Deutsch vs. Melia: But Who the Heck Is Tamás Deutsch?

Yet again, there is an obscene amount of time and space spent in the Hungarian press on a famous Fidesz politician’s own obscene communications. That the vulgarities targeted a high-ranking US diplomat, who just one day ago “dared” criticize legislation passed by the Fidesz government during a hearing of a US House of Representatives committee is merely cream on the cake (though last time I checked these committee members were supposed to be working on raising the debt ceiling – so what are they doing hearing grave concerns about the state of Hungarian democracy?).

There is of course nothing like the scandal of a dirty-mouthed politician to divert attention to what are substantial criticisms of the Fidesz government’s recent actions. There is of course nothing classier than calling an Assistant Deputy Secretary of the US a prick and insinuating that his concerns should be dismissed by “ear-boxing.”

On Tuesday, Hungarian newspapers and online portals reported that Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State depicted Hungary in a very unfavorable light to the House Foreign Affairs European and Eurasian Committee.

Mr. Melia gave his testimony on the Hill “on the state of human rights and democracy.” He had this to say on how Hungary fares in these areas:

Several recent events are cause for significant concern about Hungary‘s democratic trajectory.  Hungary is an important EU and NATO member.  At the same time, we have seen the current one-party government use its unprecedented two-thirds parliamentary majority to lock in changes to the Constitution that could solidify its power, limit checks and balances, and unduly hamstring future democratic governments in effectively addressing new political, economic and social challenges.  The government replaced members of a media oversight board, for example, with candidates aligned with the ruling party.   More disconcerting, the board has been given the power to issue decrees and impose heavy fines – up to $950,000 – for news coverage it considers “unbalanced” or offensive to “human dignity.”

The report also makes reference to the discrimination of Romas, to anti-semitism and anti-muslim sentiments, and to acts of violence targeting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities – describing these as problem areas characteristic of the entire region. While Hungary is not mentioned explicitly in connection with such violations of rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks urging the Hungarian government “to be more inclusive in its law-making” and to reconsider its law on religious freedom in particular (in its current version, it restricts the number of churches officially recognized by the state to 14) are quoted directly in Mr. Melia’s report (read the PDF version of the entire report here).

Mr. Melia’s report would merit lengthier analysis – perhaps in another blog entry. One thing about it, however, requires stressing: Hungary is the only EU country mentioned in the report. No other member of the European Union from the Eastern European region made it to this list of countries deemed to be causes of “concern” for the US Department of State.

In the meantime, the Hungarian reception of the document has taken a sharp shift of emphasis. Originally, the government’s position was that ‘nobody can question the will of the Hungarian people. ” But then, in less than 24 hours after the publication of Mr. Melia’s specific and focused criticism of the Hungarian government’s actions, Tamás Deutsch, Fidesz member of the European Parliament, hurried to the rescue and sent out the following vulgarity-filled ad hominem attack of Mr. Melia in his Twitter feed:

Ki a fasz az a Thomas Melia? Minek kell naponta adnunk a szarnak egy pofont?

Or, in a literal translation (trying to preserve all of the curse words in their original):

Who the di*k is Thomas Melia? Why do we have to box the sh*t on the ear every single day?

Which, taking into consideration the idioms used amounts to:

Who the f*ck is Thomas Melia? Why do people keep stirring the same old shit day after day?

[Thanks to one of my readers for this translation, who also writes that this last sentence is to be interpreted as “why do have to keep going round and round without getting anywhere.” This idiom seems to refer to the futility of trying to shape up shit by slapping it.]

Mr. Deutsch is well-known for his inappropriate Twitter remarks. He has claimed before that there is nothing wrong with informally phrased communications on Twitter – that sharing tweets in everyday language might even make a politician sound more authentic.

The point here, however, is that the Fidesz government has managed to transform any public debate that may have ensued in light of Mr. Melia’s testimony on Capitol Hill into tabloid-style reporting on yet another disgraceful (and aggressive) communication from one of Fidesz’ oldest party cadres (see this blog entry on another example from the end of June by Viktor Orbán). Deutsch could have tweeted “ki az a thomas melia” instead of “ki a fasz az a thomas melia”. The question asked in these two sentences is virtually identical. It is completely unnecessary to add the “a fasz” part (the part that makes the sentence “who the “f*ck is” instead of “who is”) unless you want to express your condescension, and/or if you want to attract media attention to exactly the wrong angle on this affair.

After all, one could discuss the country’s constitution, its media law, the forced labor camps in making, or the hatred-filled far-right movements that thrive in the Hungarian political climate. Or, we could keep it to debasing tweets, to attacking our critics in their person rather than by engaging their ideas, and we could do so by an entertaining sprinkling of sallers (head-bops), kokis (slaps) and, this time, a pofon (ear-boxing).

Dear Mr. Deutsch (or dajcstomi, if you like): since you wonder, Mr. Melia, is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State and, in his private life, an authority on human rights and international relations. He has studied the democratic transformations of Eastern Europe since 1988 and taught both at Georgetown University and at John Hopkins University (by the way, talking about the academic world, do I remember correctly that you on the other hand failed to finish law school on your own – that you would have had to drop out had Viktor Orbán not demanded a degree conferred upon you by the faculty of law before your ministerial appointment? Sorry if the question feels a bit too personal – that would be the feeling of being attacked in person) Mr. Melia, by the way, is deputy to Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner, who heads the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour. This is the branch of the US Department of State directly concerned with human rights (among them, freedom of speech and freedom of religion). Your country is on the radar of this organizational unit of what amounts to the US’ “foreign ministry,” if this way of putting the matter helps to put things in context for you, because both the constitution and several of the legislation pushed through by your party’s two-third majority in the Hungarian parliament appear to deny fundamental human rights to the citizens of your country. I hope you kapish.

A more appropriate question, however, is this: just who the hell do you think you are? For those who have never heard about Mr. Deutsch, here’ s a short bio. Tamás Deutsch was one of the founders of Fidesz, and one of the “triumvirate” in the center of Fidesz’ first electoral campaign (the other two men were Viktor Orbán and Gábor Fodor – the latter left the party in 1993, when Fidesz abandoned its radical liberal agenda and turned to right-wing conservativism instead). Mr. Deutsch became famous in Hungary due to his arrest in 1989 on Prague’s Wenceslaw Square. During a mass protest held in remembrance of the Soviet Union’s crashing of the Czech spring of 1968, Deutsch made an impromptu speech in which he apologized for Hungary’s involvement, on the orders of the Soviets, in the military action. He was held in jail by the Czechoslovakian police for seven days before he was extradited to Hungary.

A member of the Hungarian Parliament since 1990, Mr. Deutsch remained one of the leading politicians in Fidesz, though more and  more of his public statements indicated that he is a loose cannon. As such, in Mr. Orbán’s first government, formed in 1998, he occupied the strategically important ministry of youth and sports affairs. During the 2000s, he had become known for his sordid sexual affairs – thanks to his frequent appearance in the tabloids, there is all too much we know about how many children he fathered, with whom and in what manner. Mr. Deutsch finally obtained a seat in the European Parliament in 2009 and was shipped off to Brussels. Besides sharing crass messages about American diplomats on social media, Mr. Deutsch also enjoys soccer, and is currently the president of the Hungarian soccer team MTK.

07/28/2011 – UPDATE: According to the news portal origo.hu, it is nearly impossible that Tamás Deutsch does not know Thomas Malia. Mr. Melia visited Hungary during in the 1980s, while working for the National Democratic Institute. Among other things, he gave training sessions to the founding members of Fidesz on the working of democratic institutions and on running an electoral campaign. Another founding member of Fidesz, Zsolt Németh, who is currently the Deputy Secretary to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also acknowledged the help his party received from Mr. Melia during this period.

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This entry was posted in Deutsch Tamás, English-language Hungarian news, Fidesz, Hungarian reception of Western criticism, Hungary, Németh Zsolt, Thomas Melia, US-Hungarian diplomatic relationships, Viktor Orbán, Western criticism of Hungary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Deutsch vs. Melia: But Who the Heck Is Tamás Deutsch?

  1. Pingback: Questions Remaining about Thomas Melia’s Critical Assessment of the Hungarian Government | The Contrarian Hungarian

  2. Kiss Tunde-Krisztina says:

    I personally would like to answer this question…Tamás Deutsch…is a person who is ewen abil to set his carrer repurtation under question mark on international level in order to find people who can do or at least contribuite with ideas for the political life,and the country…He is abil to take and spend also time observing and trying to go down to people level that are reacting out of the normal conditions…that person in this case it is me.I was using the words he was using lately…and I was also contribuite with ideas on a political forum for the USA,but was stepped aside by the known joke tv show serial of Mr Donald Trump … who is and was at last hoping to make a very nice deed for some young people or show up with a nice surpise…unfourtenelty…the effect seeing the tv show..was shaking from the cruelness and the heartlessnes of the ideas and facts that wer told about the ”eastern europrean woman” who refused to go to USA…and ofcours at is known…with very interesting joke ways…vhile geting home after being wished my country in war…and also to hawe a litle more time for the exams…was surprised by cameras or satelite in my own home…and nobody did anithing,only awayted and expected…that’s all about the Joke series all ower the wrold in each country and the effect that is having on people daily life.I do not belive that Tamás Deutsch is a person with ordinary words,more than that it is a person of deeds…If you want the story?you can hawe it.I got to the under the defend of President Obama thanks to a trap seted up by my ex bf who only enjoyed to make people wayt and babysitt him…he got to america,got a gf,and a child…and was keep contakting,showing up to make noise when he knew that I was about to moove on and forget him…With his gf ewen if asking them newer told what was really going on…they gaved me with sex scandal … and ver keep theyr dirty games…when I was wanted Mr Donald Trump to stay on its position…and the ex bfs sister and the ex bf gf or wife camed to the library in europe where I used to study…and they made a nightclubb show with the guards in the library…coming for a talk…I left them…why?4 years of interesting ”relationship” seeing a guy 2 times meeting him after 1 year 8 months…they wer willing to hawe a talk with m,in place of ecaporing and taking care at the Mr ”give me all and wayt for me,but I’ will not go anyvhere” while having family life…I left the library…and mentioned the not like for beeing falowded in librarys in EU… by people who cannot take care if they toock sombody away….my answer was and mentality if ”you take it,you can hawe and keep it,but I will newer want that back”so as an answer…front of the wrold generalised as an eastern europrean woman who was having sex with not nummerated or enormous number of guys…is not villing to go to usa university after the collection she’s made alredy…like it would hawe been about money…Well thank you very much for the awaiting of certain people that after nearly 5 years of babysitting a stranger ower internet…besides the fact that I was asking to take an interesting guy away from me,or off I was also expected to work on his condition or hawe a talk with ”important people” if sombody is having deep feelings it is it cannot be imagined to be friend anymore with the person who did not answered her calls time for a month,did not cared about her as a person…and going to usa got maryed….or gf and a child who did not respect…and than babysitt again by giving up from her life,,,work,social life,bf and university again for this guy…that is Thomas Melia from real…sombody I did not see in real,neighter tv,only hearing my words…and reactions and twitter…I compleetly understood what is all about…Maybe I should care what is going to happen next after this comment….but I realy dont care.All what I want to add is that for me Tomas Deutsch…ewen if his name it is a litle german…he’s not exactly in time to avoid all things a person can get in,but is not expecting or laughting and going on without trying ,,,in fact douing somthing ewen if that would be to offer him a bad repurtation on people eyes…admirable in it is that eine place of beeing nice…I was answer with a self defending way…like my words wer because of the situation…yes they wer,…but this Toman Deutsch is having a considerable ocupation,and role in the society…and political life of the country…I did not got a bad word,neighter a why or howcome this reaction…not ewen expected to make it good…just was go ahead…I hawe to admit that I do not know anithing about Mr Tomas Melia…and also not too much about Mr Tomas Deutsch…but I do know that there are people who are somvhere talking long and empty…and there are people who risk to take out others from situation where people only set others in,use and leaving them there…Tomas Deutsch was only,simply use my words after 6 months that I’w been telling as a coincidence of 0 privacy…if you stil wondering who Tomas Deutsch it is….I am wondering…who is the person who can ask that after telling the facts.And would be better to set sombody in situation and than hit it when it is heading on the best way…and after douing that again…?Cameras or satelite was setled up because I knew this guy is going to do ewerithign in its power to ruin all as he did that so many times before…and I just cant let my university out spetially if awaitng this moment from so long….and the girl gets behaviour interventionist title…for coming and disturing makign nightclubb show in europrean library where people go to learn…if in america that is usual I am asking my appologies but I guess its not…and in that case I would like to say thank you very much for your time and reading,and also asking you to consider the facts before acusing or thinking in any way about Tomas Deutsch…he is not there in time as his name…(german origin) would be expected to,but when it is there that is not for talking.It is or deeds…I respect,admire him and I would realy think before any other bad tought about this person.Afterall man of deeds is what or who eweryvhere is needed…and that was not for the sake of jokes…or way of talking living and thinking..with all my respect for ewerybody I wish you a very nice day.Kind Regards…Tunde-Krisztina Kiss

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please have your English edited before you publish it. Maybe then we could understand what you want to convey. Connie Christiansen

  4. Pingback: Rechtsextremes Theater in Budapest: Fidesz und MIÉP als gemeinsame Front gegen Jobbik? « Pusztaranger

  5. What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity concerning unexpected feelings.|

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