In November 2012, Jeszenszky came under fire for using controversial remarks on Roma in a university course book he wrote while lecturing as a professor at Budapest's Corvinus University. Jeszenszky wrote in 2004: “The reason why many Roma are mentally ill is because in Roma culture it is permitted for sisters and brothers or cousins to marry each other or just to have sexual intercourse with each other.” When the news about the offensive article emerged the ambassador was asked by organizers of a Holocaust symposium in Oslo commemorating the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Second World War, not to attend. University scholars and politicians in Hungary called on Jeszenszky to resign as ambassador.
Hungary's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Jeszenszky had made his remarks as a university teacher, not as diplomat: “Although the lines in question are open to misinterpretation, Géza Jeszenszky’s lifelong work and most recent publications prove that he stands on the side of minority rights and cannot be accused of prejudice.” Foreign Minister János Martonyi publicly expressed full confidence in Jeszenszky.
Jeszenszky told the news agency MTI that the chapter in question was supported by a wealth of academic research (a contention disputed by the authors of the protest letter). “Looking at this interpretation with a sober mind will reveal nothing offensive, and leveling accusations of racism is an outrageous slander,” he reportedly declared. “Even a committed Roma rights activist would be unable to take exception to the way the theme is presented. Hundreds of Hungarian and foreign students have found my book useful,” Jeszenszky was quoted as saying.*
As to first cousins being able to marry in Roma culture, I am sure it is correct. At least among Pentecostals.
In Sweden (and probably Norway too) it is legally allowed for first cousins to marry. The reason - as with Pentecostals - is that Old Testament allows first cousin marriages and that Pentecostals as well as Lutheran rulers of Sweden have considered Decretum Gratianum as not binding. In fact most Swedes and Norwegians as well as Pentecostals (and Jews during Old Testament) marry further away.
Saying marriages between first cousins lead to a people being "mentally ill" is however prejudiced and it is furthermore prejudiced against the people in which such a thing is common or thought to be common.
Close kin marriages can trigger genetical diseases, and some of them might be predispositions for mental failures like madness or more often weaknesses like bipolarity. But very many genetical diseases are simply somatic (like the Bleeders Disease or Haemophilia in the Russian Czar family branch of the Romanovs). Even where the predisposition touches the mental one can never foreknow whether it will be a weakness, an asset of geniality or a madness.
I am very sure that Géza Jeszenszky's personal feelings towards minorities like the Roma are not those of hatred or illwill identified as such subjectively.
I am however sure his view of psychiatry relies on a kind of pseudo-science that tries to foreknow what cannot be foreknown, to foresee what cannot be foreseen. And that this is also the case in people who really condemn Roma more often than others to mental hospitals or supervision, but who will not state - therein being less honest than Géza Jeszenszky - that Roma or any other group are more apt to mental illness than others. It is in many ways a case of taking characteristics of a usually lower class people as sham diagnostic criteria.
Often enough psychiatrists were Jews, their Talmudic prejudices tend to stamp on the one hand Christian devotion and orthodoxy, but on the other hand also certain lower class ethnic behaviours, as madness, as something potentially to be treated by forceful retention in mental hospitals. Or by offering counselling and therapies and medication. Which is of course good for the cash flow of ... Jewish and also non-Jewish but approved by Jews ... mental health specialists.
It may be that madness is more common in certain peoples. I am not sure that defiance of Decretum Gratiani is all that is in it. It is also that societies (Jewish, Moslem, Confucian, Buddhist, African and Roma, as well as Puritan - Protestant, and since a bit more recently and a bit more lightly French-Algerians, since exposed to subtle** Orientalisation for so long) where mental health issues are very much under observance also tend to make people go mad by that social pressure - if they have any susceptibility.
I hope Géza Jeszenszky does not take this as a Politically Correct attack, it is an answer to him as a Professor.
Some Roma habits are more military and aristocratic (but these tend to cherish observing mental health vigilance to extremes, since carrying guns and knives and thus more dangerous than usual if going or gone mad) than really connected to any kind of illness. They descend from a military caste in Northern India and when later probably adopted by some stranded Coptic noble in Byzantine Greece they became again militaries, helping to defend Byzantium against the Moslem conquest for a while. Others are rooted in the castes - like there is probably a thief caste and probably a beggar caste, as well as a metal worker caste and horse handlers and musicians. Others again are rooted in how they were treated as slaves for centuries.
There are however people who not sharing these habits will not accept that other people have other habits, they will stamp habits unlike their own as madness or perversion (a trait not totally absent from Roma, as I have found out). And that is what I am getting at.
Nanterre University Library
Sts Severine, Exupery and Felician***
Wikipedia : Géza Jeszenszky
Footnotes cited therein:
- 1) Diplomat offensive - Ambassador rebuffed amid racism claim - Budapest Times, 3 November 2012
- 2) Hungarian Ambassador to Oslo Géza Jeszenszky can't attend the Holocaust and Religious Minorities Symposium - Hungarian Ambiance Blog, October 2012
- 3) [again:] Diplomat offensive - Ambassador rebuffed amid racism claim - Budapest Times, 3 November 2012
- 4) Jeszenszky-jegyzet: "szó sincs rasszista utalásról" - Mno.hu
- 5) [again:] Diplomat offensive - Ambassador rebuffed amid racism claim - Budapest Times, 3 November 2012
** Note: subtle. Overt orientalisation above the innocuous levels of saying "ouaich" or eating couscous and merguez they have of course avoided. If they are responsible for levelling the oral A to only one quality, always different from nasal A (tendency completed after mother's French grammars were written) and if they are responsible for mixing nasal U into nasal I/EI (ongoing tendency), I am not sure whether this is due to Orientals living aside them any more than to Provençals and Spaniards and Italians mixing into the French stock.
***A habit of my own that some prejudiced pseudo-scientists think of as a mental symptom: dating with the Sanctoral at hand. Originally a Mediæval one, but Newman would of course write Christmas or All Saints for 25-XII or 1-XI and a few more. Someone has sabotaged the site where I usually get the Roman Martyrology. Maybe Talmudists or Zionists (or Communists) who totally trust all that comes from Wiesenthal Centre and Yad Vashem but consider me gullible for trusting the Roman Martyrology ... or something ...