Thursday, September 07, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [16]


Having demonized the SDA leadership of the Bosnian government as tools of Western imperialism--and sneaky Muslims to boot--Johnstone now turns her wrath on the Western journalists, writers, pundits, and intellectuals who supported the cause of Bosnian sovereignty.

The first paragraph overstates the degree which the Western media simplified the war (and ignores the fact that Western media outlets often bent over backwards to give Bosnian Serb politiicans a listen in the interests of 'objectivity'):

"The reality was complex, and steeped in lies, myth, and history. The reporters sent to report on the "seige of Sarajevo" were mostly too new to the region to be able to distinguish truth from lies."

She goes on, disparaging the thrust of Western reporting on the war as nothing but human interest reporting in search of a convenient narrative and easily identifiable victims and villains. Take note of the quotes around 'seige of Sarajevo'--this is no typo. As she mentions later, she does not believe that Sarajevo was under seige. Forget that the city was surrounded by a hostile military, subjected to years of artillery bombardment and sniper fire, deprived of communication and commerce with the outside world, and claimed for partition by a rebel government--apparantly, this is all too crude and obvious. Presumably, there were subtleties and nuances us mere mortals are not able to detect. Lord knows the citizens of Sarajevo weren't privvy to them.

The biggest 'myth' at play in Bosnia was the ridiculous idea that outsiders lacked the experience and intimate knowledge alleged to be necessary to understand the situation. Johnstone frequently does this, presenting herself as a lone voice of reason against a shreiking hoard of misguided, ignorant Westerners who foolishly imagine themselves to be capable of understand the Byzantine complexities at play. Her deluded sense of intellectual and moral superiority would be laughable if not in service of such a heinous cause.

She also takes a few potshots at David Rieff, author of Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. His passionate defense of Bosnia and the multicultural ideal its sovereignty represented earns him two full pages of venom, including this rather bizarre misinterpretation:

She quotes Rieff here:

"Rieff was openly and fervently convinced that Europe must become another United States, a melting pot. He had gone to Europe "in search of this 'Americanization' of the European future" with the "didactic conviction that in the twenty-first century we would all be polyglot or we would kill one another off." "

And then she responds thusly:

"This is a rather extraordinary conviction, and comes down to saying, "within a century, everybody must be like me, or else we will all kill each other." "

Which, of course, is NOT the meaning of what eeiff says here. And while Johnstone might have her reasons for believing that Rieff is wrong to believe a cosmopolitan, polyglot future is necessary in order to avoid mutual destruction, it seems an odd choice to choose the cause of the Bosnian Serbs--who refused to live in a state where they would have to share political power with others--as a good example of why Reiff is allegedly wrong.

But that would be using logic, and logic is something that Johnstone and the other Balkan genocide deniers can't indulge in excessively.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Diana Johnstone and other Serb apologists were determined to whitewash the nature of the Serb ethnic cleansing campaign. It was this whitewashing – involving as it did the smearing of brave journalists and reporters – that eventually resulted in Living Marxism being sued for libel by ITN, on which occasion its lies about the Serb camps were wholly discredited.

The idea that ‘the media’ was ‘demonizing’ the Serbs is sheer nonsense – another disgusting myth aimed at defending the ethnic cleansers. Unless one thinks that reporters and journalists reporting honestly and accurately on Serb atrocities amounted to ‘demonization’, and that the correct media policy should have been to portray the murderers and rapists as cute, cuddly, fluffy little bunnies.

Serb-nationalist apologists fine-comb the writings of mainstream commentators for anything that can be interpreted as soft on Croats, Albanians or Bosnian Muslims or as too harsh on the Serbs. Occasionally their critiques are justified though usually they appear self-pitying or pedantic. But they don't seem similarly to object to the incomparably more overt and extreme expressions of murderous bigotry that regularly appeared in the Serbian media since the late 1980s against Albanians, Croats and Bosnian Muslims. They rarely make any mention of this at all, despite the important part in played in the Serb-nationalist propoganda campaign prior to the war.