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God Bless Hungary – Interview with Rod Dreher by Lidia Papp

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God Bless Hungary – Interview with Rod Dreher


What do you think of the rainbow flag appearing in more and more places? 

We, back in the US, were conservative; these things happen, and nobody speaks out about it, nobody does anything about it. But in Hungary, you have a government that does something about it and so: ‘God bless Hungary’.  As an American traveling abroad this summer when I have been to Poland and other countries, I see the pride flag hanging from the embassies. I was in Spain last week, where there was the pride flag on the consulate in Barcelona. It makes me so embarrassed as an American, and even if you believe in LGBT pride, I think that as a representative for an entire country, where this is still a controversial issue, you should not hang this flag on the embassy because you offend people in the local country. In Poland, people were really offended by the pride flag. I would not be surprised that there is a pride flag on the US Embassy here in Budapest, where a lot of people are offended. You will notice though that the US Government does not hang a pride flag on the embassies in Muslim countries. What does that tell you? I see the way our government and American companies and Western European countries and companies are doing as a form of cultural imperialism. When I was in Poland, a couple of years ago, doing research for my latest book Live not by Lies, I spoke to some Polish Catholics who worked for the Polish branch of American or European multinationals. They were forced to celebrate LGBT Pride in the workplace, and they are Catholics, conservative Catholics and they told me, we do not have any problems working with our LGBT colleagues, but do not take a stand in the workplace and say things we do not believe. And they were facing the question of: ‘Do I violate my conscience and stand before God with a stained conscience? Or do I quit my job? If so, how do I feed my family?’ This is wrong. This sort of decision is being forced on them by major companies, “woke capitalists” as we call these major companies, which have the support of Western governments. So, whenever I see people in Poland and Hungary in the Visegrad countries fighting back, I feel like: ‘Thank you, at least somebody is doing this’. The conservative politicians in this part of the world have more courage than the conservative politicians in America, which is really embarrassing for me, frankly, but again, at least somebody is doing it.

What do you think about the political attacks on Hungary from the West?

I have been amazed by the courage that Viktor Orbán has shown and by the way, he just does not care what Western Europe thinks. One of the things that I have learned that the reason why Hungarians feel the way they do about their sovereignty is all goes back to Trianon. I am not telling your viewers anything they do not already know, but we—in the West—have no idea about this. I did not know what the Treaty of Trianon was until I came here. And now you cannot talk to any Hungarians for more than 15 minutes without hearing about Trianon. But it is significant.

You cannot understand why Hungary today does what it does on the international scene without understanding Trianon, without understanding what it feels like to have your entire country flat on its back and dismembered by an outside power

And then, of course, Hungary had to deal with 40 years of Soviet occupation. So, when the Hungarians defend their sovereignty, internationally, they feel it in their bones. I think this is something that we in the West need to respect more. You do not even have to agree with what they do, but you need to understand why they do it. And the whole George Soros thing—most people in America do not know who Soros is, but when we hear about it, it is usually like: ‘Oh, those crazy Hungarians are obsessed with him; those antisemitic Hungarians.‘ But then when you actually get here and see what the man has done, look at the record, you realize that the Hungarians are right about him and he is doing the same thing in the US, as well, with district attorneys and major cities. He is getting extremely liberal days and the crime is skyrocketing in these cities. So, Soros is not this kind, liberal grandfather; he is actually a menace. That is something I did not fully appreciate until I came to Hungary. So, I have really been impressed by the leadership in Hungary. And also, not impressed by the opposition. I remember, in one of my early weeks here, I went to see a professor who is supporting the opposition. I said, tell me why you do not like FIDESZ. He said, well, there is corruption, and he said, I support gay marriage, but not transgender, transgender is just too far. Okay. So, we went on talking, then at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘but you know, I can stand at my classroom here at the university, and say whatever I want and nobody from the state will bother me’. I said: ‘Professor, that is really interesting because if you were in America and you said what you told me at the beginning of our conversation, that you support gay marriage, but not transgender, your students would attack you, they would go to the head of the university demand that you be fired; you would be fired and you would never work in the academia again, and the state would have nothing to do with it. But this is the culture in America now. So, who is more free? You sitting here and Viktor Orbán in Hungary , or your colleagues standing in Joe Biden’s America? The answer is that you are more free in Hungary, which is a weird thing to say for an American, but it is actually true.’

What do you think Ronald Reagan would think about the world today?

If Ronald Reagan were alive, he would be turning over in his grave. I think he would be completely puzzled by the turn things have taken. I remember when Reagan first came to office, I was a teenager in America, and I believed a lot of what the liberal media said about Reagan that he was a warmonger and that he was a crazy person who was going to get the country into conflict and help the rich. Well, that was not true. I did not realize that till much later. I remember where I was, when the Berlin Wall fell, Reagan was no longer in office, but this was something he had a big part in making happen. I was so grateful for that, and my appreciation for what he has achieved has grown over the years.  Reagan fought against one tyranny, a materialist tyranny, the Soviet Union, hard totalitarianism, but he believed in freedom, and I think he would be appalled at what we have done with freedom in the year since communism fell. I have read somewhere that Pope John Paul the II after went to Poland after the fall of communism and he gave a homily to the Polish Catholic saying: ‘we have defeated one materialist tyranny, but do not fall victim to the next one, which is coming from the West, which is a much nicer one, a much more comfortable one, but it still denies the value of the soul. It denies higher things that denies transcendence, and it tries to ensnare you by telling you that the only thing that matters is what you do with your body of getting rich, having fun, etc.’ Well, tyranny, I am afraid has taken over now. I think that Reagan would be made very sad by it because he and the other cold warriors, not just Reagan, but Margaret Thatcher, John Paul, Lech Wałęsa, Vaclav Havel, Cardinal Mindszenty, everybody going all the way back to ’56 and ’68 in Prague, they did not fight for this garbage that we have now. What I have tried to do with my work is to try to learn from what the people of the Cold War, the things that they have learned from their experiences, and to try to apply them to this more complex tyranny that we are facing now; this tyranny of what I call soft totalitarianism. But I wonder, who will be the Reagan who stands against soft totalitarianism and says, ‘tear down this wall’. We really need him, it may not be a political figure, he may be a spiritual figure, it may be a woman, but we need somebody to come and name the enemy, and not be afraid to name the enemy. But to say, we will not stand for this. We believe in freedom, but freedom, not a license to do whatever you want freedom to do the right thing.

Do you think there is a chance that the conservative powers of various European countries come together?

I have been to Spain recently. And I was speaking with someone who is a leader of the Vox party, the Populist Party, they are always described FIDESZ as far-right, even though this is a lie. But I have talked to the Vox party member, an asset, and asked how he got involved in politics. He said, ‘I got involved in politics six years ago, because I was so disgusted by the fact that our established Conservative Party wasn’t doing anything. They were rolling over every time the left proposed something’. They said, gender ideology was wrong; we had to take a stand against this. And so, he came together with Santiago Abascal and others and founded the Vox party. I think that parties like the Vox and FIDESZ, the ones who are hated by the establishment in Europe, are the right. They have to be the right because they are the only ones who had the courage and the vision to stand against this sort of globalist liberalism that even, I am sorry to say, the parties of the establishment right in Europe have accepted. So maybe a new Reagan, the Reagan of the 21st century will come out of one of these parties: FIDESZ, or Law and Justice Vox; one of these populist parties who really understand what is at stake. We are here to defend a civilization that is falling apart.

What do you think about the direction America is heading to?

I love my country. But it was tough to be in America and see where things are going, retiring ourselves apart over race with Black Lives Matter. We are tearing the family apart with gender ideology. There is just so much hatred between left and right. And it almost feels like: we passed the point of no return. I sometimes think that America today is like Spain was in the early 1930s, as they were headed towards the Civil War when neither side could stand to speak to each other. That is what it feels like. Now I see America from the outside, the contrast between the two countries, the difficulties became so much more vivid. 

I worry a lot about America because we seem to have lost a vision

I especially think this is true of race. One of the great heroes of the 20th century was Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. who risked his own life in the Civil Rights marches, to make America fair, to make American stand for what our Constitution said, and to get rid of racism, when he said that he dreamed of an America where nobody judged people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character. That was so inspiring. It is no accident that the civil rights movement was led by black Christian pastors. They spoke in the language of Christianity and the Bible. They made their claims based on that and they spoke to a country that was still Christian. What a difference 60 years have made. Now we are definitely a post-Christian country and you find the people who are pushing for black liberation are the ones who think Martin Luther King was a fool. They are now demanding segregation. Many of them say that white people are irredeemably evil and that no good can come from white people. This is a complete betrayal of King. And it is the kind of thing that growing up in the deep south as a child I heard from old white people who were segregationist. They said the same things about black people back then. Dr King and his movement rescued America from that place in his vision and now we are getting the same thing from the left. It is really scary. We are exporting it here in Budapest; I was shocked to see a Black Lives Matter statue here in the city. That was also painted rainbow colors for LGBT. I read in the newspaper; a journalist asked the mayor of that district, what it has to do with us here? She said, ‘Oh, we must all stand against racism. This is what it is like in the era of the internet and social media’. We in America are exporting our insanity to the rest of the world.

Could you give me an example of praise of Joe Biden?

Praise of Joe Biden…. There must be something…. Well, here is one good thing about him. There is no drama. This was one of the things that I hated the most about Trump is that every day was a drama. You know, even when he was winning, it was not enough for him, he had to come to stand in the middle of it and make a mess. Biden, by contrast, stays in the background. He allows his surrogates throughout the government to get things done, but he is actually a very effective president because Joe Biden knows how to use power. I think he is using it for the worst, no question about it. But to contrast that to Donald Trump, who cared most of all about making speeches that annoyed liberals and made liberals angry and sent out tweets, I would much rather have a president who can actually be quiet, silent and boring, but get things done. That is what we need in America on the right. The problem with Joe Biden, though, is, as I said, that he uses his very, very deep experience and intelligence for politics, for the wrong things. For example, he is pushing so hard to make the entire federal bureaucracy woke; they are pushing hard for gender ideology, they are pushing for Black Lives Matter. He is actually getting things done because the bureaucracy in the federal bureaucracy is to the left. Trump was not wrong about the swamp. The problem is that Trump enjoys talking about the swamp, but he did not actually do anything about it. Biden is making the smart work for himself and for the things he believes in. I think that this is really going to be bad for the country. Because once these things get changed, they are probably not going to change back. If they change back, it is going to be because the Republicans in 2024 nominate a politician who has the same convictions as Trump about populous themes, conservative themes, but who has way more intelligence than Trump and discipline and who knows how to use the government to change things. I have often said that if Donald Trump had had even half the intelligence and the focus of Viktor Orbán, America would be a very different place. Maybe in 2020, for the conservative movement, we will be able to put forward a politician, a presidential candidate, who is more like Orbán than Trump.

What do you think about the political influence George Soros has in Hungary?

I used to think that it was a conspiracy theory that the Hungarians were paranoid about George Soros. But the more I started looking into what he actually does with his billions, the more I realized that Hungarians are right. It is incredible. Just a few years ago, I was told by one of the readers of my blog, The American Conservative, that you need to look into what Soros and the Obama state department are doing in the country of Macedonia, for example. What they did was the Open Society Foundation and the US Agency for International Development. They translated Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals, into Macedonian. Now, this book is a hugely influential one. Saul Alinsky was a 60s radical, who dedicated this book about subversion to Lucifer. Well, my government and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation translated it into Macedonian and spread it all around that country to try to undermine the conservative Orthodox Christian government there, especially on gender ideology. So it is simply a lie that the people who defend Soros and they say, ‘Oh, he only wants good things’. No, he does not. I mean, maybe he thinks these things are good, but they are really bad. When people speak out against it, they are speaking truth to power Soros has so much power and his power consists, at least in the United States, and the fact that he is spending his billions to support the globalist progressivism that the entire liberal establishment already believes in. One of the things that makes me so angry in America is whenever I hear the Hungarian government and Viktor Orbán being criticized for being anti-semitic for criticizing Soros. If Soros was not Jewish, everyone would know completely, that they are criticizing an oligarch who is using his money to try to overthrow the government and change the country. But the fact that he is Jewish, a lot of the people in the media tried to say, ‘Oh, you know, how can they be so anti-semitic’. I have told them: ‘Look, this summer in Budapest, I am living right next to the Jewish Quarter. I remember on the day when Israel and the Palestinians got into a war this summer, I thought, oh my God, there is going to be police and soldiers out in front of the synagogues, and the Jewish Quarter to protect them. It was nothing. I walked through it every day, to and from work. Jews who are out in the streets, being openly Jewish, some of them as openly orthodox, they felt perfectly safe, unlike in Paris, unlike in London and other cities in Western Europe. I say, “What does this tell you? This tells you that the Jews are safe here in Hungary and that the Orbán government supports Israel, unlike George Soros”.


Lidia Papp, research fellow at Danube Institute