The Seasoning of the Paprika Revolution
On July 21, 1789, President George Washington signed legislation establishing the first federal agency under the newly ratified Constitution: the Department of State. Since that moment, the Department of State has served as the voice of the American people to the myriad peoples of the world, sending diplomats to nations near and far to represent our interests and negotiate on our behalf.
Starting in the Vietnam War era, something changed. As Americans faced the calamity of conscription and unprecedented social upheaval, the cerebral approach to anti-communist doctrine lacked visceral appeal. In its place, “human rights,” a concept codified in 1948 by the United Nations, emerged as an non-falsifiable justification for American foreign intervention.
In the 21st century, few remember the academic critiques of “human rights” from the 1940s, which posited that “[r]espect for differences between cultures is validated by the scientific fact that no technique of qualitatively evaluating cultures has been discovered.” Such humility is absent from modern discourse, and the West today instead juggles the cognitive dissonance of preaching infinite respect for other cultures while simultaneously battering any culture that violates perceived universal “human rights”-even to the detriment of the people purportedly deprived of such rights.
Tragically, we have seen far too many such instances in recent history. American intervention on the basis of “human rights” tends to leave our nation poorer and the rights-deprived nation in ruins. Consider, as just a few recent examples, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. It is incumbent upon all Americans to advocate for our diplomats to support the welfare and mutual interests of our people and the people in the nations to which those diplomats are posted. By contrast, color revolutions of the past two decades have failed in nearly all cases.
So why is the United States intent on fomenting yet another one?
President Joe Biden appointed David Pressman, a gay human rights lawyer, as ambassador of the United States to Hungary on July 28, 2022. In his confirmation hearing on June 23, 2022, Pressman made his agenda clear when he stated:
“The threats to democracy in Hungary are real and merit our determined attention. Human rights, media freedom, and the rule of law are not nice-to-haves in Hungary-or anywhere else. They are fundamental foundations for sustaining democracy and liberty and meeting people’s most basic needs. Today in Hungary, we see deeply troubling trends in each of these areas. If confirmed, I will support efforts to advance and protect these fundamental rights and transatlantic values.”
Pressman’s claim lacks factual basis, but it echoes the mainstream media and the Biden administration’s ridiculous charges against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. One might imagine from Pressman’s statement that Hungarians are cowed and quaking under the jackboot of rabid government oppression. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Simply put, “human rights” is a fundamentally vapid and ultimately meaningless term; the values of just 10 years ago, for example, are routinely condemned by the Left today as violative of “human rights. We have seen the Left use this playbook frequently, for example, when it comes, to issues of human sexuality.
Attacks on “human rights” in Hungary follow a consistent pattern:
- The Left identifies a subject wherein the Hungarian people have overwhelmingly indicated they do not want to embrace “woke” ideals.
- The Left exaggerates the situation with a mix of hyperbole and omission, and personally condemns Orbán to boot.
- The Hungarian people, who have access to a diverse array of media opinions, reject the assertions of the Left.
Sometimes, the Left simply contrives a scenario from scratch. Consider the example of a far-right rally that was scheduled for February 11 in Budapest. Hungarian police banned large extremist gatherings that day and ended up having to protect the small number of far-right protesters from a foreign Antifa mob that descended on them. How did Ambassador Pressman represent this event? He took to Twitter to issue a disingenuous condemnation of “those who valorize Nazis [and] march in Budapest.” In reality, Hungary is now a top-ranked European country for Jewish life, according to a study by the European Jewish Association. Seventy-five percent of Hungarian Jews have never faced an antisemitic incident, the top score in Europe. (Belgium claimed the bottom spot, at 52%.)
In the past week, Pressman brought another agent of destruction to Budapest: Samantha Power, administrator of USAID. Power has touted the American government’s “new support for locally-driven initiatives.” And we know what kind of “initiatives” Power likes; she was instrumental in transforming Libya into a failed jihadist-overrun state, and now she has set her eyes on the Pearl of the Danube.
Reception to Power’s meddling has been one-sided. There is no secret about what is happening, and people on the ground do not want her there. Her sordid reputation speaks for itself, and her making nice with anti-Orbán NGOs erases any doubt about her malicious intentions.
Pressman, Power, and the Biden administration are set on instigating another color revolution: Call it the Paprika Revolution. Americans owe it to the Hungarian people to rein in the bad actors in our own government and allow Hungarians to live as they see fit. As Orbán has said with pride, “Hungary is still a Hungarian country.” Let us endeavor to let them keep it that way.
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com on February 16, 2023.