Rod Dreher comes as a regular to the Vinikil café in Budapest, opposite the Hungarian National Museum. He begins to know the city well, its good restaurants, where to find a coffee to his liking. He left his native Louisiana in February for a second study trip to Magyar land, after a first fellowship in spring 2021. Influential figure on the religious right in the United States thanks to a very popular blog on the magazine’s website American Conservative, Rod Dreher deepens here his approach to the populist model of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. In a few months, he has become its main promoter among those in America who regard the presidency of Donald Trump as a missed opportunity.
Rod Dreher, 55, has a Christian hipster look, with his beard, thick rimmed glasses and green raincoat. In his latest book, Resist the lie (Artège, 2021), a best-seller in the United States, he denounces the “soft totalitarianism” which settles, according to him, in the West, preventing Christians from living according to their values. In his eyes, Viktor Orban is blocking this development, he “appreciates his sovereignty, his defense of what is Hungarian, against Brussels. [Et le fait que,] while being in favor of the European Union, he refuses to let it go too far”. In front of his coffee, Mr. Dreher also greets “his defense of his country’s Christian identity, which does not prevent Jews from living [en Hongrie] protected by a spirit of tolerance. Orban sees Muslim immigration as a threat to European identity, and that is also something [qu’il] respect ».
On this March 15, a national holiday, the Hungarian Prime Minister, who can be proud of having received the support of Donald Trump in January, is holding an important meeting in view of the general elections on April 3. Not a word will be spoken in solidarity with the Ukrainians during this rally, the culmination of a “march for peace”. The left is presented there as the camp of war, ready to involve Hungary in a conflict which would not concern it.
Over the past year, many Americans have made the trip to Budapest. We saw political science professor Patrick Deneen, author of Why Liberalism Failed (L’Artisan, 2020), then the professor of administrative law Adrian Vermeule, two great thinkers of traditionalist Catholicism in the United States. Fox News columnist Tucker Carlson also traveled to Budapest, where he painted a most laudatory portrait of Viktor Orban and his anti-immigrant policies. He also gave his support to the campaign, with strong hints of anti-Semitism, led by Budapest against the American billionaire of Hungarian origin, George Soros, and his Open Society foundation. Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s former vice-president, has also made the pilgrimage, like many intellectuals busy theorizing populist governance or the rebirth of Christian nationalism, in opposition to the demands of the LGBT community.
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