Hungary’s troubled relationship with the United States took another twist on Monday as the two sides clashed over conspiracy theories featuring competing references to “The Godfather.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sparked the exchange when he tweeted the words “Soros 2.0” in response to news that Hungarian-American businessman George Soros has decided to hand over his multi-billion dollar foundation to his son, Alexander.
The Hungarian leader included a clip from iconic movie “The Godfather” showing fictional mafia boss Vito Corleone kissing his son and heir, Michael.
Orbán has for years run campaigns portraying Soros as a puppet master controlling Hungary’s opposition and plotting against the country’s interests, fueling concerns that the Hungarian government is spreading conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic narratives.
In 2017, the Hungarian government plastered the country with billboards depicting Soros smiling, with the text “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh.” And in his victory speech following Hungary’s 2022 parliamentary election, Orbán even claimed that he had actually defeated “all the money and every organization in the Soros empire.”
Monday’s tweet from Orbán drew a sharp, public rebuke from the U.S.
The American ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, responded to Orbán’s comment on Twitter with a GIF of a woman in a tin foil hat.
“The dog-whistle conspiracy theories are like the plot of Godfather 3,” the U.S. diplomat quipped, “predictable & troubling.”
The Hungarian leader’s tweet also elicited criticism around Europe.
“Just disgusting. Mr. Orban is a shame for Europe,” tweeted Michael Roth, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag and member of the Social Democratic Party.
German Green MEP Daniel Freund, a vocal critic of the Hungarian government, was even more blunt: “Look at this tweet,” he wrote, “and then tell me who’s the mobster.”
Published: 2023-06-13 00:09:57