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?