The following is an open letter to a truly respected friend:
My dear friend,
Let me start by formally congratulating you on your recent induction into the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. I’m sure it was well deserved.
Having that said, I must admit that I found our recent meeting rather disappointing. I would not necessarily share my disappointment with the world if it was not so very typical of conversations that I, and people like me, DO NOT have with you, and people like you. My problem is not the condescending arrogance of your attitude, so very typical of left-liberals, but how that prevents intelligent and decent discussions of any subject.
It all started with you sending me the post of a friend of a friend bemoaning the state of affairs in Hungary facing a referendum on the 2nd of October. It is a sappy, emotional blabber without making any real point beyond his obvious disgust of about 80% of the Hungarian nation which he claims to proudly represent.
He is quoting in his post Ádám Fischer, another famous Hungarian saying “A person can have any two of the following attributes, but never all three: you can be intelligent; you can be decent; you can vote ‘no’ on this referendum.”
The quote irked me, but it also helped me to frame the problem with the question of the referendum and its handling by the likes of the three of you.
Since you clearly agree with both, since you clearly believe that the decent and intelligent answer to the question of the referendum is yes; since as freshly minted academic you are a supposedly intelligent and decent; since it was you, who brought the question to my attention and since you asked me very directly and provocatively which two of the three attributes I think I have, I thought it would be entirely appropriate to ask you what makes a ‘yes’ answer decent and intelligent and ‘no’ its opposite.
I am still waiting for an answer, but I am beginning to suspect that you may lack the ability to provide me with one. Still the issue requires an answer. I know how you and your friends would vote, but I don’t understand why. The article from the Academy’s blog you sent me to explain it does not.
Here is the question of the referendum:
“Do you want to allow the European Union to mandate the resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the National Assembly?”
The question says absolutely nothing about what an actual Hungarian immigration or refugee policy should be. It does not ask how many should be accepted and from where. The question is NOT about immigration or refugees, it is about national sovereignty and self determination; about the balance of power between the EU and its member states.
The question then is what makes self determination stupid and immoral and giving it up ‘intelligent’ and ‘decent’?
I happen to think that willingly giving up the right to control your own fate is rather stupid and taking it away from others is indecent.
Some leftist groups are challenging the referendum on constitutional grounds reasoning that Article 8 (3) of the constitution states that “No national referendum may be held on […] any obligation arising from international treaties.”
It is an interesting argument, especially considering that the question of whether such obligation does exist under the treaty is the essence of the Hungarian government’s challenge. It was not part of the original agreement. The EU just made it up. Any government could just stick a finger at the face of EU bureaucrats saying that this was not part of the original deal. The Hungarian government could do this even without a referendum. Having one anyway serves two goals: to prove the legitimacy of the government within the country and to show to the rest of Europe that they are acting with the support of their people.
What does that mean? Not much. Some accuses the government of using this issue as a dress rehearsal for a ‘Huxit’ referendum. Does it matter? Not really. The question is what it is. Is it possible that it is just a proxy for the distrust toward the migrant? Absolutely. Is it possible that both sides are using propaganda? Not just possible, it is quite likely. Still, the question is the question and it is grossly dishonest to pretend that it is not and to refuse to discuss its implications. It is also fundamentally dishonest to pretend that we are talking about ‘only’ 1294 asylum seekers. Voters understand that the number is not just a number, but a precedence. If they accept this, they can’t say no next year to a much higher number. They understand that if the number can be imposed by decree, eventually so can be the burden of cost. They understand that giving up self determination on this issue will only open the door for many more such demands.
In the mind of Bence Sarkadi, his comrades and apparently you, the referendum is all and ONLY about xenophobia and a whole set of ulterior motives.
I have to stop here for a second to make a full disclosure:
I consider the European Union, as it exists today, a very bad idea and I wish for its collapse. The sooner it does, the better off we will all be. I never hid this view from anybody the way you and your ideological comrades are hiding theirs. The leftist position is not just about the refugees. The political left wants to see an ever increasing centralization of power; an ever more powerful, ever more controlling authority. An all powerful EU is just a stepping stone toward an even more powerful world government. A sort of new communist international, if you will.
If you look at some of the opinion polls, it is quite clear that the majority of the people DO understand the issue. They know that it is not about the numbers, they know that the migrants will not represent a burden because most of them do not want to stay in Hungary anyway.
This central planning of refugee distribution in an environment of free mobility is a ludicrous idea and people know it. The migrants may be the catalysts of the referendum as they are in many other parts of the EU but in the end, the question is the one on the ballot. Should the EU have the right to change the rules, to compel, to force their wish in areas of governance that should be NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS?
The migrant issue
Let’s suppose for a second that the critics of this referendum are right, that Hungarians have been duped, and some nefarious forces awakened in them a deep distrust toward Muslims. Can anybody be surprised about this? There is no nation in Europe with a bloody history with Muslims comparable to that of Hungarians. The Balkans were conquered and went into submission, the Hungarians were fighting the Ottomans for hundreds of years. The most read Hungarian novel is set around three of the bloodiest campaigns of Suleiman the magnificent. Its first scene is about a slave raider party. Over the course of just a few decades, a million Hungarians have been taken to the slave markets of Istanbul.
The distrust of Muslims is quite understandable and discussing it should not be a taboo.
Muslim immigration is a disaster in most of Europe. Rape epidemics, riots, refusal to integrate, demands for preferential treatment, low labor force participation, high rates of criminality and the list goes on.
Being concerned about the problems Islam is bringing to Europe is neither stupid nor immoral.
The numbers are scary and calling those who point this out racists and xenophobes does NOT address their concerns. Ignoring their questions and arguments cannot possibly change their attitudes.
The problem, however, that prompted this post is neither of the above. My problem is not the power struggle between Brussels and the members of the EU or the migrant crises and its consequences.
My problem is the tone of the discussion about it.
I asked a direct question from you, but I should ask it directly from Bence: How did you vote in the 2004?
The question of the referendum then was whether to extend Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living outside the borders of Hungary proper. The political left voted overwhelmingly no on that referendum while they are advocating for a yes vote on this one.
They rejected their own kin then while they are ready to embrace clearly hostile aliens today.
Somebody should be able to explain to me this contradiction. (Well, this book actually does.)
Intelligence and decency
I asked a very direct question from you: “What is the meaning of ‘intelligence’ and ‘decency’ in the context of this referendum?”
Telling me too google the meaning of these words is not an answer. It’s a thinly veiled admission of the fact that you are unable or unwilling to answer the question yourself. My guess is that you are intelligent enough to know that you do not have an acceptable answer you just don’t have the decency to admit it.
The point, you see, is that I did google it. I am probably even more of a fan of dictionaries and lexicons than you claim yourself to be. Obviously, there is no answer there. We are talking about judgments concerning a particular situation where your bias is at least as strong as mine may be. This is inevitable. The only thing we can do is to talk about our concerns honestly, to seek common ground, to identify the differences and, most of all, to weigh our arguments against available data. You, as a scientist, should be able to relate to that.
On every turn, the data indicates that:
- Centralization of power and over-regulation decreases economic performance; it slows down growth and innovation.
- Centralized decision making by unelected bureaucrats create more strife than harmony.
- While the free movement of people within the EU have some positive results, Muslim immigration is an unmitigated disaster.
- Encouraging illegal immigration results in thousands of people drowning in the Mediterranean.
- refugees could be helped in safe countries closer to their homes for one tenth of the cost of helping them in Western Europe.
And I could go on. In the end, the only decent and intelligent vote is NO.
The problem of how the question is handled:
-the insulting dismissal of a dialogue by you, the academic;
-the arrogant wise-cracking of Ádám Fischer, the conductor;
-and the sappy righteousness of Bence, the puppeteer
…makes intelligent, honest, decent conversation impossible. This problem, the self-righteous withdrawal of the left from reality into their self reinforcing ideological cocoons may destroy Western civilization.
I know that you are on the political left, but I expected more intelligence, more decency and a little bit more respect from you.