Hungarian journalist writes open letter about US ambassador’s 'outrageous behaviour'
Hungarian publicist Zsolt Bayer described the ambassador's behaviour as 'shocking.'
“Your Excellency, we very much liked the Sipahis and the Defterdars, but that’s beside the point now. I just said it as background information. So I’ll get to the point,” Zsolt Bayer began his open letter published by the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet. He continued by writing that
“The point is your statement, which you issued after the Hungarian general public had been taken aback by you summoning/asking/inviting/ordering (underline as appropriate) two Hungarian judges, who are also members of the National Judicial Council, to pay you a visit.
First of all, let us repeat your statement here so that our readers know exactly what the context is.
“The United States Embassy’s recent meeting with representatives of the Hungarian judiciary is consistent with the normal conduct of diplomacy by the United States and other countries – including Hungary – around the world. What is inconsistent with normal diplomatic practice between allies is the recent coordinated media attack on the spokesperson and international liaison of the National Judicial Council in what appears to be an effort to instill fear in those who wish to engage with representatives of the United States. Interference in dialogue with US government officials does nothing to advance the US-Hungary bilateral relationship.”
“Well, this is the text in question, which is truly unique of its kind,” writes the author, who thinks it is worth holding a mirror to the ambassador, because, as Mr Bayer writes, “it is perfectly normal and consistent with the diplomatic practice of the United States of America and Hungary, for two sitting judges to hold talks at the embassy of a foreign state.” Mr Bayer played with the idea of how the other side would react in a reverse situation.
“On Monday at the latest, the Hungarian ambassador in Washington will summon/ask/invite/order (underline as appropriate) two sitting judges of his choice to pay him a visit. One of them could be Amy Coney Barrett, for the following case:
“Hundreds of Penguin Random House staffers and other literary professionals are calling on the publishing company to cut ties with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett [a member of the Supreme Court appointed by President Trump] and to cancel her upcoming book,” The Wrap writes.
The letter’s 520 signatories argue that Penguin’s 2 million dollar book deal with Ms Barrett is “a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits.”
They also underline that earlier this year Ms Barrett voted for returning the regulation of abortion to the federal states, thus inflicting her own religious and moral agenda upon all Americans, the letter writes.
The signers of the letter do not call for censorship, they pointed out, adding that they work daily with books they find disagreeable to their personal politics but they regard Ms Barrett’s book as red line. “Of course they’re calling for censorship!” Rod Dreher commented on the letter in American Conservative.
The other one should be a judge who deals with the murder of an unarmed woman by a police officer during the siege of the Capitol.
The Hungarian ambassador will, of course, not visit the judges in their office, that would be so demeaning, so the two judges will go to the Hungarian embassy, okay? There they will meet our ambassador, who will ask them about the state of freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the United States, and express his concerns about the state of these freedoms and the independence of the judiciary (and the threats to it).
That’s all right then, isn’t it, Ambassador? Thank you! Let’s move on,” Mr Bayer wrote, who then asked the US ambassador to Hungary some questions.
“I ask you: why don’t we know anything about what you talked about (had a conversation, a background conversation, an interrogation – underline as appropriate!) with the two Hungarian judges? This is very important, because both judges – and one of them in particular – have already been politically active in a way incompatible with their judicial profession.
I ask again: what did you talk about with these judges? And why dis you summon these judges? Is it because they have already made it clear that they have an anti-government political stance?
Is it not the case that when the EU predictably makes more and more hair-raising and slanderous “excuses” as a condition for the payment of the money we are owed, you will publish the material of this conversation? I only think this because it is obvious that the next smear campaign against our country will be that it does not have an independent and free judiciary (see Poland).
And then you will step into the limelight again and provide “evidence”, which will be the “reports” of the two judges who visited you. So the reason why neither you nor the two judges are reporting on what was said is because the time has not come for it yet?” wrote Mr Bayer, and then went on to quote another part of the statement:
“What is inconsistent with normal diplomatic practice between allies is the recent coordinated media attack on the spokesperson and international liaison of the National Judicial Council in what appears to be an effort to instill fear in those who wish to engage with representatives of the United States.”
Well, well… “coordinated media attack”? Really, Mr Ambassador? So, if a part of the Hungarian public expresses an opinion about this meeting and disapproves of it, that constitutes a “coordinated media attack”?
Such and similar concepts were last used in our country – and in Ceausescu’s Romania – some thirty-five years ago. Did you bring them from home or did the appropriate “independent NGOs” dictate them to you?
What’s next, Mr Ambassador? “Counter-revolutionaries spreading rumours in the dark”? Or maybe “greasy kulaks”, “black marketeers”, “ideological deviants”?
How, by the way, do you reconcile freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience and all other kinds of freedom with this outraging sentence? Do you really want to dictate what we Hungarian journalists think and write about?
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it to you: we very much liked the Sipahis and the Defterdars, and even the Soviet party secretaries and trade union trusties…
“Interference in dialogue with US government officials does nothing to advance the US-Hungary bilateral relationship.”
Well, well, well… It doesn’t help bilateral relations if a part of the Hungarian public expresses an opinion about you? In that case, Mr Ambassador, we have been at war for at least two years! Or don’t you read what the US press writes about the Hungarian government, the Hungarian prime minister and us in general, and in what tone?
I suggest that you read some of it!” Mr Bayer wrote. “Then feel free to write a letter home saying that the coordinated media attack is not consistent with normal diplomatic relations between the allies. Otherwise, we will have no choice but to think that it is a case of “quod licet Iovi non licet bovi.” That is, you came here as a Sipahi, a Defterdar, a governor, a Soviet party general secretary. And those, as I may have mentioned, we used to like very much. As much as you, Mr Ambassador…”