Regarding Rep. Andy Harris, the Freedom Caucus Republican and Donald Trump Mini-Me urging constituents to protest the coronavirus shutdown in Maryland, I’d just like to point out his hypocrisy: This right-wing politician, who compares Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency order to something that might happen in China or North Korea, is the same right-wing politician who embraces Hugarian dictator Viktor Orban. Andy Harris complained Saturday during a ReOpen Maryland rally that the state government has deprived citizens of their freedoms and constitutional rights, but I don’t hear him complaining about what Orban has done in Hungary. In fact, Harris has done just the opposite: Praised Orban.
Orban went from being prime minister to authoritarian ruler of an “illiberal democracy” to full-fledged dictator. The Hungarian parliament recently suspended elections and granted him the power to rule by decree with no time limit. You can read the latest about Orban’s power in this rundown from Business Insider.
You can read about Andy Harris’s strange embrace of this guy in a couple of columns I’ve written on the subject during the last two years:
– Harris complained that the U.S. was spending money to promote a free press in Hungary as Orban became more of an authoritarian.
– Harris expressed further support for Orban after the European Parliament voted to censure Hungary for violating democratic norms by cracking down on freedom of the press, academic freedom, the rights of refugees and politicizing the nation’s judicial system. There have since been calls to kick Hungary out of NATO and the EU.
– According to Hungarian Free Press, Harris traveled to Budapest last September to support Orban and speak at a “demographic summit.” Orban leads a government that is nationalistic, takes a hard line on refugees and immigrants, and is widely regarded as antisemitic.
I wrote a column this past week about Harris being at odds with Hogan over the Maryland shutdown to slow the spread of coronavirus. Harris has been on a tour of small businesses in his district, asking why they shouldn’t be allowed to reopen and claiming the rural areas of his district were safe. Of course, he did not seek out a photo opportunity at the chicken-processing operations in the heart of his congressional district, where, last we checked, some 280 workers had tested positive for the coronavirus.
To hear him on this Facebook post (about 13 minutes in) angrily complaining about Hogan’s order, saying it deprived people of freedom — if you’ve been aware of his Orban embrace, the hypocrisy was glaring.
“This kind of rally can’t exist in communist China,” Harris told ReOpen demonstrators in Salisbury. “It can’t be done in North Korea.”
It can’t be done in his buddy Orban’s Hungary, either.
It’s really a shame that Hogan and the Maryland Republican Party do not put up a candidate to challenge Harris in a primary — a more moderate conservative, perhaps. But that’s a pretty short bench these days.