Orban & ‘Defending The Indefensible’
You thought that I was the final word on Orban’s and the race debate? Wrong! Damon Linker
I am tired of Viktor Orban’s “mixed-race” debate, as I feel I have said enough. damon Linker, my old friend, calls me out on having defended Orban ,. I’m obliged to reply because he does so in good faith.
As you know if you’ve been reading this blog in the past few days, the Hungarian PM got himself into a world of trouble by making a couple of remarks in his remarkable hour-long speech in Transylvania last week (transcript here). Here are the controversial statements he made, according to his official transcript:
The second challenge is migration, which you could call population replacement or inundation. There is an outstanding 1973 book on this issue which was written in French, and recently published in Hungary. The book is called “The Camp of the Saints”, and it’s a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about the spiritual development that underlies the West’s inability defend itself. The West has been divided by migration. The other half of the world is one where European and non European peoples co-exist. These countries do not exist as nations, but are merely a collection of individuals. It is not the Western world anymore, it’s the post-Western one. And around 2050, the laws of mathematics will lead to the final demographic shift: cities in this part of the continent – or that part – will see the proportion of residents of non-European origin rising to over 50 per cent of the total. We are now in Central Europe, the rest of Europe or the West. It would be confusing if it weren’t. The West, or the West as we know it, has made its way to Central Europe. What is remaining is the post-West. The battle between these two sides of Europe is ongoing. The post-Westerners were offered a compromise that would allow them to choose who they wish to live with. But they rejected it and continue to fight for Central Europe. This is a beautiful morning, so I will not dwell on the moral commentary that they attach. Although there is less discussion about migration now, I can assure you that nothing has changed. Brussels reinforced with Soros-affiliated soldiers wants to force migrants onto us. We were also brought before them to trial over Hungarian border defense system. They have pronounced us guilty. We have been found guilty for a variety of reasons. They would have enforced this judgement on us if it weren’t for the Ukrainian refugee crisis. The outcome of that situation will bring a lot of excitement. Now that war is over and there are many people arriving from Ukraine, this matter has been placed aside. They haven’t taken it off their agenda but they just put it on one side. We must understand them. We must understand the fact that the good people in the West and the post-West cannot bear to see their lives and their daily routines ruined by this thought. We don’t want to have to face them every day. We only ask that they not force us to accept a fate we don’t see as a destiny for any nation but rather as our nemesis. We ask for this and nothing more.
In such multiethnic settings, there’s an ideological feint that deserves attention and focus. Internationalist Left uses a subtle, ideological ruse to claim that Europe is by nature populated with peoples of mixed races. Because it confuses two things, this is both a semantic and historical sleight-of-hand. It is possible to live in a world where Europeans mix with people from other parts of Europe. This is called a world of mixed races. Our world is where Europeans mix and mingle, live together, travel, work, relocate, etc. For example, we don’t have a mixed race in the Carpathian Basin. We are just a mix of European peoples who live in our European homeland. These peoples blend together, creating a new European culture, thanks to a favorable alignment of stars with a following breeze. We have always been fighting because we want to be able to mix and get along with each other, but not to merge into mixed-race peoples. This is why we fought at Nandorfehervar/Belgrade, this is why we stopped the Turks at Vienna, and – if I am not mistaken – this is why, in still older times – the French stopped the Arabs at Poitiers. Today the situation is that Islamic civilisation, which is constantly moving towards Europe, has realised – precisely because of the traditions of Belgrade/Nandorfehervar – that the route through Hungary is an unsuitable one along which to send its people up into Europe. Poitiers was replayed because the invasion’s origins were not in East but South. They are flooding and occupying the West. While this may not be an urgent task, it is crucial for us and our children. They will have to protect themselves from both the South as well as the West. We will have to accept Christians from other countries and incorporate them into our daily lives. It has been done before. Those who we don’t want to allow in will be held at our western frontiers – Schengen or not – and stopped by us. This is not the right task at the moment and it will not be a challenge for us in our lifetime. It is our sole task to help children achieve this goal. Laszlo Kover, [House Speaker] stated in an interview that we need to make sure good times don’t create weak men and hard times don’t come upon our people.
I included the longer context to help you understand Orban’s words better than the superficial reporting of the West. We Americans interpret that as a statement that Orban isn’t wanting (for instance, black people marrying whites). This is obviously racist and offensive. As I tried to highlight, Orban uses the term “mixed races” in a specific way. He is using it to refer to non-European Muslims who have moved to Europe. Orban attributes the large migration of Muslims from Europe to the historical Muslim invasions. For nearly two centuries, Hungary was under Muslim occupation.
The large number of Muslim immigrants to Europe presents a significant security threat for Europeans. This is as pointed out by this Israeli brigadier general, and other commentators. The high Muslim migration into Europe means that by 2050, Muslims will account for between 14 and 20 percent of all Europeans. This will have an irreversible and massive impact on European life. Orban clearly means in his remarks that by saying he doesn’t want a “mixed race” Europe, he doesn’t want Europe to be Islamized. He is not talking about some allegedly pure Hungarian race. He clearly refers to non-Muslim Europeans who live together in Christianized cultures. Also, he is not referring to Jews. Orban is an avid supporter of Israel’s Jewish community and has spoken on numerous occasions about Jews being an integral part European culture. Orban spoke out about Europe’s loss of core values and its spiritual identity to Islamic immigration.
If you think this isn’t an important topic in Europe, then you are simply not paying enough attention. Many European liberal leaders don’t pay enough attention. A while back I was visiting Spain with a friend. He told me that his brother-in law, who is a Spanish border officer working for the maritime services off the coast of Andalucia in Spain, had told him that he started voting in favor of the anti-migration party Vox. Why? He was dealing with migrants flooding into Spain from Africa every day, and could clearly see how Madrid’s politicians were telling border guards to allow them in. They didn’t care what would happen to their country. According to this man, they were more concerned with upholding Left-wing ideologies than protecting the borders of their country.
I think Orban misunderstood to label “The Camp of the Saints,” an “outstanding”, book on migration. This book is a horrible book and a racist book. Orban’s words about the book are interesting: “I recommend it for anyone who wishes to understand the spiritual developments that underlie the West’s inability of defense itself.” So do I, and so did I back in 2015, when I read the book. It is racist and bad. But it has one important insight. Orban quotes mine. In my 2015 post “Good Lessons From A Bad Book,” I said:
Accepting Third World migrants as an act of redemption. That is one of the main themes of Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints, which I finished reading this weekend. It was an amazing relief to get to the end. There is only one other book I can recall having finished, and having hated, but still being glad I read it, because I learned something from it: Sayyid Qutb’s condensed Islamist manifesto, Milestones.
The Camp of the Saints is a bad book, both aesthetically and morally. In the beginning, I found it difficult to accept its morality. Although Raspail’s expression was cruder than mine, I found his cultural assessment to be more valuable than I expected, considering the book’s fame. The novel tells the story of a million-strong armada from the poor of the Earth who sail to Europe via India. They more than dare the West to stop them. The narrative is mainly about how France prepares for invasion.
Raspail is a Catholic traditionalist and far-rightist who paints in broad strokes the picture of France which has lost its way. The leaders and institutions of France agree that all Frenchmen have a moral obligation to openly welcome the armada. Raspail, at his most satirical, mocks the sentimental liberal humanitarianism displayed by the media and political classes. All of them see the armada in a way of salvation or redemption from the West’s sins.
You cannot believe that my post “The Camp Of The Saints”, or any other book by me, is good. The most disturbing thing about this book is that it exposes the moral and spiritual collapse of European elites. They are tired and have lost faith and turn to the migrants for salvation. As I have written more recently, this is the same basic point that the French novelist Michel Houllebecq makes in his (non-racist) novel Submission, which is not a critique of Islam and Muslims, really, but a diagnosis of the moral collapse of the post-Christian West. Francois, the protagonist’s Jewish girlfriend and Houellebecq leaves France with her family to seek refuge in Israel. Francois regrets that there is no Israel for him to visit.
Viktor Orban is a non-Muslim European who sees their civilisation being destroyed by mass immigration, mainly from the Muslim world and feels powerless to stop it. You can see his entire statement below. He says “mixed races” refers to both Europeans as well as non-Europeans immigrants. He used a loaded vocabulary that I regret and wished he was more specific. Americans are lying if they try to impose their own history and use of the word “mixed” on Orban. Orban clearly stated what mixed race meant. It is also regrettable that he brought up Jean Raspail’s vile book. This book is clearly racist and politicians should not be misunderstood in relation to it. He is right that Raspail correctly diagnoses in that narrow sense the “spiritual components” that are behind West’s “inability of defense itself.” “
This is because Viktor Orban was a bit crude in his statements. Damon and other friends are ready to dismiss him as a racist stone-cold. This is unfair and also morally blind. Let me now address Damon’s specific statement:
While consistently withholding support from Trump himself, Rod spent the next few years adjusting his political stance to a new political reality. He shifted his focus to the outrages of the left instead of following what he preached, and turned inward (regarding “The Benedict Option”) — RD). Rod became convinced, not only that the Social Justice Warriors were wrong, as I often thought they were as well, but that they were hell bent on building a comprehensive political-legal-cultural-technological system in which they would actively persecute Christians and anyone else who resisted The Official Woke Teaching on Gender and Sexuality.
By the time he published his next book, Live Not by Lies (2020), Rod was describing this left-wing agenda as “soft totalitarianism” and likening the situation of Christians living in the liberal democracies of the West to dissidents struggling to keep their faith alive under the repression of Soviet Communism. (This line of argument tracks closely with the writings of the Polish anti-liberal Ryszard Legutko. )
There is no contradiction between focusing on the outrages of the Left, especially as they became more persecutorial of social and religious conservatives, and advocating for The Benedict Option. Anyone who thinks TBO is a call to neo Amish quietism has misunderstood the book. It is clear that I advocate for Christians and others to strengthen their identities and practice to remain firm against a culture that rejects what they believe. As I’ve been telling people for years, we small-o orthodox Christians have to live as the Jews held captive in Babylon did: dwelling between Jeremiah 29 (settling in the foreign land and praying for its peace) and the opening chapters of Daniel, where the three Hebrew youths who served the king nevertheless were so devoted to their Jewish identity that they chose the prospect of death before disavowing their faith. We must be more conscious of the profound challenges that our faith and life pose to Christians if we are to achieve this. It is impossible to ignore what’s going on in the world and think we can get away with it if we just tend to our gardens and forget about it. It’s a disappointment for my liberal friends, who had hoped that culture warriors would be quiet.
Anyway. More Damon:
So which is it? Is Camp of the Saints a good, even prophetic, book? Is it a good book or a terrible one? Is it able to accurately describe and diagnose Europe’s spiritual state and vulnerability to outside invaders from other races? Is it paranoid and racist? Or xenophobic and should no public official call it “outstanding”.
In all honesty, Rod believes that Raspail’s novel is, just like Orban’s Raspail-inspired speech. Rod wishes that everyone involved would instead use “culture” to explain the West’s existence against alien invaders.
It is both a terrible book and a prophetic one. Can I get any clearer? It doesn’t take a great man to correctly foresee events and diagnose illness within a culture. Damon is correct in saying that “The Camp of the Saints” should not be cited by any responsible public figures. Its accurate description of Europe’s depravity does nothing to redeem its racism. Raspail’s novel does not “get most things right,” whatever that means, because, in my view, he totally dehumanizes the Third World masses (who are not, as Damon has it, Muslim — at least I don’t think they are). Because of Raspail’s racism, it makes it difficult for decent and good people such as Damon to see truth in that book. It’s true, I did read it. Because I felt it was necessary, I read the entire book. After you finish it, you will feel disgusted. Yet, you can still see the gestures and words of the French ruling class in the story as it is being read. It could be that conservative liberals and decent conservatives are afraid to face the hard facts about mass migration. We should be afraid of being racist — but not so afraid that we close our eyes to bad things happening.
A small example is this: German authorities have closed public swimming pools due to violence by members of the migrant community. In 2002, when I was in the Netherlands working on a story, authorities had done the same thing because young Muslim men from Morocco were routinely assaulting and taunting Dutch women sunbathing, calling them whores. Both countries’ authorities preferred not to confront these Third World migrants with force, but to allow their citizens to take a bath in public. Raspail identified this as a spiritual and moral crisis. Raspail is wrong in his dehumanizing, wicked and repugnant views about non-European populations. You do not have to agree with him. The fact that good, decent and non-racist people fail to react effectively to the migrant troublemakers only legitimizes the racist views held by the Raspails. A Good Person(tm), which means you must give up your safety and your freedoms, as well as your civilisation, will only appeal to a few.
Damon pleads with me personally:
I’m a big advocate of admitting mistakes. Over the years I have made many mistakes. I believe it is not shameful to admit that you are wrong. This is how we learn. It’s the way that we navigate a complex world and try to understand it.
Our moment in the world is unusually confusing, filled with extreme polarization and shifting ideologies, as well as blurred partisan distinctions. Rod, your constant interaction with critics via your blog shows that you are trying to navigate the moral and intellectual mazes. This is one of the reasons I have admired your writing so much, even though we are often on opposing sides of political faultlines.
But even though there are many shifting lines and blurred boundaries, it is important to adhere to certain standards. A politician who uses ominous remarks about European collapse and the threat of Muslim immigration as well as a warning to people of other races, is a racist speaker.
This isn’t complicated. This is as simple as it gets, even though it looks bad.
But, it is also unfortunate that Orban, which he will likely say the same things at CPAC in less than one week, will do so with Donald Trump on a platform he shares with him, just months after he announced his second run for the presidency. It has been a great effort to get American conservatives on board with Orban. You could say in Dallas things that would further empower racist and xenophobic groups of the American right. This will allow them to bring their harmful ideas into mainstream politics. Is that really the way you see it? Are you a Christian and an advocate of moral truths in politics now? It is not something I hope. If it isn’t, then I believe you will see soon that your unique responsibility is to speak up against the darkness. To use your voice and explain why the anti-liberalism Viktor Orban now unambiguously proclaims he supports must be stopped.
Damon is an old friend and a man of good character. I also appreciate the kind words he has for me and his tone. It’s hard to know what I could say other than this. But let me try:
- I believe Viktor Orban was wrong to have praised “The Camp of the Saints,” or to have invoked it at all — even though Orban correctly notes that the book explains the spiritual reasons for why Europe cannot defend itself against migrants who challenge its civilization.
- I believe Viktor Orban spoke carelessly about “race” in his speech, in a way that makes it a lot harder to defend his completely defensible points about religion and culture.
- Racism is evil, straight up. However, not all that is called “racism”, as secular liberals call it, is actually racism. It is not racist to me for Europeans (Christians and Jews) who wish to preserve their civilisation, but to stop mass migration from the Muslim world.
- Liberals and others who don’t recognize a fundamental challenge to European values from mass Muslim migration are blind, and ultimately undermine the things they believe in, as well as empowering far-right politicians.
- I disagree that Orban has “delivered a flagrantly racist speech.” Orban talked for more than an hour about many topics. In just two paragraphs, he spoke about culture, religion and migration. The way Orban spoke was unacceptable to me. It doesn’t make sense to call Orban’s whole speech “flagrantly racist” or write off his assessment of Europe’s immigration crisis. He expresses himself sometimes in ways that some people find offensive.
I’m writing this after visiting the Czestochowa Shrine in Poland. The Poles consider it their spiritual center. As an American Christian and non-Catholic Christian I was struck by how closely the Polish nation sense — in certain circumstances — to their Catholic faith is. Although I am American and have a negative reaction to the idea of linking religion to nationalism I must admit that it is not true for many people around the globe. Muslims, for example, regard themselves not only as believers in a religion, but as part of a global religious community that, ideally, is also a political community. Americans should not demand from Muslims that they change their beliefs to fit American liberal classical views on “church” and “state”. It is absurd. But I believe that it’s perfectly legal for Americans to demand this from each other and migrants arriving in our country. This is due to America’s history and founding principles as well as the lifestyle of most Americans.
Having said all that and going to Czestochowa myself, I think it’s equally absurd and intolerant to ask Poles to abandon their Catholicism and see themselves as nations. Over breakfast, I spoke to my Polish hostess about the relationship between nationalism and Catholicism expressed in Czestochowa. It is where an ancient king declared the Virgin Mary the Queen of Poland — that is how Poles live. It was like explaining to someone else why you love your spouse, she said. It was obvious that she struggled to find the right words. It was the fact she couldn’t that made it so much easier.
Europeans aren’t Americans. We Americans have a much easier time assimilating migrants in part because we hold history very loosely, and because we lack these deep traditions and folkways. This is good and bad. In the past, I complained about American cultural dominance in this area, most recently regarding what was called woke capitalism, as well as the US government’s repressive policies towards Central European nations and others around the globe. It’s true also for the Third World. This is a complex issue that requires a variety of approaches. As an example, I’d rather our troops shoot the Pashtun tribal men who are sexually abusing Afghan boys than stare at them. This evil is deeply embedded in their culture. It seems that we can’t become cultural relativists and ignore it. Where do you draw the line? But where do you draw the line? Tolerance and tolerance are not real or right, but they can be easy to accept. So how do we do it?
I bring up Orban and Muslim migration in Europe to show that the stakes in Europe regarding mass migration are much higher and more complex than those in the United States. Czestochowa isn’t speaking for or about Poland, as the country has been for centuries. Czestochowa is something I consider an outsider, both as an American Orthodox Christian and an American. It has a special meaning to me and should be preserved for the future generations of Poles. This understanding is not something Americans naturally have, it’s not that we are necessarily bad people. It comes from the fact that we were born in a modern country, which values individual freedom over traditional. This makes it easier for us to hear Orban’s words, something that Europeans may not be able to do. It’s not Americans that will lose their culture or civilization to the Islamic world’s mass migration pressure. Instead, Europeans. The people that vote for Viktor Orban or other European leaders are the ones who will suffer.
All of this to say, I value Viktor Orban’s active concern for long-term civilisational consequences of mass Islamic immigration to Europe. However, I also appreciate the suppression of concern by the majority of European countries. Viktor Orban needs to be more cautious in the way he speaks on this subject, but he can still express himself. We will see worse people than Viktor Orban in power in Europe if liberalism demands that European countries sign a suicide agreement.
Get weekly emails in your inbox
My questions to Damon:
Do you think that Europeans have a right to be concerned about mass Islamic migration to Europe?
If so, what should Europeans do to respond? In terms of policy and rhetoric, in order not to be accused of racism
If you don’t believe there is a morally acceptable solution that stops mass migration, then why shouldn’t people who wish to maintain the status quo turn to liberal politicians promising to protect the country from mass immigration?
Another thing. If a Muslim majority nation, such as Turkey, had a leader concerned about mass Christian migration, would that make us uncomfortable? I wouldn’t. If he condemned Christians or punished Christians already in the country, I wouldn’t be offended. If he suggested that Christians should be stopped from migrating to preserve the country’s traditional Islamic identity, it would not surprise me. Although I do not share his faith, I feel the need to empathize, especially with regard to how secular liberalism destroys tradition and religion.