2005-07-03

Update on the Srebrenica debate

An update on the public discussion of Srebrenica in Serbia — it has definitely changed, and I am standing by my earlier assessment that denial has dropped out of the discussion as an option. But there are a couple of new directions.

First, the attacks on the most prominent human rights advocates (Nataša Kandić, Sonja Biserko, Borka Pavićević, Biljana Kovačević-Vučo: interesting that they are all women!) has moved from the tabloids to the floor of the Serbian parliament. Maybe an assessment is possible that when the debate moves from disputes over the facts to attacks on individuals, this is a sign of desperation. Probably there is also a class element to this, akin to the tendency of the American far right to habitually label people to the left of them (i.e., everyone) as «elitists.»

Second, the line of semidenial that says «this has nothing to do with Serbia» is still very much alive, and does not appear to be confined to the far right. The lines of supply and command are clear enough that it is not necessary to respond empirically. But I think that something else is at stake here. The global strategy is to say that if there were criminals, they were not from Serbia, and shift the blame onto the refugees. Something similar has been under way for a long time in Croatia, with every evil put down to «Hercegovci.» It continues a long tradition of regional stereotyping of people according to how far above sea level they live that was originally traced by Vladimir Dvorniković. What it amounts to is shifting responsibility from the people who exercised power to the people who trusted them.

Third, the old construct has reappeared which says that if there were victims from one group this justifies the creation of victims from other groups. Leading the charge is of course, Večernje novosti, which on Thursday published as a special supplement a list of names purporting to document Serb victims of war crimes from the area of Srebrenica. Let's say the document is methodologically and empirically accurate: what does this legitimate?

6 comments:

Yakima_Gulag said...
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Yakima_Gulag said...
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Yakima_Gulag said...

Sorry my other comments really had to do with the other posting. I have noticed the thing about putting lists of other victims and two points here, of course! It was a war, there were victims on all sides and I'm sure there's mass graves with Serbs too. That said it doesn't justify what happened in Srebenica any more than what happened in New York justified Abu Ghraib! or Afghanistan ir the rest of Iraq for that matter.

Yakima_Gulag said...

The other point I wanted to make here, is I have noticed that women are the main human rights advocates in Serbia! I imagine they are victims of unpleasant comments because of that fact too if you know hwat I mean and I think you DO!
I have noticed among Croats the tendancy to blame war crimes on Hercegovci! In fact all crime gets blamed on Hercegovci! That isn't right because obviously there's other people who commit crimes. It's pretty annoying. I have NOT noticed a similar tendancy in Bosnia among Muslims to blame the mudzahadin from other countries for all war crimes committed by the Bosnian Muslim side.

Yakima_Gulag said...

The justification defense denial is absolutely on the same pattern in Serbia as in the U.S. see my post of June 1st at http://yakimagulagliterarygazett.blogspot.com/
about Paul Harvey and his defense of bad stuff the United States has done! It's absolutely disgusting to me as I have been places where the results of such thoughts happened and I know there is a thought process involved in justifying genocide. No people is imune to the process of thought that leads that way! It is important to be aware of where these ideas lead.
I don't like seeing this in the United States, but that streak has been here all along. It is seldom exposed so nakedly as in this instance.

Eric Gordy said...

Good heavens, Paul Harvey is still alive????
But yes, Katja, thanks for pointing out the parallel. The same process is at work with the effort to portray torture in the US-run prisons as 1) the result of a few runaway low-ranking soldiers or 2) justified by the existence of terrorism. I'd say the effects are similar too: greater isolation of the US.