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Hungarian PM Viktor Orban
Censorship, media bias, and the inability to speak one's mind openly for fear of professional retribution are all considered givens in the life of an American conservative. Yet, none of these things are imposed by the state. Rather, corporate oligarchs have taken up the mantle of commissar, arbitrating what constitutes an acceptable opinion.

Tucker Carlson's recent visit to Hungary, a nation that has established itself as a bulwark of national populism and Christian traditionalism on the European continent, has sparked debate in conservative circles regarding the degree of authoritarianism present in Hungary and whether the United States is any better.

Critics characterize Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government as one of state-sanctioned repression, intent on snuffing out ideological diversity in the press and otherwise silencing political opposition. David Frum, a staff writer at the Atlantic and a former Bush administration official, even claimed that people in Hungary "[turn] their heads to check who [is] listening before they [lean] forward to whisper what they [have] to say" for fear of losing their jobs should they say something to offend the dominant ideology of the regime.

On the other hand, Americans experience all this to some degree without the coercive power of the state needing to be involved. To Frum's point on Hungarians being afraid to speak freely in public (an observation that some people living in Hungary dispute), a sizable majority of Americans also self-censor when talking to others. Given that an offhand comment can cost you your job in the U.S., we shouldn't be so quick to place ourselves above Hungary.

Orban, some argue, conspired to diminish the presence of free journalism in his country by overseeing media consolidation that resulted in most outlets supporting his party's point of view.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., just six corporations control 90% of the media, and the liberal bias is palpable. If you can't swallow that last statement, then just think back to when then-President Donald Trump began suggesting (accurately, it turns out) that COVID-19 may have leaked from a Chinese lab. Journalists lost their minds in their eagerness to show that anything Trump said was wrong, as they did many times during his presidency.

Comment: Old 'true theories' die hard.

When Orban announced measures to combat COVID-19 disinformation last year, Western cosmopolitans feared he would leverage state power to silence those critical of him. Despite the fearmongering, this never came to fruition.

Americans, in contrast, are routinely silenced for saying things corporate oligarchs find distasteful. Consider the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story by social media platforms on the eve of the 2020 election. Consider that you can get banned from Twitter for refusing to conform to gender ideology. Big Tech tycoons hold immense power over the information we have access to, as well as how we interact with it. That power is not wielded without prejudice.

As the left-wing Anti-Defamation League partners with PayPal to advise its dealings, Americans could soon be excluded from banking should they deviate from what a small cadre of unelected suits determines is acceptable. Not even Orban has gone this far to control his people.

Orban claims to stand for the Hungarian people and their Christian heritage. Our elite, on the other hand, openly despise everyday Americans and their traditions. And judging by how the NBA and Hollywood behave with respect to Chinese belligerence and genocide, they might even welcome an invading Chinese army to America's shores, if they can only make a dollar doing it.

Yes, there is a philosophical distinction between private mechanisms and government edicts regulating human behavior. But the ultimate result is the same. It is an act of hubris to assume that, just because our government isn't being actively despotic, we are immune to oppression.