What made Orbán’s speech so remarkable was that, both in its rhetoric and the manner in which it was stage-managed, it suggested that his government would respond to further entreaties from Europe with unmitigated intransigence. […] Orbán was clearly trying to liken his current battle with the EU to the country’s past struggles against outsiders, and to place himself within a long tradition of nationalist heroes. […] Rather than hint at any possible compromise with international partners, Orbán castigated them as liberal elites trying to impose their will on Europe’s silent majority. “We have with us the silently abiding Europe of many tens of millions, who still insist on national sovereignty and still believe in the Christian virtues of courage, honor, fidelity, and mercy, which one day made our continent great,” Orbán declared. “We will not be a colony.” […] Orbán knows full well the power of jingoistic rhetoric, particularly in Hungary, which is why he cynically deploys it at home and then, hat in hand, becomes a shrinking violet when dealing with Brussels. Even if his speechifying is insincere, however, it’s scarcely acceptable that the leader of an EU member state is whipping up such crudely nationalist sentiments. Prime Minister Orbán, who was democratically elected, is permitted, of course, to say whatever he wishes about the EU; he can rouse nationalist passions all he likes; and he can draw absurd historical comparisons between the European and Soviet Unions. One wonders, however, why he expects to do so on the dime of “foreigners” he claims to despise.

James Kirchick, a contributing editor for The New Republic and World Affairs Journal @ The New Republic