An open letter to Dr. Krisztina Morvai
EU parliamentarian Jobbik candidate for president of Hungary
Dear Krisztina Morvai:
In your open letter to US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis – outrageously portraying her decision not to visit your party headquarters on election night (11 April) as an endorsement of communist crimes – you asked American citizens “to express their view in writing.”
I am a citizen of the United States who has lived in Hungary for twenty years and here is my view in writing:
Sixty-five years ago some 300,000 American soldiers (including my great uncle) died liberating Europe from fascism bred of the same hateful demagoguery espoused by you and your fellow Jobbik politicans. A number of them are buried in American military cemeteries in and around Budapest.
Like the national socialist movements of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s on which your movement is clearly modelled, the Jobbik Movement for a Better Hungary is intellectually dishonest and morally suspect. You complain about a lack of law and order and yet demand members of your movement indicted for vandalising property be released without trial. You would defend the “human rights” of those who threw cobblestones at policemen and set fire to the state-owned television building, and yet you openly attack Hungary’s minorities on ethnic and religious grounds. Most outrageously, twenty years after the fall of communism – a period remarkable for its pronounced lack of political terror – you and your followers claim to be the victims of terror, even though as far as I can tell the only terrorising taking place is by your party’s paramilitary organisation, the so-called Hungarian Guard, by parading in minority communities wearing Arrow Cross insignia and carrying fascist flags.
I think it extraordinary that a women named “Morvai” (literally “of Moravia”, a Slavic land never part of Greater Hungary) should claim to be somehow more Hungarian than those whose families have lived here for centuries. I also think it extraordinary that a divorced anti-semite should claim to be more Christian than those who actually observe the Catholic Church’s proscription against divorce and antisemitism. In fact, all Christian faiths condemn the kind of hateful bigotry on which your movement is based.
Like most demagogues you do not hesitate to distort the facts to serve your cynical political objectives. The socialist values represented by the MSZP or other social democratic parties are not responsible for the crimes committed by Stalin, Mao, or other ruthless dictators in the name of the working class. While Josef Stalin may have been the greatest mass murderer of all time, Adolf Hitler is a close second, directly or indirectly causing the death of 14.4 million soldiers and 27.1 million civilians, including patriotic Hungarians like the great lyric poet Miklós Radnoti and novelist and literary scholar Antal Szerb, both devout Christians.
For Jobbik to deliberately model itself on Hitler’s Nazis and Szálasi’s Arrow Cross is to dishonour the victims of fascism, including 290,000 Hungarian civilians of non-Jewish descent who died during the Second World War.
I studied European history at Columbia University with István Deák, Robert Paxton, and Fritz Stern, all of whom witnessed the horrors of fascism and war. They warned me about people like you – insecure about their heritage, frustrated by a lack of success in their personal lives, determined to prove at any cost what great patriots they are, often at the expense of national, ethnic and religious minorities. Adolf Hitler was a failed Austrian artist haunted by the spectre of having one Jewish grandparent, eager to prove himself the greatest of all Germans. Joseph Stalin was a short, physically deformed, pock-marked former Orthodox Divinity student from Georgia who spoke Russian with a strong Georgian accent, driven by a murderous inferiority complex to be the greatest of all Soviets. The founder of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, Ferenc Szálasi (born Salosjan), was a Hungarian of Armenian, Slovak and German descent determined to prove his “Hungarian-ness” through the systematic torture and murder of his fellow Hungarians.
Szálasi was one of many fervent Hungarian nationalists in the 1920s, 30s and 40s of partial Hungarian origin, eager to demonstrate their “Hungarian-ness” through the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. The self-styled “race-protector” Gyula Gömbös, a former soldier turned politician who served as prime minister between 1932 and 1936, was the grandson of a Hungarian Swabian named Knöpfle. The head of the puppet regime installed by Hitler after German troops invaded Hungary in 1944 was Hungary’s ambassador to Berlin, General Döme Sztójay (born Stojakovic), a Serb.
And now here are Jobbik leader Gábor Vona (born Zázrivecz) and Krisztina Morvai beating their breasts and telling us what great Hungarians they are in a cynical attempt to exploit the Hungarian people’s understandable frustration – with political paralysis, corruption and a serious downturn in the world economy – for selfish political gain.
Do you know who are great Hungarians? The cancer survivor with a physically handicapped child who works at a day shelter for homeless people for minimum wage; the Red Cross volunteer who gets up at 5:30am to distribute food to hungry children; the underpaid, overworked teachers who do their jobs without complaining; the Hungarian healthcare professionals who turn down foreign job offers to be able to treat their fellow countrymen; the many tens of thousands who marched in last Sunday’s commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust in peaceful protest against the politics of hatred and resentment responsible for so much pain and suffering at home and abroad. Not you.