The Manufacture of Hatred: Scapegoating Refugees in Central Europe

By Daniel Howden
Published December 14, 2016

PRAGUE AND BUDAPEST – Agnes Urbanics is happy to talk to strangers as long as they speak quietly. Inside the kindergarten where she works in Letkes, a hamlet near Hungary’s northern border with Slovakia, the children are sleeping. Two dozen Hungarian toddlers are having their afternoon nap in one of the classrooms, while Agnes and her fellow teachers tidy up. There is an obvious pride in the new facility, one of the fruits of Hungary’s membership of the European Union, paid for by the structural funds that flowed with it.

The flags of Hungary and the E.U. form a trinity with the cross that hangs above the entrance. It seems an odd place to celebrate defiance of Brussels, but Letkes was among the areas with the highest voter turnout in the referendum in October called to rally Hungarians against an E.U. plan to distribute some newly arrived refugees among member states.

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