Gáspár Miklós Tamás asks what LMP co-chair was doing at Tusványos

July 26, 2016

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“This is the only question! There is nothing else! Do we have morality? Do we have hearts? Do we have solidarity? Or are we only cruel, selfish and evil? . . . Everybody sees what is happening at Röszke and Tompa. Everybody sees it. This government will not even allow an NGO’s volunteers to take a damned portable toilet [to the asylum seekers]. [The government] wants them to wallow there in their own filth to die. This is what the Hungarian government’s position is.” – Gáspár Miklós Tamás

Philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás appeared on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd (Straight Talk) Thursday to chastise Politics Can Be Different (LMP) co-chair Bernadett Szél for statements she made this past weekend at the Fidesz-affiliated Tusványos Open University camp in Băile Tușnad, Romania.

What did Szél say?

During a panel discussion with Fidesz parliamentary group leader Lajos Kósa and Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) parliamentarian Péter Harrach, Szél reportedly made statements about Fidesz’s upcoming anti-EU refugee quota referendum that many opposition figures interpreted to be a clear sign that LMP is toeing the Fidesz line on the refugee issue.

The Budapest Beacon tried to track down video of Szél’s remarks but found nothing. Szél did, however, give two interviews, (here and here) in which she expounds on the statements she made at Tusványos.

According to Szél, she was only letting people know what LMP’s position is on the matter.

“This is a machinated referendum and we all know this is a trick,” Szél said on ATV on Tuesday morning. “What we are telling our voters is to decide for themselves whether or not they would like to take part in this referendum. We treat our voters like adults. We see this is about trickery. However, with regards to that question which asks whether a national parliament should have the right to make its own decisions to deal with the migration issue, we say ‘yes’. This issue needs to remain an issue that is relegated to national policy. Clearly, this position does not line up with opinions of other left-wing parties … but the point is that this is a complex question.”

At Tusványos, Szél also reportedly made statements about financier and philanthropist George Soros during the discussion.

According to pro-government daily Magyar Idők, Szél said LMP rejects it when greatly influential people want to tell an ethnic group or nation how to behave, and Soros should not give advice on the topic.

The fallout

On Monday, just two days after Szél’s appearance at Tusványos, Gáspár Miklós Tamás published an opinion piece on hvg.hu in which he accused the LMP co-chair of “calling on its supporters to vote with Fidesz and Jobbik on the October 2nd referendum.”

“LMP did not join the call of opposition parties to boycott [the referendum], but has instead made hushed and murmured calls for their supporters to vote as they see fit even though the party does not like this entire thing,” Tamás wrote.

In his piece, Tamás praised LMP for its numerous brave gestures, numerous political stunts and smart proposals at a time when other parties could not do the same. However, he wrote, “it no longer matters because this is Hungary’s and Europe’s most fundamental issue, and LMP is on the wrong side of this fundamental issue”.

Interestingly, Tamás’ opinion piece was relatively soft in its criticism of LMP (especially compared to other opinion pieces he has written in the past). He even praised LMP’s new co-chair, Ákos Hadházy, for his tireless effort to fight corruption — an issue that Tamás says is a serious moral issue, regardless where one stands on the political spectrum.

However, LMP’s position on this machinated referendum is a clear sign to Tamás that the party has failed to address the moral issue at the heart of the refugee crisis.

“Starting today, I will see LMP as an adversary, just as I am an adversary to Jobbik and Fidesz-KDNP. I will be a firm ally of the left-center opposition parties on the particular issue (even though there is little, if anything, that I agree with them on),” he wrote.

Szél and Tamás then appeared on ATV to discuss their thoughts on the matter

Szél was interviewed about her thoughts by Olga Kálmán on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd (Straight Talk) on Monday night. The LMP co-chair reaffirmed the statements she made at Tusványos. Shortly after the Szél interview, Kálmán was joined in the studio by Tamás.

Tamás, who had listened to the interview with Szél, said he should have been harsher in his opinion piece.

“First of all,” he said, “what the hell was Szél doing at [Tusványos]?” He criticized her for attending the Fidesz-affiliated camp, calling it “the celebration of Hungarian chauvinism”.

In short, he summarized Szél’s statements as not exactly encouraging voters to take part in the referendum, but if they do take part they should vote with Fidesz and Jobbik.

“We all know that this referendum has absolutely nothing to do with reality,” he said. “Any talk about that from here on out is complete nonsense.”

According to Tamás, there is no proposal on behalf of the European Union to force refugees into Hungary against the wishes of the Hungarian government.

“This point is this: is Hungary, the Hungarian state, willing to help a few thousand unfortunate people, or is it not willing to help them?” he asked.

Despite the problems with radical Islam, terrorism, challenges posed by mass migration, etc., Tamás said the moral question on this issue is whether all this justifies “us telling the victims that they should just die”.

“This is the only question! There is nothing else! Do we have morality? Do we have hearts? Do we have solidarity? Or are we only cruel, selfish and evil?”

According to Tamás, anyone who makes room for others to vote with Fidesz and Jobbik in the referendum “is standing with inhumanity, all that is bad with humans and selfishness. There is no reason to soften this up.

“Everybody sees what is happening at Röszke and Tompa. Everybody sees it. This government will not even allow an NGO’s volunteers to take a damned portable toilet [to the asylum seekers]. [The government] wants them to wallow there in their own filth, to die. This is what the Hungarian government’s position is.”

Tamás went on to say that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statements at Tusványos perfectly summarize the current Hungarian government’s state of morality and internal spirituality.

“[Orbán] thinks that to save someone’s life is comical sentimentalism. This is funny to him. It’s not funny for me,” Tamás said.