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On April 8, 1793, in the midst of the French Revolution, the French Republic’s first ambassador to the United States arrived to begin his service. Upon arrival in Charleston, Edmond-Charles Genêt adopted the title “Citizen Genêt” to emphasize his association with the regime that had executed King Louis XVI mere months before. Thus began a vexing term of diplomatic service-one which had far-reaching effects despite its concise duration.

Genêt’s mission was clear: persuade President George Washington to extend ongoing European conflicts to American soil, starting land and sea battles against British and Spanish colonial possessions (i.e., in Canada and Florida). But Genêt did not wait until he arrived in Philadelphia to discuss this with Washington. He immediately engaged four privateers to raid British ships.

Genêt was unaware that, during his transatlantic voyage, President Washington had formally declared American neutrality. He was also disdainful of the provisions in the newly ratified Constitution, insisting instead that the American government vested all power in Congress, as it had under the previous Articles of Confederation.

President Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson were unamused. Jefferson noted that “Mr. Genet, not content with using our force, whether we will or not, in the military line, against nations with whom we are at peace, also undertakes to direct the civil government; and particularly, for the Executive and Legislative bodies, to pronounce what powers may, or may not, be exercised by the one or the other.”

Jefferson, a francophile, also expressed concern that Genêt’s actions would negatively impact Americans’ perception of France. “I fear he will enlarge the circle of those disaffected to his country. I am doing everything in my power to moderate the impetuosity of his movements, and to destroy the dangerous opinion, which has been excited in him, that the people of the US. Will disavow the acts of their government.”

Ultimately, President Washington requested that the French Republic withdraw Genêt from his post. Genêt’s term ended a mere three months after it began.

One might expect that American diplomats, particularly those with a lengthy foreign service career, would be familiar with the seminal historical incident surrounding Citizen Genêt. However, under the Biden Regime, all seems to have been forgotten.

Worse still, we now have our own Citizen Genêt poking and prodding a critical allied nation: David Pressman, whom the Biden Regime appointed to serve as United States Ambassador to Hungary.

Rather than represent the American people’s interests by fostering closer economic, security, and cultural ties between the Hungarian and American societies, Pressman has taken on the role of a committed ideologue. He does not respect his host nation, which he condemns at every opportunity.

Pressman’s public positions advocate for everything from his social concerns to overthrowing the Hungarian people’s democratic decisions. A committed homosexual, Pressman takes personal offense that Hungarians defined marriage in their constitution as “the union of a man and a woman.” Pressman was the ringleader of an unprecedented joint statement condemning Hungary’s traditional views on homosexuality and other non-traditional relations. This statement “stress[ed] the need for leaders and governments, [in Hungary] and elsewhere, to show respect for and protect the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals and communities, and to eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against them.”

In short, Pressman has no qualms in spitting on the Hungarian people and their sovereign rights; much like Citizen Genêt, he, a representative of a nation far away, knows better than they do.

On a more serious basis, Pressman often meddles in security policy. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Hungarian government’s position has been clear: peace must be reached posthaste. Hungary has historic ties to Transcarpathia, in the west of the Ukraine, and refuses to permit weapons to transit its border to protect the ethnic Hungarian community there from Russian reprisal.

Pressman, believing he knew better, launched a billboard campaign to remind Hungarians that Russians are their natural enemy. Of course, in his hubris, he only reminded Hungarians that their freedom fighters of 1956 were slaughtered while the American-funded Radio Free Europe egged them on, implying that American aid was on the way.

Most seriously, Pressman adopted an unambiguous political role in domestic Hungarian elections. In an attempt to quash the ruling Fidesz party, Pressman openly backed a unified opposition. Pressman’s links were so deep that the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, recently called him “the leader of the opposition.” And now, Pressman has joined a chorus of voices speaking out against Hungary’s National Sovereignty Law, which seeks to prevent external interference in its elections.

Fortunately, Hungary has a diverse media environment wherein Pressman’s voice and views are supported and opposed. This open discourse, so different from the mainstream media environment in the Anglophone world and most of the West, lets Hungarians recognize, isolate, and scorn the hatred that emanates from the American Embassy in Budapest.

As Americans shipped Citizen Genêt off to improve relations with France, we hope Hungarians do the same to David Pressman in short order. International relations must be built on mutual respect for societies with different values, not a top-down imposition of some cultural fad originating in an ivory tower.

Gavin Wax

Gavin M. Wax is a New York-based conservative political activist, commentator, columnist, operative, and strategist. He is the Executive Director of the National Constitutional Law Union. He also serves as the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club and as an Ambassador for both Turning Point USA & Live Action. He is co-authoring an upcoming book entitled 'The Emerging Populist Majority.' You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.