To Be or Not to Be a Gypsy in Hungary: Zsolt Bayer Says NO!
In the past few years while visiting my native city of Budapest and reading the news, I have often thought that public discourse in Hungary has hit rock bottom.
I was wrong.
The new rock bottom arrived this Saturday with the vitriolic publication of an opinion piece by Zsolt Bayer, the holder of the number 5 FIDESZ party card, famously a close friend of the Hungarian Prime Minister. In this piece, Bayer, who has been criticized in the past as anti-Semitic, deciding that it was not enough to be reviled for being anti-Semitic, wished to prove that he was also anti-gypsy. No, he does not believe that there are no “good” gypsies in Hungary. He even commends the winner of the popular TV show called X-Factor, Gergő Oláh, as a role model, using the fact that the viewers voted him as the winner to demonstrate to “those bastards calling Hungarians racists,” as he puts it, that they were wrong.
But then, the despicable attempted murder of a group of athletes on New Years Eve, allegedly by a group of gypsies prompted this Oracle of the ruling Fidesz party, this populist public prophet, to vomit onto paper a tirade against gypsies that even the Nazi propaganda newspaper Der Stürmer would have envied.
The Associated Press’s account of the fierce reaction from many public figures in Hungary against the views expressed in this article is correct. The text quoted, though, does not reflect the severity of the language used in the article. So, as a public service to English speakers, I am reproducing the relevant paragraph in English below.
Bayer writes, “The facts are as follows: a significant part of Gypsies is not fit for coexistence and is not fit to live amongst people. This part of the Gypsy world are animals and behave as animals. Seeing anyone, they get into a state of rut [become sexually excited and want to act on in] whenever and wherever they want. When they meet resistance, they commit murder. They relieve themselves whenever and wherever the urge overtakes them. If they feel that they are prevented from doing so, they commit murder. They want to get whatever they see. If they don’t get it, they take it and the commit murder. This part of gypsy society is incapable of any type of human communication. Mostly inarticulate sounds stream forth from their animalistic skulls, and the only thing they understand from this miserable world is violence. Meanwhile, this half of the gypsy world that has turned into animals does use Western “inventions.” Let everyone look at the way they pose on Facebook, with weapons in their hands, with gold necks around their necks weighing half a kilogram, with an expression on their muzzle that says “I can do you in whenever I want, you stupid Hungarian peasant.” Just look at the rat who stabbed Gergő Sávoly and his friends on Facebook, and you’ll see that all three are potential murderers. Eo ipso murderer. No tolerance and understanding is needed but revenge. And it is here that the Western world’s idiotic politically correct segment commits the biggest sin. Out of mere self-interest and calculations, it pretends that these animals, for whatever reason, can be tolerated, understood, or even respected, as if they were owed any type of esteem or human dignity….”
The article concludes with the chilling words as Bayer rephrases a popular contemporary poet’s work (it must be noted that Virag Erdos, the poet, has immediately protested and threatened to sue the newspaper in which the article was published): “Let all Gergő Oláhs be and live with us happily. And the animals should not be. At all. This is what needs to be done: immediately and by any means.”
What? Can it be that a leading publication close to the Hungarian government, Magyar Hirlap, would publish an opinion piece by a close friend of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, advocating the annihilation of a “significant part” of Hungary’s gypsy population? For make no mistake: this is what Bayer’s article advocates. Can it be that two days after this piece has whipped up a tempest (though it may only be in a teacup), the ruling FIDESZ Party has not yet condemned this view in the strongest possible terms but rather suggested that there is freedom of speech in Hungary (as the FIDESZ spokesmen, Gabriella Semleczi has stated on Tuesday)? Can it be that the strongman of Hungary, Viktor Orban, is silent on this matter?
Yes, it can. Judging from past events, Hungary’s government is readying the copy/paste function in the public relations office, making cosmetic changes to the standard press release that will run as follows: “Hungary’s government condemns in the strongest possible terms all hate speech and is committed to defending all of its citizens, including its Roma minority.”
Certainly, freedom of expression should be preserved. But even more, the reaction to any suggestion of mass extermination in country with a shameful history of mass exterminations in 1944 should be especially fierce and unequivocal.
And the reaction should have come straight from the mouth of Viktor Orban for it to have been credible.
Now it is too late, once again.
But it is not too late for Hungary’s citizens to demonstrate that it is a country of decent human beings who abhor heartless opinion columnists arguing for mass extermination no less than heartless criminal acts.