Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [3]


This next section is essentially a page of quotes from Western politicians and pundits describing Milosevic in extreme terms: as an "extreme nationalist," "genocidal killer," "junior-league Hitler," and so on. Some of the quotes are, in my opinion, fair (Margaret Thatcher gets my respect for calling out "Milosevic's regime and the genocidal ideology that sustains it...") while other are, indeed, somewhat over the top. Vice-President Al Gore was responsible for the "junior-league Hitler" crack; as already noted, over-simplified comparisons to the Nazi did nothing to clarify the situation, to put it politely.

It would be useful to study the discrepancy between the media image of Milosevic and his regime versus the reality; Johnstone in not interested in any sober analysis of this gap, however. Her reason for collecting these negative quotes is so she can say this:

"This torrent of abuse tells us very little about Milosevic, but a great deal about the political culture of the West, which allows its opinion-makers to resort to the most primitive level of insult."

Johnstone really needs to get out of the house more often if she thinks that Wesley Clark's comment "he only listens to one thing, and that is force" is an example of "the most primitive level of insult." And given that Milosevic presided over a nation in which Vojislav Seselj could say "I hate the Croats so much that I would have liked to gouge their eyes out with a rusty spoon," I'm guessing he knew a thing or two about nasty rhetoric.

This is Johnstone, however--remember that she closed her Introduction with a ringing condemnation of the 'slander' the Serb people have suffered since the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars. Apparantly, sticks and stones don't hurt as much as names in her world.


Shaina said...

Do you know if Johnstone has ever given an interview with anyone who disputes her claims?

I know she has given interviews with fellow travelers from; and other genocide deniers; but has she have ever given any interview with the "opposition"?

Considering how weak her arguments are-I would doubt it.

Kirk Johnson said...

That's a good question. I doubt it as well.

Can you imagine her going head-to-head with, say, Christopher Hitchens? That would be worth ANY price of admission.

Anonymous said...

Seselj never spoke of gouging out eyes with rusty spoons. There's footage of him on YouTube where he is on a show called Minimaxovision, a comedy show, in 1991.

There, Minimax asks him if Chetniks are still cutting throats and he replies that they still are but are using rusty shoe-horns instead of knives.

The whole thing was meant as a joke. This was then turned into the whole eye-gouging with rusty spoon story; one witness for the Seselj trial in a statement claimed that he announced this at a rally in Subotica, for instance.