A Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

A brief statement of position, to address the criticism and “concerns,” raised recently by a newsletter and a series of articles, that portrayed negatively the movement for a spiritual renaiisance of our ethnic background, in Europe and here; of course this statement regards especially the standing of the Romanian Soc. “Farsarotul.”

During the past few years we have been witnessing an explosion of ethnic awareness all over the world. The modest role of the “Congress of Macedo-Romanian Culture,” is to influence positively a self-image that will eventually generate feelings of reverence for our culture among our people in Albania, Bulgaria, Yougoslavia [sic], Greece and in each of the mentioned country [sic] according to their own way and manner.

The ultimate scope of the Congress is to focus, inspire, and stimulate interest, by exploring the enthusiasm that seems to be reawakening, in the Macedo-Romanians; thereby motivating and creating a channel of expression.

The Congress has a free and open pursuit of knowledge and understanding of specific questions, concerning the preservation of our heritage. Knowledge and truth have been and will be pursued in an open environment free of intollerance [sic], recognizing the value of diversity and continuing to provide and ensure such environment.

From a vantage point, using the newsletter of “Farsarotul” as a catapult for one owns [sic] political persuasion and propaganda is not just: for ex.; the ad. for M.Dukakis in autumn of 1988.

But, what is much more damaging, is the denunciation and discreditation [sic] of an entire population in a newspaper the “Greek-American”, a paper distant and indifferent to our doleances [sic]. Reactivating and resuscitating events, that are not pertinent and with no value for the Vlach cause, would not help our aspirations.

We revere, we value and want to maintain our national identity; in general the response is encouraging from the point of vue [sic] of the support and the proportion of participation. We can not totally succumb to our annihilation as a distinct ethnic group in the Balcan [sic] Peninsula or elsewhere. Ignoring our presence there or the disregard by the “others”, of another society’s culture and rights, is the sign of a myopic political immaturity.

It is regretable [sic] and unforgivable, that this desperate fight for preservation is assaulted from within our ranks causing the erosion of our cohesion. More and more we see evidence that the Congress is under a malicious scrutiny; criticizing the “scholars”, the “intelectual” [sic] atmosphere the “linguistic anarchy”, the “academic pretense”, people’s age and other trivial remarks.

The obsession to destroy the spiritual significance of “Dimandarea Parinteasca”, in a foreign paper, has no limits and insults the memory of the founders of “Farsarotul”.

The editor of this bulletin pretends to cover with his articles a complex period of history and a vast area of political events, which as a result, generates animosity and induces polarization.

The self proclaimed “apostol” [sic], critic of culture, critic of history and politics, manipulates the society’s name and denigrates anything “Romanian”; becomes a “judicial tribunal”, assuming the role of prosecutor, jury, judge and savior at the same time.

It will be beneficial for the “Farsaroti”, and for that matter for the Macedonian-Romanian communities in general, if the editor of this newsletter, who not too long ago, in 82-83, was an advocate for the “terrorists” from Paris, would be restrained from making gratuitous affirmations in the name of the society. The attitude of calumny and intrigue, creates tension and monsters of hatred, propiscious [sic] to division in our society, and raises obstacles on the path of the movement for a national rebirth; now, when “walls” are tumbling down, we are building them…

I shall quote here, as a conculsion, the wisdom of our “picurari”:

“Afirea-mi Dumnidzale di soci,

Ca di dusmani mi afar singur!”

–Aurel Ciufecu

Some people feel that freedom of speech should be restricted because it “generates animosity and induces polarization.” The founders of this country knew that different points of view are healthy for a society, not harmful.

I was hoping we wouldn’t have to burden our readers with our dirty laundry, but Mr. Ciufecu insists, and I must comply:

The Congresses – Mr. Ciufecu’s Congresses are about as far as one can get from “free and open pursuit of knowledge.” Only the point of view of the organizers is discussed. Other voices are unwelcome–just look at Mr. Ciufecu’s strong attempt to silence my own point of view. The Congresses regularly feature screaming matches between aging traditionalists whose heart is still in the old country. Not a single attempt has been made to appeal to our young people. Threats of armed violence were made by certain extremists from Paris (yes, Mr. Ciufecu, I used to think those people were okay in 82-83–before they resorted to foolish threats of terrorism and violence). The Congresses are a mess–so embarrassingly bad that it is painful for me to talk about them further.

Our ethnic revival began in the late 1970s and was part of a worldwide ethnic revival. Far from helping out, however, the Congresses have alienated our people still living in our homeland (Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, and Thrace) so badly that our revival has almost stopped dead in its tracks.

Political persuasion and propaganda – The August 1988 Newsletter carried the good news that the mother of Michael Dukakis was of Vlach descent and conveyed our good wishes to the Governor. Mr. Ciufecu assumes this was a political endorsement. Wrong again: I was talked into carrying that notice by a Society official who is a staunch Republican (call me if you want details). There was nothing political in this.

The Greek American – Far from being “distant and indifferent to our doleances,” The Greek American has done more than anyone in recent memory to publicize and dramatize the plight of the Vlachs, in articles by me, Steve Tegu, George Moran, and others. Most recently, the paper has called attention to the Greek Government’s expulsion and shabby treatment of Nacu Zdru, a Vlach activist. Instead of snarling at these friends of ours, Mr. Ciufecu should be thanking them.

Succumbing to annihilation – Here Mr. Ciufecu and I agree. We should clearly not succumb to our annihilation as an ethnic group.

Dimandarea Parinteasca – This is the hate-poem sung by Mr. Ciufecu’s clique in which they repeatedly curse their sons and daughters for not speaking Aromanian. This poem is not just wrong or stupid, it is destructive because it alienates our youth. Moreover, the revolt against this poem was begun not by me but by one of Mr. Ciufecu’s most ardent supporters.

Prosecutor, judge, jury, and savior – In a democratic society, every person is a critic of his or her own culture and history, and all critics are self-appointed. That’s just the way it is. But democracies have safeguards, so that neither Mr. Ciufecu nor I can ever be prosecutor, judge, and jury at once, and those safeguards are freedom of speech and tolerance of dissent. I like having honest disagreements and taking them before the jury of our community; it is Mr. Ciufecu who sees disagreements as “assaults from within our ranks.”

Beneficial for the community -Mr. Ciufecu is the last person to judge what is beneficial for the community. The Society Farsarotul collapsed within a year of Mr. Ciufecu’s becoming President in 1983. Almost no activities were initiated–it was even impossible to get in touch with Mr. Ciufecu, who was so oblivious to the growing public outcry that he stayed on an extra year illegally. Finally an election was held and Mr. Ciufecu was democratically dislodged. He immediately began to attack the new leaders and to spread false rumors about them. We have ignored him. Every year he shows up at the General Meeting with a long list of complaints. Every year, he is practically laughed out of the meeting. But I hope he keeps coming back, because it really is healthy to have an opposition. In fact, Mr. Ciufecu has even made one or two good points over the years, and those points have influenced my own way of thinking.

But even if he does come up with a good idea every so often, the fact remains that Mr. Ciufecu has done great damage to the Society. We lost some 60 members–half our active membership–during his 3 years of “leadership.” Since then, we have revived the Society, mainly through this Newsletter–which Mr. Ciufecu hates. Can this man really say he has the Society’s best interests in mind?

And that, Mr. Ciufecu, is the bottom line: You can’t argue with success. Your ideas, your management, your 3 years lost us 60 members and almost destroyed our Society. Our ideas, our management, our 3 years gained us 77 new members and revived the Society. There is not much more to say. We may not always be right–but we are always thinking, debating, challenging –and most of all, we hope, we are stimulating our readers to think for themselves.

– The Editor


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