Yesterday we noted the distressing anti-immigrant policies in Greece that have led to violent treatment of foreigners. We’ve also noted how another stressed EU member – Hungary – has gone even further down the road of xenophobic extremism (see here, here, and here).But even by Hungarian standards things are getting ugly. The odious Zsolt Bayer, a prominent right-wing commentator with close ties to the ruling Fidesz government and its controversial Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, recently had this to say about the country’s Gypsy minority:
“A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the ‘achievements’ of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.”
This chauvinist filth is an unmistakable call for ethnic cleansing, but was nevertheless published and subsequently defended by Magyar Hirlap, a newspaper with close ties to the government. As a shocked piece in Der Spiegel notes, marginal government ministers have expressed outrage, but the ruling party’s biggest players have remained silent.When thinly veiled calls for mass murder are uttered by prominent political and cultural figures tied to a ruling party, and a country fails to rise up in horror and drive these wicked people to the fringes of political life, that country has gone hideously off the track. Hungarian politicians, academics, journalists, religious leaders and artists and writers need to make it plain to the world that Mr. Bayer does not speak for them.Europe’s leaders also need to take a look at the poisonous weeds sprouting up in their garden. The hatreds that the European Union was intended to quell are returning. It is not clear that beyond muddling through and hoping vaguely for the best Europe has any idea what to do.