CRB: Hungary & the future of Europe

In the third installment of our preview of the new (Spring) issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here), Christopher Caldwell takes up Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán. We have featured Caldwell’s several CRB essays on the Muslim immigration that is transforming Europe. As the author of the 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, he knows what he is talking about. His present essay on Orbán begins:

No English-language newspaper reported on it at the time, nor has any cited it since, but the speech Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán made before an annual picnic for his party’s intellectual leaders in the late summer of 2015 is probably the most important by a Western statesman this century. As Orbán spoke in the village of Kötcse, by Lake Balaton, hundreds of thousands of migrants from across the Muslim world, most of them young men, were marching northwestwards out of Asia Minor, across the Balkan countries and into the heart of Europe.

Already, mobs of migrants had broken Hungarian police lines, trampled cropland, occupied town squares, shut down highways, stormed trains, and massed in front of Budapest’s Keleti train station. German chancellor Angela Merkel had invited those fleeing the Syrian civil war to seek refuge in Europe. They had been joined en route, in at least equal number, by migrants from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. For Hungarians, this was playing with fire. They are taught in school to think of their Magyar ancestors as having ridden off the Asian steppes to put much of Europe to the torch (Attila is a popular boys’ name), and they themselves suffered centuries of subjugation under the Ottomans, who marched north on the same roads the Syrian refugees used in the internet age. But no one was supposed to bring up the past. Merkel and her defenders had raised the subject of human rights, which until then had been sufficient to stifle misgivings. In Kötcse, Orbán informed Merkel and the world that it no longer was.

Orbán was preparing a military closure of his country’s southern border….

Caldwell’s essay is “Hungary and the future of Europe.” You may want to print it out and read it at leisure. You may want to subscribe to the magazine to get it in print. The whole thing is certainly worth reading.

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