The participation of two white nationalists in a four-week-long university program stirred scandal in Hungary.
Antisemitic, racially supremacist activists from the US are the cause of a scandal at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), as two American white nationalists, Greg Johnson and David Michael Zsutty, participated in the four-week programme of the ELTE Budapest Summer University.
The ELTE Summer University is open to international students who want to learn Hungarian and get to know Hungarian culture. The two American students enrolled for the course for the same purpose, but both have lived in Hungary for some time. Johnson moved to Budapest in 2019 after being deported from Norway. Zsutty moved to the Hungarian capital in 2023.
Johnson, 58, also founded a book publishing company, where he publishes books under a pseudonym. In one of his volumes, he wrote the following:
„As for the Jews (…) All their property should be confiscated (…) First of all, we should consider this as reparation. Secondly, if we let them keep their property, they would immediately use it to create a disturbance against us. Let us look at what happened when Adolf Hitler, with his characteristic excess of kindness, which was his greatest mistake, allowed the Jews in Germany to emigrate with their property.”
At the heart of his ideology is the creation of a „White ethnostate”. This is an imagined form of government where only whites would be allowed to reside or become citizens, and non-whites and Jews would be excluded. The idea is popular among far-right groups and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Johnson was arrested in 2019 outside a far-right conference for a piece he wrote defending far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011. Two days later, he was deported from Norway and moved to Budapest.
David Zsutty is the director of the American far-right think-tank Homeland Institute, founded by Johnson and known for promoting conspiracy theories such as the Great Replacement Theory. According to this theory, there is a liberal conspiracy to dilute the white population of the US and European countries through immigration.
The far-right activities of Zsutty, who has a law degree, have also been uncovered in an online neo-Nazi community, Identity Evropa. Zsutty posted to the group under the pseudonym Tyler Hess, where he often posted with strong antisemitic overtones. He also mused that he considered the racist Charlottesville killer James Fields to be „completely innocent”.
The Free Europe media organisation spoke to several students and ELTE lecturers to reconstruct the events. According to these sources, there were no admission criteria for the course, and the prospective students did not undergo any preliminary screening apart from filling in an application form.
During the second week of the course, while reading a group email, one of the students noticed Johnson’s email address and reported it to her fellow students. The two right-wing extremists did not make any extremist statements during the course, nor did they mix with other students.
The situation was a sensitive one for many. Several students stopped participating in the activities during the last few days.
„I personally could not do anything except make an official report to the National Security Service, who wrote back a week later to say that they had forwarded it to the police,” said one of the teachers. According to her, students also took their complaints to the ELTE administration in the third week of the course.
The university launched an investigation into the matter but concluded that the participants in the programme were not covered by the ELTE code of ethics.
The students decided not to participate in the graduation ceremony, which was reported to the ELTE management. Finally, they chose not to hold the graduation ceremony at all.