Postcard From Romania – Part II

24 December 2021

by Niculina Florea

Christmas tree made of empty vaccine bottles to encourage Romanian children to get vaccinated.

Mihai Fagadaru is dead.

Of course, nobody knows who Mihai Fagadaru was.

Fagadaru was a medical doctor, father of two, fervent Christian and leader of protests against Covid measures in my home country of Romania. On October 30th he led a protest in our capital of Bucharest. The following week, after treating two patients sick with Covid, he himself fell ill. He went to hospital on November 18th, where his condition suddenly deteriorated. In his final hours he recorded himself saying that doctors were putting him under pressure to accept intubation. He was afraid the procedure would kill him. He asked that his lawyer record his refusal to give consent and that his friends care for his children should his fears be realised.

Dr. Fagadaru had arrived at that hospital on his own two feet. The next day he was declared dead with Covid at the age of 43.

The national press hastened to declare, in large type, the death of an infamous anti-vaxxer from the very disease he had denied and would not be vaccinated against. Perhaps, during his last moments on earth, he expressed regret at not taking the vaccine? But with the Fagadaru’s own video contradicting a deathbed conversion, the media mob moved onto the next of the day’s hundred or so Covid fatalities (most of them, according to official statistics, unvaccinated): the search for dying lips, to which some click-baiting last words might be attributed, must go on.

This is what passes for news in Romania these days; a country on the brink of civil strife and wracked with governmental instability; which is already onto its third Prime Minister this year and enjoyed a turnout of 30% in January’s general elections; and where there have been protests against Covid measures every week since spring. Meanwhile, despite a rapidly receding fifth wave, a gentile debate continues in a parliament of questionable legitimacy about whether to legislate for a covid vaccination certificate.

When this wave was at its peak the eyes of Europe, or at least its mainstream media bloodhounds, were upon us. They were looking for a horrific situation in “one of the most unvaccinated countries in Europe”. Curiously, now that wave has receded, so too have the hacks, and any commentary on our collective vaccination status or lack thereof has dried up.

It remains, however, a convenient angle for the national Government, dovetailing as it does with the trusty blame-it-on-Russia approach to problem-solving. Thus, these days, all evil is born of a combination of the unvaccinated and ‘Russian disinformation’. That Russia, much like the West, has introduced draconian restrictions and is preparing for compulsory vaccination is neither here nor there. Of equal irrelevance is that the Russian vaccine cannot be sold in the EU as it does not have EMA approval. So, when hearing complaints that it is Russia who is trying to destabilise western democracies, am I alone in perceiving a possible nonsense?

Romanians live in many shadows. Russia is one, our recent experience of dictatorship another. Echos of that past can be heard with increasing clarity. Do you know, for instance, that PCR in Romanian stands for ‘Partidul Comunist Roman’? The CC-PCR, or Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, was the tool of control in Romanian society for decades. Today it is the RT-PCR. Can it be no more than coincidence that the health authorities have made this the only accepted test for administrative purposes? Certainly, that Romanians are viscerally repelled by the abbreviation is of little concern.

Here is another striking reminder of the old days: the resurgence of dichotomies. ‘Whoever is not with us is against us’ was once a popular Communist saying. How odd to hear that old tyranny on the lips of today’s democratic leaders! For, as we all know, he who is not pro-vaxx is an anti-vaxxer. And, by the same easy-to-follow logic, he who is not in favour of restrictions is an anarchist; while he who does not espouse hard-left ideas is a right-wing extremist; and he who questions government measures is a terrorist.

Despite these regresses, Romanian life goes on unabated for the most part. A long history of occupation and barbarian invasion, combined with the ruling class’ regular betrayal of the less privileged, caused the evolutionary gears to shift long ago. Opportunism and tactical cunning have been bred into the population. Romanians do not stand up, they bend; and they bend backwards not forwards, securely rooted so that they may face the prevailing wind without being torn asunder.

They are not opposed to vaccination; they just don’t get vaccinated. Your employer has demanded a covid certificate (though not yet a legal requirement)? Here is a fake one for your pleasure, sir! The authorities order positive cases to report for quarantine if symptomatic? Why doctor, I haven’t got so much as a cough! (just remember to clear your throat when the health authorities pay a visit.)

Meanwhile, the market for ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine and a strong antiviral, arbidol, is flourishing. You’ll find these banned products in your local pharmacy, if you know how to ask. The regime beams daily TV reminders to the population of what fools they were – the dead – for treating themselves with outlawed medicines. The dead are, almost without exception, those who ignored the advice (i.e., diktats) of the state.

“Don’t follow the example of young, healthy upstarts like Fagadaru,” the state-sponsored news channels chide, “or you too will be languishing on your deathbed, whispering your regret at not being vaccinated.” Well, if they think we’re going to just take them at their word, they must think we peasants have short memories! Our blood-soaked revolution took place a little over 30 years ago. That’s not even a lifetime. Certainly I remember, as anyone my age can, never mind a member of my parents’ generation, what life is like under tyranny.

I remember the rationing of basic foods, not for the population’s oppression or to maintain a primal state of destitution and fear, you understand! But to ensure “nutrition according to science” and that the earth would not be deprived of her riches.

I remember two hours of energy cuts a day at peak hours, radiators left cold in the middle of winter to conserve fossil fuels, my fingers frozen crooked as I did homework by candlelight, kneeling on the floor and covering myself with three blankets in an attempt to keep the cold away.

I remember conversations conducted sotto voce so that the neighbours, encouraged by state propaganda, would not eavesdrop and turn you in.

I remember the long, pointless meetings, the ritual self-abasement at those meetings as a demonstration of humility, and the unconditional applause for Communist Party leaders.

I remember the lack of free speech, the lack of free thinking, the pervasive censorship – of books, of philosophical ideas, of the press – more applause…

I remember the personality cult, the same face on TV and banners and buildings, the same face everywhere, in a country where advertising (a decadent bourgeois habit) was forbidden; flamboyant speeches on the creation of “the New Man”, on the dawning of the “Golden Era” – applause!; of the “multilaterally developed society” – applause!; being told the “One Truth” policy, and “don’t listen to capitalist propaganda, don’t switch on to Free Europe radio, don’t be an enemy of the people, the neighbours are listening” – applause!; hearing that “people are starving in the West, it’s full of drug addicts and marred by unemployment, don’t go there, don’t ever believe what you hear, it’s propaganda…” – applause, applause, applause!

How could anyone forget? Yet here we are again: Stay home. Don’t be selfish. Save the health service. Save Granny. Applause. What if Granny does not want to be saved? Irrelevant. The state says she must be saved. So she must be jabbed. Now she’s jabbed. Applause. Jab her again. Protect the state. Follow the Science. Don’t listen to disinformation. Cancel anti-vaxxers. Applause. Report infractions. It’s the dawning of the New Normal. Applause. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Get tested. You’re dirty. Don’t kill Granny. Applause. Listen to this speech. Don’t leave. Don’t go there. It’s dangerous. It’s on the red list. Applause. Quarantine outsiders. Imprison anti-vaxxers. Follow the One Science. It’s the software of life.

And the same faces. The same masked faces everywhere saying: Be afraid. Be afraid and get jabbed. And get jabbed again. Get jabbed again and again and again. But the jabs don’t seem to work…

This popular fraud comes as no surprise. In my society we have been playing this game of cat and mouse for centuries. They seek to enslave us, we seek to cheat them on that. They know the wickedness of the common people, the authorities; they know of their deceit and mischief. So why wait for Parliament to act? Why not arrange for local businesses and public bodies to enforce covid certification while sluggish parliamentarians make their law? That is why people in my hometown cannot access municipal services, or even pay their taxes without presenting an unlawful certificate. And where is the humanity of our superiors, I wonder? Reserved, perhaps, for “overworked” medics, who cry of exhaustion on TV shows and foam with rage against the unjabbed preventing them from taking their holidays.

My views can be inconvenient. “Stop reading obscure sites!” says my best friend from Bucharest, with whom I have shared the best, worst, most intimate, and most secret moments of my life. For the past two years she has incessantly posted photos of dogs, cats, birds, wildlife and attractive colleagues on Facebook; projecting an image of a perfect world. Now I’m a conspiracy theorist, un-jabbed and unapologetic, she doesn’t want to talk to me. “Where is your compassion, my old friend?” she asked.
Perhaps I have none left. I have expended it on passage for ones dear to me, to bring them out of the darkness and back to the light. What a price I pay! Communism was easy. It was so fearlessly disingenuous and so horrifically vulgar as to be obvious. It never touched the spirit. People obeyed out of fear, not belief. In body we may have been dirty and destitute, but in soul we were pristine. This time it’s different. It’s insidious. ‘It’ has crept into the hearts and minds of people. ‘It’ has separated friends and families. ‘It’ has torn through the fabric of society. And when torn, the insides come bursting out.

Recently, some monks came down from monasteries nestled in the mountains to the north. They made their way to Bucharest and addressed a large crowd. Doughty Father Ariton made it, but Father John, over 90 winters, could not manage the journey. He sits in his hermitage, receiving pilgrims in their dozens every day, stubbornly refusing to contract and die from ‘the disease’. The authorities would love that, surely! They could parade his body from town to town, exhibiting their war trophy: there, you idiots, we told you so!

Can anything stop the slide into tyranny? Three weeks ago Parliament failed at the first attempt to pass the Covid Certificate Act. Two weeks ago, the December 1st kick-off for the programme to vaccinate five year-olds (an early present from Santa) was delayed awaiting deliveries of the product. But these are mere obstacles, effortlessly overcome by the spreading darkness.

As I watch its approach, I feel angry with our cowardly leaders. I think of brave citizens like Dr Fagadaru and weep. They are simple people who would hold back the darkness, and whose reputations are sullied posthumously for no more than disagreeing with the revival of a terrible status quo. I am too angry to forgive the political class, the medics, the media. But neither do I wish to see the light die with men like Fagadaru. Perhaps I can draw inspiration from my fellow Romanians. As ever, they hold their ground. Bent, not upright. That’s how you fight an ill wind.