Tucker Carlson recently full-on embraced Hungary's authoritarian leader Victor Orban, who has attacked immigrants and LGBTQ people with a vengeance. Carlson, broadcasting his show from Hungary for a week earlier this month — meeting with Orban and speaking at a far-right conference there — held Orban's anti-democratic regime up as a model for the U.S.
Orban, whom Donald Trump lauded and whom the American right is now revering, has built a wall to keep out immigrants — in particular Muslims, whom he demonizes — and deports asylum seekers without due process. And Orban's government, promoting "Christian traditions," has recently imposed a law that bans selling children's books that "promote" homosexuality or "gender change" unless the books are in "closed wrappers." And sales are completely banned within 700 feet of a church or school.
Orban announced last month that he is bringing that law to a national vote to show that Hungarians support his anti-LGBTQ agenda — a referendum campaign that allows him to scapegoat LGBTQ people and distract from more salient issues, and which will surely whip up hate and violence against queer people.
So what's not to love for the anti-immigrant, white supremacist and Christian nationalist Trumpian base?
Well, what Carlson failed to tell his viewers is that in Hungary only holders of a "certificate of protection" may currently attend any indoor or outdoor event of over 500 people, effectively shutting out sporting events, concerts, theaters, museums, fitness facilities, amusement parks, any large political rallies and much else to those without their medical papers:
Hungarian authorities issue certificates of protection to individuals who have either been vaccinated against or recovered from COVID-19. Restrictions are less stringent for individuals with certificates of protection; such persons may visit indoor cultural, leisure, and fitness facilities, and be seated at indoor areas of catering establishments.
That's right, a vaccine mandate (granted, except for those who had Covid, which is dubious public health, since one could be infected again) to enter many public venues. All private gatherings, such as parties or other events, are not to be larger than 100 people (expect for weddings, limited to 400). And all healthcare workers in the country must be vaccinated against Covid, by decree of the government.
"Already there are certain vaccines that are mandatory for people working in the healthcare sector ... we have now extended this to the coronavirus," Orban said in issuing that mandate in July.
Most astounding about this is that Carlson, during his week of shows from Hungary, went on diatribes against vaccine mandates in several of his show's segments focused on the U.S., pushing his usual conspiracy theories questioning the science behind the vaccines. On one show in which Carlson glorified Orban in an interview with him and mocked those who called Orban a "fascist," he shifted into a segment attacking vaccine passports, which he clearly poses as a fascistic danger:
But now, the biggest cities in our country are mandating vaccine passports. You must show your medical papers to have lunch. Can this continue? …
..New York City just got vaccine passports and that means everybody has to show medical papers to go anywhere…but it's just the beginning.
This came literally right after he interviewed a national leader he reveres who has instituted his own vaccine passports nationally, across every city and region — and Carlson never brought it up. Orban, however, has gone much further than following good public health guidelines; he's truly used the pandemic to consolidate power in dangerous ways. The empty charge being used by the MAGA crowd against Joe Biden and Democrats —"they're taking away your freedoms! "— actually does apply to Orban.
The authoritarian leader has used the imposition of a "state of emergency" to seize power time and again. In 2015, Hungary was the only country in the European Union to impose a "mass migration emergency," triggering deportations and shutting the borders. And in 2020, Orban imposed a "pandemic emergency" and then pushed through legislation that allowed him to solely, indefinitely impose decrees regarding Covid-19. The British legal group Blackstone Chambers noted:
The Hungarian government's extraordinary power was broad in scope and without express temporal limit or strict rational connection to the areas where an urgent response to the pandemic was required.
After criticism from the Council of Europe and other international groups, the Hungarian parliament, which only works in tandem with Orban, revoked those powers — but then pretty much gave those powers back under an imposed "medical emergency."
Kriszta Kovacs at the Center for Global Constitutionalism in Berlin explains what happened next:
When the second wave of Covid-19 arrived, the country was in a mass migration emergency and a medical emergency. Yet, the government introduced the third state of emergency, this time, a state of danger. The powers that Orbán has in the state of danger are on top of those granted by the two previous emergencies. And with a constitutional amendment, a further step has been taken on the road to full-out authoritarianism. The constitutional amendment substantially broadens the conditions in which emergencies can be declared.
While countries in Europe, including Hungary, closed their borders during the pandemic's early months, they — Hungary included — also imposed strict lockdowns. But Hungary went further and canceled local elections and closed the courts, with Orban declaring an "extraordinary court holiday." Hungary also "criminalized the dissemination of falsehood and distorted facts 'suitable to interfere with the successful protection of the public'. The provision was vague enough to have a chilling effect and be used against critics and political rivals."
Hungary has had on-again, off-again nationwide mask mandates throughout the pandemic — and yes, faced Covid spikes when they were lifted — and banned the right to assembly even outdoors earlier this year, which effectively shut down any kind of protest, including, presumably, anti-mask rallies. For Orban it was another way to inhibit speech.
And again, as of now, any public assemblies of over 500 people outdoors as well as indoors can only be attended by those with a "certificate of protection." Can you imagine telling the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who just attended the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota — where Covid cases spiked — that they needed to have a "certificate of protection" in order to attend?
But Tucker Carlson forgot to report on Victor Orban's Covid lockdowns, mask mandates and vaccine mandates just as wannabe Orbanesque dictator Ron DeSantis was facing a Covid explosion in Florida while banning mask mandates and vaccine passports.