Apparently, Fidesz doesn’t think much of academia. Well, okay, not academia per-se. Fidesz doesn’t much like the humanities–most specifically, philosophy really sticks in the party’s craw. Oh, alright, that’s not totally accurate either. It’s really 5 liberal, anti-Orban philosophers in particular that Fidesz can’t stand and is trying to drag through the mud.
On January 8th, Prime Minister Orban announced that these 5 philosophers are now under investigation for misappropriation of roughly $2 million in grant funds intended to support research, post doctoral studies, and student projects. No specific charges as to the details of the “fraudulent misuse of funds” have been announced, but the Hungarian right-wing press is having a field day with these academics. In fact, it was Fidesz’s favorite paper, Magyar Nemzet, which started the mud-slinging against the “liberal circle of philosophers” and called Fidesz to action.
On February 4th, Science Magazine published John Bohannon’s article, “Hungarian Academicians Blast Government Over Inquiry Into Research Funds,” which describes the firestorm this inquisition has caused amongst Hungarian academics and their colleagues across the globe. From the article:
“And an open letter is circulating, currently signed by over 60 scholars, most of them external or honorary members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences along with several Nobel laureates. Their letter aims “to defend the accused, on principle, from this singling out for arbitrary retrospective harassment and to oppose the police-state-like interventions,” says one of the signatories, Stevan Harnad, a cognitive scientist at the University of Québec in Montreal. He worries that other politically outspoken academics in Hungary, including scientists, could be targeted next.”
Please watch one of the 5 accused philosophers, Agnes Heller, eloquently describe the Hungarian government’s persecution against her and other leftist, academic dissidents on her YouTube channel.
But if you watch this, be prepared. Scrolling though the comments section reveals a string of vial, anti-Semitic rhetoric. For example:
- “I guess stealing from the Goyim is a good did in the Zionist culture.”
- “She won because another Jew, Bálint Magyar helped her.”
- “She want1s to be exempted from prosecution just because she is a Jew. All of us must be equal before the law. Nobody shall be treated preferentially just because of the origin.”
- “These Jews accept the country as a democracy only if they are ruling it. If someone else is ruling the country, that is Nazism and an authoritarian regime. I had enough of these so called philosophers.”
- “Years ago this woman, Ágnes Heller, has emigrated to Israel and joined the Zionist movement. As she related the Zionists didn’t allow her to study at a university. Maybe the standard of living over there wasn’t up to her expectations. She returned to Hungary to enjoy a nice life as a philosopher in Budapest.”
These 5 philosophers are being unjustly targeted and censored by the Hungarian government. Hungarian Watch throws our support behind them. If anyone reading this has a connection to any of the accused, we would love to interview them.