Hungarians return national awards to protest racist Zsolt Bayer’s medal

The Orbán government’s decision to award one of its own with a state medal–Fidesz founder and rabidly racist columnist Zsolt Bayer–has convinced a growing number of prominent Hungarians to return their state distinctions in protest. The message is clear and simple: if the singularly foul-mouthed Mr. Bayer can be recognized by the Orbán regime with the Hungarian Middle Cross–a publicist who referred to the Roma as “animals who are unfit for coexistence” from whose “animal skull only inarticulate sounds come out and the only thing he understands is brute force”–then the country’s third highest national award has been irreparably tainted. Mr. Bayer has gone further in recent years than almost anyone else, in terms of his racist and genocidal vitriol. Other than Mr. Bayer, no other serious Hungarian publicist or politician ever suggested exterminating entire demographic groups, which is essentially what was implied when the columnist remarked, in connection to the Roma: “There shouldn’t be animals. No way. This must be solved, immediately and in any way.”

Zsolt Bayer (left) receiving his award from János Lázár. Photo: MTI.

Zsolt Bayer (left) receiving his award from János Lázár. Photo: MTI.

Prominent and well-respected Hungarians are returning their state medals in droves, as a poignant protest against the government’s decision to award Mr. Bayer. Those recipients of the state’s third highest distinction who now want nothing to do with the Hungarian Middle Cross include:

  • László Bruszt (sociologist)
  • Ágnes Darvas (sociologist)
  • László Dióssy (former mayor of Veszprém)
  • Ágnes Erdélyi (philosopher)
  • Catherine Feidt (former honorary consul)
  • Péter Felcsúti (banker)
  • Nikosz Fokasz (sociologist)
  • Gábor Hegyesi (sociologist)
  • András Heisler (President of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities – MAZSIHISZ)
  • Balázs Galkó (actor)
  • Gábor Kertesi (economist)
  • János Köllő (economist)
  • Tamás Krausz (historian)
  • Éva Kuti (researcher)
  • Jenő Lőcsei (sociologist)
  • Alíz Mosonyi (children’s author)
  • András Polgár (businessman)
  • István Polonyi (education specialist and researcher)
  • Péter Somlai (sociologist)
  • Mária Székely (sociologist)
  • Imre Takács (art historian)
  • Katalin Tausz (sociologist)
  • Júlia Varga (economist)
  • Kálmán Varga (museologist)

In the words of businessman András Polgár, who has returned his own state distinction in protest: “The state feels it is appropriate to lift racist criminals onto a pedestal…it is impossible to tolerate this with a sober, decent conscience.”

Tamás Krausz historian, who has also returned his distinction, added: “This is unacceptable for all people who are committed to the principles of humanism.”

Sociologist László Bruszt wrote a letter to Hungary’s President János Áder, who is also affiliated with Fidesz. In this he asked Mr. Áder: “How can you reconcile with your own conscience that you signed off on Zsolt Bayer’s award–a man who has constantly trampled upon minorities and who has called for the murder of our compatriots?”

András Heisler, leader of Hungary’s main Jewish community organization, also expressed deep disappointment and has returned his national medal in protest. Mr. Heisler noted that Mr. Bayer, who is also a rabid anti-Semite, “harbors burning anti-Gypsy sentiment” and that he “pollutes Hungary with ideas that are fit to destroy the nation.”

Despite the growing scandal around Mr. Bayer’s award, the Hungarian government has no intention to rescind it. Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár remarked that Mr. Bayer has earned his medal. “There is much more that is worthy of recognition in Zsolt Bayer’s career than that which are mistakes,” said Mr. Lázár.

As we have written about before in HFP, Mr. Bayer’s writing career as of late has been almost exclusively built on espousing the most violent and genocidal forms of racism. In addition to his comments on the Roma, he recently suggested that Muslims were garbage and should be disposed of. The columnist also claimed that Jews and left-wingers were conspiring to eliminate the white race.

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