Monday, September 25, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter One [20]


Serb nationalists like to claim they were fighting against "Islamic fundamentalism" in Bosnia. More sane observers have found that claim laughably ridiculous on the face of it; Bosnia's Muslims were by and large extremely secular and Western-leaning; the country was democratic in nature; there was no attempt to impose sharia even on the Muslim communities, let alone non-Muslims; the government never sent a single fighter outside of Bosnian soil.

But the Islamaphobes have an ally--Johnstone has found all the pieces she needs to suggest that there was an Islamic conspiracy afoot in Bosnia. Does she put all those pieces together to create a convincing portrait? Of course not--as always, Johnstone links together isolated facts, free of any messy context, and cobbles them together so that mere proximity--in isolation from any mitigating factors, or the accumulated baggage of messy reality--might hopefully imply a cohesive theme.

Actually, Srebrenica Massacre did a fine job of summing up the problems with Johnstone's "arguement" in his comment to the previous post (for some reason, it claims '0 comments,' but all the comments are still there). Izetbegovic published his "Islamic Declaration" in 1970. Johnstone, playing along with her nationalist buddies, works on feeding the implication that it was some sort of Mein Kampf, a blueprint for an Islamic Bosnia.

Innuendo runs deep in this section. Johnstone notes that Izetbegovic, as a decendent of the Muslim upper class of Ottoman Turkey (she playes this card a lot, by the way--comparing the elite status of the SDA leadership to the peasant status of rural Bosnian Serbs):

" an heir to a Muslim elite which bitterly opposed attempts by the later Turkish Sultans to make concessions to Balkan Christians in order to preserve Ottoman rule in the Balkans."

It never ceases to amaze me how often, and how blithely, Johnstone will indulge in notions of generational guilt. Compared to implications that modern-day Germany represents resurgent Nazism and that contemporary Croats are all card-carrying Ustasha, holding Izetbegovic accountable for the grievances of 19th Century Muslim elites is relatively minor; still, it's yet another Freudian slip, another indication of how thoroughly she has assimiliated the collectivist logic of generational and tribal identity.

This section goes on for three pages, dredging up quotes from this document without a whiff of context; that she fails to mention he did not include Bosnia itself in his vision of a truly Islamic world should surprise you not at all. Nor should it amaze that, even if you take her carefully chosen quotes at face value, Izetbegovic failed miserably as a champion of Islamic world conquest--one quote from his book warns of the failure to adequately prepare for seizing power; being adequately prepared to take power by force was most certainly not a vice of the SDA under Izetbegovic.

After several paragraphs of carefully decontextualized quotes and random bits of innuendo posing as analysis, she starts the penultimate paragraph with this curious quote:

"If "fundamentalism" can be defined as basing an entire social and political order on religion, then Izetbegovic was indeed a "fundamentalist." "

Yes, and if "my wife" can be defined as "Salma Hayek," then I'm married to one of the most caliente women in Hollywood. I guess once you've redefined "genocide" you've pretty much got carte blanche to redefine terms at your leisure.

This paragraph-from-an-alternate-universe continues thusly:

"Izetbegovic's demand for an Islamic state once Muslims are a majority of the population deserves attention, since demographic changes in Bosnia-Herzegovina were moving toward a Muslim majority. Did fear of this prospect help drive non-Muslim citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina into the arms of nationalist Serb and Croat parties? Whether or not such fears were groundless, the question needs to be raised."

[underlined text was italicized in the original]

One waits for Johnstone to begin quoting from SDA statements and party platforms calling for an Islamic state in Bosnia; she does not, of course, because she has no such documentation. Instead, she has a book written 20 years prior (republished in 1990, she ominously notes) as her sole source for these 'demands.' Thus she implies that this urbane, educated, pro-Western man was a raging fundamentalist seeking to reimpose sharia on the decendents of the same Balkan Christian peasants his ancestors lorded over.

Such fears were groundless, although they were certainly fueled by racist propaganda coming from the nationalist leaders Johnstone has allied herself with. The specter of Muslim hordes out-breeding the scared Christians of Bosnia was a scenario dreamed up by the most extreme elements of the SDS; and here we have Johnstone giving creedence to them. The question that REALLY needs to be asked is this: Has this woman no shame?


Shaina said...

I've been amazed at the extent a red-brown coalition has built up between the extreme right and the extreme left to support genocide appeasement.

I've been especially amazed with the degree the left adapted the langauge and cause of racism and Islamophobia championed by the extreme right.
Not that being a "leftist" in and by itself is a safeguard against being racist.
But, I've done a very, very generalized overview at the use of Islamophobia by both the extreme left and the extreme right:

And I was shocked (although maybe I shouldn't have been) at the extent to which the Islamophobic arguments from Ed Herman and Diana Johnstone are indistinguishable from the postings and ramblings on far right, racist message boards like "" "srpska-mreza" and the like.

Kirk Johnson said...

Great insight, Shaina. I can't wait to read your post on the subject.