Testament to Weakness

IMG_2689About 1,500 people showed up to the square between the foot of Castle Hill and the head of the Chain Bridge in Budapest on Sunday, September 29, to watch one of Hungary’s many opposition groups pull down a model statue of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The average age of the crowd was about 55. The rapper Dopeman was the master of ceremonies, while Together 2014 leader and former prime minister Gordon Bajnai and some other minor opposition figures gave speeches in which they castigated Orbán in roughly the same coarse language as the current prime minister used to castigate Gyurcsány and Bajnai when he was in opposition.

“The fish stinks from the head,” Bajnai said. Bajnai’s subsequent comparison of the Orbán government to the communists did not excite the audience members, many of whom were themselves presumably members of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. Several of the speakers used the Orbánian opposition mantra “they lie, they steal, they cheat” (hazudnak, lopnak, csalnak). Dopeman called Orbán a “pile of trash” (szemétláda). He also sang a version of the Hungarian national anthem interspersed with the refrain “Fuck the Government! Fuck Orbán!” (Bazd meg a kormányt! Bazd meg Orbánt!). The elderly crowd clapped politely after the number.

IMG_2694Toppling the roughly 12-foot statue, which was molded and painted very skillfully to represent the Stalin statue pulled down in Budapest at the beginning of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, was the highlight of the event. The statue was erected on a protruding part of the exterior wall at the entry of the tunnel passing under Castle Hill. The neck and the legs above the heavy boots were cut most of the way through from behind so it would break at those places. Dopeman threw a coil of rope tied around the statue at the other end into the crowd among a bunch of old ladies who didn’t know what to do with it. The statue came down suddenly, the photo missed. Orff’s “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana sounded dramatically from the PA system. The Orbán-Stalin head rolled along the pavement, right to Dopeman, who gave it hard football kick. The boots remained on the pedestal just as planned, just as in ’56. Men hoisted the headless torso onto a truck and led a procession across the Chain Bridge to the House of Terror, where they planned to deposit the broken statue.

See Index.hu video of falling Orbán statue. 

See Orange Files photo gallery of the event.



Butting Heads with the Wonder Deer

A late-summer garden party in a town on the outskirts of Budapest. 

250px-Csodaszarvas.svgA middle-aged couple standing under an apple tree in the half dark, away from the row of tables where the other guests are eating stew prepared in a bogrács, a traditonal Hungarian cooking pot. 

She: Did you see what Éva is wearing? How tacky. It reminds me of Republican taste in the United States. 

He: I’ve got to think that from an intelligent person like her it must be intentional. You know, the principle that something that is in really poor taste actually becomes beautiful again. The part I didn’t like was the Wonder Deer [Csodaszarvas] hanging on her neck. 

She: That part didn’t bother me. I really love ancient symbolism. 

He: The problem is who else really loves it. The anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy, anti-West, anti-democracy, anti-capitalist people. They have taken these ancient Hungarian symbols,  yurts and archery and horses, and made them into something ugly. 

She: I don’t care. For me they don’t mean those things. 

He: Maybe for you they don’t, but for me and I would dare to say most Hungarians they do, whether they approve of those things or not. 

She: That is what I hate about politics. It ruins everything. 

They look at one another coldly. One of those reemerging disagreements. 

Note: The Wonder Deer is an animal from the mythology of the ancient Hungarians and other central Asian peoples.