Dan Tanasă and his factory of fake news

If you are looking for a good example of fake news, disinformation, manipulation and online tactics that undermine democracy in a country where democracy currently stands on rather shaky legs, you need only type “Dan Tanasă” into your preferred search engine. The inherent animosity toward all Hungarian and Szekler symbols runs so deep that this “hero of the Romanian judicial system” cannot even accept a face mask decorated with a Szekler flag being sold in a supermarket, especially if the mask is protecting an employee against the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Dan Tanasă is deeply connected with right-wing Romanian figures, such as Mihai Sorin Tirnoveanu and the like, and is using his blog and every possible channel to spread fake news, manipulate simpleminded people with disinformation, and skew reality to show how “chauvinist” Hungarians living in Szeklerland are. Of course, his chauvinism meter doesn’t measure the level of this trait in himself because it doesn’t apply to him — a classic example of double standards.

Tanasă and his followers are “infected” with a “virus” called Hungarophobia, which generates a singular state of mind: Eliminate everything that reminds people that Transylvania wasn’t always part of Romania. In our comments section, we get thousands of comments from a variety of Romanians saying that Transylvania is now Romania. This is the only reason they can offer for why we must stop writing about what is happening in a Hungarian community that numbers more than a million people in the wonderful regions of Transylvania, Bánság/Banat and Partium (Crisana and Maramures). This is why all Hungarians living in these areas should stop using symbols that define their identity and just forget a thousand years of history.

The only cure for this type of “disease” is that all symbols, inscriptions and the language itself must disappear from public sight in the areas they live in. Nothing – and I repeat – nothing should remind them that ethnic Hungarians have the legal right to use their language and symbols. In other words, they prohibit the expression of nationhood. Except that of Romania, of course

The Tanasă-led Asociația Civică pentru Demnitate în Europa (ironically, “Civic Association for Dignity in Europe” or ADEC), has initiated a series of lawsuits against institutions led by ethnic Hungarians. But that’s not enough: He is now targeting multinational companies such as Kaufland in Kézdivásárhely/Targu Secuiesc, claiming that (and here is how he manipulates the information) employees are wearing face masks decorated with the Szekler flag. This symbol, he says, is a Hungarian separatist symbol that threatens the integrity of Romania, as it symbolizes a movement that seeks to break Transylvania away from Hungary. That’s an insult to all Romanian customers from all over the country, he claims.

But Tanasă seems to be forgetting one minor thing: These Szekler people have been living here for centuries, and they have every legal right to express their opinion and speak in their mother tongue, and yes, they have the right to wear a personalized face mask. When you see a Hungarian or Szekler symbol, you see an insult, a threat to the territorial integrity of Romania. Dear Tanasa, take your Hungarophobic glasses off for a minute and think about what this really means in the eyes of open-minded people: diversity. This diversity is what has made Transylvania so colorful through the centuries and makes it a great place to live now.

Title image: Cashier wearing a customized face mask. Image source: Dan Tanasă

Author: István Fekete