• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump Following the Hungarian Model in Demonizing Refugees and Jews

Photo Source Epistola8 | CC BY 2.0

Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are very possibly advising President Trump to follow the Hungarian Model in confronting refugees at the southern border, in order to win wider support for his far-right authoritarian policies. Trump is now exactly following the playbook of far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who in 2015-16 deployed national police and army troops to the southern contiguous boundary of the EU, on the Serbian border. They interned Syrian and other Muslim refugees in cages, police beat refugees, troops built a barbed-wire fence, and fascist vigilantes threatened other migrants. A media photographer who tripped a Syrian father at the border was arrested, but last week had her conviction overturned. To respond to police violence and harassment as they tried to board trains at the Eastern Train Station in Budapest, and to find greater safety in numbers, the Muslim refugees held a dramatic march to a refuge across the Austrian border, in a scene that closely resembles the Central American refugee caravan.

Before 2015, the far-right in Hungary only had their old stand-by enemies, the Roma (Gypsies) and Jewish liberals, to blame for the country’s problems. But now they had Muslim immigrants to scare the voters, just like the far-right movements in Western Europe. Orbán’s standing in polls and elections increased, so much so that his Fidesz party eclipsed the even-farther-right Jobbik because it had stolen its signature issues. Steve Bannon has visited Hungary, and sung the praises of Orbán, who openly idolizes Trump. Orbán has felt confident enough in the past year to launch a hate poster campaign against Hungarian Jewish philanthropist George Soros, blaming him for underwriting the refugee crisis (with the tacit endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu), and closing the Central European University that he founded. Using coded anti-Semitism is exactly how Trump’s followers at Fox have connected Soros to the Central American refugee caravan.  Because some Hungarian Christian and Jewish citizens had aided the Muslim refugees, Orbán outlawed such humanitarian assistance, so we can expect that same move by Trump.

Just as in Hungary, what happens to the refugees along the southern border will be a precedent for how the regime treats any dissenters. Just as the Hungarian left-liberal parties did not stand up to Orbán on the border fence, the Democratic Party has accepted the premise that the debate today is about “illegal” immigration.  Yet seeking asylum from violence, in the U.S. as in the EU, is completely legal, particularly for people feeling systematic violence in countries such as Syria or Honduras. Trump and Orbán are not opposing illegal immigration, but using racist xenophobia to stop legal immigration. Many leaders and media are engaged in Fascism Denial that minimizes the threat as merely a pro-Trump fever that will be cooled with an election.

My own Hungarian family lived through a similar situation before and during World War II.  My Jewish grandfather was born in New York, and so had birthright citizenship in the U.S., and married my Hungarian Jewish grandmother there. He returned back to his family’s hometown in Czechoslovakia in the mid-1930s, where my father was born in 1938. When the Nazis soon afterwards took over Slovakia, my father was enslaved in a rock quarry, and the U.S. State Department refused to renew his passport so the family could escape (by insisting he had to travel to the embassy to do so, even though Jews were banned from traveling). This is the same era when the U.S. refused Jewish refugees to land here, or to bomb the rail lines leading from Hungary to Auschwitz.

My family became refugees in fascist Hungary, which was taken over by Nazi Germany in 1944. They were then interned in an enemy alien camp, whereas the rest of my family was sent to Auschwitz.  When the Allies bombed the camp, my Jewish family was interned in a school that is only a block from the same Eastern Train Station where the Muslim refugees sought freedom 70 years later. On New Year’s Eve 1945, as the Soviets closed in on the city, my grandfather was marched with other Jewish men to the Danube, and executed in an infamous massacre. My Grandmother and 6-year-old father were moved to the Ghetto, where they later escaped. Only because of my grandfather’s U.S. birthright citizenship did they survive the Holocaust, and I would not exist otherwise.

My 80-year-old father passed away in July, and I am glad he is not seeing these horrible scenes unfold in the country he’d called home since he was 11. So in my heart and mind, the massacre of Jews in Pittsburgh and the deployment of troops to confront a refugee caravan are part and parcel of the same threat of fascism rearing its ugly head in my birth country, which is supposed to be a haven of religious freedom and refuge for immigrants fleeing persecution. We should all be raising our voices, votes, and fists to stop these atrocities before they start, rather than responding to them after the fact.

We should be sending messages to the facebook pages of the military units being deployed to the border, pointing out that they have the legal right to refuse illegal orders to brutalize unarmed civilians, or to misrepresent the facts to the public. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (Article 92) establishes a duty to obey lawful orders, and therefore a duty to disobey unlawful orders to that are clearly contrary to the Constitution. If personnel are unsure of the legality of an order to brutalize civilians, they can always kneel for guidance.

If we really believe in the values of “Never Again,” we cannot trivialize the current crisis as just another uncivil partisan squabble. Though we all need to vote, this isn’t just about the midterms, but the future survival of any semblance of democracy in our country.

More articles by:

Zoltan Grossman is a professor of Geography and Native Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, who has been a warm body in peace, justice, and environmental movements for the past 35 years. His website is http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz and email is grossmaz@evergreen.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail