Fanni Frankl is a sophomore journalism major of Hungarian descent. She has also visited the country before.
Nationalism is common among many nations today and is often perceived as the driving force that allows people to unite under a shared identity of a common culture and/or language. While inclusive nationalism does increase the pride of a nation and allows for people in different countries to feel like one community, society must be careful to ensure that the line does not cross into exclusive nationalism where a specific population feels superior to others.
A more malignant form of nationalism is the real source of worry in society today since it has the possibility to cause stark divisions within a country. Instances of bigotry and non-inclusivity are now put under the guise that the country is doing what is best for its national interests. This was seen in Germany in the 1930s against the Jews when Nazis were convinced that keeping the country “Aryan” and Jew-free would do Germany a favor and restore it to its former glory like it was before World War I.
Nations, today — such as Italy, Sweden and Hungary — are getting dangerously close to the mindset of 1930- Germany with the threat of immigration to their countries. European countries, such as Sweden, now attribute immigrants to crime, chaos, a “fraying of the cherished social safety net” and the erosion of their culture.
In many ways, Hungary leads this alt-right movement against immigrants by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who champions his white, Christian values to his constituents. In his State of the Union address, Orbán proclaimed his vision for the country. “We shall let in true refugees: Germans, Dutch, French, and Italians, terrified politicians and journalists who here in Hungary want to find the Europe they have lost in their homelands,” Orbán said. His administration frequently states anti-Semitic beliefs under the guise to “keep Hungary for the Hungarians.” For instance, one politician, Marton Gyöngyösi, urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a “national security risk,” echoing patterns seen under Nazi Germany.
These trends are extremely troublesome, especially in a country like Syria that is devastated by its civil war. The population that does not share the same values as the white Christians will then be blamed for the misfortunes of the country, such as taking jobs and being a burden on the country’s economy. In reality, these immigrants actually contribute more to the economy by paying taxes and opening new businesses that put the money back into the government. However, the continued sentiment that immigrants are the issue, especially considering Hungary’s destitute economic situation, puts this unfair burden on immigrants who are not really the problem. The superiority complex that the Hungarian administration demonstrates has worrisome consequences that may start with exclusions and go on to actual government persecution.
Being of Hungarian descent and visiting Hungary, I have witnessed such neo-nationalism and how my family perceives people like immigrants and Jews. I feel absolutely disgusted at these sentiments that only reflect the ignorance that Hungarians have to other cultures outside of Europe. While I can understand that people are suffering in economic distress, it is not acceptable to blame immigrants, Jews and others just because they are different skin color or a different religion. This only continues the sickening pattern of dehumanizing a particular group of people, all led by Orbán to manipulate mass fear in the public domain.
While visiting, I learned that Orbán’s administration bought almost every news channel in Hungary to control the type of news given to the public, completely undermining freedom of the press. It is through these means that he is able to worsen the social divide in the country and pump the alt-right agenda to the masses. Orbán’s administration has proven very dangerous in regards to neo-nationalism and the resurgence of the alt-right movement that has left non-white, non-Christians to suffer.