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Hungary Honors Anti-Semites

It’s no longer enough for Hungary’s conservative government to associate with anti-Semites and minority-hating bigots. Now it’s in the business of bestowing awards on them. Deutsche Welle reports that the government has given its highest honor to a handful of people well-known for their racism and anti-Semitism:

In the past, the journalist, Ferenc Szaniszlo, is reported to have used television broadcasts to discuss anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He is also reported to have compared members of Hungary’s Roma minority to monkeys. In 2011, the country’s media supervisory body reacted to those comment by fining the broadcaster Echo TV, which is close to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party.

The archaeologist Kornel Bakay, who is well known in Hungary for his anti-Semitic theories, also received the Tancsics Prize. His theories include one in which Jews organized the slave trade in the Middle Ages.

Rock singer Janos Petras of the band Karpatia received the Golden Cross of Merit. Karpatia is regarded as the house band of the extreme-right Jobbik party. The lyrics of some of its songs call for an “unblemished nation” or the use of violence to extend Hungary’s borders. It also took part in a march organized by the now banned paramilitary organization Hungarian Guard.


At least ten previous recipients of the prize have given theirs up in protest, and while it’s encouraging to know that many Hungarians are revolted by this kind of vile display, it unfortunately doesn’t appear that Orban is going anywhere any time soon. He recently pushed through the latest in a series of constitutional amendments that could be used to entrench Fidesz even if they lose in next year’s election. And while the growth looks to be anemic in 2013, it’s not slated to be as bad as in some of the snake-bitten economies to Hungary’s south and west. As a result, foreign investment has remained relatively robust, bolstering Orban even as his government pulls stunts like these.

In any case, it’s a dark time indeed when anti-Semites are openly lauded in the heart of the continent that vowed “never again.”

[Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, courtesy of Getty Images.]

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