Do you hate the title?
Blame Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
He practically dictated it to me from the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas on Thursday after criticizing the “left-wing media.”
“I can already see tomorrow’s headlines,” Orban said after the right-wing crowd greeted him with a standing ovation. “‘Europe’s far-right racist and anti-Semitic strongman – Putin’s Trojan horse – holds a speech at a conservative conference.'”
Well, Mr. Orban, I really couldn’t have said it better myself.
Except you left out a few important names: homophobic, populist, white Christian nationalist, xenophobic and, of course, Tucker Carlson and Fox News darling, authoritarianism lover.
It is a measure of how badly our political discourse has deteriorated that a man responsible for leading his country from democracy to autocracy during his long political career is celebrated as a hero by American conservatives who clearly aspire to a Viktor Orban of their own. . (And almost having one in Donald Trump. It’s terrifying to imagine what this country would look like if the former president had prevailed in 2020.)
The Republican embrace of Orban is further proof that the GOP has lost its moral compass, if not its damn mind.
On July 23, Orban caused an uproar when he argued that Europeans should not “become mestizo peoples”. One of his advisers, who is Jewish, tendered his resignation, describing his remarks as “a pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels”. The United States said the remarks clearly evoked “Nazi racial ideology” and denounced them as “inexcusable”.
Although Orban has been churning out this kind of racist garbage for years, his relatively recent embrace by the American right – including Steve Bannon, who worked for him in 2019, and Carlson, who visited Hungary last year. latest – boosted its international profile. Their praise and attention helped reinforce what The New York Times described as “Orban’s mission to establish Budapest as an ideological center for what he sees as an international conservative movement.”
“We must join forces!” Orban told the CPAC crowd.
In a recent New Yorker article, writer Andrew Marantz interviewed conservative writer Andrew Sullivan about the bizarre phenomenon of American conservatives’ infatuation with Orban.
“If these people think the far left is hijacking American society in dangerous ways, then yes, I agree,” Sullivan told Marantz. “But to go from that to ‘let’s embrace this authoritarian leader in this remote European country, and maybe try a version of that model with our own charismatic leader back home’ – I mean, that leap is just weird and frankly stupid .”
Last week in Texas, Orban fired up the crowd, praising the Lone Star State for its “independence, freedom and sovereignty”, adding: “Hungary is Europe’s Lone Star State”.
He rattled off many worn-out right-wing cliches: Ronald Reagan defeated communism; progressive liberals and communists are birds of a feather; the “eggheads” of the European Union are looking for it; Western civilization must be saved from the likes of fellow Hungarian George Soros, the pro-democracy Jewish philanthropist whose mere mention among conservatives evokes the kind of chills reserved for figures like Voldemort.
In Hungary, Orban said, “we have introduced a zero-tolerance policy on racism and anti-Semitism, so accusing us is fake news and those making these claims are just plain fools.”
In case you think a man who described the waves of refugees as “Muslim invaders” during Europe’s recent migration crisis is some kind of religious fanatic, let Orban allay your fears.
“Don’t worry,” he said last week, “a Christian politician can’t be racist. Christian values prevent us from going too far.
When Orban talked about families, he sounded like a creepy character from “Handmaid’s Tale,” valuing procreation and setting up a chilling system of demographic engineering to increase the population of white Hungarians, which has been slowly declining for decades.
In Hungary, he said, the state takes over student loans after the birth of your third child. Women, he said, are exempt from paying personal income tax for life after the birth of their fourth child. Over the past decade, he said, the number of marriages has doubled and the number of abortions has halved.
“So if you are not married yet, you should immediately find a Hungarian bride,” he joked. (Because, of course, he only speaks to men.)
And if you think he tolerates tolerance, you’re wrong.
Children must be protected from “the gender ideology that targets them”, he said. “Hungary will protect the institution of marriage as a union of a man and a woman. In short, the mother is a woman. The father is a man. And leave our children alone. Full stop, end of discussion.
The crowd in the half-full hall could not contain themselves, breaking into shouts and screams.
“My government is committed to law and order without compromise,” he added. “We don’t need more genres, we need more rangers. Less drag queens and more Chuck Norris. There is no freedom without order!
Normally I would ask, is this really where the Republican Party wants to go?
Except he’s already there.