I have written about Zsolt Bayer before in the HFP. Our readers may recall that he is a co-founder of the ruling Fidesz party and a prominent pro-Orbán publicist who recently asserted that the Syrian refugee crisis was a manufactured racial war, launched by “invisible hands,” in order to exterminate white people. I did not think that Mr. Bayer could stoop any lower, at least not without Hungary’s ruling party finally distancing itself from this foul-mouthed, virulent racist. But a recent profanity-laced blog post by Mr. Bayer proved me wrong. I won’t translate for you the expletives and the series of four-letter words that he used to describe refugees in Europe, and which he employed to emphasize the fact that he wants to see them removed from the continent as quickly as possible. But I will highlight a few key points.
In his post, Mr. Bayer refers to the refugees as “flies at a farmers’ market” and then states that there is nothing human about them. Here, I will quote the publicist directly:
“Who do you think you are? Who the hell invited you here to begin with? And if you have already intruded here, on what grounds can you have demands? You are intolerable and shameless, like a fly at a farmer’s market. You have no humility, no gratefulness and you have no humanity. Do you really think that anyone in Europe is obliged to tolerate you? Your very existence is increasingly unbearable and irritating.”
Mr. Bayer then tells the refugees to “go home to your camel shit infested homeland.”
As I alluded to earlier, I have decided not to translate the most profanity-laced parts of Mr. Bayer’s rant. But the generally moderate conservative Mandiner.hu news site had no qualms re-publishing the most offensive sections of Mr. Bayer’s diatribe, in which he overtly dehumanizes the refugees and makes the case for why genocide might be understandable. In fact, Mandiner.hu republished the blog post and highlighted the most egregious parts of Mr. Bayer’s hate speech, by inserting these words into the title. The young editors of Mandiner, Ákos Gergely Balog and Gellért Rajcsányi, thought it appropriate to simply reprint and distribute Mr. Bayer’s work verbatim, without any comment or condemnation on their part.
To be sure, we can’t bury our heads in the sand when influential pro-government publicists and essayists like Zsolt Bayer publish the sort of hate speech that one would be hard-pressed to find even in Jobbik circles. Mr. Bayer is not a marginal player in Hungarian politics and political discourse. He is one of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s confidants, and the government has never once distanced itself from the publicist’s overtly racist columns. We need to read him, analyze his language of hate and then ask ourselves why so many in the West still think that Jobbik represents the fascist boogeyman, while Mr. Orbán’s government is an acceptable partner, with which we should engage in dialogue.
As a more moderate voice of Hungarian conservatism — and one that has been critical, at times, of the Orbán government — it is wholly irresponsible of Mandiner to re-publish verbatim, popularize and perhaps unwittingly normalize Mr. Bayer’s genocidal thoughts. Publishing these reprehensible words without rebuke or comment inserts them into the stream of acceptable public discourse, and it poisons that already polluted stream even further.
The majority of the nearly 700 comments that appeared under the re-print of the Bayer piece on the Mandiner site seemed to acknowledge that the author was, perchance, a little rough in how he expressed himself, but that he spoke “the truth,” nonetheless, about the refugees.
In the past, Mr. Bayer referred to Gypsies as animals, in an article entitled “Who should not exist.” Today, he adds refugees to the list of people who should not be permitted to exist, who are nothing but insects arriving from “shit-infested” countries, and whose lives are nothing more than an annoyance that Europeans should not be expected to tolerate. And moderate conservative editors like Ákos Gergely Balogh or Gellért Rajcsányi have nothing at all to say about this, other than to share these words as widely as possible.
This reminds me of what Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo argued in his work, The Lucifer Effect:
“Dehumanization is like a ‘cortical cataract’ that clouds one’s thinking and fosters the perception that other people are less than human. It makes some people come to see those others as enemies deserving of torment, torture, and even annihilation…The process begins with stereotyped conceptions of the other, dehumanized perceptions of the other, the other as worthless, the other as all-powerful, the other as demonic, the other as an abstract monster, the other as a fundamental threat to our cherished values and beliefs. With public fear notched up and enemy threat imminent, reasonable people act irrationally, independent people act in mindless conformity, and peaceful people act as warriors.”
In the Fidesz publicist’s widely circulated piece, human beings are described as insects not worthy of existence and this is happening in the same year that Hungary’s government organized a series of disingenuous Holocaust commemorations around the world. The vast majority of Hungarian society was completely desensitized to the deportation and ultimate murder of 600,000 Jews, because at the time, Jews were also a nuisance and had no right to exist. The Zsolt Bayers of the day were just as insidious as the Mr. Bayers of 2015.