We call upon President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban to recall the award to Mr. Bayer.Hungary was a country plagued with antisemitism during WWII. The infamous Arrow Cross Militia were Hitler’s henchmen and oftentimes, they were more vicious than the Nazis themselves.It was precisely in Hungary, where Raoul Wallenberg, the young Swede, embarked in an unprecedented life-saving operation which actually spared the lives of scores of Jews and other innocent victims of the Nazis and their Hungarian partners.
Any form of racism and discrimination should not be rewarded but strongly condemned. Instead, it seems that seven decades later, the present Hungarian government has learned very little from Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy. This should be immediately rectified and addressed.
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Despite the unspeakable tragedies that my father experienced in Hungary during that darkest time of history, he never lost his love for his native homeland. During nearly three decades of Congressional service, Tom Lantos was a stalwart advocate for a free and democratic Hungary and a devoted friend to the Hungarian people. He passed his deep love of Hungary on to his children and grandchildren, many of whom have both studied and worked in Hungary. I am keeping that flame of love alive for the great-grandchildren who never met my father as I teach the language, the history, and the songs of Hungary to my own grandchildren.
The Knight’s Cross, which was bestowed on me by Prime Minister Bajnai, was a great honor that I hoped one day to pass on to my sons and daughters. It gives me real sorrow that I will not be able to do this. However, the government’s decision to award the Knight’s Cross to Zsolt Bayer has sullied this noble award. Mr. Bayer’s despicable record of overt and hateful anti-Semitism and racism is beneath contempt. He deserves censure, not honor, for his loathsome writings and speech. Indeed, earlier this year the publication he writes for was fined for engaging in hate speech on account of his words. I feel compelled to join the many others who have denounced the shamefulness of granting this state honor to a hate-filled xenophobe like Zsolt Bayer. Accordingly, with a heavy heart, I am returning the Knight’s Cross to the government of Hungary.