Oh my word, I have been getting a lot of feedback over the past few days from people (including over 200 comments on Facebook) on a variety of topics.
Sam, you’re some kind of Hungarian sympathizer and traitor to Romania, etc
I really don’t know how many times I’ve got to say that I am not Hungarian. I speak a handful of words and phrases in the Hungarian language. And not that it matters but none of my family is ethnic Hungarian either. Yes, I live here in Cluj and yes I do know some Hungarians here and yes I am on good terms with some of them but that means nothing. I’m also on good terms with Germans, French and Arab people who live here as well. I judge a person by their character, not their ethnicity.
There seems to be some weird misfire in some people’s minds that if someone criticizes Romania this equates to being “Hungarian” or working as an agent of/for Hungary. That’s extremely simplistic thinking and shows a lack of depth. You certainly don’t have to agree with what I say but at least have the wisdom to realize that I arrive at my opinions and conclusions organically, not due to some kind of “agenda” having anything to do with Hungary or Hungarians.
For fuck’s sake, if I wanted to live in Hungary, I would. I don’t. I choose to live in Romania.
Sam, your piece The Rise and Fall of Traian Basescu proves you’re some PDL agent!
Uh, no. Please pay attention. I am not even a citizen of this country (yet). I am not a member of any party and I can’t vote for any party, even for a bribe *bitter laugh*. I have never received the slightest bit of support, monetary or otherwise, from the PDL party.
In fact, I spent most of 2011 beating my head against a brick wall trying to get a PDL minister (Elena Udrea) to work with me to promote Romania as a tourist destination. I then met the PDL mayor of this town, saw he was an asshole fishing for bribes in an open meeting, and called him out on it on this very website long before he was arrested. I threw a party when this slimeball was sent to jail. I then openly criticized the interim mayor for being another corrupt and arrogant piece of shit.
None of this means I am sympathetic or “in league with” or a support of any other party either. Again, I judge a politician on his/her actions, not the party to which they belong. I’ve appeared in media controlled by “barons” that have all manner of political affiliations. I received not one cent (or ban) in cash from these people. I did it simply because I thought my message was worth getting out to the public.
If and when I ever receive some kind of material support, financial or otherwise, from any political party, I will write about it here and make it very public and obvious. I know Romanians are used to people being devious and corrupt and sneaky but I am not like that. The grand total of gifts I have received for any of my public appearances was a nice tea mug and some fruit tea, which I received for speaking to a private group. THAT IS IT.
Again, my opinions are my own opinions and are not for sale.
Sam, Basescu is the devil and you made him look like a saint
Christ, I hate these over simplifications. Was my piece on him a little on the sympathetic side? Sure, of course it was. I was (and still am) angry because his opponents continually wish to thwart the will of the people (while wasting 155 million lei worth of the people’s money).
When a president is elected, any president (Iliescu included), the deal is that he (or she) gets to serve out their full term. Then you vote again. The people of Romania had a wide range of choices in 2004 (including Gigi Becali) and chose Basescu, okay? That’s how it works. And then in 2009 they also had a wide range of choices and chose to re-elect Basescu. Whether you voted for him or not, whether you like every decision he makes or not, you let him serve out his entire term unless he (or she) does something extremely egregious.
Egregious means selling military secrets to enemy powers, murdering people, stealing public money for private profit, etcetera. It has to be equal to treason in its depth and scope. Otherwise you can express your disagreement (or agreement) with his choices through normal channels. You don’t have to respect the person but you respect the institution of the president.
I had to suffer through 8 years of George W. Bush and his buffoonery and starting wars and all the other crazy shit he did and even though his political opponents won a majority in 2006, they still respected the institution of the presidency at the same time that they hated his guts. I’m not saying it’s all that great a system but it’s the system you got. And if you hate the system itself then follow the procedures and change the system. All constitutions, Romanian or American or French, can be changed (lawfully).
I had a long chat yesterday at the protest here in Cluj with a gentleman who was definitely not a fan of Basescu. I think we came to the agreement that Basescu is certainly not a saint. But as I explained in great detail, I’ve yet to see any evidence of egregious wrongdoing. Christ, I’ve written on this very website how disgusted I was (and still am) with Basescu’s fawning over the American ambassador and how many FBI agents he (Basescu) had allowed to run around unfettered in this country.
I have worked with the FBI (not FOR them) and know a few good agents but I’ve said to their face (are you getting the point yet that I am a pretty direct guy? LOL) that their agency is retarded, their procedures are asinine and backwards, and they’d be lucky to find their own asses with two hands and a flashlight. They regularly trample people’s rights and they are the absolutely most incompetent law enforcement agency in America at solving cases or preventing crime. We don’t need them in Romania and I bitterly disagree with Basescu’s position on this matter.
So no, I’m no “fan boy” of Basescu’s. Just so it’s 1000% clear, I’ve certainly never gotten anything from him or his people, no money, no support, not even so much as a tweet or an email. He has no idea I exist. And yes, I know he has his old pals and cronies and has used his influence to help them out. That’s what presidents and people in power do.
What concerns me is whether or not this ever rises to the level of grave violations of the Constitution or criminal activity. I read the USL’s charges against him and they were laughable, full of shit like quotes where Basescu called them a bunch of babies. If that’s a “grave violation” of the Romanian Constitution then I’m the fifth member of the Beatles.
Basescu makes insecure people feel small and that’s why people hate him. I am confident in who I am and what my abilities are (and what they’re not) and so I don’t feel intimidated or threatened by the man. I don’t think he’s either the devil or an angel. He’s just a man. But he is a man who was elected in a fair election by the people and that needs to be respected.
Sam, why were you at the protest the other day in Cluj?
Again, it has nothing to do with political affiliations, as I have none. I believe that certain members of the government are engaged in serious criminal activity against the people of Romania, and I am not referring to tossing around insults (like calling Basescu “Chucky” from the Child’s Play movies, as one politician did on Friday).
I will save the lengthy analysis (for the moment *mwahaha*) for later on why exactly the USL’s actions of late have risen to the level of criminal behavior but I do want to say that I was at the protests not only to show my solidarity with people who were upset but also to engage in dialogue. I’ve said this before but the greatest benefit that arose out of the “Occupy” movement in the USA was not bodies in the street but the fact that they began talking with people and raising awareness.
I had several conversations yesterday with people, some in firm agreement with my positions, some in complete opposition to my opinions and some that were somewhere in the middle. People were walking by without knowing there was a protest and came over to talk. Everything was done in a calm and polite manner and it was this engagement that I found to be the best part of the protest, not waving signs in front of a camera.
There is a lot more to the democratic process than voting. Discussing and debating the important issues, citizen to citizen, is a key component of this. I really don’t even care if your opinions are diametrically opposed to mine. What I want is for all of us to talk about it, to discuss it, to debate it, to argue (politely) our positions. This is how a democracy fucking works. When ideas and conclusions are generated by someone else and handed down to the people, that’s a dictatorship. A democracy is the people expressing their voices, not just upwards at the politicians but also horizontally amongst each other.
Sam, I am despondent about what’s going on and becoming quite depressed
Well that’s a normal reaction when you feel helpless. If your grandma dies in a bus crash, you feel depressed because there’s nothing you can do to bring her back.
But Romania isn’t a dictatorship (at least not yet). There are plenty of things you can do. Go out to the main square of your town and hold up a sign with your opinions on the current issues. Even if you’re standing all alone, other people will come over and talk to you. Write a letter to your politician or to the politicians you’re concerned about. Call their office(s) and leave them a message. Write them an email.
Every single politician has an official email address. For members of parliament, go to the official website and find your representative (deputat) or senator and there you will see listed their email address. The Constitutional Court and office of the President also have official emails. Be polite but tell them how you feel! They represent you! You’ll feel better when you express yourself. And if 10,000 people write in on a topic, believe me, even the stupidest politician will start feeling the pressure.
Romania is a member of the European Union now. Write your European Parliament representatives or else the heads of the EU government, councils and commissions. If you speak a foreign language, write to the heads of government of other EU leaders in their language. They really do care what the people of Romania think!
Go to websites of TV channels and newspapers. Write comments on their articles and engage in dialogue online with others. The more you express how you feel and the more you can get the conversation going, the more empowered you will feel. Assuming you’re a Romanian citizen (with the right to vote) then your opinion matters. It may not always seem like it but it’s still true. The government is there to serve you, not the IMF, not foreign corporations and not anyone else, only you, the citizens of Romania.
Want to do even more? Start a petition, the old fashioned way. Write up your opinion on a piece of paper and then go meet all of your neighbors. Engage in dialogue with them and get the conversations flowing. See if they will add their signature to your petition and then have it delivered to a television station and/or the government. A thousand handwritten signatures on a petition are worth 10,000 emails or “signatures” on a petition online.
Print up a little flyer (pliant) with your opinions on the matter and stand on the street corner and pass them out to people as they walk by. Engage in conversation with people who are interested. Get the conversation flowing!
At minimum, discuss with your family members and friends what’s going on. Be polite and calm but actually talk about these things. After all, what the government is doing (or not doing) is important and affects us all.
But whatever you do, do not sit at home, alone and despondent. Don’t wait for others (the European Union, Romanian political parties, protestors, etc) to take action first. I would’ve been out in Piata Unirii yesterday whether there were 5 people out there or 50,000. Empower yourself and take action and you won’t feel despondent or depressed. You have full rights as a citizen of Romania and the EU but they don’t amount to shit if you never use them to express how you feel!
Sam, you’re an idiot and I hate you because only Romanians can criticize Romania
Really? Well that’s the position that only an insecure person would take. I write both about reasons I love this country as well as what the problems are. People are not black and white robots, all 100% one thing or another. I have written over 800 articles on this blog alone and you’d have to read all of them (LOL) to even begin to understand the complexity of my viewpoint on this country.
As for “only Romanians” can do anything in Romania, that’s not just racist but also antiquated thinking. Romania is a member of the EU now, which means membership in a larger community, with legal, cultural and societal intertwining the result. A Romanian can study in a British university now and then go to work in Germany all without special papers. Likewise a French citizen can come to Romania and work and live here and be a full member of Romanian society.
Romania is a big country and there are Romanian citizens who are Hungarian, who are Aromanian, who are Polish, who are Russian, who are Turkish, who are Tatar, who are Jewish, who are Muslim, who are atheist, who are Asian, Armenian, and yes even American. All of those people are just as Romanian as anyone else who lives in Romania. All citizens are equal so get that through your thick skull. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to agree with them but they have the same rights that you do, including to criticize Romania.
Guess what? Democracy is pretty messy. It involves a lot of talking with stupid people and negotiating with idiots. Yes, I know. That’s just how it goes. But if you hang in there, in the end it works out a lot better than dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.
Arrgh, I hate you, bastard!
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even you :)
THANKS FOR WRITING!