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The Vilification of Sebastian Gorka and the Weaponization of History
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The Vilification of Sebastian Gorka and the Weaponization of History

By Mundilfury

Sebastian Gorka, aide to President Donald Trump, is a devastating force. When dealing with the mainstream press (hereafter MSM) he is perpetually articulate, intelligent, and capable of withering retorts. He has been an effective one-man counter-narrative. During interviews and discussion panels, his aristocratic bearing, confidence, and unwillingness to back-track in the face of blatant on-air rhetorical attacks has not gone unnoticed. An effective individual like this cannot be allowed to operate with impunity. Such a man must be brought low by any means necessary. Hence the present contrived controversy. After all, the apocalyptic visions of our hostile elite are powerful; and in their minds, the “Nazi Hunt” is always justified.

Gorka, who would soon become an aide to Donald Trump, attended one of several balls held in February 2017 to celebrate Trump’s presidential victory. The evening of the Liberty Ball, accompanied by his wife Katharine, he wore a traditional Hungarian black braided jacket known as a “bocskai” ornamented by a badge and a medal. Some Hungarian viewers, who watched his interview with Fox News that evening, identified the badge with a knightly order of merit founded by Miklós Horthy in 1920, the Order of Vitéz.

Allegra Kirkland states, in her article for Talking Points Memo, that András Biro-Nagy, a professor at Budapest’s Corvinus University, where Gorka pursued his Ph.D. studies, said that the “bocskai” was popular during Horthy’s rule, which is often worn by members of Hungary’s contemporary Right on special occasions. Biro-Nagy went on to discuss the meaning of the medal in question: “The medal is a clear sign that he sympathizes with the Horthy era—this medal was awarded as a state honor between 1920 and 1944.” 

To some, the Order of Vitez (Vitezi Rend) is controversial, but an article in Hungary Today indicates that “it would be a mistake to imagine that the group was synonymous with Nazism or fascism more generally.” The order was founded, by Horthy, in 1920 who ruled Hungary from 1920 until 1944.

The controversy is derived from the fact that Horthy is accused of collaborating with Nazi Germany and was responsible for the deportation and death of Hungarian Jews during the Second World War. An over-simplified claim that provides no context of the situation in Hungary at the time. In other words, if we follow the convoluted line of reasoning, it is being argued by the MSM that because Gorka was wearing accoutrements connected to Horthy’s regime, and Horthy is accused of anti-semitism in the early part of the twentieth century and later was linked to Adolf Hitler by way of events in the Second World War, it “follows” that Gorka is a national socialist that must resign from his position immediately.

This is reductive and absurd reasoning at best, and is desperately convenient. It is also very telling that these MSM articles, that present a seemingly well-researched litany of Gorka’s alleged connections to the past provide very little context for what actually happened in Hungary following the First World War, during the Second World War, and in the Cold War. The Left is quite keen to draw their ace of trumps whenever it is expedient for them to do so. The Nazi regime acts as a poisoned tree whereby anyone remotely connected to it is anathema and should be destroyed. This sinister abuse of history has worked many times, but its dark power is beginning to wane.

This contrived controversy speaks to the unspoken assumptions of our time. According to the Left, any hint of nationalist sentiment exhibited by people of European heritage is verboten. In today’s hysterical climate, only a select few are permitted to display nationalistic symbols or participate in identity politics.  These anointed elect feel as if they should be the sole wielders of violence as well. Our hostile elites feel that only they, along with their ideological foot soldiers, should be permitted to display their symbols, wear their Che Guevara T-Shirts, practise their religion, impose their terminology, and exercise their will.  Public figures who sport the hammer and sickle on their clothing can do so without fear of a media firestorm, which is a testament to the Left’s hegemony in the culture of the West. These actions carry no risk. Such rank hypocrisy is commonplace here; and yet, to the Left, it doesn’t matter. They may purport to fight for “Social Justice” but in truth they are nothing but power wielders.

Admittedly, it is impossible to reconstruct Hungary’s history over the course of the twentieth century in one article, but we can provide some context that was selectively omitted. For instance, it would be unfashionable to point out that in the past, leftist communists, many of them Jews, were part of violent revolutionary movements.  It would be heretical to suggest that nationalist forces of the past committed acts of violence not within a vacuum, but within the context of communist revolutionary brutality and the ensuing chaos after the First World War. Historian Emily Gioielli states in her Ph.D dissertation that “the emergence of the White Terror and counter-revolution overlaps with the rise of militia violence in Hungary and in Central Europe more generally following the 1918 armistice. The democratic and communist revolutions provoked many men across Hungary from all walks of life to organize armed militias as a reaction to the dramatic social and economic changes proposed by the Kun government through the use of force.” [1]

It would also be convenient for the present author to cherry-pick various atrocities out of history to vilify the Left just as they have vilified the Right generally and Gorka in particular. It’s easy to weaponize history for presentist purposes. History is a slaughter bench, read it and weep (then use it against your enemies in the here-and-now). 

Aftermath of the First World War

The chaos that ensued in the shatter zones of disintegrating empires following the First World War had a profound effect on returning soldiers and officers including Miklós Horthy.  Many ex-officers of the Hungarian militias frequently invoked the horrors of returning from the front in 1918 to what historian Robert Gerwarth characterizes as “an entirely hostile world of communist upheaval, and the collapse of military hierarchies and political order.” Gerwarth goes on to write that “Miklós Horthy, certainly not the most militant of the Hungarian counter-revolutionaries, recalled in his memoirs: ‘It was impossible to come to terms with the changed situation. Budapest …was simply unrecognizable…vandalizing groups paraded through the streets, led by soldiers in sloppy uniforms who were carrying red flags.’ Even in 1919, after the fall of Bela Kun, he called Budapest ‘a guilty and sinful city’, a ‘Babylon’ which ‘denied her thousand-year-old history, threw the national crown and national colours into the dust and dressed herself in red rags.’” [2]

The Soviet regime that Horthy fought against under Bela Kun, was not averse to using force to suppress internal political opposition. The regime had transformed the police and gendarmerie into units of the “Red Guard.” In addition to the re-organization of the state’s police forces, a political police, a Hungarian Cheka, under the leadership of Otto Korvin was formed, and armed militias that functioned almost like private armies were also formed and coordinated by Tibor Szamuely, the Deputy Commissar of War in the Soviet Government. These organizations, which were controlled by the extreme left in the government, were tasked with imposing ideological conformity through violence; and they were active particularly in the countryside around Budapest. The most notorious of these was the “Lenin Boys” [Lenin-fiúk], a group comprised mainly of former sailors led by one Jozsef Cserny. They wore leather coats, and traveled around the countryside in a special train that came to be called the “death train.” These red militias would enter villages, forcibly requisition foodstuffs and even execute people accused of counter-revolutionary activities. In all, between March and July 1919, these red militias were responsible for the deaths of an estimated five hundred to six hundred persons and had expropriated a great deal of food and material resources from the nobility and the bourgeoisie as well as the agrarian population. This violence contributed to the erosion of popular support for the regime. [3]

Neither of Us Could Be Guilty 

“My father was nine years old when the Second World War started,” Gorka said in an interview with the Telegraph. “I was born in 1970. Neither of us could be guilty of what they’re stating.” He also said, in a video produced by Breitbart news, that his personal connection to the Order of Vitez was by way of his father who participated in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. His father, Paul, was captured and tortured by the communists. A detail that Gorka’s attackers in the MSM have decided to omit along with huge amounts of detail about the complexity of Hungary’s past, which Gorka’s father, Paul, was swept up in.

Paul Gorka was involved in the revolt that challenged the Hungarian communist regime in 1956. As a result a Soviet military intervention crushed the attempted insurrection, which was led by former communist leader Imre Nagy. The far-reaching insurgency, which lasted only a few days in October and November, led to the dissolution of the communist party and the secret police.  Just as quickly as it had been launched, however, the revolution was crushed amid several days of street fighting in Budapest and elsewhere that led to the deaths of some 4000 Hungarians and close to 700 Soviet military personnel. In the aftermath of the intervention, a new Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP) was established, led by János Kádár.  In the course of establishing his control over the party and country, Kádár managed to eliminate both the reformist elements that had spearheaded the revolution and the Stalinist conservative elements that had controlled the party before Nagy. The repression of the crushed revolt was fierce, with some 35,000 Hungarians arrested for their roles in the revolution and 22,000 of them sentenced to prison and between 280 and 300 executed. [4]

Conclusion

The attacks on Gorka are an abuse of history and fit the pattern of relentless rhetorical bombardments aimed at members of the Trump ministry. Weaponized presentism is alive and well: it’s less about the complexities of what happened in the past and more about the bitter fight for political and cultural control in the present. This hysterical outrage about Gorka’s nationalist accoutrements is less about the past and more about his effectiveness as a spokesman for the Trump government in the present. It is also about our hostile elites’ and their allies’ frantic attempts to quash nationalism and to keep their assumptions from being assailed. It must also be noted that it is selected outrage. On other matters their silence is deafening.

Footnotes: 

[1] Emily R. Gioielli,“‘White Misrule’: Terror and Political Violence During Hungary’s Long World War I, 1919-1924,”Ph.D Dissertation, Central European University, Budapest 2015, p.58.

[2] Robert Gerwarth,“The Central European Counter-Revolution: Paramilitary Violence In Germany, Austria and Hungary After the Great War,” Past and Present, no. 200, (August 2008), pp.187-188.

[3] Gioielli, pp.53-54.

[4] Victor Gomez, “From Protest to Party: The Transformation of Anti-Communist Opposition Movements in East-Central Europe,” PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2014, p.36.

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