Welcome to Hungary: We treat everyone the same

The Hungarian government has lost control. In an effort to gain popularity with right-wing party supporters, Orban and gang have pushed themselves into a corner and do not know how to emerge from it. They are being challenged by refugees that have survived war that stand up for their rights and are clear they want a better life. This is not the usual trampling of human rights of Hungarians, which the people moderately accept as a temporary inconvenience until another political party arrives.

Now we see the inadequacy of the Hungarian state. Lack of proper medical facilities, lack of facilities for hygiene and a disregard to basic respect for the individual. While I am talking about how the Orban government is treating the refugees in Hungary, the same applies when you visit a Hungarian hospital or even school. No soap, no toilet paper, and an assumption by authorities that you’ll just have to accept the current situation. The problem is caused by someone else, they are not responsible – the government or even administrator refrain often is. The solution, always lies with the average Hungarian that tries to keep the situation as good as they can for their family and friends. The same is happening at Keleti train station. You have to go in person to appreciate the scale and utter lack of assistance by any sufficiently sized organization (state or non-state). Only the police are there representing the state.

Keleti Train Station on Tuesday - absent any professional organization or adequate facilities.
Keleti Train Station on Tuesday – absent any professional organization or adequate facilities.

The Hungarian state is a corrupt vehicle for friends and family – and the current Hungarian government exemplifies favoritism, while Hungarians know this and have learned how to deal/accept it, the refugees – not even wanting active state intervention, do demand their basic human rights to be upheld.

School started this week. So I was observing everyone at my daughter’s opening school ceremony. She goes to an average Hungarian school. The building is not in very good shape, the asphalt the kids play on is outdated and the computer room for the older kids have desks that look like your uncle Joe made them – not ergonomic for kids, but at least there are computers. What keeps the school running and well organized are the teachers and administrative staff.

We are fortunate, because our daughter has a passionate and excited teacher. But as all Hungarians know, your child’s education is only as good as the teacher – not even the school. So you pick your school based on what teacher you think your child will have. But in the end, it is hard to look at the schools and not be jealous of the amount of money being spent on stadiums and football in the country, and see the difference that billions of forints could make to the children, and the families of this country.

The Hungarian authorities do not see the problem in their treatment of the refugees. If these people just lived in camp cities and did not protest, everything would be fine. It is their problem – they created it by coming to Hungary. The authorities apply the same rational to running the country – do not complain about your situation and there won’t be a problem for you. Unfortunately, Hungarians and foreigners are getting tired of this world view. When so many Hungarians have left the country for a better life, and the refugees want to move on to a better life, containing these aspirations by force creates more and more pressure that cannot be contained by the emerging police state.

The force comes in the form of police presence or not treating people as people. For Hungarians it also comes with the threat of loosing their jobs, inspection by tax authorities and a muzzled press. The tricks of intimidation are well known by Hungarians. I can no longer record interviews with people about the Hungarian energy sector in fear that the recording will get out. This never happened in this past.

But now the international community can see the adequacy and level of compassion held by the Hungarian state. Close to zero. People working in the state – and I have met a few – are embarrassed by their association with it, but it is only with the orders given from above that will prompt the state apparatus to move. So far, it is only the police that are in motion. The situation will get worse on the ground at Keleti. It is important to keep in mind it is a representation of what the Hungarian state is now: uncaring organ where individual actions are tempered by orders – or lack of orders – from above. Just as the Hungarian people have accepted this political order (for now) so will Europe. Unless they want to do something about it.