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Gandul, Romania

Goodbye, America?

By Lucian Mândruţă

Is there anyone who still loves America?

Translated By Andreea Muntean

11 December 2012

Edited by Natalie Clager


Romania - Gandul - Original Article (Romanian)

Everyone in my generation was the same as me. It was unacceptable not to love America; it was a vital part of being human, untouched by any disease of the soul. The first steps I took in the wet, yet warm Washington air confirmed what I had been feeling for this country from a distance. It was the first country where the border patrol was actually smiling (they had yet to know about 9/11) and did not look like recycled torturers, like they do here in Romania. It was the first country where everything was moving fast, from the stamp on my passport to the bus that was taking me to the student house I was staying in (nothing like our student houses, that’s for sure!). It was the first country in which I heard gunshots on the street. It was scary, but most of all, it gave me an electrifying emotion — so this is a part of freedom!

Back then, barely three years had gone by since the end of communism. I had left behind a country governed by an obtuse prime minister, scared that something, anything, might happen during his mandate. Around my country, the small world of Eastern Europe was flourishing. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland already had reformist governments that were selling everything and opening all the doors. They were also growing faster, and unfortunately for us, we were not able to catch up, despite the economic crisis. In Bucharest, both the generals and the new age activists were scheming the first large-scale frauds at Bancorex,* after they had tricked Romania with pretend democracy, which was, in fact, an oligarchy of a few “first-class” actors. Meanwhile, I, as a member of the Romanian Student League, was in Washington, learning how modern television was made: how to get financing (“What, you mean from the bank?” I asked, surprised), how to make sure your writers are free and honest, how to gain the independence that allows the ideas of the modern world to be expressed.

Square* + Freedom = Love. That was the mantra back then.

Add 20 years to that. Freedom is like a tabloid. The free market is the favorite mockery of losers of any regime, all looking for excuses. More than that, love, including the love for your country, is up for sale. We are all walking on a thin line where we sell our mind, our vote and our soul to whoever offers the most. More than we could not get for ourselves: oil, sugar, jobs and high offices.

And in the meantime, America became hated by the same children and grandchildren who once loved it. After 20 years of struggle, the generation once dreaming of America realized, finally, it cannot imitate its performance. At least not by being itself. Indifference simply cannot be the ideology that builds spaceships and diabetes medicine. We cannot give up on ourselves, and we will never have the Dallas Southfork ranch. Or if we will, it will be owned by some suburban low-life — a foul and difficult model to follow.

Hence, what is there to do? All I know is what most Romanians did — they turned their inferiority complexes into superiority complexes. Freud (damn German!) knows how to explain it better. All we know is that the Internet in Romania delivers the straight results, shaped as the new urban legends: Americans are stupid, they bombed New York themselves; they are the ones sucking the life out of us with their multinational companies that are now shipping the profit outside the country, leaving us in poverty. They even have the nerve to stick their nose into our business!

Take the anti-Semitism 100 years ago, and change the word “Jew” with “American.” It is the same hate mechanism. Yesterday’s God is today’s Devil. We need him to provide explanations, to bicker, to hit, all in the name of everything we failed to achieve.

This is because we can never be held accountable. That takes strength and introspection, for which we do not have time. There are not that many talk shows doing us this favor for free, anyway. There are too many idols making beautiful promises every evening, only to throw us back into reality the next morning.

Is there anyone who still loves America? Maybe just those who felt no love for it because all they wanted was the cars, the money, the hamburgers and the blue jeans, the ones who read its Constitution as if it were theirs. The ones who believe that the individual can be saddled and ridden by the leaders of the so-called masses. Those who would starve to death, just to keep their free will.

Translator's Notes:
*Bancorex - A Romanian Bank formed in 1968 and liquidated in 1999, due to illegal or unredeemed credits.
* Square - University Square (Piaţa Universităţii) in Bucharest, where the first days of the 1989 Revolution unfolded.



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