Pro-Jobbik band in California — Sponsored by the Orbán Government

The monument of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter stands at the edge of MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. It was inaugurated and blessed by Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary in 1974; today this corner of the park is named after him.

Each October, Hungarian Americans gather here to commemorate the 1956 Revolution, dignitaries give speeches and lay a wreath on the monument. This year Mr. László Kálmán, Hungary’s Consul General in Los Angeles spoke on behalf of the Hungarian Government, and various local groups paid their respects.

Three men dressed in black garb, the traditional outfit of Hungarian neo-Nazis, also showed up. They were members of the visiting Historica rock band, and they placed a bouquet on the statue. Consul General Kálmán had no problem with the presence of the group; he didn’t protest.

The extreme right Historica band lays flowers at the 1956 monument in Los Angeles.

The extreme right Historica band lays flowers at the 1956 monument in Los Angeles.

Historica is a Hungarian rock band playing “national rock,” a blend of rock music and right-wing nationalism. They are popular with the country’s far-right and neo-Nazi audiences. A look at the band’s Facebook page doesn’t leave any doubt that they are very close to Hungary’s notoriously anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Jobbik party; Historica lists about a dozen (!) local Jobbik party organizations as their “friend.” Not surprisingly, they frequently perform at Jobbik rallies. But they are not welcome in Romania; their 2011 performance in Bucharest was cancelled.

In the last couple of years the Orbán government quietly started to sponsor North-American tours of nationalist, far-right, and even neo-Nazi artists and music groups. There is market for far-right nationalism in newly arrived, exclusively Hungarian-speaking immigrant communities.

Historica was invited by the pastor of the Grace Hungarian Reformed Church, in Reseda, California. Mr. Zsolt Jakabffy likes the band; he even arranged for Hungarian taxpayer funds to cover the costs. The band was sponsored by the Washington DC-based Hungarian Initiatives Foundation (HIF). HIF is an opaque, somewhat secretive organization. It was started with seed money from the Hungarian Government and is currently run by Mr. Tamás Fellegi, an ex-minister of the previous Orbán government. He told the Hungarian daily, Népszabadság, that he was misled by Pastor Jakabffy; he didn’t know about the band’s visit, he gave the money to the church for history and children’s programs.

Mr. Fellegi’s claim is contradicted by the fact that Historica also gave concerts at other California locations. Their performance in Los Angeles at the Hungarian Cultural Alliance (Magtár) was also sponsored by HIF. It is hard to imagine that Mr. Fellegi was kept in the dark about the weeklong US tour of this music group. Hungary’s Consul General Mr. Kálmán was also well aware of the band’s tour.

Consul General Mr. László Kálmán (without sunglasses) pays respect in Los Angeles...alongside pro-Jobbik band. He does not distance himself from the far right group.

Consul General Mr. László Kálmán (without sunglasses) pays respect in Los Angeles…alongside pro-Jobbik band. He does not distance himself from the far right group.

In the past, Mr. Kálmán passionately denied that the Orbán government is supporting far-right, neo-Nazi groups. He told California politicians and civic leaders that the Hungarian Government does not tolerate racism and anti-Semitism, and they relentlessly fight against „the filth” that Jobbik represents. Mr. Kálmán frequently talks about the „zero tolerance” policy against the ideas of the far right. In June of this year he carried the message to the local offices of the Anti-Defamation League; last year he visited the American Jewish Committee. Mr. Kálmán even performed his „zero tolerance” speech at Bais Naftoli, a synagogue in Los Angeles where, according to his own account, he received a „standing ovation” when he described the fight against Jobbik.

Yet, he had no objection to the US tour of a pro-Jobbik band. Last year Mr. Kálmán organized a “nostalgia fest” in Las Vegas to commemorate Mr. Albert Wass, a fascist and convicted WWII criminal. Recently, Mr. Kálmán’s wife entertained Ms. Fruzsina Pregitzer, an actress, who made a career reciting a famed anti-Semitic fable, which compares Jews to rats.

Hungary’s Consul General Mr. Kálmán and HIF boss Mr. Fellegi are engaged in a game of double-talk. On the one hand, they cater to a racist and anti-Semitic minority of the Hungarian immigrant community, on the other hand, they assure English-speaking groups that they are fighting against far-right ideas. When they are caught, they claim that they were misunderstood, or their words were not translated correctly.

Hungarian Cultural Alliance concert sponsored by Mr. Fellegi's Hungarian Initiatives Foundation.

Hungarian Cultural Alliance concert sponsored by Mr. Fellegi’s Hungarian Initiatives Foundation.

It is time to stop the double-talk! They have to explain why they sponsored and why they didn’t stop the California tour of the far-right musical group. Why does the Consul General, who is the representative of the Hungarian Government, attend events with pro-Jobbik groups?

Many of us feel that the tricks of the Hungarian officials have gone too far. It is time for a fresh start with honest communication.

György Lázár

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *