Following the banning of the NPI Confrence in Budapest, Richard Spencer has apparently now been arrested by the Hungarian Police at a private, informal meeting at a city pub (soon to be renamed a bierkeller in Liberal propaganda). As the above video shows, the charge, if there is one, is failing to carry his passport. Such laws exist in many countries – they certainly do in Japan – although they are largely ignored unless the authorities have some arbitrary reason for cracking down on foreigners, which seems to be the case here.
As the NPI Cconference was a relatively minor event, which was of interest to a limited audience, it has to be wondered what the animus for this heavy-handed crackdown is. It would have been easier for all concerned for the Hungarian government simply to have ignored it, yet they have chosen to act in this way.
One possible explanation is that the government of the centre-right Fidesz Party is using the event to attack its main rival the Jobbik Party, using what is essentially an imported and internationalized "racist" smear that can't be defused by the complexities of Hungary's inter-communal relationships. After all, in Hungarian politics accusing people of "racism" for attitudes against Jews and Gypsies is about as effective as accusing them of anti-Communism, and Fidesz of course has its own anti-Gypsy strain. So, one way to see this would be as an attempt to tap into international anti-racism and weaponize it for domestic Hungarian political use.
There is some evidence for this in a statement released by the Hungarian government on its website, denouncing the event:
"Listed first among the prospective speakers is Russian political scientist and ideologist Alexander Dugin, who is known for his radical, racist, Russian nationalist and anti-Ukrainian views and is co-founder of the National Bolshevik Front and Eurasia Party. The list also includes right wing extremist MP Márton Gyöngyösi."
Márton Gyöngyösi is of course a member of Jobbik – and, even better, he has two umlauts in his name.
Another possibility is that Fidesz is trying hard to burnish Hungary's Euro-credentials, following a period when the country has been criticized for authoritarian and anti-liberal tendencies. With more than a two-thirds majority, Fidesz has recently been changing the country's constitution in ways that have raised concerns among other EU members.
These changes included:
- Limiting on the power of courts and EU bodies to overrule the Hungarian government (a.k.a. democracy)
- Restrictions on political advertisements in the publicly run media during election campaigns
- Fines or prison terms for homeless people who sleep on the streets (thought to be aimed at Gypsies)
Perhaps the hope is that by cracking down on a poisonous nest of "racists," "extremist American xenophobes," and "Russian radicals" (the language used in the government statement), Fidesz can hopefully get a free pass on its populist, hard-line conservatism from the liberal left establishment of the EU for a little longer.