In the wake of the bombing and shooting spree in Norway, the Hungarian media has dedicated considerable amount of attention to Anders Behring Breivik’s Hungarian connections.
Most of this information is of biographic nature. We know that Breivik’s best friend was of Hungarian descent. We know that he visited Hungary several times, and that Budapest is his favorite travel destination (with Valetta and Texas coming in as a close second and third). We also know that b hates the 20th-century philosopher György Lukács, and that he knows about Hungarian campaigns to fight off the invasion of the Turkish army in the 15th century.
What is perhaps of more interest from the Hungarian perspective is that Breivik lists three Hungarian parties as possible contacts with whom he would like to “consolidate” forces. He mentions three such parties by name: the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP), the party that was the first to introduce an anti-semitic and ultra-right perspective into Hungarian politics in the 1990s; 64 Feudal-County Youth Movement (HVIM), the organization which does not recognize the validity of the Hungarian criminal code in its pursuit of its political agenda and has several member either currently under arrest or previously accused of terrorist acts; and Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party, the party that occupies over 12% of the seats in the Hungarian parliament.
Mention of these parties are made on a list that appears to be a mere compilation of what looks like an extensive internet search on possible allies to his crusade. With the exception of MIÉP, Breivik does not have anything at all to say about them (and on the topic of just how important these are for him, Latvia’s extreme right, for example, gets seven mentions). From other reports of the Hungarian media, we also know that Breivik claims to have met members of Hungarian ultra-right. While no details could be confirmed of personal meetings, he did reach out to the leader of HVIM in an e-mail right before the attacks. László Toroczkai does not deny receiving an e-mail from Breivik, though he also claims he did not find this e-mail until after the attacks.
Outside Hungary, it is hard to find any reference to Breivik’s “Hungarian connections.” There is plenty to see, however, of the equivalent compilation of the references Breivik makes to ultra-right politicians of domestic political fame. In the US, for example, there has been much discussion of a blog written by Pam Geller, an anti-Muslim extremist in the US who (e.g. on NPR, click here to hear) has been the leading voice against the planned mosque at Ground Zero. In her case, there is personalized comment, Breivik considers her to be a “decent human being” whose activities he has watched.
In fact, the Pam Geller connection has already spurred its own set of political controversies in the United States. Peter King, a Republican member of the US House from Long Island, NY and Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is famous for organizing hearings on home-grown terrorism which, for Mr. King, seems to amount exclusively to terrorist acts currently under planning by the American Muslim community. Given Breivik’s naming of several “decent human” bloggers in the US, however, King’s old nemesis the New York Times has been calling on him to hear testimony on the threat of domestic right-wing terrorism – rather than suggesting that American Muslims are the most likely domestic terrorism threat to the US.
While the search for their own “connection” is perhaps less successful, Canadian newspapers are writing about the Canadians listed in Breivik’s manifesto; just as I am sure the Spanish are discussing the Spanish references, the Germans the attention they have received in it, etc. There is plenty for all – Breivik’s is a 1500 page long document. Wagner and Verdi are both named. Angela Davis’ autobiography is listed in an annotated biography of the Frankfurt School. Even Egoiste by Chanel gets one mention.
Every western-style democracy is in a process of soul-searching at the wake of Norway’s tragedy. Maybe a Hungarian connection can be forged along these lines as well.
Reports from Norway just five days after this fanatic individual’s rampage speak of the Norwegian nation’s process of self-examination, which seems to zoom in increasingly on the severity of the threat openly-professed and freely circulating racist and anti-muslim ideologies pose to their society. Norway’s tolerance of extreme right political ideologies does appear to be one of the causes of what took place there last Friday. There is nothing inherently democratic or “multiculturalist,” to use Breivik’s own word, about the acceptance of hate speech: the former is about building an all-inclusive society, while the latter is the practice of being exclusive to the extreme.
All over Europe, lively forums exist to connect to-be extremists. It seems like an organization exists for every variant of extreme right wing ideology and a group for every person’s preference of political method.
We as citizens stand by without any opposition to their open solicitation of one another for political activism, the media reports their political views without making note of their anti-humanistic outlook, the police ignores their preparations for criminal activity. Tolerance, of course, is the easier way out, even though the psychopathology of movements engaging in hate crimes suggests that the opportunity to forge a group identity without being perturbed by challenges to their world-view is a crucial prerequisite of an ultra-right group’s escalation to violence. The lenience we show for their open advocacy of discrimination, or violence against ethnic, racial or religious minorities sends a message not only of tacit acceptance, but of tacit encouragement as well. My experience is in Hungary, where racial slurs and hate-filled comments are attached to many online articles and treated as if these views were just another “political opinion.” Breivik’s report, in the meantime, shows just how easy it is to feel a part of a pan-european movement in this type of a political climate.
Anti-immigrant, anti-semitic, anti-roma, and anti-muslim sentiments are not “just” another political belief system – these are part of a totalitarian ideology that will always aim at annihilating all others. Hopefully, in view of this tragedy, Norway is going to be able to come up with its own unique way to actively monitor against anyone who thinks that they are worthy of fighting – and killing – for.