Perseverance in Budapest

As you might have heard, the forces of tolerance and diversity have declared that we must not be allowed to speak. Our organization and our upcoming event have been attacked on social media and blogs for months. From what I understand, these originated from the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), which is the successor to the Hungarian Communist Party. Now these attacks are coming from the highest levels of government. This morning, the “conservative” Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, declared that he will use “all legal means at his disposal” to ban our conference. (I guess we should be happy that illegal means are off the table.)

It’s important to remember that neither Orbán nor anyone else has accused us of actually breaking any laws, because we haven't. To the contrary, it is the Hungarian government that might potentially break a law—in this case, one of its own. Our conference will be a forum for ideas—it is an opportunity for Hungarians, and people from around the world, to freely gather and freely speak their minds. These rights are explicitly guaranteed to all Hungarian citizens in their recently enacted Constitution. The very notion that Hungary’s Prime Minister—who claims to embrace European, pluralist values—would even talk about censoring the speech of citizens and international guests is depressing, indeed.

Sometimes you can find profound statements in pop culture. The lines are from Game of Thrones:

When you rip out a man’s tongue, you’re not proving him a liar. You’re only telling the world you fear what he might say.

Words have power. And I can only conclude that Viktor Orbán and everyone attacking our conference fear what we have to say.

The conference is not cancelled. We will meet in Budapest on October 3-5. We will share ideas. We will make new friends and have a good time. (That’s what these events are really about.)

It’s true that the government’s actions are going to make our meeting a little more inconvenient than it otherwise would be. But life is full of such challenges.

I’ve been inspired by the response to our gathering—in terms of registrants and general interest—and I’m confident that The European Congress has a bright future.

To all those who have registered to attend, either as a guest or journalist covering the event—check your email. I will keep you abreast of our ongoing plans.

We shall overcome.