The Hungarian government supports school segregation for Roma

A  couple of days ago I noticed a short news item in Euraktiv.com entitled “Hungary criticizes EU Commission’s ‘lack of flexibility’ on Roma policies.” Zoltán Balog, minister of human resources, who represented Hungary at the meeting of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC),  wants flexibility in implementing the integration of schools. In fact, as we will see later, Zoltán Balog doesn’t believe in integration. This fact is well-known in Hungary, but it seems that the news hasn’t reached Brussels yet, as so many things don’t.

Balog emphasized at the meeting that there can be no uniform Roma strategy for all EU countries and therefore the European Commission has to be “more responsive” to the changes demanded by member states. However, he added, the Roma issue “is a European responsibility.” How typical. The EU is responsible financially and otherwise for dealing with the very serious unemployment and poverty of the Roma minority but Hungary will do whatever the Orbán government, specifically Zoltán Balog, thinks ought to be done. And since  Zoltán Balog doesn’t believe in integration, what he would like is to have a free hand in the matter.

Naturally, Zoltán Balog was wise enough to keep his conviction to himself, and instead he listed the government’s accomplishments in the last four years. It is true that they named an undersecretary, Zoltán Kovács, to be in charge of Roma issues. Kovács, it should be noted, failed as undersecretary in charge of government propaganda directed toward the outside world and also failed as government spokesman. It is also true that the Orbán government changed the constitution to allow separate parliamentary representation for ethnic groups and nationalities, but we know from Professor Kim Scheppele’s essay on the electoral law that it only provides for the election of one Fidesz-picked MP to represent the Roma community while it deprives Gypsies of the right to cast a vote for the party of their choice. That’s why Aladár Horváth, a Roma activist, urged Gypsies not to register as Gypsies and organized a separate Gypsy Party which will have 60 candidates running in the next election. Balog also talked about “training schemes in sectors such as masonry, forestry, and construction aimed at giving Roma the necessary skills to find a job on the market.” I must say this is new to me.  The only thing I have read about, in article after article, are the absolutely useless classes that prepare the chronically unemployed for nothing.

It was at least three years ago that I gained the distinct feeling that Balog, then still undersecretary in charge of Roma issues, wanted to “outsource” the problems associated with the Gypsy minority’s economic and social difficulties to the churches. He kept talking with church leaders, emphasizing their unique talents for such tasks. Although he tried to dump the whole thing onto the churches, he didn’t quite succeed. However, as the churches took over more and more schools, some poor segregated schools ended up in their hands.

Erzsébet Mohácsi / Source: Népszabadság, Photo by János M. Schmidt

Erzsébet Mohácsi / Source: Népszabadság, Photo by János M. Schmidt

Enter a foundation that has been fighting for a number of years for the rights of children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds (Esélyt a Hátrányos Helyzetű Gyerekeknek Alapítvány). The Foundation has been trying to mediate between parents and schools to achieve integration. But since it is becoming obvious that the government itself doesn’t stand behind integration efforts, the Foundation has only one recourse: to go to court.

Lately, the Foundation had an important win against the Greek Catholic Church, which has two schools in Nyíregyháza: one elite school and one segregated school. The school that is currently segregated had been closed earlier and the children were bused to the school downtown, but after the Church took over, the segregated school was reopened.

For one reason or another Balog is enamored with the plans of the Greek Catholic Church in Nyíregyháza. He sees this particular school as the “citadel of convergence” for Roma students. He imagines integration as a two-step effort: first you put the disadvantaged, mostly Roma, children into segregated schools where “they will catch up.” Once they achieve the knowledge and skills in these segregated schools equal to that of students in the “white” schools, the Roma children can be integrated into the mainstream population. We know that this is nonsense. American segregated schools were also supposed to be “separate but equal,” which of course they were not. According to Erzsébet Mohácsi, president of the Foundation, Balog believes that there is good and bad segregation. His segregation will be excellent, of course.

The Foundation won the case against the Greek Catholic Church where Balog went so far as to be a witness for the defense where he argued for segregation before the judge. Although the Foundation won the case and therefore the Greek Catholic Church is supposed to close its segregated school, it became quite clear during the proceedings that the good Christians have no intention of integrating. The judge apparently asked whether they could find places in the Church’s downtown school for 12 children who just started first grade in the segregated school. The representative of the Church, after some hesitation, announced that perhaps they could create a new classroom directly under the roof. The judge was taken aback and tried to explain to him what the suit was all about. The answer was that the students couldn’t be integrated into the existing classes because it would be “harmful to the other children.” Balog after the trial announced that the verdict “is a sad commentary on the judiciary, which denies parents’ right to a free choice of schools.”

I might add that Balog found an ally on the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels– the president of EESC, French politician Henri Malosse. He praised Hungary’s efforts. He visited Hungary and was very impressed because “pupils have knowledge about the Roma culture” there. He also called the critical coverage of events in Hungary “disinformation.” Although Malosse has a degree in Russian and East European Studies and speaks Polish and Russian, he seems to know little about Hungary. It is hard to believe that he would approve of segregated schools for Roma students as the norm in Hungary and elsewhere. Members of the Orbán government are very good at hiding their true intentions. Let’s hope that the hidden agenda will not remain hidden for long.

62 comments

  1. Very informative post on the hidden agenda. Always a pleasure reading your work.

  2. The thing is, the policies of Hungary’s neighbours on the subject are so lame that the usual Fidesz clientelism may appear satisfactory to some. Wrongly because such an approach quickly reaches its limits and can only lead to a dead end, as the Nyíregyháza affair illustrates.

    Mr Malosse was obvioulsy given the VIP treatment in Budapest last fall. However, I wouldn’t pay much attention to the EESC: the institution was designed 50 years ago and de facto excludes NGOs, which have been the most active organisations in that field for decades. The EESC head’s call for the EC to implement legally binding measures seems a good example of how clueless they can be.

  3. OT: in Hungarian a great article about working at CBA, the Fidesz- and Jobbik-supporting grocery chain. Much of it is common knowledge in the FMCG industry: CBA will purchase any stuff from any major producer (including, yes, from all multinationals) that is past its sell-by date and at CBA they will use it either internally (in the bakery for example) or will repackage the stuff, or just change the stickers. Some of these stale stuff then gets exported to Romanian or Serbia, where customers are even less sophisticated. It is also a reminder how capitalism works for the bottom rungs and why these people are angry and why the left just does not interest these employees any more.

    http://www.hirhatar.hu/hir/kitalal-egy-volt-cba-s-dolgozo-olvasoi-level

  4. Re-posting — apologies for the OT, but unless I am getting paranoid, this alert is now unfortunately needed:

    FOUL FIDESZ TROLL-SPAM

    A group of Fidesz-managed trolls under the false-name of “HVG so bad?” wrote :
    “It is stunning that some fanatics even attack HVG, it is as liberal as they come. Journalists are not campaign propagandists on the liberal side. That is the norm on the Fidesz site. A real newspaper has to adhere to some rules, it is not HVG that need their head examined but some people on this site. People accuse HVG but do not raise their voice, when blatant antisemitism appears on the site. Targeting a Jewish intellectual and then throwing her in front of the mob like some virtual pogrom to face attacks ranging from “very crazy” to “dirty jew”. And the first thing people mention is that she is a jew. Last time people paid such close attention to everyone’s Jewishness or not was in the 30s. It had nothing to do with whether her view had any truth to it regarding Mazsihisz, or not (it didn’t).”

    Well, just when you though it was safe to dip back in the chatter, it’s back! The Fidesz troll-team formerly posting under the false name of “Mr Paul” is of course predictably back with us now that it has been banned — now planning to use a changing thematic false-name instead of an identifiable constant moniker. It will be just as disruptive, with the advantage of mutating one-off posts that cannot be banned in advance.

    This is of course spam, and a particularly foul kind of spam, when used by a national government (surreptitiously, of course). I suggest that Professor Balogh keep track of the IPs. Perhaps some of Hungarian Spectrum‘s more technically savvy users can help trace the spam: It may even become one of the long list of filthy tricks that can be proven objectively to be orchestrated by Fidesz.

    In the end, the only way to prevent this sort of malign abuse is to moderate all postings. Even if this is not feasible on a permanent basis, I strongly advise doing it until the election is over. Fidesz is not satisfied with controlling the Hungarian media and with having squeezed the opposition off the billboards and spammed them with Fidesz propaganda instead — it wants to do the same with open online media too, especially those that have earned a high profile, like Hungarian Spectrum

  5. OT, Steven, instead of spamming this thread why don’t you simply respond to what is written? The first part of his argument seems entirely reasonable. The second more debatable. And it is just narcissism in the extreme to imagine that we are so important that we could be influencing the election, hence Fidesz disruption!!! Get real mate!

  6. Election.

    Fidesz majority in the election commission changes the ballot sheet format.

    Originally, the 22 parties qualified for the nationwide party list were supposed to be printed in one line.

    THere was a random drawing for the positions on the ballot sheets on March 4.
    (31 parties and 13 ethnic organizations)

    Fidesz became #9, Opposition #30 (penultimate position), Jobbik #31 on the party sheet.

    http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20140304-kisorsoltak-az-orszagos-listak-sorszamat

    Thirteen parties were disqualified AFTER the drawing.

    http://valasztas.hu/hu/ogyv2014/769/769_0_index.html

    So Fidesz jumped to #6 position, Opposition to #17 (still penultimate) and Jobbik is still the last, #18 on the list.

    Fidesz would be in a bad middle position on a 1×18 sheet.

    So they now changed the format of the sheet into 2×9.

    That places both Fidesz and Jobbik in the most advantageous final position.

  7. Correction:

    after the party disqualifications, Fidesz is not #9, but #6, so a 3×6 format would benefit Fidesz most.

    click on “Országos listaállítások” at http://valasztas.hu/hu/ogyv2014/769/769_0_index.html

    —-

    Campaigning.

    When I was going to the airport, Fidesz billboards outnumbered Opposition by 4 to 1 along the way, in my counting.

    When I came back nine days later, Jobbik was everywhere.

    Elevator ads: only Jobbik and Fidesz, no Opposition.

    Brochures in the mailboxes: the same

  8. Despite all the issues with the centralization of the school system (all schools, however rural and far away are managed from Budapest and all teachers are employed by this super-authority) the teachers in Hungary are conservative and lean towards Fidesz, especially in rural regions.

    In rural regions (that is outside of Budapest) the minuscule middle class citizenry is conservative by default. They represent a key constituency for Fidesz. The extreme centralization was accomplished exactly because (besides the fact that Fidesz loves to centralize) it was known that teachers will anyway support Fidesz in the end.

    Thus Fidesz is simply catering to the teachers who, well, do not care much about the roma, or at least they think they are underpaid for the extra job necessary to deal with them. It is a class issue (the roma are very poor), but also very much a cultural issue separate form the economic situation. New methodologies might help, but that “cannot seriously be expected” from an underpaid teacher.

    So this is democracy at work: teachers and their family support Fidesz and Jobbik and they do vote, the roma do not vote or they sell their votes to fidesz. This as we say in Hungary closes the circle.

  9. tappanch :
    Correction:
    after the party disqualifications, Fidesz is not #9, but #6, so a 3×6 format would benefit Fidesz most.
    click on “Országos listaállítások” at http://valasztas.hu/hu/ogyv2014/769/769_0_index.html
    —-
    Campaigning.
    When I was going to the airport, Fidesz billboards outnumbered Opposition by 4 to 1 along the way, in my counting.
    When I came back nine days later, Jobbik was everywhere.
    Elevator ads: only Jobbik and Fidesz, no Opposition.
    Brochures in the mailboxes: the same

    Re the campaigning.

    I guess the lefty financial backers (of which there aren’t many anyway) figure why throw good money after bad, if they anyway gonna lose badly?

    That said I really don’t get why the left is spending visibly less than Jobbik is? This is a bit of a conundrum to me, especially as Jobbik itself is not that rich.

    The issue with the campaigning is that it itself projects power, charisma, ability. Jobbik looks a stronger party just by virtue of being able to have so many billboards, constant mails and flyers, while the left seem weak and passive by comparison. This difference will inevitably result in Jobbik’s advantage among the undecideds, who figure what the hell, it does not matter anyway, I might as well vote Jobbik. I think Jobbik will be surprisingly successful in Budapest.

    Probably in a couple of weeks we will know when other parties like PM or DK will tell how they saw this campaign from inside.

    But it is most strange, reminds me of the phoney war (aka twilight war).

  10. The other, unfortunate side of the coin is that most Hungarians would probably agree with the idea of segregated education. This is especially true in rural areas, where many Roma students are often disruptive and either unwilling or unable to perform at their grade level, or to conform to expected classroom standards. This often results in Gypsy children being “slowtracked,” that is, placed – segregated – into separate groups that receive indifferent instruction until they reach the age at which they can legally drop out of school.

  11. HiBoM :
    OT, Steven, instead of spamming this thread why don’t you simply respond to what is written? The first part of his argument seems entirely reasonable. The second more debatable. And it is just narcissism in the extreme to imagine that we are so important that we could be influencing the election, hence Fidesz disruption!!! Get real mate!

    First and last exchange with you “HiBoM”: I have no interest whatsoever in your personal remarks, whoever you are.

  12. There is one other issue. If 30% of the kids are roma they can be integrated, though with extra effort. This number was also invoked by the roma mayor of Ács.

    If they represent more than about 30% of all kids, however, whites inevitably start to flight. That actually corresponds to the rate seen in the Amercian white flight phenomenon.

    Whites in that case just decide that they do not want to be a(n almost) minority, when nationally they are the overwhelming majority. (This is exacerbated by the fact that many roma kids are requested to repeat the academic year which means some roma kids are significantly bigger in physical size than most of the class would be, which results in bullying etc.).

    There is just no way to force whites in that case, they will always find some legal way (e.g. special home schooling) not to get integrated. What is problematic is if the state or even a – taxpayer supported – church assists these efforts.

    That said, the state must to support integration as a matter of principle, because separation will inevitably lead to a very inferior education as it does.

  13. I think this site is far too valuable to be disrupted by trolls. Such as repeated Off topic comments. Public and theatrical declarations “I refuse to exchange words with this person”. This is like stomping feet at the ground, it is useless and not needed here. The obvious choice of simply not speaking to them without a theatrical public declaration. Is what a non-troll would do. Keep this site free of trolls please it is a valuable resource to us readers.

  14. @Bruno: I agree entirely.

    The “White Flight” is not inevitable though… But 1) The State has to stand by a strong position, which is exactly the opposite of what the Govt is doing as illustrated by this article – and 2) Parents have to set aside the ‘minority logics’ and self-organize because at the school level many issues are shared by children regardless of their identification with this or that… and here the weakness of Hungarian civil society certainly doesn’t help. A weakness actually fostered by the ideology of this Govt.

  15. In a clear support of Stevan Harnad, I don’t want to see any more anti-intellectual troll-postings here.

    OTOH, it is always good to see the eloquent contributions of so many enlightened and freedom loving individuals, who can elevate our mood on the Hungarian Spectrum.

    One day, we will be happy to witness the rise of a decent Hungarian leadership, in the best interest of a new, united, integrated, reformed, hardworking and honest Hungarian nation.

  16. Tappanch wrote:
    “Elevator ads: only Jobbik and Fidesz, no Opposition.
    Brochures in the mailboxes: the same”

    Here around Hévíz you also get only ads and flyers and billboards from Fidesz and Jobbik – the “real opposition” (left and LMP and the others) is nonexistent in public!

    Why is that? Really strange in my eyes!

  17. wolfi :

    Tappanch wrote:
    “Elevator ads: only Jobbik and Fidesz, no Opposition.
    Brochures in the mailboxes: the same”

    Here around Hévíz you also get only ads and flyers and billboards from Fidesz and Jobbik – the “real opposition” (left and LMP and the others) is nonexistent in public!

    Why is that? Really strange in my eyes!

    I understand that they are unable to purchase surfaces for their posters. They are owned by one of Lajos Simicska’s firm called Mahir. And Mahir has no space for them: all sold out.

  18. I mentioned this yesterday but would be interested to hear what anyone thinks of the Opposition videos, which I think is an opportunity badly messed up,

  19. Wolfi:

    Zala county, where Hévíz is located, in general is probably the single most Fidesz supporting area. The entire Left will probably receive less than 20%, perhaps as low as 10-15% there. Unfortunately, there are quite a few of these areas, e.g. Bács-Kiskun on the other side of the Danube.

    The left probably figured that there is no need to campaign there because it is anyway hopeless. They also probably think or start from the assumption that most of Budapest is theirs, although I am starting to have my doubts (i.e. undecideds will rather flock to Jobbik).

    I would imagine that the left is more active in “battle ground” areas, or what leftist consider to be battle ground areas — because of the through gerrymander there are actually very few of those.

    Or maybe the left just gave it up. Simicska does not help, for sure, and he is a virtual king in Veszprém and Zala, but flyers and activists could have been of some use. I dunno.

  20. My impression is that the Opposition has simply given up. And as Jano said on another thread, when you can’t even create the illusion that you can and want to govern, you are unlikely to attract many votes. I thought the MSZP had employed some clever campaign strategists. Clearly not. Perhaps they are expecting a re-run of 2002 (and I’ve sometimes been inclined to expect this might be repeated) when quite out of the blue, following a poor campaign, people voted in private for change. But my fear now is that instead they will vote for Jobbik.

    As things stand, I think it quite likely that the next parliament will be 80% Jobbik Fidesz and 20% others. What a prospect.

  21. @Some1 put a link to an article on Roma students in Canada; whereby, due to the dedication of the teachers and the Roma students, they managed to integrate well.
    Hence, it is very disturbing that in their home country they don’t get the same opportunities.

    —-

    Re : Elevator / Campaign ads

    Quite a number of Jobbik campaign posters could be seen around my city centre. Then something happened last Sunday. The word “Nazi” had been sprayed on all of them!!

    While in our elevator, it is good to see that Unity, LMP, Jobbik and Fidesz all managed to advertise on it. But still no newsletter from Unity in the mailbox. Mesterházy will be speaking in one of the hotels here though.

  22. HiBoM :
    I mentioned this yesterday but would be interested to hear what anyone thinks of the Opposition videos, which I think is an opportunity badly messed up,

    This kind of questioning chillingly echoes that of Mr. Paul.

  23. What’s more, Mr. HiBoM, the opposition to Fidesz and the reason why Hungarian Spectrum would be important to them, is not a differing policy but the display of Independence. Individuality and Independence must be stamped out throughout the land…(Get it?)

  24. petofi, please stop spamming this thread with your incoherent nonsense. There is an interesting discussion about segregation in Gypsy education (although with your track record of comments about the Roma, you might be wise to avoid it) as well as OT discussion about the opposition campaign which is what my video comment was contributing to, so why not ponder these issues rather than make a fool of yourself?

  25. @petofi: “This kind of questioning chillingly echoes that of Mr. Paul.”

    You are right, it does.

  26. @Jano: It may be, but I don’t like HiBoM setting the agenda for this blog. And he is persistently bringing this up, like for the third time?

  27. Second time. And use your eyes, besides the on topic discussion, the comments, as per usual, has evolved its own discussion, this time about the opposition campaign visibility. So my question is perfectly on topic with respect to the off-topic discussion!

  28. enuff :
    @Some1 put a link to an article on Roma students in Canada; whereby, due to the dedication of the teachers and the Roma students, they managed to integrate well.
    Hence, it is very disturbing that in their home country they don’t get the same opportunities.
    —-
    Re : Elevator / Campaign ads
    Quite a number of Jobbik campaign posters could be seen around my city centre. Then something happened last Sunday. The word “Nazi” had been sprayed on all of them!!
    While in our elevator, it is good to see that Unity, LMP, Jobbik and Fidesz all managed to advertise on it. But still no newsletter from Unity in the mailbox. Mesterházy will be speaking in one of the hotels here though.

    Enuff: There is a huge fallacy in the Canadian Roma success stories.

    The emigrants are always a completely different (self-selected) group of any nation and thus of the Roma in this case.

    They always represent the most entrepreneurial, open-to-changes, determined-to-succeed sub-group. Even to be in a position to contemplate overseas immigration one needs to be a part of the citizenry (polgárosult).

    The overseas emigration to Canada however must be differentiated from the still essentially itinerant moving to France or Italy by Romanian, Kosovarian etc. Roma.

    The Roma who moved to Canada in most, though not all, cases wanted to stay and integrate, and accept the majority rules, even if those rules liberally allow a quasi-separate private, parallel world which conservatives criticize.

    These determinations are not present for most poor Hungarian or CEE-based Roma who essentially still live outside of history and state and have only minimal personal connections to their current place of living, towns, villages — as they were forcibly settled only a 50 years ago after many hundreds of years of quasi-nomadic life, which settlement, we now know, proved disastrous for most such cultures in Asia or Russia.

    The catching up to modernity (capitalism, rationalism) is proving to be one of the most difficult issues for ordinary Hungarians (as we see it in the success of Fidesz and Jobbik which deny such rationality and promise to protect people from it), and especially so for the roma. They are, like most Hungarians – naturally and instinctively – resisting this process, because they fear that they cannot win this game. (This is not to say that Hungary would be doing anything right as regards the Roma issue, to the contrary.)

  29. I have to take HiBoM’s (what’s that name is for?) side on this one, Eva and Wolfi above are discussing how hard it is for the opposition to have some coverage. It’s really disappointing that the little they get they are using like this, that’s why I refuse to accept this as an excuse for the prospective defeat. I’m not gonna repeat my yesterday post though, I feel like I used up my weekly rant about the opposition time 🙂

  30. HiBoM :
    Second time. And use your eyes, besides the on topic discussion, the comments, as per usual, has evolved its own discussion, this time about the opposition campaign visibility. So my question is perfectly on topic with respect to the off-topic discussion!

    If you want to tell us what you think of the opposition campaign, do so. If others see they have something to contribute, they will reply. Inviting others to join YOUR discussion makes your motivation a suspect.

  31. @Type of personality: That’s a good one. You got me busted 🙂 Now I’m off looking for new enemies. It’s so easy to make some nowadays.

  32. A Fidesz sock-puppet using the alias “Type of personality” wrote :
    Petofi and An are in a group of people with a certain personality disorder. They always need a clearly defined enemy, this is what motivates them. They always need to hate someone, to have an enemy, just to function normally. If there is no enemy present they will manufacture a new enemy from their previous friends, the process has already started.
    This type of enemy manufacturing is not new. Just remember the Nazi times when the Jews were the manufactured enemy. When there were no more Jews in Germany, then came the Germans who dared to think differently. They became the enemy and getting accused with “sabotage”, “hindering the war effort” and various other crimes. An enemy is always needed for these types of people.
    It is now your turn HiBoM. You will become their enemy and they will not leave you alone until they become triumphant. They will keep harassing you until you become so disgusted that you stop commenting here. Soon they will call for your banning. But no matter what happens it will be never enough. These people thrive on conflict and harassment and they are not easily satisfied

    Ah me, not just trolls, but sock-puppets, plus a troll-tag-team game of “good-cop/bad-cop”… Possibly this is a sign that the pessimistic polls are not as menacing as all that, if the Fidesz faithful are still busy over-compensating so copiously…

  33. @enuff The link regarding the successful implementation of ethnic strategies (Roma children in Toronto) was actually posted by Lumpy Lang). I did reply although as I am very familiar and close to the situation. The article can be read here: http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2013/10/06/parkdale_schools_mourn_deported_roma_students.html
    Although the article focuses on one school, there were more then a single school involved. I have known many teachers from these schools. They told me that to begin with it was not easy. THey had more problems with the parents then wit the students. THere were fights between the parents in parking lot, etc. but slowly just like the kids the parents started to “adjust”. One of the teacher told me that these children were the most rewarding things in their career. They learned a second language, they caught up on math, they started to read, and they were very enthusiastic. That is the Cnadian way of looking at things, and there is the Hungarian way, the Orban and Balog way. The Hungarian government travels to beg for money of their pet projects, but hey would not send anyone to learn about integration. They do to care. It is easier for Orban to find a strategy how to work around the issue that he will still get his votes, then work on an issue for a decent solution. Hoffman does not care either to much. When was the last time she spoke up about Roma education?

    It is unfortunate that many of those students ended upback to Hungary thanks to the new immigration policies implemented by Canada’s current conservative government after a swift visit in Hungary. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Some political figure visits the Orban government and then they declare that is all dandy on fairyland? THat is exactly what happened and billboards were erected telling the Roma of Hungary that they will be turned away.

    So, why would happen to the Roma who was sent back to Hungary? “Those who will turn to their local governemnt for help can count on more inspections by the [Hungarian] authorities, and their children can be taken by the Child Welfare authorities” said the mayor of Miskolc. Welcome back in Hungary where there are no agenda against the Roma. http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130116_Kanada_roma_plakat_Miskolc

    Unfortunately there is not too much emphasis is given by the Hungarian government to the positive examples. Did you heard about the book One Row of Gypsies? No. What you heard about is Zuschlag’s nonsense book about not important issues.
    http://www.delmagyar.hu/szeged_hirek/egy_sor_cigany_a_gyulolet_ellen/2249208/
    Simply for the Hungarian government it is more important to stir up hate and division then focus on an issue that is truly important for the Hungarian nation.

  34. Otto :

    enuff :
    @Some1 put a link to an article on Roma students in Canada; whereby, due to the dedication of the teachers and the Roma students, they managed to integrate well.
    Hence, it is very disturbing that in their home country they don’t get the same opportunities.
    —-
    Re : Elevator / Campaign ads
    Quite a number of Jobbik campaign posters could be seen around my city centre. Then something happened last Sunday. The word “Nazi” had been sprayed on all of them!!
    While in our elevator, it is good to see that Unity, LMP, Jobbik and Fidesz all managed to advertise on it. But still no newsletter from Unity in the mailbox. Mesterházy will be speaking in one of the hotels here though.

    Enuff: There is a huge fallacy in the Canadian Roma success stories.
    The emigrants are always a completely different (self-selected) group of any nation and thus of the Roma in this case.
    [………..]
    The Roma who moved to Canada in most, though not all, cases wanted to stay and integrate, and accept the majority rules, even if those rules liberally allow a quasi-separate private, parallel world which conservatives criticize.

    I somehow disagree. THe original article referred to the Roma children. I think the point is that you must start somewhere. It is very hard to “reform” the adults, but if you start with the children, you can end up in ten years a brand new generation with brand new motivation. THe Roma children in Canada were reformed regardless of what the parents’ attitude were. Yes, you are right, why Roma could afford the airplane ticket for the whole family to get to Canada at the first place? STill, there were suspicious, and resentful at the education system to begin with until they experienced that their children were cared for. They started to love their new country that reached out to them, a country where their opinion did matter. THey were on advisory committees and on the school council. THat is a huge step!

  35. “Did you heard about the book One Row of Gypsies? No. What you heard about is Zuschlag’s nonsense book about not important issues.”

    Well said. Nobody cares about anything that’s more complicated than a few slogans.

  36. An :
    @Type of personality: That’s a good one. You got me busted Now I’m off looking for new enemies. It’s so easy to make some nowadays.

    You and I both.
    There are so many centipedes walking around on two legs, I don’t know where to start.

    Walter B. Mann of blessed memory, renowned English teacher at Lisgar Collegiate (Ottawa) some 40 years ago (and before), stated on the assassination of Kennedy–“The idiots and the
    uneducated of the world have taken the upper hand.”

    And how far down that solemn road has the world traveled since.

    By the way, according to legend, Lao Tzu went through the Chinese wall and disappeared into the hinterland. It must’ve been a time such as this and a society such as present day Hungary’s, that made him give up on human society altogether.

  37. HiBoM :

    I mentioned this yesterday but would be interested to hear what anyone thinks of the Opposition videos, which I think is an opportunity badly messed up,

    I saw a couple of them on Facebook. They are not bad, I thought.

  38. Jano :

    I have to take HiBoM’s (what’s that name is for?) side on this one, Eva and Wolfi above are discussing how hard it is for the opposition to have some coverage. It’s really disappointing that the little they get they are using like this, that’s why I refuse to accept this as an excuse for the prospective defeat. I’m not gonna repeat my yesterday post though, I feel like I used up my weekly rant about the opposition time :)

    Maybe we are talking about different videos. I am thinking of a number of short videos called Talpra magyar!

  39. An :

    @Type of personality: That’s a good one. You got me busted :-) Now I’m off looking for new enemies. It’s so easy to make some nowadays.

    I have the feeling that this is Petrovics-Ofter. I spamed it.

  40. Otto :
    The overseas emigration to Canada however must be differentiated from the still essentially itinerant moving to France or Italy by Romanian, Kosovarian etc. Roma.

    I don’t know about Italy, but in France a majority can certainly not be qualified as ‘itinerant’. The performance of the public education system has seriously improved over the last four years, with the help of very committed teachers, parents and NGOs. Thanks to a mix of solutions (including tools like ‘welcome classes’ that were already being used for supposedly long-term migrant’s children), the school enrollment ratio has grown from around 10% to around 30%.

    Naturally, this is still unbearably low, but the main issue now lies with the authorities (from prefects to mayors) and not with the education community. Every time a mayor refuses to enroll a child because his parent’s don’t have an address, every time the police dismantles a settlement and families are scattered or expelled, things have to be re-done from scratch… and alas, a few mayors even attempted to set up segregated classrooms. What a shame.

    The Hungarian situation is different from that of France, and from that of Canada, however there is a rule that applies every time: if the State doesn’t strongly support integration, and if there is little room for organized civil society initiatives, the worst happens. Which is by the way the main reason why only a small percentage of the available EU co-funding is actually spent…

  41. The United Opposition will get 8 minutes and 42 seconds of ad time in each of the three public media (radio, television, Duna television) for the 25 days left from the election campaign.

    That is a generous 21 seconds a day!!

    Fidesz, Jobbik, LMP and the 14, mainly fake parties get the same time.

    Government ads do not count towards this number, however.

    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20140311_valasztasi_kampany_reklamido

  42. Eva S. Balogh :
    Re Roma in Canada. Here is a new article. This time from the Montreal Gazette.
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Roma+find+short+lived+solace+Montreal/9597843/story.html

    What I’d like to read sometime is of successful Roma who have made their way in Canada.
    I’d like to read interviews with them about why they think other Roma are not successful.
    Moreover, I’d like to know if they were still accepted by the Roma community in Canada, or Hungary, as one of theirs…

  43. Apparently the Budapest Business Journal print edition ran a very interesting editorial commentary on the Ukraine titled “The Ukraine crisis: Revolting complexity.” It appeared on line today.

    While on one level there are truths in the commentary, on another level it raises the specter that Hungary’s business newspaper may be providing some back handed support for the Russian annexation of the Crimea. The commentary is as follows:

    Many in the world are celebrating the overthrow of the political regime in Ukraine and see the events as a clear-cut, heartwarming revolutionary story about the under trodden, oppressed population rising up against its corrupt masters in demand for democracy and basic liberties. As always, the matter is far from being as simple as that.

    We tend to have a need for a clear distinction in any narrative between good and evil, the oppressor and the oppressed, to know who the good guys are. The pictures we saw are of the dead and injured protestors, the young woman who tells the world through a conspicuously high production value video that all the Ukrainian protesters want are an end to corruption and the same freedoms that are given to others.

    Even worse, we like to think that the sole driver behind the events was the Ukrainians’ collective desire to join Europe and distance themselves from the oppressive grasp of Russia.

    But after even cursory research, it becomes clear that the story is by no means as clear-cut. There are several allegiances, multiple groups with multiple loyalties and even when we accept that, we haven’t even begun to actually fathom what living in Ukraine is like, since it is a far away country about which we know, well if not nothing, then definitely not enough.

    When then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made a statement along those same lines regarding Czechoslovakia, he created the perfect definition of elitist ignorance and the kind of aloofness that had horrible circumstances. Unfortunately, the gist of the notion, the lack of knowledge, was as true then as it is now, even though distances have reduced or in many ways become irrelevant thanks to the media and the myriad of ways in which people connect.

    While we ridicule the overthrown regime’s ludicrous creature comforts, we should also ask a few questions. Does the fact that right-wing radicals did the lion’s share of the fighting diminish the value of the end result? How do we feel about the fact that foreign powers surely had a hand in the developments given the country’s key geopolitical aspect? Do we have a firm grasp of what the various factions among the protestors are looking for, seeing that the political opposition had seemingly little control when the violence escalated?

    We can’t give a definitive answer to any of these questions; perhaps those answers don’t even exist. But they are all factors that we have to keep in mind when we form opinions and when we look at the developments now that there isn’t any more gunfire on the Maidan.

    Yulia Tymoshenko may be hailed as a symbol for some upon her release from a politically motivated prison sentence, but it is also no wonder that everyone didn’t cheer her. She is an integral part of the new Ukrainian political system and although she lost out to Viktor Yanukovich, she is still very much a part of the overall establishment that many of those protesting want to abolish altogether.

    The story is far from being over and still carries the troubling prospect of turning ugly again. One of the first measures of the new regime was to pass a language law targeted against the Russian community in the country, who make up nearly half of the population and this measure is also hostile towards the Hungarian minority living there, even though they appear to be only residual casualties at this point.

    Tensions are still very much alive and there are many strings being pulled on stage as well as off. If there was ever a time in Brussels, Washington and Moscow for circumspection, tact and caution in picking their approach and the sides they are going to back, it is now.

  44. @Eva, my problem with the videos is this (and perhaps Jano will say whether he agrees or objects for different reasons): finding people who have been mugged by the Fidesz juggernaut and telling their stories as a preamble to why they will vote for change is a perfectly workable idea. But rather than find real people, they’ve found actors to read what I presume are scripted texts. Surely, surely, this approach can only work if the participants are real and they sound real. I can just about imagine that perhaps these are real people (although 444 says that the shepherd isn’t!) and that they have been given texts to say but again, the end result is wooden and inauthentic. And what is the point of presenting true stories that are palpably fictional or will be assumed to be by anyone who it is trying to win over?

  45. Nádas :
    The other, unfortunate side of the coin is that most Hungarians would probably agree with the idea of segregated education.

    It’s not only the Greek Catholic school in Nyiregyhaza that is effectively segregated. A number of other schools are also segregated and it’s not only the administration but the parents. Should any school start admitting Roma parents would start moving their children to other schools. In fact, that this has already happened in a couple of schools.

    I maybe completely wrong about this but I get the feeling that our ideas of about discrimination and segregation have been heavily influenced by Hollywood and what has happened in the US. I think that what is happening with the Roma doesn’t fit that model very well. Of course kids must attend school. But for one reason or another Roma often don’t “meet” the requirements to advance. As you can imagine mixing the older Roma kids with the much younger non-Roma is not problem free. I really hate to say it but forcing integration in the schools really isn’t working and “sending in the national guard” is a solution in this case. Don’t get me wrong, the blatant discrimination isn’t pretty to see but I’m completely at a loss as to how it might be addressed in a way that doesn’t end up on forcing the Roma to be Hungarians, some thing that allows them to retain their cultural identity.

  46. Eva, HiBoM: They don’t have to be real but they would have had to sound real. At first I thought I was looking at an episode from “Családi Titkok”. (This is about a year old show, where TV2 decided to hire wannabe amateur actors, possibly pay them nothing and then have them play out some soap-opera. You can imagine the result.) The idea and the message is not bad – aside from being incredibly negative -, but the acting ruins it in the end and makes some of them a laughing stock. Especially the one with the old guy, who – as 444.hu found out – is an Együtt member András Váradi who in an earlier Gyurcsány videó introduced himself as a shepherd from Alcsútdoboz.

    The only great campaign video I’ve seen remains this one

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