Thursday, January 30, 2020

Fear and loathing in Harghita County

Some news stories are depressing in the extreme (and seemingly there are an increasing number of these).  But once in a while one comes along that is so depressing that it makes me despair.  So much in fact that I have returned to this blog after years of silence, because I really need to get this out and express my anger at the kind of ignorant, intolerant people who apparently live round here. 

I've commented before on the problems that have arisen in Romania through emigration, that people cannot find workers to do lots of things and that the country is losing so many of its people.  Well, one business owner in a nearby small town managed to find a way to solve this problem.  This was at a bakery in the village/town of Ditrău/Gyergyóditró which is here in Harghita county.  Unable to find workers who lived locally, the owner of this company went through all of the proper channels and found two willing and qualified workers from Sri Lanka to come and work in the bakery. Seems like the right thing all round. The bakery gets workers, the two guys from Sri Lanka get a reasonable job, which presumably makes them more money than they would get at home, the local people get bread, and everyone's happy, right?

Until this week, the most famous thing about Ditró was the church
(image: wikipedia)

Wrong.  And not because this is just shifting the problem of emigration from Romania to Sri Lanka (though obviously it does that).  No, many of the residents of this previously sleepy little town have revealed themselves to be small minded, intolerant, ignorant, hate-filled awful people.  They are up in arms about these two innocent men working in their village.  Shouting about "keeping migrants out of Ditró", they have made a facebook hate group, and are campaigning to somehow ban these people from the place.  To his credit the mayor of Ditró has basically said that he can't tell a business owner who to employ and he wouldn't want to anyway.  He also pointed out that when he has called for things like ridding the village of litter, there is virtually no response. 

In concerns for their safety (concerns for their safety! for making bread!), they were moved to another village for accommodation and forced to commute, but now it seems even that is problematic and they may have to move to the bigger local town.  

I cannot imagine what life must be like for them. They have applied for and been given a job in a country thousands of kilometres from home.  They have left a very warm tropical country to come to one of the coldest places in Romania in the middle of winter. And now they are faced with an angry baying mob, metaphorically wielding pitchforks and burning torches like something from a Transylvanian vampire story, who hate and fear them....for what? For daring to bake fucking bread? Which these self-same villages will be eating?  It makes me so upset.  

On top of this it's hard to imagine that there is anyone in Ditró who doesn't have relatives working somewhere in western Europe, and presumably if those relatives were being treated in this way by the communities they had moved to, these villagers would be appalled.  Logical thinking, however, is not in very good supply. 

I have to remind myself that this is primarily a sign of deep ignorance on the part of the villagers (obviously I should note that there will also be villagers who are not part of this intolerant mob). That they have been taught to fear outsiders and find two darker skinned people in their midst an object of terror and hate.  (The bakery has previously employed people from Ukraine, Hungary and Switzerland, without invoking this kind of frothing anger).  And where does this fear and intolerance come from?  It's not from some form of experience, as I have little doubt that most of them have probably never met someone from any non-European country before.  I don't believe it's natural.  So it comes from somewhere. My feeling is that it comes from the racist Orban-controlled media in Hungary (98% of the residents of Ditró are Hungarian).  Orban and his cronies spread race hate wherever they go and use it as a way of keeping in power.  Through social media and the internet, these are the stories that the people of Ditró will be reading. In their minds, this is the beginning of this huge invasion they've been told about repeatedly.  

Hungarian nationalists in Transylvania like to say that they are somehow "more civilised" than their Romanian neighbours.  Is this civilised?  Is this what they mean by civilised?  This is a huge shame on the people of Ditró and the people of Székelyföld.  I am appalled and deeply deeply saddened

Here is the story in Romanian and here in Hungarian