Commentary

The evolution of anti-immigrant rhetoric in Hungary – Part 1.

Let’s see if you can spot the manipulation in this story.

There is a little country with a population of 10 million and a secret language nobody understands. Legal immigrants are called expats and there aren’t many of them, anyway.

Before 2015, illegal immigrants used to live there too, although they really didn’t want to. They just had the misfortune of being caught. They were locked up, waiting for years while their asylum procedures failed to make any progress. Weirdly enough, they found it hard to learn the culture and assimilate.

They used to cost the country around 1.5 million euros a year. Most of the money came from the EU.

If anything, this country suffered from emigration. Since a new government came into power, up to half a million (some say twice as many) of its working age population left to find work elsewhere. Their friends and families sorely miss them but they understand:

It is foolish to build your future in a country where the government doesn’t respect private property. Your little business will never be safe in a country, where the government nationalises entire industries and hands it to loyal supporters of the governing party. Your livelihood might fall victim to the avalanche of whimsical and arrogant legislation brought to you every day, or the punitive taxes that punish those who still try to pay them.

The good people of this country used to be worried about the state of the healthcare system, the environmental and geopolitical impacts of a gigantic, Russian, nuclear power station planned to be built on their soil. They were worried about their livelihood, the education system, corruption, and the erosion of the rule of law. In short, they used to be worried about things that affected their lives.

They weren’t worried about dinosaurs, solar flares, volcanic activity, terrorism and the negative effect of mass-immigration, because these things simply never happened to them. This country has never seen significant immigration (economic migrants are not attracted by centralised economies for some reason) and never experienced what might be called a terrorist attack.

It is thus hard to see why the government sent a national consultation survey “on immigration and terrorism” to every household. Or maybe it isn’t. There was plenty to distract attention from.

The consultation survey was asking not at all loaded questions, such as:

“Some think Brussels’s mishandling of immigration contributed to the advancement of terrorism. Do you agree with that?”

“Do you think Hungary will be a target of a terror attack next year?”

And gems like:

“How important do you think the advances of global terrorism (ISIS and recent attacks in France) in your life?” (Yes/No)

The consultation cost the government 3 million euros, just in postage. And then the billboards went up, for another 1 million:

“If you come to Hungary…

                  …you must not take our jobs.”

                  …you must obey our laws.”

                   …you must respect our culture.”

1

Mark the masterful positioning of a billboard that frets about local jobs… next to a Burger King

Now this is how a lot of Hungarians have learned that they should be fearful and the reason they cannot find job in a nationalised zombie-economy is the “migrants” (never ‘refugees’, never ‘immigrants’ – sometimes ‘terrorists’.)

By February 2016, the prime minister would rightly claim that some of his people “would hang him on a lamp post” if he let a ‘migrant’ into the country.

Now you know why.

And this is how the public reacted.

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Featured image: Border patrols by the wall near Röszke (Source: 444.hu)

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9 thoughts on “The evolution of anti-immigrant rhetoric in Hungary – Part 1.

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