Do American ‘national conservatives’ condone Viktor Orbán’s white nationalism?

By | July 29, 2022

Cathy Young writes:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s career as a champion of “illiberal democracy” and a poster boy for “national conservatism” took a startling turn last Saturday when his speech at a summer event in Romania veered into explicit “Great Replacement” rhetoric, complete with a denunciation of the “mixed-race world” of liberal Western countries. The controversy escalated on Tuesday when sociologist Zsuzsa Hegedüs, a longtime Orbán adviser and ally, submitted a scathing resignation letter that slammed her now-former boss for delivering an “openly racist speech” and “a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels.” (After the letter was leaked to the press, Orbán issued a petulant statement professing shock that Hegedüs could suspect him of racism.) The speech was also denounced by the International Auschwitz Committee; by Hungary’s chief rabbi, Robert Frolich; and by Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, who called it “unacceptable.”

Orbán’s fans on the American right, meanwhile, remain unperturbed. He is still scheduled to give a keynote speech next week at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, sharing the spotlight with Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. (In May, Orbán spoke at CPAC when it came to Hungary.) And writer Rod Dreher—who has previously hailed Orbán as a leader fighting not just “a political battle, but a civilizational one” for the future of the West—wrote a post for his blog at the American Conservative praising “the vision of Viktor Orbán” and asserting that the accusation of racism is based on a misrepresentation of what Orbán really meant when he said that Hungarians do not want to be “a mixed-race society.”

In context, Dreher insists, Orbán isn’t talking about race-mixing at all but “using the term ‘race’ as a symbol of religion and culture”—in other words, as a euphemism for “Muslims,” which is apparently not bigoted at all. (Yes, you can discuss problems of acculturation and integration in immigrant communities, particularly following large influxes of migrants from war-torn countries, without promoting hate. No, talking about “Islamic invasion” or “Islamic occupation” as Dreher does—using more belligerent language than Orbán himself did in his speech—is not the way to go about it.) [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email