Without Even a Whimper of Protest


I am fucking angry. Yesterday started off as a really good day. I didn’t have to work and we had fabulous, sunny summer weather. I appeared on not one, not two but three different television stations to talk about my heritage. Later I met up with some friends, had some drinks and listened to a live band play American country music. There was even typical American food from Texas style chili to hamburgers being cooked on the grill.

But when I got home, I saw on the news that while I had been relaxing and enjoying myself, the USL was busy shredding the Romanian constitution. Their “slow motion” coup d’etat looks to be achieved by tomorrow at the latest when they manage to bring down the president and install their own man in the job, leaving absolutely no one to stop them.

Foreigners everywhere were outraged, from ordinary citizens to even the American ambassador. Foreign newspapers published scathing articles about the situation. Deutsche Welle even compared the USL’s move to the rise of Nazism, a comparison a German newspaper does not make lightly. Nobel Prize winners in the New York Times showed their concern. Members of the European Parliament began talk of suspending Romania’s membership. EU ministers wrote official letters of remonstration.

But here in Romania, absolutely nobody cared. A few newspapers and television channels reported on the situation, but they always follow whatever is “controversial”. It is the entire basis of their financial profit for they are businesses. But did any Romanian people care? I saw next to nothing online, no calls for action, no petitions. Only about 300 people protested in Bucharest, a number which might even have been inflated. If anything happened here in Cluj, the second largest city in the country, I didn’t hear about it and I didn’t see anything even though I crossed through Piata Unirii (the main square) on my way home.

Many years ago when I was much younger, I had a job as a veterinarian’s assistant in an animal hospital. I would mop the floors, feed the animals, clean out the cages and do whatever other menial work that was necessary. But every one in a while I had to do one specific task which has haunted me for all my life.

Whenever an animal had to be euthanized, to be put to death, it was my job to hold the animal still so that the veterinarian could insert the needle. The owner of the animal would often be there, crying and heartbroken about losing their beloved companion but what we were doing was a mercy. The animals were old and sick and in terrible pain. Cradled in the arms of the one who loved them best, the animal would receive the injection and their suffering would come to an end.

But one day, I took part in a murder and I still cannot forgive myself for my part. A cold, unemotional woman came in with her son, a little boy who was crying and sobbing. His mother had their pet dog with them, a cute little brown and white puppy who was a frisky, normal, healthy creature and she demanded that the veterinarian euthanize her son’s pet. The veterinarian tried to plead with her to just leave it for adoption if she didn’t want it any more but she insisted it be euthanized as “a lesson” to teach her son for not properly taking care of his puppy. No matter how much we protested, there was nothing we could do as the law stated that the owner of an animal had every right to euthanize it even if there was no medical reason to do so.

I got called into the treatment room and saw that poor defenseless animal on the cold, steel table and knew I was being asked to take part in a murder. I could not have stopped it but I also did not have to take part in it. The mother stood over us, her face cold and unmoving as stone, her son in absolute hysterics, wailing with grief. The poor little puppy was scared and confused, being held down by two total strangers, uncomprehending what was going on. Yes, he may have made a few messes in the house and yes he may have chewed up the wrong pair of slippers or destroyed some furniture, but surely he did not deserve to die.

But you know what? I respect that dog. Even though he was being overpowered, even though there was nothing he could do to escape his fate, that puppy struggled. That puppy whimpered and cried and did his best to fight to live. It may not have been much but he gave it the best fight he could and did not cease until I saw the light dim from his innocent brown eyes.

But Romanians? They are letting democracy and the law of rule be murdered without so much as a whimper in protest. Fuck ’em.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Mihaela says:

    Sam, maybe you understand now why intelligent people preferred to stick with Basescu and PDL (an embarrassing choice, but still…). We’ve been through this circus before. There’s nothing to stop USL for a few years from now (I am being optimistic!). The next step for Antonescu and Ponta: to suspend the right to vote of Romanian citizens who live outside the country. Prietenii stiu de ce!

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  2. Moonax says:

    Sam,

    There were much bigger protests yesterday. The problem is that no one is willing to make a stand, or rather people who should know better are sitting on their hands.

    Romanian democracy is in grave danger, more so than at anytime since 1990. Sadly people are sleepwalking into this.

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  3. “Dar românii? Își lasă democrația și legea omorâte fără măcar un scîncet de protest. Să-i fut.”

    Acum, în sfârșit, ești mai român dect românii.

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  4. cristina says:

    Hi Sam,

    Nice article, very well pointed out. I am also furious on my fellow Romanians, I went to protest yesterday and today against this anti-constitutional measures, and I was really disappointed by the small number of people present to such events. What saddens me more is that we are so few in general, in all Romania. People like those that came in Piata universitatii to protest today in favor of USL are the majority in Romania. They are uneducated and really violent, the difference can be clearly seen in the pictures and videos posted on the Internet, their messages also displaying a really harsh language(“injuraturi”). It also seemed that they were paid to be there, just drones that want to make money in any way possible. On the other hand, I saw the people that came to protest against the government, they had intelligent/witty slogans and “pancarte”, they were not violent and they were of all ages…older people, middle aged people, people with kids, students, many came by bike ( i saw so many types of bike these days :)) ).

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  5. firstsmatty says:

    Sam,

    I can find very little in and around the press over the last week. I have found a few links here and there, a few commentaries, but not much, at least not in English.

    From what I have read, the gutting of the body politic, institutions, “rule of law” and sense of fairness is horrific. While everything they are doing is within their “legal” power, I am amazed at the extreme lack of regard for everyone else except their own power.

    When the American Ambassador makes comments he has made, and puts out a press release with the same language, there is something wrong. Rarely does an American Ambassador make highly critical comments of their host country.

    My only hope is their process is pushed back, not by those in the country, but those outside. While I agree the measures imposed by the IMF and the EU on Romania in the past have been harsh, perhaps they are the only institutions with enough strength to fight back. I just wonder if any outside, or inside pressure will have any affect on those usurping power.

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  6. A.L. says:

    We all feel frustrated Sam. I am utterly frustrated that I’m not in the country or anywhere really important to make a difference. I’m frustrated that I most likely will not be able to vote anything, if there is anything to vote for in the coming months, since I’ll most likely be in a desert. I feel that whatever Romania achieved thus far is going to ruins in a heartbeat, and I do not particularly mean to laud the powers that were either. I guess we had this breakdown coming for a few years (decades?). It is good for only from ashes can something new be reborn. I, for one, strongly support the idea of the Romanian Royal Family to step in and steward the power for a while, or for good. At the moment there is no better alternative, IMHO…. except for disintegration of the country.

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  7. Sam, there is no tradition of democracy in Romania. Always there was someone in power ruling over the masses. So the masses got tired of this shit and adapted.
    Amazing as it may seem, this country works – people eat, have a place to sleep, have clothes on their backs, work, make babies, even find time for stupid shit, like offering manele concerts for the whole neighborhood at 3 AM. We do all this in spite of whoever is in power and most often we work around them and the rules they invent. It’s their stupid game, and even if we try to get involved we’ll never be more than spectators. So, in the end, we say “fuck’em” and carry on with our lives.
    The kind of civil involvement you would like to see is something specific to western Europe and North America, might even have some connections to the protestant ethic. We generally care about other things, more practical and closer to our own skin than abstract. Which may very well lead us to a tragedy of the commons.
    So far we managed, and we’ve been here a few thousands of years already. If we’ve become too stupid, or lazy then we’ll just disappear. But hey, in that case, we’ll give the biggest Darwin award to Romania as a whole.

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  8. Stai ce says:

    Prietene, te simti bine?

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  9. Marian says:

    Sam, I do agree with you, but as of late you let your anger get the better of you.

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  10. dan says:

    imi pare rau de poporul roman, dar cred ca isi merita sorta pentru ca ii lasda pe cretini astea sa isi bata joc de ei.

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