Home ClineWatch: Ben Cline will join racist Hungarian PM at CPAC in Dallas next month
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ClineWatch: Ben Cline will join racist Hungarian PM at CPAC in Dallas next month

ben cline
Ben Cline. Photo courtesy Ben Cline congressional campaign.

Last year at a Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Sixth District Congressman Ben Cline delivered a speech so cringe-inducingly bad (see for yourself) that I was sure he would never be invited back.

Shows how much I know about rightwing tolerance for awfulness on their own side.

Cline will be a featured speaker at next month’s CPAC bash in Dallas, along with (of course) Donald Trump and Cline’s dubious pals Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz.

Also on the speakers’ list is Viktor Orban, the authoritarian prime minister of Hungary, who has cultivated a long list of rightwing American admirers with his anti-immigrant policies and his support for “illiberal democracy.” In May Orban hosted a CPAC meeting in Budapest that included— in addition to a number of prominent American conservatives– Zsolt Bayer, an antisemtic Hungarian journalist.

In 2011, furious at criticism of Orban’s newly imposed restrictions on media, Bayer singled out three Jewish critics — Andras Schiff, the noted Hungarian pianist, Nick Cohen, a British journalist, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a French politician — as “stinking excrement” and suggested it was “unfortunate” that more Jews were not killed in a 1919 massacre of Hungarian communists.

That broadside was the basis in part for the Holocaust Museum’s rebuke of Hungary’s government in 2016 when Bayer, who co-founded Orban’s Fidesz party, was awarded Hungary’s Order of Merit.

“Bayer has a long record of racist speech and has written highly provocative antisemitic and anti-Roma articles in the Hungarian media,” the museum said at the time. Bayer, who is close to Orban, has said Roma are “not fit to live among human beings.”

A number of figures who had received the Order of Merit returned it, including a Hungarian Jewish leader. Bayer’s broadsides continued unabated; last year he attacked Antony Blinken, the U.S. Jewish secretary of state, as “rootless,” an antisemitic euphemism for Jews.

Earlier this month Orban drew attention to himself with a speech in which he denounced the mixing of races.

“Migration has split Europe in two — or I could say that it has split the West in two,” he said, after commending to his listeners a 50-year-old racist treatise. “One half is a world where European and non-European peoples live together. These countries are no longer nations. They are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples.” He went on to contrast that with “our world,” in which “we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”

That was too much even for Orban’s longtime adviser Zsuzsa Hegedus, who resigned and lambasted the prime minister for “a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels.” She said the speech could “please even the most bloodthirsty racists” and suggested he was “advocating an openly racist policy that is now unacceptable even for the Western European extreme right.”

Again: this denunciation came not from some leftwing opponent of Orban but from his longtime adviser.

While I don’t expect Cline to cancel his CPAC gig in protest of Orban’s appearance– he has proven time and again that he lacks that kind of integrity– it would be nice if he took the opportunity to speak to the prime minister about what Hegedus correctly called his pure Nazi speech.

Anyone think that will happen?

Gene Zitver is the author of ClineWatch.



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