Big brother… and big sister… are watching

I have been known to get a little paranoid at times. Not too often, mind you, but enough to make me question my reality on occasion. It’s particularly strong if I’ve had a week of reading back-to-back spy novels or watching old movies featuring the great conspiracies of our time. But I’m nowhere near Chicago comic, Emo Phillips who ‘was walking home one night and a guy hammering on a roof called [him] a paranoid little weirdo. In morse code.’

I consider myself to be a rational, intelligent human being with a healthy inquisitive nature and a mind that’s open to exploring all sides of a debate before taking a stance. I know first-hand what it’s like to be judged; I’ve been on the receiving end of bigotry and racism; and I know the harm a lemming mentality can do.


As I write, I’m in shock. My heart is thumping and my knees are shaking. I am taking deep breaths and trying to convince myself that this country, my adopted home, is not going to hell in the proverbial handbasket.

I’ve just heard about the flashmob that convened outside László Csatáry’s home last week (I’m a little behind the times not having a TV – if it even made the TV). I’ve watched some of the videos shot that day and it seems to have been a peaceful protest against the crimes of man who was allegedly instrumental in sending 300 so-called alien Jews to their death in Kamenetz-Podolsk in Ukraine in 1941. A long time ago, admittedly, but as William Shakespeare put it so succinctly, time is the justice that examines all offenders.

Apparently, Csatáry has lived in Hungary for the last 15 years, and for the latter 6, with the knowledge of the Hungarian government. That scares me. Justice is one of the cornerstones of democracy and if the government (our elected guardians) turns a blind eye, what hope have we? But on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being slightly disturbed and 10 being terrified to the extreme, I rated a 3 in this instance. I’ve become used to this government and although upsetting, it didn’t surprise me that they knew he was here and chose to do nothing about it.


What has me quaking in my bare feet right now is that the day after the flashmob, the right-wing website kuruc.info enlisted the help of its readers to identify those who exercised their democratic right to protest and to stand up against what they believe to be wrong. Kuruc.info even offered a reward of 100 000 forints (about €350) for the most useable information. Word has it that within just 48 hours, more than 90 000 readers had managed to identify most of the participants, so-called anti-Hungarian Jews, who are now being harassed via phone and Internet. Ye gods – we are turning on each other!


Brian Whelan recently did a piece in the Irish Times on the return of anti-Irish prejudice to the UK. Irish emigrants heading to the UK these days differ from those of yore in that they are almost completely unaware of past lives, with no real sense of history. Since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, more and more young Irish people are seeking their fortune abroad. Reminiscent of the mass exodus of the 1980s, this wave of emigration comes on the back of a relatively stable Ireland, in political terms. The Troubles have, for the most part, been relegated to the distant past and the Protestant-Catholic divide has narrowed to the point where it can be stepped across with relative ease.

Admittedly, according to Whelan, there are signs in the UK of the previous tension: a total stranger might approach you in the pub upon hearing your accent to let you know their relative was killed while serving in the North, as if you were to blame or should apologise. But it was the BBC3 documentary about Irish rappers (who knew!) that drew quite a commentary recently on Twitter.

I read some of the Tweets and found them to be racist, bigoted, and downright nasty. Yet Whelan makes an interesting point: Similar Tweets about any other nationality could potentially get the person arrested or fired from their job, but when the jokes are aimed at the Irish it is written off as ‘banter’. This is, in most part, probably down to our own innate self-deprecation. We like a laugh and we’re well able to laugh at ourselves. Yet the day is dawning when this type of rhetoric needs to stop.


Why can’t we all just get along? Why the persecution, the harassment, the singling out of individuals? Why not peace, justice, and freedom for all? At the end of the day, we are all part of the one race – the human race. Or is someone not telling me something?

First published in the Budapest Times 27 July 2012.

0 replies
  1. peter finnigan
    peter finnigan says:

    The Laszlo Csatary story is appalling, you are right to air it, I hope that others do too. I also fully agree with with your thoughts regarding Peace, justice and freedom for all. However if you feel that this story should be linked to the tweet story re the Irish rappers, then in fairness the comments made by Irish readers of the Brian Whelan artical should be aired – the comments strongly refute Whelans’ British anti Irish assertions. As you have previously said ‘Paper will take any print’ fortunately the readers of the Irish Times have shown that are not prepared to accept it, good for them, that is how we will create a better world.

    • Mary
      Mary says:

      Just because it’s not happening in my town, doesn’t mean it’s not happening anywhere. I think that even if a small minority of people harbour hatred and give voice to it, it will have its affect.

  2. Rhobar
    Rhobar says:

    Well we didn’t jailed Eisenberger Benjámin after 1989 (he was the leader of the AVH, during the Rosenfeld Mátyás era (1948-1953)) There is hardly anyone in Hungary who did not lost at least a relative because of him.

    So to speak the villains during the Stalinist time were mostly Jews This whole distant past 80-90 year old villain searching is just creates tensions and antisemitism, cuz after this the right-wing will demand the left-wing villains to be prosecuted too.

    Oh and do not read kurucinfo, and hungarianspektrum, the first is a radical right website, the second is some ultra radical left-liberal website both are stupid , crazy conspiracy theories , hatred etc.If you reading these sites you will always feel that something catastrophic will happen, those sites like most Hungarian sites in the internet only show you propaganda and over time you’ll become ultra-liberal or Nazi, and fell yourself insecure because the imaginary Nazis, or murdering gypsy hordes.

    Here is an example
    I’m reading a lot of forums , and about a neutral problem for me, the Serbia -Kosovo problem. First I started to read an Albanian website, and I agreed that how evil the Serbs were , and etc, than I stopped reading that , and after 1-2 months I started reading a Serb site and of course I changed my opinion , and now poor Serbs were bullied by the U.S., Albanians etc, so this is how propaganda works.. (I hope you’ll understand this I’m too lazy to correct the grammar etc)

    • Mary
      Mary says:

      Hi Rhobar – thanks for taking the time to comment and I agree – it’s very difficult to figure out what’s really behind anything these days. Every story has two sides…at least. I think though, that making an effort to understand is so much better than simply ignoring the state of things and hoping that a) wrongs will right themselves or b) problems will simply go away. It’s in reading all these forums that we can at least come to a better understanding of the issues.


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