Far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sets anti-migrant tone at CPAC Dallas

If you were to read only excerpts from the transcript of the speech that Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave in Dallas on Thursday afternoon, you might mistake him for a college coach.

Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after Governor Greg Abbott spoke at a panel, Orbán told attendees that the American right should “play by [its] own rules” and “play to win”. He went on to add that “yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”

Then, he shared the “secret” behind the success of the Hungarian hard right: “A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.” He even quoted Clint Eastwood and expressed his hope for “more Chuck Norrises” in the world.

Orbán addressed the crowd on the opening day of CPAC Dallas, a three-day series of speeches and panels that brought hundreds of Republicans to town. This is the second year in a row that CPAC has hosted an event in Dallas. Earlier this year, the right-wing advocacy group held events in Israel, Hungary and Florida.

But between the snaps, Orbán railed against migration, progressives, communism and George Soros, the Hungarian-born American billionaire, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor.

When Orbán first mentioned Soros, whom he called “Uncle Georgy,” the audience erupted in boos. “I know George Soros very well,” he said. “He’s my adversary” (Orbán failed to mention that the Soros Foundation helped fund his own education with a scholarship to study at Oxford in the late 1980s.)

Orbán first served as Prime Minister between 1998 and 2002. Now he has held the position since 2010. In recent years he has led a European charge against refugees, civil society groups and the European Union, of which Hungary is a member state.

Despite defending Hungary against accusations of democratic backsliding, the 2022 Freedom House report concluded that the country was only “partly free”. Freedom House cited a disturbing lack of media diversity, widespread institutional discrimination against minorities and refugees, and a 2021 law banning discussion of gender identity and sexual diversity in schools, media and advertising. .

“Hungary is an ancient, proud but David-sized nation, standing alone against woke globalist Goliath,” he said Thursday, expressing his gratitude for the “solidarity of American conservatives.”

When it comes to migration, Orbán drew loud applause in the ballroom. “Ladies and gentlemen, we were the first in Europe to say no to illegal immigration and to stop the invasion of illegal migrants,” he said. (Sound familiar, Texas?)

In 2015, Hungary built a barrier along much of its borders with Croatia and Serbia. Much of this fence is adorned with accordion wire. “We have stopped illegal migration,” he said. “We actually built this wall, and it stopped illegal migration.”

(I first visited the Hungarian-Serbian border in 2015, shortly after Orbán’s government erected the barrier, and no, it didn’t stop people crossing the country. It had however, left refugees and migrants stranded in squalid conditions or forced to take dangerous routes across the border.At the time, a local mayor in eastern Hungary deputized for residents who, armed with rifles, carried out vigilante patrols and hunted refugees and migrants in border areas. The similarities really do stack up, huh?)

“Globalists can all go to hell. I came to Texas.” – Viktor Orbán, Hungarian Prime Minister

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Throughout the rest of his speech, Orbán ticked off a list of conservative American talking points. Family is sacrosanct, he said. The police need more funding, not less. Taxes are bad.

Last month, the Hungarian leader made international headlines when he said in a speech that migration would turn Hungarians into “mestizos”. He said: “We are ready to mix with each other, but we don’t want to become mixed-race people. Migration has split Europe in two – or I could say it has split the West in two. .”

Closing his speech in Dallas, Orbán called on conservatives in the United States and Europe to “take back the institutions of Washington and Brussels,” where the European Parliament is located.

He said the midterm vote in the United States in November, along with the US presidential elections and European Parliament elections in 2024, “will define both fronts in the battle for Western civilization.”

“Today we don’t have either, but we need both,” he added.

“Globalists can all go to hell,” he said. “I came to Texas.” (You should give it to his speechwriters.)

Earlier in the day, Texas Governor Greg Abbott described the surge in migration at the US-Mexico border as an “invasion”.

During a panel with CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, he called on Republican lawmakers to ‘impeach’ US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over President Joe Biden’s border policies .

Abbott has defended his own border stunts, including the controversial Operation Lone Star crackdown on migrants crossing into Texas and the busing of asylum seekers to Washington.

“Donald Trump was the model on how to do it,” he said of his border crackdown. Later, he added, “Texas is the only state to build our own border wall to secure our state and guarantee our sovereignty.” (But like Orbán, Abbott had a few omissions here and there — among them the fact that Texas had built a huge 900-foot border wall in December. By April, the new Texas wall was about 1.7 miles in length. , the BBC reported at the time.)

Among those scheduled to speak at CPAC Dallas are U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, former President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser recently found in contempt in a case related to the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

Laura T. Thrasher