By Jim Dagg
We get a very depressing look at multicultural intolerance out of our readings on Europe this week. The 2015 refugee crisis was the largest such challenge since the Balkan convulsions of the 1990s and the largest of non-European stock in … a very long time.
It is depressing to see that in Hungary this was seen as an opportunity for a party with an anti-immigrant message to establish a super-majority (able to change the constitution) in parliament. The Fidesz party, under Victor Orban, accomplished this by building a populist platform targeting the EU and financier/philanthropist George Soros that could mobilize the strong socio-economic discontent in rural Hungary. Hungary’s unprocessed history of antisemitism didn’t hurt either: they were primed to be angry about “other” refugees entering the country.
The Soros Myth was clearly an important tool for manipulating the Hungarian people. The campaign included 1) claims that Soros financed the Muslim migrant “invasion” 2) an all-citizens survey on alleged non-credible instructions from Soros to the EU for smoothing the way for immigrants in Europe, and 3) ominous “Big Brother” posters showing a (very creepy) Soros face. How did this campaign convince the Hungarian people? I’d say they just wanted to believe it all. It gave them an excuse for their antisemitism, and their islamophobia – which really amount to other-phobia. And it allowed them to vent their frustrations and anger at a target that was not their own government.
The Qanon pieces this week show that it is a malign twin to the Soros Myth. The details in this extended conspiracy theory are too fantastical to be believed by a rational person. But consider people who are suffering under COVID restrictions. They don’t know anyone who has been sick, and they’ve been in forced isolation from their friends and family. They are feeling manipulated, suspicious, and angry. Once they are suspicious of a conspiracy, Qanon allows them to dig as deep as they want. But you have to “want to believe”.
2 Replies to “You gotta believe”
I think that you make a really good point, Jim, when you ask “How did this campaign convince the Hungarian people? I’d say they just wanted to believe it all. It gave them an excuse for their antisemitism, and their islamophobia.” You can’t be blatantly antisemitic (because the Holocaust), but you can be Islamophobic (because Evola and his cultural difference), so what you do is to take refugees, characterise them as ‘Muslim hordes’, and then make their symbol a man who just happens to be Jewish. Complicated? Yes. Effective? Apparently also yes, because Victor Orban.
I thought your comment on the part about Soros and the people just simply wanting to believe was quite on point. As some of these accusations were quite unbelievable, but this was a perfect opportunity to find a scapegoat and run with it. And yes, absolutely the more he propagated these things he was supposedly responsible for the easier it was for them to spread antisemitism and islamophobia.