Out of the shadows and into the mainstream, Sian Norris examines the list of right-wing politicians and far-right activists at a controversial conference in Hungary
Babies, birth rates and the Bible.
A week after a killer targeting black Americans in Buffalo cited the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory in his manifesto, that same plot is going mainstream in Budapest – as conservatives, religious and the far right rally in the Hungarian capital to strategize, network and celebrate.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself headlined the US-based Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but even the host was overshadowed by a video lecture by the former US president Donald Trump – the leader most responsible for normalizing white supremacy in the United States. politics over the past decade.
The line-up was a who’s who of the modern far right in politics and media.
Jack Posobiec of Turning Point USA, the far-right American blogger who used anti-Semitic symbols and promoted the fabricated “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that vilified prominent Democrats as child molesters, closed the conference.
There was Matthew Tyrmand, a member of the board of directors of Project Veritas – the far-right group funded by black American money and known for its techniques of entrapment of progressive organizations.
FoxNews‘ Tucker Carlson was on the list – recently accused of normalizing the Great Replacement conspiracy.
British readers may not recognize the name, but Zsolt Bayer was also on the lineup – the host of a TV talk show who called Jews “dung” and Roma “animals” and used racist epithets to describe black people.
Alongside the provocateurs were far-right politicians from parties such as the Brethren in Italy, as well as the Italian Lega, Vox in Spain, the National Rally in France and, of course, Fidesz – the main known Hungarian party. for his attacks on Muslims, asylum seekers, the LGBTIQ community and the free press.
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Nigel Farage, ‘Mr Brexit’, made an appearance from the UK, who joined via video link. British Conservative and Reform Party donor George Farmer was a confirmed speaker, alongside his wife, Candace Owens. The latter was previously in charge of communication at Turning Point USA and dubbed on the show as “Donald Trump’s favorite influencer”.
Farmer donated £45,000 to the Conservative Party and a further £5,000 to Tory MP Ben Bradley before switching allegiance to Reform UK – donating £200,000 to the artist formerly known as Brexit Party. Her father, Sir Michael Farmer, is the Conservative Party’s biggest donor, having given more than £6million since 2010.
Sir Michael Farmer now sits in the House of Lords alongside Student Union President Lord James Wharton – who also spoke at CPAC Hungary. His presence on the same day as Bayer raised questions about the Conservatives’ commitment to anti-Semitism and anti-racism – but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. It is a party that chairs a Council of Europe group filled with political representatives of far-right parties present at CPAC.
An agenda for Europe
That CPAC had become a rally for anti-Semites, racists and conspirators was clear from the inclusion of men like Trump, Bayer and Posobiec.
But alongside them was the growing influence of white Christian nationalism – with representatives of the anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ and anti-divorce organizations that once made up “Agenda Europe” – the shadowy network that linked actors anti-rights across the region.
There was Gregor Puppinck from the European Center for Law and Justice – the European branch of the American Center for Law and Justice which campaigned against abortion and marriage equality. Puppinck told the conference, “Without fatherhood there can be no lasting homeland.”
Puppinck was a prominent member of the Agenda Europe network, as was the Polish ultra-Catholic legal charity Ordo Iuris. Its president Jerzcy Kwaśniewski spoke on CPAC.
In 2016, Ordo Iuris drafted a total ban on abortion in Poland and supported moves to increase abortion restrictions in 2020. He currently leads a campaign to monitor compliance with abortion laws in Polish hospitals. At least three women have died since January 2021, when the law was tightened, after being denied life-saving reproductive health care.
Patryk Jaki, a Polish MEP who hosted a screening of an anti-abortion film and spoke about the importance of family in building a “strong Poland”, was another speaker.
Opening the program was Miklós Szánthó, from the Center for Fundamental Rights – a Hungarian organization that serves as the government’s spokesperson for its anti-LGBTIQ agenda. No wonder Szánthó is on a bill with Ordo Iuris – the two organizations signed a cooperation agreement in February 2021. The Center had four speakers on the program.
The prominence of CPAC speakers who champion an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ, and white Christian nationalist agenda tells us something interesting and troubling about the “culture war” issues being waged by the modern far right.
It’s a movement that has fused white supremacy with male supremacy – pitting black people and migrants against each other as enemies, alongside feminists, anti-racism activists and LGBTIQ people.
He wants to ban abortion, take away civil rights for black people and ethnic minorities, and roll back progress at a time when LGBTIQ people simply weren’t supposed to exist.
He believes that women should be submissive to men and that men should have supremacy in the household and the state. Its members want to end protections against gender-based violence.
We have known that for years. Throughout the 2010s, Agenda Europe and its members strategized on how to roll back women’s rights – from protection against abortion and domestic violence, to political participation and access to ‘public space. They campaigned against marriage equality and dreamed of an end to legal divorce. Its members have lobbied their national governments and the European Union to impede progress on LGBTIQ rights, but not always successfully. Conservative strategists and donors have played their part.
But what makes CPAC interesting — and disturbing — is how what once happened in the shadows is now happening in the mainstream.
Conservative peers are no longer embarrassed to share a stage with racists and anti-Semites. Anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ American and European politicians and actors come together to congratulate each other and share advice on how to reverse human rights.
The fascist natural order crafted by Agenda Europe in the 2010s arrived at a conference center in Budapest – and world leaders were there to shake it up.
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