Late last month a group calling themselves the “Magyar Garda” held their inaugural ceremony here in
The group’s sizable opposition describes Magyar Garda as a racist neo-fascist militia. Indeed the militaristic ceremony, the circa-1940’s uniforms, and the group’s use of the Árpád Stripes give a lot of weight to such accusations (The Árpád Stripes originally come from medieval times, but they were adopted by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party in the 1940’s).
I should say here that I am uncomfortable with the formation of the Magar Garda, and the group’s allusions to a pure
But the controversy that has been stirred up and the very vocal opposition to the Garda might be doing more harm than good.
I remember when the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in
Of course the situation here in
I don’t want to hear that, because there are people in
I have been in lessons where students openly talk about the agenda behind the Jewish Media. While I am not stunned to learn such views exist, I am stunned to find people comfortable enough to express such views to their English teacher.
That comfort is why I am put off by the outcry against Magyar Garda.
The outcry is notable, and to a certain point it is justified, but in my opinion the opposition to Magyar Garda might be going too far.
I think the issue may have been blown out of proportion.
The weekly Hungarian financial magazine HVG wrote an article that confirmed my suspicions. In it László Tamás Papp reminds readers that the popularity rating of Jobbik, the political party behind the Magyar Garda, is hanging around somewhere in the tenths of a percent. Of course now they are getting a lot of press, so that might change.
Even if it does, however, people should not flip out. The people behind Magyar Garda have used some offensive symbols, but they have been careful to avoid any official messages of hate so far. There is a well-written English response to those who question their aims on Jobbik’s website. In it the author clearly states that accusations of racism within the party are the fabrications of a liberal media and the socialist government.
In a section of the group’s charter translated by the Budapest Times, the references to fascism are oblique at best: “Conscripts will carry out physical, mental and spiritual training to help maintain public order, preserve Hungarian culture and defend the nation in extraordinary situations.” After reading the literature, it is clear to me that Jobbik has formed a guard that is barely attempting to veil its fascist overtures, but they are veiling them for now. In a democratic society we do have to stomach such crap. But do we need to pay so much attention to it? When we bring these fringe elements into our daily discourse we make them appear legitimate. In doing so, we make people think the racial stereotypes such groups promote are acceptable.
I’m not saying we should ignore these people, but instead of acting like they are some huge looming threat, couldn’t we just belittle them, laugh at their backwards beliefs, and point out their absurdly low polling numbers. It seems a more effective way to turn the population away from this garbage.
A little footnote: If you find it difficult to laugh at neo-fascists, just remember this little detail reported in The Budapest Times: "According to press reports, one of the original guard members had to be replaced at the ceremony after accidentally shooting himself in the face with a gas pistol."