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
April 09, 2020
John Davis
Freedom Virus
Vincent Emanuele
The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie’s Last Tape
John O'Kane
Remove the Boomer Virus and What Virus Remains?
Kevin Bixby – Daryl T. Smith
The Border Wall Risks Us All
Nick Pemberton
Could COVID-19 Count Fox News Among Its Victims?
Howard Lisnoff
American Exceptionalism in the Face of Covid-19
Charles Pierson
We Are Living (And Dying) in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”
Sam Husseini
Sanders Suspends: What Happened? What Now?
Binoy Kampmark
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War
Ted Rall
Why We Need a New Progressive Party and How We Can Create It
Walden Bello
Martin Khor: the Making of a Global Activist
Ariel Dorfman
COVID-19 and the Lessons of Life in Exile
Merriam Ansara
John Lennon in Quarantine: a Letter From Havana
George Wuerthner
Politics and Corruption at Grand Canyon
Eugene Schulman
Lost in the Pandemic: the Forever Wars
Dean Baker
Basic Economics for Economic Columnists: a Depression is a Process, Not an Event
George Ochenski
The Dishonest Mr. Daines
Mike Ferner
Love in a Dangerous Time
Brian Horejsi
Beware Government Secrecy in Times of Pandemic
Sam Pizzigati
No Fennel in the Sausage, No $600 for the Jobless
Jason Christensen – John Carter
Conservation Groups Oppose the Nature Conservancy’s Cattle Grazing Development Project on the Border of Canyonlands National Park
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail