Comment: All protesters are equal but some protesters are more equal than others

When it started, the movement to save Rosia Montana was glowing with hope, 99 percent pure expectation and faith in the power of a thousand voices.

However, there is now one percent of these daily protests that needs discussing because they threaten the very essence of what this movement has come to symbolise.

Since September four words have reached to the most remote corners of the country: Uniti, Salvam, Rosia Montana! (United, we save Rosia Montana). Hands have been united in the first human chain that Romania has ever known.

Social groups that otherwise would have just brushed shoulders on the street, going their private ways have been brought together.

Middle class families, young students and nostalgics have all set out to contest the state of affairs in Romania, choosing Rosia Montana as their symbol.

But on a Sunday, when 30 or so people were enjoying the last free concert of the summer in Piata Universitatii, this bade side, this rotten branch of the protest, reared its head, which sat atop a neatly dressed body.

Wearing dark blue tie suit, the young protester, no older than 22, contrasted starkly with the leather-geared, pony-tailed image miners have assigned to those who have taken to Bucharest’s streets.

As, amid rattling plastic bottles, tramping feet and chants, the band performed Maria Tanase songs, themselves a piece of Romania’s heart, the young protester and his friends pointed their megaphones over the audience’s heads.

It did not matter to him that the band playing on stage was on his side, the lead singer telling the crowd: “Let them flood the square. Let them make noise. I am a protester, like them, and I will play my part after this concert is finished”.

He began to shout, to chords of the national hymn, for the downfall of the government, his rant deliberately drowning out the music.

They had the whole boulevards and plenty of time on their hands, but what upset me wasn’t that they ruined the concert, it was their answers when I asked why.

“All of them, they do not know that they are about to lose this country. To the Americans, and to cyanide. They should come here, and scream from among our rows,” he blurted aggressively at me.

“All these people should know what Rosia Montana is about. They should join us, in protest. You are not an informed citizen.”

When I told him I’d taken part in some of the demonstrations, including the human chain around the House of People, his retort was so unknowingly ironic that I was almost speechless.

“If you think that shaking a few bottles in a plastic bottle is protesting, think again!”

This group is immune to gentle words and employ the hatred and the deafness of their foe. They’ve created division inside the protest, a hierarchy based on who can yell more and for a longer time.

Informed citizen? I spice my knowledge of this world, political, social or otherwise, with pinches of news and information but, of course, I’m no expert.

When it comes to the intricate web of shady foreign investments, legal or otherwise, which have poured into our country in the 23 years after communism, I can hardly find any interest at all.

But I do rely on past lessons, which are just as valuable and worthy as today’s battle with foreign mining interests and, as such, recognize the danger of blurting out absolutes and ideological talk.

In trying to counter what they feel is an injustice, this element of the Rosia Montana protesters have begun to use extreme rhetoric, the weaponry of the adversary. Accepting no compromises, their simple-mindedness evokes of similar tactics and ideas that opened the way for the Iron Guard, in the 1940s and then, just a few years later, for the communists. But, yet again, it’s the job of a cyclic history to never stop spinning, in and out of control.

Finishing again with the same unknowing irony, one of the group – who moments before had been shouting for unity among the people – walked away saying: ‘Never mind her, they are not worth it.’

Mihaela Pirvulescu, Guest Writer