Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Hungarian Prime Minister Vikor Orban // Greene photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images); Orban photo by LM Otero/Associated Press
SARAJEVO — Here in Europe’s cultural and religious crossroads, locals and visitors from around the world enjoy warm, summer days and balmy, fun-filled nights.
But elsewhere in Bosnia, where ethnic and religious differences three decades ago also preceded a brutal war and horrific genocide, tensions are being stoked again, as some ethnic Serb leaders advocate breaking away from Bosnia.
It’s part of a growing problem in Eastern Europe, where certain leaders are capitalizing on humanity’s darker angels for political gain.
Examples of just such toxic rhetoric from the region were recently on full display — not here in Europe, mind you, but in Dallas, Texas, where Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was a celebrated speaker at a recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“If you separate Western civilization from its Judeo-Christian heritage, the worst things in history happen,” said Orban to applause from GOP leaders and their adherents.
“Let’s be honest, the most evil things in modern history were carried out by people who hated Christianity. Don’t be afraid to call your enemies by their name. You can’t play safe, but they will never show mercy.
“Politics are not enough. This war is a culture war.”
The Hungarian leader’s speech echoed the kind of hate-filled oratory that led Europe towards millions of deaths decades before the Bosnian conflict. I’m, of course, referring to World War II.
In the years leading up that war, Adolf Hitler warned of the dangers of a “higher race” mingling with a so-called “lower race.”
Orban’s speech to CPAC attendees — which included many leading Republican lawmakers and Fox News personalities — drew directly from Hitler’s oratory playbook. The Hungarian leader has seemingly fully embraced Hitler’s penchant for casting his hatred of “others” as a noble pursuit for the preservation of Hungary’s — and now America’s — culture:
Said Orban: “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.”
Hitler’s and Orban’s anti racial-mixing stances and use of Christianity to foment said hatred had already been embraced and promoted by another dangerous siren of hate: Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
At CPAC, Greene defended her Hitler-esque remarks advocating Christian Nationalism as “nothing to be ashamed of.”
“ … when I said that I’m a Christian nationalist, I have nothing to be ashamed of, because that’s what most Americans are,” said Greene to an audience that clearly admired her remarks without seemingly any concern of just how closely her views echo those espoused by Hitler in the lead-up to World War II.
“And when Republicans learn to represent most of the people that vote for them, then we will be the party that continues to grow without having to chase down certain identities or chase down, you know, certain segments of people.”
In case you missed it, that “certain segment” of which Greene spoke is thinly veiled code for communities of color and other minorities that, according to American Census predictions, will become the majority of the U.S. populace in about 20 years.
[To watch more of Orban and Greene’s worrying remarks about race and culture, go to The Lincoln Project’s YouTube Channel]
From my current vantage point in Bosnia, and based on my own experience reporting on sectarian and ethnic strife in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is especially troubling that American lawmakers like Greene and other Republican extremists are embracing the furor and hatred of “others” that led to World War II, the Bosnian war, and more recent fighting.
As Americans, we must learn from these despicable moments in history so that we can avoid going down the same path toward destructive conflict and senseless deaths that frequently follow such hate-filled professions.
Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Martin Kuz | Story and photographs
Expecting more than $1 billion in opioid settlement money, Pa. grapples with policing versus treatment
By Ed Mahon of Spotlight PA and Kate Giammarise of WESA
By Kim Palmiero