Imagine a world in which people said what they believed. I don’t mean folks rudely disregarding others’ feelings and inflicting emotional pain and stress intentionally or needlessly, but rather that as part of a civil discussion, everyone could dispense with political correctness. People could share their honest thoughts without hemming and hawing or fearing blowback.
In 2021, it seems nearly impossible to say anything to anyone without risking someone taking umbrage. Reminiscing about a Cleveland Indians game? You will be accused of trivializing an entire race of people and making them a comical mascot. Do you happen to believe a baby in the womb should be protected? Your fellow cocktail party attendees may shun you and call you out as a woman-hater. The result of such foolishness is that many people temper their thoughts and filter their message, even in the most innocuous conversations.
Most distressing, however, is what political correctness has done to many of our public officials. Rather than risk offending pink-haired Wiccan practitioners with artificial limbs, a politician or bureaucrat will insert words like “may” or “in a perfect world” in response to the most vanilla questions and, in the process, firmly commit to absolutely nothing.
It plays out every day in the national news. Neither party has cornered the market on double-speak political correctness. While they approach it differently, Democrats and Republicans embarrass themselves with half-baked shameless pandering answers. The backbone of some officials seems to have been completely removed.
Do you find yourself wishing it was different? Welcome to Hungary.
I’ve spent the past week in Hungary sitting down with top officials from the Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Minister’s office, a couple of state secretaries, at least two military generals, and the man in charge of their border and immigration policy. One thing I’ve found is that no one is worried about political correctness. Regardless of whether I agree with the individual on their opinions, I respect the fact they share that opinion with tremendous candor. My experience has been that the Hungarians regularly do what your Mom told you to do when you were a child. “Say what you mean and do what you say.”
This is evident in Hungary‘s national policies. They recognize marriage as between two people, one being a man and one being a woman. They don’t apologize for it. They hate no one. They threaten no one. They prohibit no one from “loving who they want,” but they also clarify in writing what has been in practice for thousands of years of mankind. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
Hungary expects others to respect their sovereignty. When the nation encountered a problem with illegal migration into their country in 2015, they built a fence to protect their border. By combining 160 kilometers of fence with modern technology, well-trained soldiers, the cooperation of local law enforcement, and a concerted protection plan, Hungary was able to change illegal entries from 150,000 per month in 2015 to less than 10,000 apprehensions per month so far this year. They apologize to no one for wanting to know who seeks entry into their country and determining whether or not to grant that person or persons entry. They believe it is just common sense.
Neither do they apologize for codifying a policy that recognizes every living person as the gender the person was at birth. The common sense is almost overwhelming.
It should come as no surprise then when top Hungarian officials pull no punches expressing their frustration with the Biden administration’s policies toward them, particularly in the case of the exit from Afghanistan.
President Biden has received enormous criticism for his planning and execution of the United States exit from Afghanistan. In America, that criticism came from citizens and media alike. Now leadership in this Central European country is taking that criticism a step further.
Zoltan Kovacs, official spokesperson for Hungary‘s Prime Minister’s office, didn’t hold back In a lunch meeting in Budapest on Wednesday when asked about the U.S. military’s awkward withdrawal. “It was an absolute disaster.”
Mr. Kovacs described Hungary‘s relationship with the United States as incomparably worse under the Biden administration than it was under Trump.
Hungary is a conservative state, promoting family and embracing its storied Christian history. Mr. Kovacs believes it is their conservative nature that puts Hungary on the Biden administration’s list of foes. He said it is a repeat of the Obama/Biden administration’s approach.
In a different Budapest meeting, another senior Hungary official said the country met with the United States and USAID officials in July of this year to discuss working together on funding and facilitating reconstruction efforts in war-torn areas where Christians have been persecuted. Hungary has spearheaded the effort and encouraged others to join them. The Trump administration did exactly that. As a result, U.S. funding for this purpose already exists but the Biden team has shown little interest. It has instead made funding LBGTQ causes around the world a higher priority.
That same senior Hungary official saved his harshest criticism for the Biden administration’s swift, surprising withdrawal from Afghanistan. Hungary, he said, flew more than sixty troops into Kabul as the brutal Taliban rapidly took control of the entire nation. The troops were sent for the specific purpose of evacuating less than two dozen Hungarians and a few hundred Afghanis who had worked hand in hand with them. The official blames the United States for the difficulty Hungary experienced trying to get its people out.
“The Taliban had a security ring around the airport and would let nearly no one through. We communicated with them and managed to get them to agree to let our people through for the purpose of flying out of the country, only to be turned away at the airport gate by U.S. troops. This was despite the fact we literally had a plane with the engines running sitting inside the gate.” Those folks that were turned away were dispersed among the panicked crowds gathered outside the airport, which meant the five dozen Hungarian troops had to venture out into the chaos and try to round them up again. The Hungarian official’s disillusionment was best summed up in one sentence. “It was easier to deal with the Taliban than with our own ally.”
Hungary was eventually able to evacuate almost 500 of the 700 people they had targeted for rescue. Ironically the U.S. turned to Hungary when America needed help getting some of its own people out. Despite the on-the-ground snub, Hungary obliged and carried the westerners to safety. The same Hungarian official said he personally noted a huge disparity between United States Secretary of State Blinkens’ words during Afghanistan-related press conferences and the real action on the ground.
The comments above came while the senior Hungarian official was meeting with a small group of American journalists. After his remarks about the Taliban being easier to deal with than the Biden administration, he was given the opportunity to back peddle. I couldn’t help but envision how certain American representatives would have tap-danced their way around the situation. Instead, the senior official doubled down. He said the handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal “put a stain on the west’s credibility that won’t be easy if at all possible to get rid of.” He continued, “This was very damaging to the reputation of the United States.”
It seems the Biden administration could learn a thing or two from Hungary about families, science, commitment, and perhaps most importantly, candor.