Soon after the October 7 Hamas massacre of 1,300 Israeli Jews, an intelligence analyst in Washington sent me this text: ‘We are about to see the vindication of Viktor Orbán’s migration policy.’
Days later, tens of thousands of Hamas supporters filled the streets and squares of European capitals, expressing solidarity with the Islamist butchers, in a spasm of support that as of this writing, has not let up. Once the Israeli military assault on Gaza is underway—and it may have started by the time you read this—we can expect conditions to grow far worse. In a worst-case scenario, the 2021 warnings by retired French generals that
France’s inaction against its homegrown Islamic radicalism will lead to civil war might well prove to be prophecy.
What the analyst meant is that the Orbán government’s hard line on migration—which everyone understands to be migration from the Islamic world—will be revealed as the basic common-sense self-defence that it always was. I told my relatives in the United States that when they see frightening videos on the television news and online about mass pro-Hamas demonstrations in Europe, they should not worry about me in Budapest. The Hungarian capital is safe for Jews and everybody else. Why? Because of Viktor Orbán.
Orbán, of course, is the bête noire of the European ruling class for many reasons, none more intense than his uncompromising attitude toward migration. In 2015, with over a million so-called ‘refugees’—some true refugees, but many others mere economic migrants—flooding into Europe, Orbán said Hungary would not accept them. What a monster!
Sweden took a different path.
‘My Europe takes in refugees. My Europe doesn’t build walls,’ preened Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
Sweden welcomed 163,000 refugees, mostly from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Take that, you Magyar cretins!
Today, even left-wing Swedish politicians sing a different tune. With twenty percent of its population now foreign-born—mostly Islamic—Sweden is struggling with huge rates of crime and social instability. It turns out that you can’t make good secular Swedish liberals out of young people who come bearing a radically different culture and religion.
According to the 2021 book Mass Challenge: The Socioeconomic Impact of Migration to a Scandinavian Welfare State, economist Tino Sanandaji wrote that ‘foreign-born represent 53 per cent of individuals with long prison sentences, 58 per cent of the unemployed, and receive 65 per cent of social welfare expenditures; 77 per cent of Sweden’s child poverty is present in households with a foreign background, while 90 per cent of suspects in public shootings have immigrant backgrounds.’
Citing Sanandaji two years ago in Foreign Policy, columnist James Traub said: ‘Sweden asked too much of itself. Over the last 20 years, an ancient and homogeneous culture subjected itself—without any prior intention or even public debate—to a demographic transformation of breathtaking proportions.’
Even if Sweden manages to solve its problems with gangs and unassimilated migrants, the nation itself will have been profoundly, and permanently, altered by its open-door policy to Third World peoples.
Viktor Orbán told them so. In his infamous (in the West) 2014 Tusványos speech in praise of ‘illiberal democracy,’
the prime minister spoke truths that are inconvenient to the naïve mind of Western liberals.
In sum, Orbán said:
‘ [The] Hungarian nation is not a simple sum of individuals, but a community that needs to be organized, strengthened and developed, and in this sense, the new state that we are building is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state. It does not deny foundational values of liberalism, as freedom, etc. But it does not make this ideology a central element of state organization, but applies a specific, national, particular approach in its stead.’
He did not mention migration; the big crisis was still a year ahead. What the prime minister meant was that liberalism depends on individualism to a degree that, for reasons he explained, damaged the nation overall. Orbán understood then, and understands now, that a nation is not just a set of abstract ideals, but is made of living, breathing people who are bearers of language, of religion, and of culture.
The liberal ideal envisions a nation of diverse consumers united only in their commitment to have no commitments beyond personal pleasure and enrichment. The model liberal nation is one big market, where peoples move among each other with as little friction as possible. A nation so constructed, though, will not cohere, and will not be strong enough to resist attacks from illiberal forces from both inside and outside of its borders.
Which brings us to the horrors that manifested in Europe after the October 7 Hamas mass murder of 1,300 Israelis. Europeans awoke that month to find their streets and squares occupied by tens of thousands of Muslims proclaiming their solidarity with the butchers. In France, the government banned such demonstrations. They happened anyway. In Britain, social media captured Islamic mobs chanting for jihad, while the feeble London police were reduced to tweeting out academic parsing of the word ‘jihad’ to reassure the public that the mobs hadn’t really meant what they said.
In the Hungarian capital, all was well.
All was well, and all will be well, come what may in other European capitals, because Viktor Orbán was right.
It is one of history’s great ironies that Budapest, from which hundreds of thousands of European Jews were shipped to their deaths by the Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators, Jews can walk the streets this dreadful autumn without fear. This is an achievement for which Hungarians can and should be proud. Don’t expect European leaders to give Orbán credit. In fact, they will probably increase their public odium directed at him. As conditions deteriorate in their countries, as the bill for liberal immigration policies comes due, they will need a scapegoat to distract their own people from their catastrophic failure to protect the nation and secure its future.