Ahead of a planned visit to Texas to address the largest conservative conference in the U.S., Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orbán insisted that his country must maintain racial purity. “This is why we have always fought: We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race,” said Orbán during a Saturday speech in Romania, adding that Hungary will not join in with Western Europe’s “mixed-race world.” During a Thursday press conference, Orbán issued a follow-up statement saying that he openly supports “anti-immigration policy,” before also claiming that it “is not a race issue for us, this is a cultural issue.”
Such comments, which led to the resignation of a longtime Orbán adviser who likened them to “a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels,” apparently have not impacted Orbán’s relationship with the American Conservative Union, which will host next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. “When we silence people we skip the chance to learn why [we] agree or disagree [with] their POV,” tweeted ACU chairman Matt Schlapp on Thursday, following a backlash over Orbán’s upcoming CPAC appearance. “Cancel culture is the judge and jury of speech. The most tragic part is that the left is guilty of the fascism they always charge. The more free speech the sooner we find the truth.” (CPAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Orbán’s appearance).
However, Schlapp and CPAC have a long, nearly annual tradition of silencing those whose views they consider beyond the pale. “BREAKING: The ‘extreme conservative’ and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, Senator [Mitt Romney] is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020,” Schlapp wrote in a 2020 tweet, apparently targeting Romney’s anti-Trump views. CPAC has also barred a number of far-right figures from attending over the past five years, including white nationalists Richard Spencer and Nick Fuentes. Former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was set to speak at CPAC 2017 but was cut from the lineup after a video surfaced of him suggesting that some sexual relationships between minors and adults are acceptable. A more recent CPAC cancellation saw organizers revoke an appearance from Young Pharoah, a rapper who had shared antisemitic tweets, at last year’s “America Uncanceled” conference.
The list of those scheduled to speak next week represents a who’s who of right-wing political and media figures, including Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz, Steve Bannon, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Mike Lindell, and several Republican members of Congress, including Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz. So far, no conservative figures who are set to speak at CPAC appear to have publicly condemned Schlapp’s decision to stand by Orbán. The only nominally conservative pundits who have spoken out against Schlapp’s defense of Orbán seem to be in the Never Trump camp—or those that were shunned by the CPAC crowd long ago. “It’s increasingly clear that for today’s American conservatives, Viktor Orban’s frank and vocal illiberalism, bigotry, and demagoguery are not obstacles to their admiration for him,” wrote Bulwark editor Bill Kristol. “They’re the reasons for the admiration.”
Rod Dreher, a columnist at The American Conservative, defended the Hungarian prime minister’s comments, by referring to Israel as an ethnostate and questioning why Hungary is not allowed to follow suit. “Kristol & Cathy Young complain that Orban is an ‘ethnonationalist,’ in that he believes Hungary is ideally for Magyars (and Jews),” tweeted Dreher. “OK, now y’all do Israel. To be clear, I fully support Israel & its right to exist, but why is a Magyar state illegitimate but a Jewish one kosher?”
Orbán has become a darling of the American right over the past few years, primarily for his hardline anti-immigration policies. Fox News host Tucker Carlson has aired a friendly interview with the prime minister and visited Budapest twice since 2021 to promote Orbán’s nationalistic vision. Trump, for one, recently described Orbán as “a great leader, a great gentleman.”
CPAC has courted foreign far-right figures in the past. In 2020, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, addressed the conference alongside a far-right member of Sweden’s parliament. (The younger Bolsonaro is also set to be on hand in Texas). And the conservative organization’s first European gathering was held this past spring Budapest, Hungary, where Orbán told attendees: ”We need to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We need to find friends, and we need to find allies. We need to coordinate the movement of our troops, because we have a big challenge ahead of us.”