Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbáns anti-immigration positions help define him politically. Indeed, the authoritarian leader has spent years extoling the virtues of racial “purity.”
But two weeks ago, Orbán was unusually brazen on the subject, publicly denouncing race-mixing. As The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank summarized in a recent column.
The backlash was fierce. Zsuzsanna Hegedus, a longtime Orbán ally and an adviser in his government, not only condemned the rhetoric, she also quickly resigned.
“I don’t know how you didn’t notice that your speech you delivered is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels,” Hegedus wrote. She added that the prime minister’s remarks would’ve appealed to the “most vile racists.”
This, of course, also offered an opportunity for Orbán’s far-right admirers in the United States to distance themselves from the Hungarian strongman. It is an opportunity Republicans apparently aren’t interested in.
Donald Trump welcomed Orbán to his golf venue in Bedminster this week. “Great spending time with my friend,” the former president said in a written statement. The Republican said the two “celebrated his great electoral victory in April,” but made no reference to the Hungarian’s overt racism.
And then, of course, there’s the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — by most measures, the nation’s largest conservative gathering — which is kicking off today in Dallas, and which is welcoming Orbán as a speaker.
It was a curious defense. Pointing to the Viktor Orbáns “popularity” has nothing to do with merit or propriety: After all, popular leaders can be monsters, regardless of their domestic support.
The question, rather, is about the American right’s embrace of an authoritarian bigot. CPAC and the Trump know what Orbán said. They know he’s been the recipient of the international condemnations. They know one of the prime minister’s own aides recently compared him to a literal Nazi.