Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban Rejects Angela Merkel's 'Welcoming' Ideology of Unchecked Immigration Suicide

Well a right-wing party, and apparently anti-immigrant, just won the majority in Poland's parliamentary elections this week, so perhaps we're witnessing a major shift in European politics. Or at least, in East European politics.

From James Traub, at Foreign Policy, "The Fearmonger of Budapest":
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The European response to the refugee crisis that escalated this August has two poles: Germany’s Angela Merkel and Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Merkel has consistently maintained that the immense flow of refugees from Middle Eastern war zones constitutes a collective moral obligation for Europe; Orban has called this view a species of madness. Orban is as powerful a spokesman for nativism and xenophobia as Merkel is for universalism.

And Orban got there first. In mid-January, after attending a mass rally in Paris honoring the victims of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket, Orban said in an interview, “We should not look at economic immigration as if it had any use, because it only brings trouble and threats to European people. Therefore, immigration must be stopped.” Orban was quite explicit about the kind of immigration he especially opposed. “We do not want to see a significant minority among ourselves that has different cultural characteristics and background,” he said. “We would like to keep Hungary as Hungary.” That was the lesson he took from Charlie Hebdo.

Orban is fully prepared to wade into the darkest pools of the Hungarian psyche. In April, still well before the refugee flood, Orban’s government distributed a questionnaire to all adult Hungarians which stated, among other things, “Some people believe that the mishandling of immigration issues in Brussels and the spread of terrorism are connected.” It then went on to ask, “Do you agree with this opinion?” Citizens were also told, “Some people say that immigrants threaten the jobs and livelihood of Hungarians,” then asked, “Do you agree?” The U.N.’s human rights commission condemned the questionnaire as “extremely biased” and “absolutely shocking.” Nevertheless, most of those who bothered to answer did, of course, agree. Having thus manufactured a show of public support, Orban’s Fidesz party posted billboards around the country with messages like, “If you come to Hungary, you cannot take the jobs of Hungarians.”

Orban had prepared the Hungarian people in advance for the Biblical tide of refugees who began pouring through Hungary on their way to Germany or Sweden. The fences he ordered built at the border with Serbia and then with Croatia; his use of the army to turn back refugees; his scathing rhetoric; his passage of emergency laws that criminalized the very act of seeking asylum — all have been denounced across Europe, but they’ve done wonders for his standing at home. In recent years, support had been steadily draining from Fidesz to the ultranationalist Jobbik party, but by September of this year the trend had begun to reverse.

Why is Hungary different? To be fair, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have all resisted the idea of accepting Muslim refugees, but unlike Hungary they don’t have to deal with 300,000 refugees crossing their territory and overwhelming their infrastructure. Yet both Croatia and Slovenia, which have had to deal with refugees diverted from Hungary, have behaved and sounded more like Germany than Hungary. In Slovenia, the army fed the refugees and walked them to the Austrian border. Croatia’s interior minister explained his country’s policy by saying, “Nobody can stop this flow without shooting.”

That is not the view I heard in Budapest, including from people otherwise suspicious of Orban. Istvan Gyarmati, a retired diplomat who now runs a democracy promotion institute in Budapest, told me that “now everyone agrees that Orban was right about the refugees.” It would not be long, he predicted, before Merkel realized that she had a policy and political catastrophe on her hands. I asked Gyarmati how he thought the problem should be resolved. That was easy: “The alternative is to keep them out of Europe.” Once they had fled the war zone for the safety of Turkey or Jordan, they no longer needed asylum or could legally claim such status. They were just migrants. I heard the same argument — which does, in fact, correspond to the letter, if not the spirit, of the Geneva Conventions — from several government officials. When I pointed out that this meant building a wall around Europe, they shrugged...
Traub talked to all these people and he still doesn't get it, marinated in his "welcoming" collectivist ideology that both Poland and Hungary are rejecting.

Put a wall around Europe? Yeah, you think?

Still more.