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Viktor Orban speaks at CPAC

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on August 4, 2022 in Dallas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

'We Should Unite Our Forces': Orbán Serves Up Far-Right Red Meat to CPAC Crowd

"The Republican playbook is the Viktor Orbán playbook," said one observer. "And you can call that what you want—but I am going to continue to call it fascism."

Julia Conley

Attacks on LGBTQ+ people and boasts of stopping an "invasion" of immigrants were among the remarks that drew loud applause from Republicans attending Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán's speech at one of the largest annual gatherings of U.S. conservatives Thursday evening, as the prime minister told audience members they should join forces with the far-right in other countries to expand their power.

"Progressive liberals didn't want me to be here because they knew what I would tell you—because I'm here to tell you that we should unite our forces because we Hungarians know how to defeat the enemies of freedom on the political battlefield," said Orbán.

Progressives in the U.S. and abroad have raised alarm over Orbán's ties to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which held an auxiliary meeting in Budapest in May and welcomed the prime minister to Dallas days after he gave a speech saying Hungarians "do not want to become a mixed race."

Orbán's own longtime advisor, Zsuzsa Hegedus, resigned from his government over what she called his "pure Nazi" rhetoric which she said was "worthy of [Nazi propagandist] Joseph Goebbels."

The audience in Dallas, however, met Orbán with enthusiastic applause as he urged U.S. conservatives to take control of their country as he has Hungary, boasting that "we actually built that wall and it stopped illegal migration," referring to a border fence his government constructed in 2015 to stop refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries from entering Hungary.

Orbán, who won his fourth term as prime minister in April in an election that international observers said was unfairly stacked against the opposition, urged Republicans in the U.S. to follow his example as "an old-fashioned freedom fighter" as he said the two countries must fight progressives who want to "separate western civilization from its Judaeo-Christian heritage."

"Let's be honest, the most evil things in modern history were carried out by people who hated Christianity," Orbán claimed. "The horrors of Nazis and communists happened because some western states in continental Europe abandoned that Christian values and today's progressives are planning to do the same."

"They want to give up on western values and create a new world, a post-western world," he warned. "Who is going to stop them if we don't?"

Orbán's defense of the so-called "western value" of protecting children from "gender ideology" received a standing ovation as the prime minister waded into the current U.S. culture war over discussions about race and gender in the nation's schools.

"The mother is a woman, the father is a man. Leave our kids alone. Full stop. End of discussion!" Orbán said.

Following the Hungarian leader's speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) foreign policy advisor, Matt Duss, pointed to a 2018 essay written by the senator warning that autocratic leaders like Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin have formed an "authoritarian axis" that must be confronted by progressives joining forces across borders:

In order to effectively combat the rise of the international authoritarian axis, we need an international progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power.

Authoritarians like Orbán and former U.S. President Donald Trump have exploited a global political order which has perpetuated "massive wealth and income inequality," he wrote.

"We must look honestly at how that order has failed to deliver on many of its promises, and how authoritarians have adeptly exploited those failures in order to build support for their agenda," Sanders added. "Our job is to build on our common humanity and do everything that we can to oppose all of the forces... We know that those forces work together across borders. We must do the same."

Following Orbán's speech on Thursday, MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan said the Hungarian leader has already effectively "united forces" with the Republican Party.

"The Republican playbook is the Viktor Orbán playbook," said Hasan. "And you can call that what you want—but I am going to continue to call it fascism."

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