins, I never said that cousin marriage is an inherently gypsy phenomenon, in fact, I cited the example of the royal families of Europe but don’t let that bother you. I’m glad that there are many wonderful people in your family I would never wish otherwise.

    So you say my posts are as offensive as Jeszenszky’s, can I assume that you are calling me a racist as well? In this case I have nothing further to discuss with you, otherwise have a good day and let’s continue when you are done with the tantrum.

    Charlie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camps

    “The term was borrowed from the British concentration camps of the Second Anglo-Boer War.”

    This is all that I said back then. Then you take it and say that I implied that the British inspired persecuting jews. Clearly.

  29. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Sometimes it’s best not to dignify Jano with a response.
    Sometimes mouth and brain are out of synch. But he can be witty.
    He once implied that the Nazis concentration camps were inspired by the British (when in most conflicts the antagonists ‘confine’ anyone inside the territory who might be a threat).
    So the British inspired the extermination of the Jews? Hardly, Jano, hardly.
    Regards
    Charlie

    Charlie, Jano is right. the first camps were in South Afrika during the Boer War and were run by the British. The Nazi took over the model and re-model it to an extermination camp.

  30. @Leo: Lousy scholarship that feeds into existing prejudice against the Roma…. that makes it racism in my book. The fact that Jeszenszky does not see this as an issue (i.e. making unfounded claims that portray an ethnic group in a negative light), only strengthens the suspicion that the statement is based on his own attitudes toward the Roma, and not on some kind of scientific evidence.

  31. tappanch :
    @Ed
    In the “pure” Székely counties of Romania, i.e. Harg(h)ita & K(C)ovas(z)na, about 15% of the Hungarians are Gypsy, a fact Hungarian nationalists fail to mention.
    The anti-Gypsy propaganda has even reached elementary schools, unfortunately.
    Especially in schools of the districts inhabited by the richest of Hungary, where the children can hardly encounter any Gypsy children.
    [I use the word Gypsy (Cigány), instead of Roma, because I do not feel it pejorative, and I regard Roma as politically too correct]

    Things like this happen every day. I heard zillion times from Hungarian antisemites (!) that “I am Hungarian and proud of the great Hungarians like John von Neumann and Edward Teller, two Nobel laureates.” Others feel the strength of the Hungarian genes in the racehorse Overdose.

  32. London Calling!

    Your statement in context Jano:

    “…………Oh and btw, I’m sure you’ve heard of which country’s concentration camps in South Africa inspired the ones perfected by German proficiency later. That’s where some humbleness could be useful………….”

    Regards

    Charlie

  33. Petofi: Guess why? The Constitutional Court decided strictly along party lines in the sense that direct Fidesz appointees en masse and without exception declared the law constitutional, while the judges with links to the previous ‘constitutional era’ (majority of them are also conservative, mind you, who did everything to inflict pain on previous non-conservative governments, but they were still not politically reliable enough) declared it unconstitutional (one judge, Mr. Bihari, simply did not take part in the decision, which was rather strange but this way he helped the prevailing opinion). It did not take a legal genius to realize that this law was a flagrant violation of various fundamental legal principles, but the court packing worked to the extent it could work. Soon the court will be packed further with new judges and Orbán will not have problems with the court any more. Meanwhile the Supreme Court, now called Kúria has been thoroughly packed with 14 new judges as a result of the forced retirement. Orbán’s laughter can be heard from afar because this decision does not mean at all that older judges get back to the Kúria. The new judges, who you can be assured were carefully selected for political reliability, will stay. Some of the judges may get their job as a judge back, but not their position (chairmanship of a local court and the like). Mission accomplished.

  34. ….and I have read your source………selective source:

    “……..and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime.”

    I repeat – bit of a leap – to say it inspired the most heinous crimes of Human existence – of which Hungary was a willing accomplice.

    (I can spot Cognitive Dissonant Resonance a mile off)

    Regards

    Charlie

  35. Re: Jano and concentration camps… maybe it’s worth going back in history a little longer.

    “The earliest of these camps may have been those set up in the United States for Cherokee and other Native Americans in the 1830s; however, the term originated in the reconcentrados (reconcentration camps) set up by the Spanish military in Cuba during the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878) and by the United States during the Philippine–American War (1899–1902).[6]”

    Note, concentration camp does not necessarily mean extermination camp. Read the full article on Wiki for a start.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment

  36. An :

    @Leo: Lousy scholarship that feeds into existing prejudice against the Roma…. that makes it racism in my book. The fact that Jeszenszky does not see this as an issue (i.e. making unfounded claims that portray an ethnic group in a negative light), only strengthens the suspicion that the statement is based on his own attitudes toward the Roma, and not on some kind of scientific evidence.

    The lousy scholarship is only the corollary of the racism expressed in the text. In my first post on the subject I decided to concentrate on the scholarship because I found it appalling.

  37. London Calling!

    Ron

    I’m not disputing the etymology of the term ‘concentration camp’ – just any further implications which are just not supported.

    Regards

    Charlie

  38. London Calling!

    An

    I should have waited a little longer – your post is very apposite. Thank you.

    Regards

    Charlie

  39. Jano :
    Some1: Seems to me that you don’t read my comments either. I never said that it’s your doing that your grandparents were cousins, I never said that cousin marriage is an inherently gypsy phenomenon, in fact, I cited the example of the royal families of Europe but don’t let that bother you. I’m glad that there are many wonderful people in your family I would never wish otherwise.
    So you say my posts are as offensive as Jeszenszky’s, can I assume that you are calling me a racist as well? In this case I have nothing further to discuss with you, otherwise have a good day and let’s continue when you are done with the tantrum.
    Charlie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camps
    “The term was borrowed from the British concentration camps of the Second Anglo-Boer War.”
    This is all that I said back then. Then you take it and say that I implied that the British inspired persecuting jews. Clearly.

    Please quote where I called you OR Jeszenszky racist. For the contrary Jano.
    Let me quote myself the second time to you ” cannot make a judgement call on the Jeszenszky affair, as I am not familiar with Roma marriage or relationship practices. I also asked, if we are mad at Jeszenszky because he lied, or because he made some assumptions that a scholar should not make without proper references?”
    I believe we are mad at Jeszenszky because he made some comments without proper references and because he’s unwillingness to apologize for his sloppiness and unwillingness to apologize for generalizing simply helped to make a case for racists to support their theory that gypsies are not equal. Let me see: Since many nobel Hungarians married and had sexual relationship with close relatives that explains why Hungarians with decent from nobility are so screwed mentally. Now, that would bring the Jobbik out on the streets in protest. So, why is it OK t say it for the gypsies?
    Please, do not forget to let me know where did I call Jeszenszky or you a racist. (It is important to me as I would apologize.) THank you.

  40. Leo :
    I’m afraid I may be identified as the next Nazi here, but I really think Gati and Jano are right. This is a question of lousy scholarship, and that is it. Some comments are really below the belt. I’m disgusted by this constant digging for unconscious racism and people demanding excuses wherever they smell sin. Please, argue about facts, no-one appointed you to sit in moral judgement.

    THe fact is that Jeszenszky’s unfortunate comments fuel the fire of the Jobbik.
    THe fact is that a professor should know better then to generalize.
    THe fact is that he still not apologized but he still does not make the same comments about Hungarian nobility. Good enough?

  41. Ok, sigh, Charlie, if my words ever came off as implying that the British concentration camps were a model of extermination then I sincerely apologize to you, I never meant it that way.

    At the beginning of the war, the Germans hadn’t decided with the extermination and originally just set up the camps to hold political prisoners inspired by the British example. “Fun fact”, the first prisoners of Auschwitz were not jews but Polish intellectuals.

  42. London Calling!

    I don’t see how it could be read any other way – however I accept your less-than-fulsome apology.

    If only to close the file.

    Regards

    Charlie

  43. London Calling!

    Obama I hope, Eva!

    (Light blue touch paper and retire!)

    Regards

    Charlie

    (could be my last post!!)

  44. Jano :
    Mutt: “if you are saying things like “the Roma have many retarded because they tend screw their siblings”
    Also notice that he never said that incest is something every Roma does or Romas are retarded, he falsely claimed that this is a somewhat common unfortunate practice.
    I think in your last paragraph you completely misunderstand what I said. He should and has to apologize. But not for being racist (as you want him to) which he is not (or at least not according to these sentences) but for being a lousy scholar

    Of course not every Roma. The exact quote is this:

    “The reason why many Roma are mentally ill is because in Roma culture it is permitted for sisters and brothers or cousins to marry each other or just to have sexual intercourse with each other.”

    If I said this at the dinner table I’d be an a*hole. He’s just a “lousy scholar”. Great.

  45. Mutt :

    Jano :
    If he started correcting himself and apologizing on a general level that would equal an admission of being racist which I believe that he’s not.

    Which he is. Again, if you are saying things like “the Roma have many retarded because they tend screw their siblings” you are racists. We may let it go if you don’t have a history to say things like this, but you have to apologize.
    That’s a very interesting and very Hungarian logic there about apology. We don’t do it because we would admit guilt. Duh! You do it exactly for this! To admit guilt. Because we are guilty.

    Hungarians cannot admit guilt.
    But what about this, Mutt: what if the contention is true? Is one still a racist for saying what is demonstrably true? (I’m not saying I have proof. I suppose research can bear out the facts here..
    I did see a tv program on Hungarian tv once wherein an interview showed a young couple (boy 17, girl 15) with one child and another on the way…and the boy suddenly taking a liking to a sister of his mate…and consummating it, too. Make of that what you will, but I’m no racist for repeating it, am I?

  46. Mutt :

    Jano :
    Mutt: “if you are saying things like “the Roma have many retarded because they tend screw their siblings”
    Also notice that he never said that incest is something every Roma does or Romas are retarded, he falsely claimed that this is a somewhat common unfortunate practice.
    I think in your last paragraph you completely misunderstand what I said. He should and has to apologize. But not for being racist (as you want him to) which he is not (or at least not according to these sentences) but for being a lousy scholar

    Of course not every Roma. The exact quote is this:
    “The reason why many Roma are mentally ill is because in Roma culture it is permitted for sisters and brothers or cousins to marry each other or just to have sexual intercourse with each other.”
    If I said this at the dinner table I’d be an a*hole. He’s just a “lousy scholar”. Great.

    (Perhaps you shouldn’t say it at the dinner table..)

    But couldn’t unpalatable facts still be true?

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