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Right-of-centre commentators on the NSA scandal

June 17th, 2013

Two leading columnists of pro-government dailies find it absurd that the US should take the high ground and lecture Hungary on human rights and the rule of law, while it spies on its own citizens.

In Magyar Hírlap Zsolt Bayer starts his open letter to US Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis with a naturalistic description of a full body search performed by the military under Socialism when military service was mandatory for all male citizens. At the time, he continues, the United States embodied the search for and love of freedom – and now it is the US ”that looks up into my ass”. The US is not what it used to be – and now Edward Snowden has simply stated what no one dared to speak of before. “Enough of PRISM and FISA”, he continues, “enough of the presidential power to have someone stamped out abroad”. How come that in a country “where 1984 is happening all over” those Democrats behind an Obama “who plays God and passes life or death sentences” still worry about Hungarian democracy? he asks. He describes as “disgusting” the fact that (Princeton law professor) Kim Lane Scheppele denounces the fourth amendment of the Hungarian constitution while “US officials torture prisoners in Abu Ghraib and soldiers urinate on dead bodies.” The United States has betrayed his generation, says an angry Bayer, and even accuses America of having taken the first steps towards destroying that generation altogether.

Another famous right-wing columnist, István Lovas is equally upset about double standards, stating that (EU Justice Commissioner) “Viviane Reding has insomnia problems” whenever she fails to seize an opportunity to criticise Hungary. But when the story concerns the United States she just cautiously notes that EU citizen’s rights must be respected. In his Magyar Nemzet editorial Lovas maintains that PRISM is the greatest scandal in American history, quoting the ACLU lawsuit against the Federal Government and former president Jimmy Carter’s warning that the US has turned away from its former commitment to human rights. With a president’s right to order targeted killings, the innocent victims of drone strikes and the complete annihilation of privacy, “no US offical or politician has the right to utter the words “human rights’” – Lovas says. Of course – he adds bitterly – the Hungarian media law, the constitution and its amendments “not to mention the frequency licence of Klub Radio” are more important issues for the United States; perhaps this is why they support Gordon Bajnai. After all, he concludes, hinting at the NSA scandal, “they have all the necessary data to do so”.

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