Orban Vs. Soros University
George Soros’s university has been kicked out of Hungary, says the Washington Post, using language more suited to a news analysis than news reporting. Excerpt:
European Union leaders warned that it was a red line, and dared Hungary not to cross it. The U.S. ambassador pegged the issue as his top priority. In the streets of Budapest, tens of thousands marched.
But in the end, there was nothing to stop Prime Minister Viktor Orban — who calls all the shots at home and increasingly does the same with his supposedly more powerful allies in the West — from driving Central European University into exile.
The school, established a quarter-century ago to educate a new generation of leaders and scholars after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, became on Monday the first university to be forced out of an E.U. nation.
The ejection marked one of the surest signals to date of autocracy’s return to Hungary, and the region, after decades of relative freedom.
It also reflected a humbling for the West, which could not muster the strength to stand up to Orban.
I will not defend this move, because my general stance is to oppose the closing of universities, period. But I won’t criticize it either, at least not without more information, because I know that the standard Western narrative holding Soros to be the innocent victim of the malign autocrat Orban is nonsense.
From Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe:
In October 2015 the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, criticised Soros publicly as one of a circle of activists who “support anything that weakens nation states.” Soros responded publicly to confirm that the numerous groups he was funding were indeed working for the ends described by Orban. In an email to Bloomberg, Soros said that it was his foundation which was seeking to “uphold European values,” while he accused Orban of trying to “undermine those values.” Soros went on to say of Orban: “His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.” The dialogues ceased before anyone could ask Soros how long those European values might last once Europe could be walked into by people from all over the world.
In his email to Bloomberg Business, Soros referred to this plan, which you can read in full on the Soros website (GeorgeSoros.com). Excerpt:
First, the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly – a principle that a qualified majority finally established at last Wednesday’s summit.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has now also produced a six-point plan to address the crisis. But his plan, which subordinates the human rights of asylum-seekers and migrants to the security of borders, threatens to divide and destroy the EU by renouncing the values on which it was built and violating the laws that are supposed to govern it.
Orban was exactly right! Soros believes that borders are less important than moving a million “refugees” into Europe each year, indefinitely. This is not a secret. The globalist billionaire Soros is — was — funding a university in Budapest whose purpose is to radically undermine the political and cultural order of Hungary.
Piret Karro, a 27-year-old from Estonia who came to Budapest to get a master’s degree in gender studies, learned that Mr. Orban banned the subject this year. She said that while the university would survive in Vienna, she worried what the move meant for academic freedom in Hungary more broadly.
“Other academic institutions in Hungary will still have to deal with Viktor Orban curbing free speech and eliminating critical thinkers,” she said.
Wow. What will Estonians do without their gender studies degrees?
Orban leads a tiny and relatively poor Central European country of fewer than 10 million people, is desperately attempting to prevent that country from committing cultural suicide like the rest of Europe. It is hard for Americans to understand what the world looks like from the perspective of a country like that. When I was in Budapest earlier this year, I spoke to an Orban supporter who agreed that he was flawed. In particular, the supporter said that Orban is more susceptible to crony capitalism than he ought to be.
But, said the Orban backer, you have to understand that Hungarians are profoundly wounded by their country’s subjection to the Soviets for much of the 20th century. They feel acutely the pain of losing national self-determination. After communism’s fall there, my interlocutor explained, wealthy Western capitalists swooped in and bought decrepit state industries at fire sale prices. Hungarians were thrilled to be free of the Soviet yoke, but they were not happy to have their economic future in the hands of rich Westerners. Part of Orban’s popularity has to do with his willingness to say that Hungarians ought to be deciding the future of Hungary, and not only to say it, but to back it up with policies.
This is why the Hungarian people supported him in his refusal to yield to Brussels’s demand that Hungary accept large numbers of “refugees.” And this is why they generally support his nationalism.
Orban considers Soros’s university to be an agent of real corruption in the heart of his embattled nation. Consider something as petty as the gender studies program at the university. That’s a garbage discipline that promotes an ideology that destroys marriage and family. When I was in Hungary earlier this year, I spoke to people there who could not grasp the West’s acceptance and promotion of transgenderism, and gender ideology more broadly. I’m serious: it made no sense to them at all. I warned them that not long ago, it wouldn’t have made sense to Americans either, but cultural elites have stopped at nothing to mainstream it, and even to turn it into law. The same will happen to them if they aren’t careful.
From the 2011 Hungarian Constitution:
Whether that constitutional provision is right or wrong is a matter of debate. But it is part of the Hungarian constitution, the Preamble to which says, in part:
We hold that after the decades of the twentieth century which led to a state of moral decay, we have an abiding need for spiritual and intellectual renewal.
George Soros has never hidden his desire to spread secular liberal values to the former Soviet bloc countries. A few years back, the Obama-era USAID paired with Soros to translate and publish Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals into the Macedonian language, and distribute it there, to undermine the conservative government. In 2016, USAID announced a plan to spend $300,000 promoting “LGBTI inclusion” in Macedonia.
It seems to me that the Orban government correctly understands that the culture war is a war of imperialism and subversion fought by other means by nations and private actors (Soros) who wish to defeat traditionalists. Whether or not that justifies kicking Soros U. out of the country is a separate question. But American readers should understand that coverage of this event in Western media is not telling the whole story, and gives no context for understanding why the Hungarians would see Soros U. as a threat to their sovereignty — and indeed, why they would see decadent Western liberalism as a threat to their existence as a people.
Again, I don’t know enough about the particulars of this controversy to defend the Orban government’s move here — I’m eager to learn more — but I’m strongly inclined to give Orban the benefit of the doubt in this matter.