Being invited on taxpayers’money (!) to talk about the future of Europe (!!) and mingle with these people (!!!) is not fab…
In 2017 there was a conference that sounded as if the Hungarian government had invited everyone on Buzzfeed’s annual list of most outrageous homophobes – to talk to us about “protecting families”. This year, it is Milo Yiannopoulos telling us about the future of the EU.
In January 2018, an international conference on The Future of Europe will be held in Budapest. The conference is funded by the Hungarian foreign ministry, and it is “an outstanding cultural and scientific event of the V4 Hungarian Presidency”, according to its website. Apart from Milo, they managed to line up such luminaries as Junge Feirheit’s Götz Kubitschek and of course, the Hungarian foreign minister.
Because who else is to enlighten us about the future of Europe if not Milo Yiannopoulos?
Milo was presumably invited to tell us that we are fettered by feminism and political correctness. And that Hungarians are not allowed to say things that he totally does – while still being fabulous.
I’m worried about him though. I’m sure they pay well, they have all the taxpayers’ money in the world, but does Milo know that his hosts are not fab?
Milo, they are not fabulous…
Milo may not have to meet our royal family, especially if they find out that he is… you know… not a heterosexual father of five. The organizers already removed the program when the press started to write about Milo being Jewish and gay and all sorts of unacceptable things. So Orbán and his family may not turn up. But this guy is the foreign minister and he will definitely be there to meet Milo.
But it may not even happen. It may just be an enthusiastic initiative that will be clamped down upon from above. I feel sorry for the intern they will blame for the mistaken invitation if this turns out to be a bad idea.
After all, it was Orbán himself who started distinguishing between good gays and the provoking gays. When asked about the much-attacked Budapest Pride he chillingly thanked gays for “not provoking” the mainstream society. If that’s not a threat from the lips of the Boss, I don’t know what is.
Ever since that, the state controlled media has added “provocation” and “pedophilia” as words to be used every time they cover homosexuality.
This is also the country where the populist right wing governing party (Fidesz) and its media is attacking the even more right wing Jobbik’s leader by accusing him of being gay. And it works.
What can Milo actually say here to provoke?
I’m terribly sorry for not following Milo’s body of work. Partly because I fear whiplash from the frequent turns of his arguments as they slap my stupid, liberty-loving face – but also because I understand that the product he sells is mere controversialism.
But it begs the question: What can Milo say here to outrage? His identity would blow minds for sure, but his words? We don’t need anyone to defend fear of migrants. We don’t need anyone to bash political correctness for us. And if he wants to attack feminism, he may first have to explain to his audience what it is.
If Milo wants to spark controversy here, he may have to defend PC or Hillary or something. Or admit that he is gay and not ashamed of it. Or that he is a Jew – even if recovering. Those things would spark the controversy that sells his books. His usual tirade against PC will only be met with contented nodding from the audience.
Political correctness alert for Hungary?
Unsurprisingly, Hungarian right wing nationalists have long adopted the American meme that political correctness somehow shackles them, even though this particular grievance is not very real in Hungary. Nationalists are still the scariest things around here and the worst thing that can happen to them is that someone calls them nazis. Apart from that, Hungary is the biggest safe space for nazis in Europe right now. They just don’t like the label, the little snowflakes. They are not-nazi-but.
And we don’t even have a counter-movement. Feminists here have never went further than shyly raising the question whether domestic violence should be perhaps, maybe, punishable by law – then quickly got slapped back into their place (the kitchen or ridicule) by brave defenders of men. And those boy’s rights defenders are already using arguments borrowed from the US red pill alt-right Reddit groups. Before they even needed them.
Loud and angry displays of anti-semitism are everyday occurrences in Hungary, even a late bus can trigger some Jew-bashing. And homophobia is just a perfectly understandable and innocent little quirk of your new boyfriend. And don’t get me started on gypsies, they are legitimate targets for anyone, it is somehow the glue that keeps rich nationalists and poor nationalists together: that they can all hate the gypsies (and pretend it is somehow brave to do so). But it is never the poor not-nazi-but that is scared to speak up. At least not scared enough to shut up.
As of the opposite – civilized people attacking poor nazis – it has been limited to calling them nazis, which clearly hurts their feelings. They prefer new, not-yet-discredited labels for themselves. And it only happens in columns in highbrow, barely-read broadsheet papers and the liberals-only part of the remaining independent media. But since when do those papers matter?
Especially since Orbán and his ethnonationalists came into power in 2010, there is no persecution of hatred here, sorry. Those poor not-nazi-buts can say whatever they please. They can even claim that they are under attack – and believe themselves. How is Milo going to spark any controversy here?
State media bends over backwards to defend Milo
The state media, however, gifted us with a few uncontrollably funny moments when they dutifully set out to defend the gay Jew provocateur’s invitation. I’m pretty sure no one even had to tell them to do it. Media outlets that regularly use “pedophile” as a synonym for gay and accuse gay people with “provocation” (because Orbán said that good guys don’t provoke, but sadly there are bad ones…) endorsed Milo. As Hungarian Spectrum summarized the state media reaction:
“Yesterday Pesti Srácok published an article in which Balázs Dezse, the author, talked about Yiannopoulos’s visit to Budapest as a “historic moment” which “for many people is a dream come true.” … According to the admiring author, Yiannopoulos played a key role in the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. The argument is that it is hard to label this man as a Nazi because, after all, he is openly gay, he prefers African-American partners, and he is partly Jewish. As for his firing from Breitbart for his controversial remarks about pedophilia, this was an attempt by liberals to silence him. … Dezse, in an earlier article … describes Yiannopoulos as “the most exciting and most controversial figure of the alternative right.” … The article is titled “A brilliant and dangerous fagot, evil doer of the internet alt-right.” …
The more mainstream Fidesz papers, like Magyar Idők and Magyar Hírlap, have so far remained quiet about the conference. Mária Schmidt’s Figyelő couldn’t quite ignore it since, after all, Schmidt was involved in the organization of the event. So, an article attacked the liberal media’s criticism of inviting people like Milo Yiannopoulos to an international conference organized by the Hungarian government. … These people complain that “Yiannopoulos as a newspaperman considers his chief mission to be the criticism of feminists, left-wingers, and human-rights activists. This is 100% correct and that’s why we love him.”
Zsolt Jeszenszky, who described himself as a political hobbyist and who has a Bannon 2020 banner on his Facebook page, called the criticisms mere hysteria by the “Hungarian alter egos of Guy Verhofstadt.” In his opinion, “the fellow is extremely well educated, well informed” and often makes fools of his opponents. He is “the greatest enemy of the liberal establishment.” Jeszenszky in this article intimates that conservative Republicans were behind Yiannopoulos’s downfall at Breitbart, taking advantage of his comments on his pedophilic experience.”
But maybe Figyelő, Magyar Idők and Pesti Srácok were a bit rush defending Milo. His name has since disappeared from the website – alongside the entire program of the conference. But worry not, I am sure they will be able to defend their defense if need be.
Milo is not the first
In May 2017 Budapest hosted the Budapest Family Summit (organised by the American World Congress of Families, or WCF, an umbrella organization for the US religious right) along with the Budapest Demographic Forum where ultra-orthodox Russians rubbed shoulders with American fundamentalists. WCF is the world’s leading homophobic organisation, and while it’s members no doubt have their genuine homophobia (pardon, concern for families), it still looks like another well-disguised money-making and lobbying scheme, possibly with national security agenda to top it off.
And if Pope Francis can keep his opinions about migrants to himself, Hungary will also host the 2020 World Eucharistic Congress.
I cannot help but wonder whether the dispatching of a disgraced alt-right luminary to Hungary is the first “diplomatic” success the Orbán-government has scored with Trump’s team. After all, Orbán has been desperate to meet his soul mate. He endorsed Trump before he was even elected. Before even Kim Jong Un! He attacked Soros on billboards and in direct mail to every household like no civilized country ever should. Orbán throws communication flash bombs faster than Trump can point at Jerusalem on a map and he spreads the same kind of fear and hatred Trump is operating with. He built a wall, for goodness’ sake! They should be absolute buddies! And yet, Orbán could never get close to his new potential ally.
Poor Milo. Sounds like he had fallen on hard times. Or maybe the Hungarian political elite did so. Intellectually, of course, not financially. After all, why would they need (and pay) an American provocateur to point them towards gravity?