Tuesday, April 11
The first time I ever traveled outside the United States, I spent a couple of weeks staying with a friend in Budapest. I was young and hadn’t seen very much. It felt like an extraordinary and sometimes electric place to me, the first city I’d been in that felt like Europe.
I’ve seen a little bit more of the world since then, and I understand the kind of place that Budapest is better now: A local center with a deep, complicated, and periodically brutal history, but also a periphery and a minor node in the current graph of power and capital. (And in that last way not unlike a lot of the places I’ve lived.) It remains one of my favorite cities; I’ve been back a few times and will likely go again, depending on just how far the political situation deteriorates.
Because the political situation is pretty well fucked these days. That friend I first stayed with in Budapest works now at Central European University, and CEU has lately been under direct legislative attack by a government that news outlets very circumspectly describe as composed of “right-wing populists”. (I guess I prefixed this with “protofascist” the last time I went.)
CEU itself has a bunch of material on this:
On April 10, 2017, President of the Republic of Hungary Janos Ader signed into law amendments to Hungary’s national higher education legislation which restrict academic freedom for CEU and other international universities operating in Hungary.
CEU strongly disagrees with this decision and, accordingly, continues to pursue all available legal remedies. Further, CEU calls on the Hungarian government to display the “mutual good will” called for by President Ader to find a solution to enable CEU to stay in Budapest.
There’s a change.org petition.
I’ll be writing some letters. I’ve decided that’s my new thing, writing letters.