Thank you, Viktor Orban, for showing us where the American right is heading.
But Orban made things awkward for his American friends a few days ago. During a July 23 address (in which he said immigration should be called “population replacement or inundation”) he gave voice to the belief underlying his nationalism: He opposes the mixing of races.
“Migration has split Europe in two — or I could say that it has split the West in two,” he said, after commending to his listeners a 50-year-old racist treatise. “One half is a world where European and non-European peoples live together. These countries are no longer nations. They are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples.” He went on to contrast that with “our world,” in which “we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”
That was too much even for Orban’s longtime adviser Zsuzsa Hegedus, who resigned and lambasted the prime minister for “a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels.” She said the speech could “please even the most bloodthirsty racists” and suggested he was “advocating an openly racist policy that is now unacceptable even for the Western European extreme right.”
But not for the American right! CPAC’s organizer confirmed to me on Wednesday that Orban is still scheduled to address the group next week. “Let’s listen to the man speak,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, told Bloomberg News on Tuesday. Orban’s name remained on CPAC’s speakers list, along with Trump; some two dozen GOP House members; Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.); Fox News’s Sean Hannity; Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; and former Trump aides including Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller.
These leaders shouldn’t say they’re surprised to be sharing a stage with a man leading the fight against “peoples of mixed race.” Last year, CPAC canceled an appearance by a speaker who had referred to Judaism as a “complete lie” that was “made up for political gain.” After the Guardian reported that the CPAC conference in Budapest featured a speaker who had previously called Jews “stinking excrement,” referred to the Roma population as “animals” and used racist epithets for Black people, CPAC issued a statement saying “anti-Semitism and racial intolerance are scourges that must be eradicated.” (The program for the Budapest CPAC, from which many media organizations were banned, included live or virtual addresses by Trump, Carlson, four Republican members of Congress and former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.)
Republicans have hailed Orban as “Trump before Trump” (Bannon), whose government is doing “so many positive things” (Sen. Ron Johnson). Among the things it has been doing: seizing control of the judiciary and media, banning the depiction of homosexuality, demonizing Jewish billionaire George Soros, expelling asylum seekers and erecting a wire fence on the border, forcing out the country’s top university, and halving the size of parliament and redrawing districts to keep itself in power.
At its core, Orban’s rule has been about sustaining, and being sustained by, white nationalism. His July 23 speech was an extended articulation of the “great replacement” conspiracy idea — embraced by Carlson and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), among others — that non-White people are plotting to wipe out White people. He claimed: “Brussels, reinforced with Soros-affiliated troops, simply wants to force migrants on us.” Orban railed against a “mixed-race world” in which “European peoples are mixed together with those arriving from outside Europe.” He warned that “Islamic civilization” is “constantly moving toward Europe” and is now “occupying and flooding the West.”
“This is why we stopped the Turks at Vienna,” he said, citing the 1683 battle between a European alliance and the Ottoman Empire. “This is why, in still older times, the French stopped the Arabs at Poitiers.” This was a reference to the Battle of Tours — in the year 732, when a Frankish Christian ruler defeated an army of Moors invading from Spain.
It was good of Orban to spell that out, because now we know what Hungary’s white nationalists — and their American fan boys at CPAC — have in mind when they rage against immigration and the “great replacement.” They want to take us back to the Dark Ages.