Viktor Orbán turns Texas conference into transatlantic far-right love | CPAC

“Globalists can all go to hell,” said Viktor Orbán. “I came to Texas!”

The crowd roared, hollered and gave a standing ovation as they did at a campaign rally for former US President Donald Trump. It was obvious that they saw in Orbán a kindred spirit – a blunt weapon to wield against liberal enemies.

The Prime Minister of Hungary was the first speaker at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, and perhaps the most vivid display yet of the mutual and growing affinity between the extreme right in America and Europe.

Orbán, who served as prime minister for 12 years, boasted of his hardline stance on illegal immigration, law and order and “gender ideology” in schools. He touted an increase in marriages and a decrease in abortions. He was unapologetic in his defense of bloody nationalism and contempt for “left-wing media”.

And extraordinarily for a foreign leader, he openly sided with an opposition party — the Republicans — rather than the incumbent Democrats, paying tribute to Trump at his golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey, while ignoring Joe Biden in the White House.

Calling on Christian nationalists to “join forces,” Orbán told CPAC, “Victory will never be found by taking the path of least resistance. We need to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find friends and allies in each other. We have to coordinate the movements of our troops because we face the same challenge.

He noted that the US midterm elections will take place later this year, followed by the presidential contest and European parliamentary elections in 2024. “These two places will define the two fronts in the battle for Western civilization. Today, we hold neither. Yet we need both.

Rarely has the alliance between nationalist parties across the Atlantic been so audacious, open and unbridled. CPAC was once the domain of cold warrior Ronald Reagan. But in recent years, guest speakers have included Brexit cheerleader Nigel Farage and Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, niece of far-right French politician Marine Le Pen.

Viktor Orbán basks in applause at CPAC in Dallas. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Friday’s lineup included Steve Bannon, who has worked with openly racist far-right leaders across Europe and rented a medieval monastery outside Rome to run a “populism boot camp.”

Bannon is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which he described as “the ‘alternative right’ platform”, a movement associated with efforts to preserve “white identity” and uphold “Western values”. . He served as Trump’s chief White House strategist and now faces jail after being found in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the Jan. 6 committee.

CPAC Texas also heard from Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who railed against the media and told the audience, “When I said I was a Christian nationalist, I have nothing to be ashamed of because that’s what most Americans are. The event will end on Saturday with Trump who, like Orbán, has come under scrutiny over his relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at the non-profit group Right Wing Watch, said: “Leaders on the right, and especially leaders on the religious right in the United States, love Viktor Orbán for the same reasons they love Vladimir. Cheese fries. This manifests adherence to Christian nationalism, a willingness to use strongman tactics, and the power of the government to enforce so-called traditional values ​​about family and sexuality.

Montgomery added: “We have actually seen signs of this illiberalism and this authoritarianism on the part of the Trumpist right in their efforts to ban the teaching of racism in schools, in their aggressive attacks on material and information LGBTQ in schools and libraries, and even their encouragement. of harassment and violence that we have witnessed against election officials and school board members.

“All of these are signs of a disturbing embrace of American right-wing authoritarianism and Orbán is a role model and a hero for them.”

Orbán has few bigger fans than Tucker Carlson, a Fox News host who interviewed him on a week-long show from Hungary last year. Carlson promoted the “grand replacement theory” — the baseless claim of a conspiracy to turn white people into a minority through immigration — in 400 of his shows, according to a New York Times analysis.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson delivers a speech via video link at a previous CPAC event held in Budapest, Hungary on May 19, 2022.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson delivers a speech via video link at a previous CPAC event held in Budapest, Hungary on May 19, 2022. Photography: Szilard Koszticsak/EPA

Orbán’s visit to the United States took place against the backdrop of anti-migrant reactions in which he warned that Europeans should not “become mestizo peoples” and quoted Le Camp des Saints, a 1973 French novel by Jean Raspail which depicts a dystopia in which a South Asian flotilla invades France. The novel was also promoted by Trump allies such as Bannon and Stephen Miller.

Rick Wilson, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said, “Orbán represents a loudly silent element of today’s Republican Party. This silent aloud part is the overt call for racial politics, the white supremacist element that doesn’t bother to hide it from the global alt-right and authoritarian movement. Donald Trump was the thing that let him down in America.

“Orbán has dealt a series of blows against the media in Hungary, which is one of their main targets here. He openly embraced the kind of white replacement policy that is so popular with the Tucker Carlson set and many other American Maga members. [Make America great again] movement.”

Wilson, author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, added, “These things have all helped give Orbán a kind of fanboy following in the United States of people who were once conservative Republicans and are now racially motivated authoritarian wannabes. . He is succeeding on a scale that Donald Trump has not reached in the United States.

This call includes a sneak attack on democracy. Critics say Hungary’s judiciary, media and other institutions are suffering a thousand cuts as Orbán slowly and surely consolidates his power. His right-wing Fidesz party has won legislative constituencies in Hungary in a way that makes it very difficult for opposition parties to win seats – not unlike partisan gerrymandering efforts for legislative seats and at the Congress of States in America. The process currently favors the Republicans because they have more control over the state legislatures that create these borders.

And at CPAC, the purveyors of Trump’s “big lie” — the false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him — loomed large. Mike Lindell, managing director of MyPillow, has been pushing absurd conspiracy theories about voting machines. Several speakers have denounced the congressional investigation of the January 6 uprising as a sham.

Trump merchandise on sale at CPAC.
Trump merchandise on sale at CPAC. Photo: Go Nakamura/Reuters

Kurt Bardela, adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said of Orbán: “They see a plan for fascism. They see someone who embodies Republican Party values ​​of obstructing free and fair elections, undermining democratic institutions, expanding the power of government and politicizing the judiciary, marginalizing minority communities and corrupting pillars of a free society.

“When you talk about autocratic rule, that’s what Prime Minister Orbán is in Hungary and that’s exactly the plan Republicans hope to follow here in the United States of America. It’s not at all surprising that, especially in a place like CPAC Texas, these right-wing white nationalists embrace someone like Orbán.

Earlier this year, when CPAC organized an event in Europe, it was only natural that she chose Hungary. Orbán remains an outlier on the continent – for now. Le Pen lost the French presidential election to Emmanuel Macron, despite winning the largest far-right vote share to date. In Italy, Giorgia Meloni, leader of a party of neo-fascist origin, is well placed to become Prime Minister after early elections this fall.

Robert P Jones, founder and managing director of the Public Religion Research Institute think tank in Washington and author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, said: “There is this identifiable movement. The difference in many European countries is that it is represented in minority parties.

“In the United States now, I think it’s safe to say that this ethno-religious view of the country has taken over one of our two main political parties. Even demographically, nearly seven in 10 Republicans are white and Christian today in a country that is only 44 percent white and Christian. You can see this identity taking hold as the beating heart of the party. It’s a really dangerous situation.

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