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Lessons of the US riots

June 15th, 2020

Pundits across the political spectrum discuss the US protests – with an eye on their possible meaning and implications for Hungary.

Magyar Hírlap’s Dóra Nagy thinks that the riots in the US cannot be seen as a local series of events. The conservative commentator attributes the turmoil to the spread of liberal ‘politically correct’ ideology, identity politics and rampant agnostic individualism. Nagy writes that ‘progressive liberal Bolsheviks’ want to destroy the world so that they can rule over its ruins. All this, Nagy suggests, has important lessons for Hungary. Without a strong national identity, she explains, history can easily be reinterpreted and used as a means to deepen social cleavages. Nagy accuses the Hungarian opposition of trying to create fear by importing martial sentiments from the US.

In Magyar Nemzet, Levente Sitkei finds it sad that some Europeans want to emulate the US protests and demonstrate for the rights of black individuals, suggesting that race relations on this continent are similar to those in the US. The pro-government columnist thinks that those behind European demonstrations want to divert attention from more important issues. Sitkei, however, is confident that the majority of Hungarians, rather than bothering too much with US race relations, will focus on their own day-to-day business.

Writing in the same daily, Balázs Ágoston goes so far as to claim that what he calls US rioters’ ‘anti-white racism’ has appeared in Europe. The pro-government commentator opines that ‘human rights activists and left-wing terrorist’ movements in the US as well as in Europe, motivated by ‘blind anti-white racist hatred’, want to portray whites collectively as racist and suggest that only blacks can be victims – which they often are, as in the case of black shop owners who have fallen victim to the anti-white riots. He suggests that the protesters’ goal is to forcibly mix ethnic groups in order to create a worldwide state. Ágoston admits that whites have been guilty of their share of sins in the past,  but he concludes by asserting that pride in a European civilization created by ‘white people’ and the rule of law are worth  defending against ‘hate-mongering scoundrels’.

On Mozgástér blog, Áron Máthé likens the rhetoric of antifa protesters to Communist propaganda in the late 1940s in Hungary. The conservative historian also suggests that rioters are motivated by their hatred of the white middle class. Máthé thinks that if the demonstrators prevail, ‘neo-communist’ elites will win.

On Mandiner, László Bernát Veszprémy takes the US riots as proof that history is a battleground not only in Eastern Europe but in the West as well. The conservative historian believes that after the current wave of incidents, it will be difficult to claim that Eastern Europe should follow the example of the US in remembrance politics and historical reconciliation.

Writing on the same site, Milán Constantinovits finds the protesters’ historical revisionism absurd. Constantinovits thinks that everyone should be judged according to the norms of their own time, rather than by applying current standards. The conservative pundit wonders when Hungarian radical left-wingers will accuse 19th century Hungarian writers of xenophobia or misogyny – and demand their statues be removed.

Index’s Ádám Kolosi also interprets the events in the US as an indication that history is contested in Western democracies as well. The liberal pundit writes that as the US conflict unfolds, it is becoming increasingly difficult to claim that Central European countries are lagging behind the West in historical reconciliation and the creation of a shared historical narrative. Kolosi adds that consensus on history is particularly unlikely in the US, where society is the product of a history that includes racial oppression. In conclusion, Kolosi thinks that symbolic debates over history are the result of ‘social frustration’, and they are unlikely to remedy contemporary social problems.

Népszava’s Gábor Horváth explains the events by accusing President Trump of overt racism. The left-wing commentator contends that President Trump has for decades openly endorsed racist prejudice. Horváth thinks that Hillary Clinton was morally right in bluntly describing Trump’s supporters as a ‘basket of deplorables’.

In ‘Mérce’s shortest comment ever’, Marxist philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás writes that ‘whoever is not antifa is a fascist – at least a bit’.

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