Saturday, September 01, 2012

Who’s Your Mama?

As reported in the news feed a couple of weeks ago, Csanad Szegedi, a leader of the Hungarian nationalist movement Jobbik, was recently “outed” as a Jew. It turns out that, unbeknownst to him, his maternal grandmother was a Jew — a survivor of Auschwitz, in fact.

Unlike many European nationalist parties, Jobbik really is anti-Semitic, and very much in the mold of the original National Socialists. As a result of the sensational revelation, Mr. Szegedi was forced to resign his party post as he came to terms with his new ethnic and religious identity.

As Vlad pointed out at the time, it’s like the old Dave Chappelle sketch “The Black White Supremacist”, in which a blind KKK leader learns for the first time that he’s in fact a black man. A TouTube video of the sketch is (language warning) here.

Our occasional guest-essayist J-Practical has his own take on the topic. What interests him is the grandmother’s story: What did the poor woman think when her own grandson took up a version of the same ideology that sent her family to the death camps?

Csanad Szegedi: Who’s Your Mama, and where’s the real story?

by J-Practical

I have to admit, the story of Csanad Szegedi tickles my sense of the absurd.

Ever since I first saw the movie ‘Annie Hall’, I’ve always wanted the chance to figuratively reach off-screen and pull Marshall McLuhan into a situation where some pontificating loudmouth needs to be shut down. If nothing else, I’ve always wanted to see someone else do it.

That’s what somebody just did to the hapless Csanad Szegedi.

Szegedi grew up a Presbyterian, and spent his adult life forming or leading anti-Semitic neo-fascist organizations, and telling the world that Jews “desecrated Hungary’s national symbols”. Then, suddenly some guy in line got tired of the pontification, reached off-screen and pulled in Szegedi’s Jewish grandmother. Szegedi had no clue that she had come from a Jewish Orthodox family, or that she was a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau.

Where do you go from there? Psychology’s concept of the Identity Crisis is just too pedestrian for the story of Csanad Szegedi. Now he’s been forced to leave the extreme right-wing Jobbik party where he’s been a leader and shining star, and to relinquish his elected seat in the European Parliament.

All because he has Jewish grandparents.

What a reversal of fortune.

But honestly, I don’t really care whether he survives, politically or psychologically. To my mind, his pursuit of a hateful ideology and a despicable political platform have put him on par with small bird droppings and midget meadow muffins.

I’m a lot more interested in the grandmother than in Csanad Szegedi. I want her story.

What did the grandmother think, and how did she react, as her grandson built a political career on extremist nationalism and anti-Semitism? What could be worse than to survive the Holocaust, and then watch the second rise of mass anti-Semitism — and know that your descendent was fanning those embers into vivid flames?

There’s a much more interesting story behind the grandmother than behind the thuggish grandson.

What do you feel, when your grandson resurrects the same kind of malevolent nationalist movement that led to the extinction of your family, the end of your innocence, and your personal agony in Auschwitz and Dachau? What was it like to watch your own grandson follow a path that echoes that of an evil young Austrian 80 years earlier?

How did she live with her secret Judaism, knowing that its release would permanently scar her grandson? Did she share the secret with anyone? What kind of discussions did she have with her own daughter — Szegedi’s mother? Who could she talk to about it? What could she say? Where was Szegedi’s mother in all this?

A Jewish grandparent’s love for a grandchild is a legendary relationship, and yet imagine the conflicted pride of a Jewish grandmother in her successful young grandson, whose life’s goal is woven into an anti-Semitic path that she has already traveled once.

She’s the story. Not him. He’s like a Star Trek red shirt — here today, gone today. She’s the complex, twisty plot that I want to understand.


Anonymous said...

This is the most disgusting evidence of the diseased European mind.

You have no problem giving the most important positions to Moslems. You have no problem pestering us to convert to your religion. Yet you treat us as lepers.

Yet, you don't want us in our own land either. You simply want us dead.

Why should we pay attention to anything you say?

RHW said...

I have to say that the most telling aspect of this is that he has beenforced to leave the European parliament!

Does the European parliament align itself with the ideologies of Jobbik?

kenlowder said...

Karma, bites you in the butt when you least expect it and most deserve it.

Green Infidel said...

Yet the Guardian describes this same Jobbik as being "united" (with other "far-right groups") by a "hostility to Muslims and to the EU."

This same Jobbik who are friendly with Hezbollah...

Dymphna said...

@ Green Infidel--

Don't look for consistency in this kind of p.c. mush. As for congruent thinking, it went missing a long time ago.

In the first burst of news about this fellow some report said he'd been to see a rabbi and was scheduling a visit to whatever concentration camp his grandmother had survived.

We don't even know if he KNEW his grandparents, do we?

In my former family in Boston, Great Grandpa converted from Judaism to Catholicism when he married Kathleen. So his children were half-Jewish, though on the paternal side. As if *that* counted for anything in anti-semite South Boston.

When the children of this union married, the Jewish Question was a Big Secret since they were busy "passing" also. By the time it came to my generation this "Sekrit" was an open joke - though never in front of their mother, who moved heaven & earth to keep her kids (the grandchildren of Jake) from discovering this shameful knowledge...which they already knew. But she didn't know they knew.

Funny thing was, they were kind of proud of their heritage. THEY weren't living in South Boston so it didn't matter to them. Finally, when this watered down DNA came to my kids, they liked the they grew up and moved on, though, it more or less fell out of family conversations and will eventually fade entirely.

Not from fear, but from the process of acculturation.

BTW: I'M quite pleased to have a Holocaust survivor as one of our donors. Good karma, that.

Anonymous said...

This vile mindset is the reason why the people Israel said to themselves - enough of Europe
we need to restore our political status - the rest is commentary

emanuel appel