The ascension of far-right forces around the globe has accelerated in the past few years as an international framework of authoritarian-leaning and reactionary governments has formed to cooperate and forward their shared toxic belief systems. President Donald Trump is one of the most obvious examples of this metastasis, but Europe and South America have their own crop of repugnant creatures stomping through the halls of power.
Now more than ever it’s crucial that concerned citizens stay engaged and monitor these alliances, opposing their machinations whenever possible. With that in mind, it’s with alarm that Americans should look at the decision by several Trump officials to visit a bizarre —and at its roots sinister — conference hosted by the Hungarian Embassy aimed at promoting higher birth rates, Rewire.News reports.
Nauseatingly titled the “Make Families Great Again” conference, the event was held on March 14th inside the Library of Congress and was attended by White House Special Assistant Katy Talento, White House Strategic Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp, Department of Health and Human Services Senior Advisor Valerie Huber. Huber is known for pushing regressive “abstinence-only” policies and Talento has spread misinformation about contraception and abortions in the past.
In addition to the administration officials, Representatives Andy Harris (R-MD), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Chris Smith (R-NJ) were also in attendance.
The conference was held to shill for radical, far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “Family Protection Action Plan” which centers around the goal of creating a new baby boom so that fertility rates rise to sustain the current population. The plan aims to provide financial incentives to keep women at home raising families but isn’t geared towards helping them eventually reenter the workforce.
The plan also dovetails well with Orbán’s xenophobic anti-immigration rhetoric, which has proven quite similar to President Trump’s. Not surprisingly, the two men also share anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ opinions.
If Orbán can raise native births enough he will be able to more easily argue against allowing more migrants to enter the country, which is one of his primary goals. There is a distinct white nationalist flavor to the plan which fits with the hateful words and actions enacted by the Trump administration. As usual, birds of a racist feather flock together.
Amanda Klasing, the Acting Co-Director of the women’s right department at Human Rights Watch voiced concerns about the Hungarian leader to Rewire.News:
“Orbán is really quite scary. Our big concern is that this anti-gender equality, anti-woman, anti-LGBT rhetoric is being picked up in all of these different places by leaders that are prepared to undermine human rights,” said Klasing. “And this is one way that they’re doing it. The Trump administration is embracing Hungary’s approach to reproduction with the tacit approval of its efforts to undermine the civil society working on women’s rights.”
Klasing went on to outline the insidious intent behind the policies:
“Xenophobia and racism plays out on policies related to women’s bodies. There’s so much more that goes into the choice to whether or not to have a family, or whether or not to give birth. There’s so many policies that could improve families and that’s not what this is about. This is about controlling women’s bodies,” she said to Rewire.News.
Clearly, the American government should not be trying to emulate the policies of a man like Orbán. The Trump officials who attended this conference must be condemned as should their entire agenda. The far-right is banding together around the globe and moments like this cannot be overlooked.