A small Hungarian-American group has started a letter-writing campaign to convince President Obama to receive Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, at the White House when he comes to Washington in October to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
Mr. Orbán has never received an official invitation to the Oval Office and President Obama has voiced serious concerns about the current direction of Hungary’s leadership. Orbán’s policies are considered racist and anti-Semitic; he declared that he doesn’t want to see Muslim immigrants in his country. His corrupt cronyism has also raised eyebrows in the US.
Although a NATO member, Hungary is a small country and insignificant to US foreign policy. Lately Orbán’s bombastic statements and policies have made headlines worldwide… and not in a good way! The majority of Hungarian-Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with Mr. Orbán and don’t want to see him in Washington. An invitation to the White House would be seen as an acknowledgement of his xenophobic ideas and undoubtedly Orbán would advertise a handshake with President Obama as a seal of approval. Many of us feel that Orbán’s leadership and Hungary’s new Constitution are direct violations of the spirit of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Orbán is trying to destroy the very ideals Hungarians fought so hard for in 1956.
Yet, Mr. Béla Lipták and his small circle of friends think differently. Lipták is 80 years old and he administers an email service called the Hungarian Lobby. As a supporter of the Budapest government, he provides form-letters and encourages Hungarian-Americans to sign and email them to various US politicians. Now he is lobbying on behalf of Mr. Orbán.
In the past, I considered Lipták’s activities pretty harmless. In fact, I thought how wonderful it is that a 56-er and 80-year-old grandfather can find something to be passionate about.
But lately Mr. Lipták has crossed the line. He has started to claim that he is the voice of 1.5 million Hungarian-Americans in the United States and recently he wrote a lengthy piece about the „Jewish question” in Hungary. This was so strange that I don’t even want to discuss it.
He is a frequent name-dropper and in his form-letter to President Obama he mentions his own son, Adam Lipták, a talented legal correspondent to the New York Times who has published extensively on the legal saga of same-sex marriage legislation in the US.
Mr. Lipták might want to send a copy of his son’s book to homophobic Mr. Orbán who supported the constitutional ban of same-sex unions in Hungary.
I wish Mr. Béla Lipták good health yet say that he is on the wrong track. The majority of Hungarian-Americans would not be honored if Mr. Orbán were to be invited to the White House on the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
Mr. Orbán should stay at home in Budapest; he would feel more comfortable there.
Dear Mr. President!
Much before you were born, in 1956, I was a student in Budapest and fought against the occupation of Hungary by the brutal Red Empire of the Soviets. We fought for the American ideals of freedom, independence, democracy and self-determination. Several of my friends died and Hungary lost some 3% of her population because of the causalities and because of the people who escaped. They were all well-educated and young. That is like if we lost 10 million well educated young Americans. A terrible loss, terrible sacrifice!
Many of us came to the United States and during the last 60 years made major contributions (the freedom fighter George Oláh got the Nobel Prize, I wrote 22 technical books, – one with the introduction of Edward Teller -, you know my son Ádám, the Chief Legal Correspondent to the Supreme Court of the New York Times and Pulitzer finalist and many, many others).
I would like to respectfully ask that you to receive the prime minister of Hungary, when he comes to Washington to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. I ask this not because you necessarily agree with all his politics, but to honor the memory and to remind our fellow Americans of the brave freedom fighters who died for our ideals and who showed what Communism really was and thereby mortally wounded it.
The 1.5 million Hungarian-Americans would be honored, if you did that.