The last month has seen the rise of a new crisis upon the world stage: Syrian refugees. As they continue to flood West in the millions, the problem has continued to grow for the European nations where most are trying to flee to. Let us clarify: not Europe at large, but Western Europe. France and Germany have forced through a plan to deal with the refugee crisis, which leaves Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic holding the bag.
The finest response by a head of state in this crisis has been the words and deeds of Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary. Orban has said that the refugee problem is not a Hungarian problem but a “German problem,” because most refugees will go on to Germany, as this map shows. Orban has also constructed a border fence between Hungary and Croatia, which is an extension of a barrier between Hungary and Serbia. Besides building physical barriers, Orban has also authorized the use of rubber bullets on incoming refugees.
Orban’s defense of Hungary’s national sovereignty has brought complaints that he’s not playing along with the EU’s response to the refugee crisis. He has been criticized as being,’ xenophobic,” a brutal user of hard power, a “strong man leader,” and as having “sinister” motives. In short, Orban is all things evil, backward and reprehensible to the European Union and Western elites generally.
This criticism of Orban’s stance only shows the disdain in which national identity and sovereignty are held today, at least when it comes to European nations. Orban is not being xenophobic at all: by contrast, he showed a deep awareness of his own nation’s history when he told journalists “I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences.” Those consequences, for Hungary, included nearly two centuries of war with the Ottoman Empire, followed by over a century and a half of of oppressive rule that led well into the early modern era.
The actions of Hungary’s leader to defend Hungary and Hungarian identity shows a solid awareness of history and culture, an awareness which is almost wholly lacking in the West today. Orban may be the only “voice of sanity” in Europe right now, which is a sad thing for a continent which has boasted unparalleled genius in almost all fields of human endeavor.