Monday, April 30, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Five [18]


3. THE TRIUMPH OF HATRED [continued]

I should note that we are only 16 pages from the end of the book. Perhaps that explains the unabashed crudeness of her anti-Albanian ranting at this point. Or perhaps this is merely the logical and inevitable culmination of just over 250 pages of tribalism, groupthink, collective guilt and the crudest strain of ultra-nationalism. It is possible that this is what happens when an unreconstructed ideologue of the Old Left, grasping for an anti-Western horse to hitch her wagon to, accepts the logic of a slightly older and far more primitive form of collectivism. This, then, is what passes for "progressive" in the moral universe of Edward Herman, Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, and our own Diana Johnstone.

"For the NATO powers, all this incitement to hatred was ephemeral war propaganda and could soon be forgotten. The effect on the peoples involved was much more damaging. Portraying the Serbs as inhuman could only further enflame a much more passionate and dangerous hatred: the hatred of the Albanians towards the Serbs. Albanian Kosovars could no longer resist the most extreme Albanian racist incitement against Serb neighbors when the greatest world powers, the United States and Germany, endorsed the view that Serbs were wicked people, plotting genocide.

"The double standards of the NATO powers enforced the tendency of the Albanians themselves to say and believe the worse of the Serbs."

It goes on like that a little longer, but the perceptive reader should already be shaking his or her head at statements such as "the tendency of the Albanians themselves to say and believe the worse of the Serbs."

There is really nothing to say. Once one has accepted the premise of collective identity and both collective and generational guilt, unsubtle bigotry such as the comments quoted above are inevitable.

It is interesting again to note how Johnstone views the people of the Balkans--almost as animals, responding unthinkingly to outside stimuli they are helpless to resist and incapable of analyzing.

We are then treated to a litany of stories about the fate of ethnic Serbs stranded in Kosovo after the KLA came to power. There is no defense for the atrocities meted out by KLA members and other ethnic Albanians. I condemn any and all actions of terrorism, revenge, and retributive violence. It is tragic that, as in the Krajina in Croatia, ethnic Serb civilians were abandoned by Milosevic, left to the mercy of vindictive forces, and mostly ignored by a Western media which all too often portrayed the crises in the former Yugoslavia as black-and-white struggles between ethnic groups. The tragedy for these forgotten Serbs is that, all too often, the people speaking on their behalf are people like Diana Johnstone.

We then are informed that the mass graves discovered in Kosovo after the war contained "only" a few thousand bodies. Again, Johnstone puts the word "genocide" in quotes, illustrating that she either truly doesn't understand how broad the definition of the word is or doesn't care. Or, more likely, deliberately wants to mislead the reader. For the honest, inquiring, and at least slightly informed reader, she has long since ceded the benefit of the doubt.

The section ends with a pastiche of the troubles wracking the region post-war. There is no denying that the situation in Kosovo was, and remains, troubling--the ascendancy of the thuggish KLA was no victory for secular civic society. The afore-mentioned revenge killings against ethnic Serb civilians were loathsome acts, no matter what the motivations were. And the ongoing criminalization of society threatens the very fabric of society. If Johnstone is truly concerned about the future of the Western Balkans, she has stumbled across a very good subject.

The fate of Kosovo and of the peoples living there is a matter of contemporary concern--Kosovo is in the news a lot right now, and if the proposed independence goes through I fear the news will become much grimmer. There are many issues at play in the region, and many underlying causes for the brittle state of civil society at the moment. But Johnstone is not interested in such complexities; nor is she interested in appreciating the diversity of viewpoints and experiences such a cultural crossroads is bound to contain. For her, it's all about hatred--a hatred which is carried in the genes or in the blood or maybe only in the cultural zeitgeist of one group. She complains hysterically about an alleged Western plot to smear all Serbs as genocidal monsters. Now she tells us that Albanians are chronic, unyielding haters who are helpless to control their homicidal passions when provoked. What does she think should be done with them? She leaves that point eerily unanswered.


That concludes my critique of this meandering slab of bigoted invective. There is one more short section before Chapter Five plods to an end. And then a ten-page conclusion.

Believe it or not, I only have 13 pages to go before I am finally finished with this horrible, hateful book. The finish line is in sight!


Shaina said...

You must be exhausted! Thanks again for really reading this book; and without resorting to hyperbolies; exaggerations or the like showed the flawed logic (and hypocrysy) of her work. I don't think I would have the patience to do it myself!

Do you have any other projects after you finish with Fool's Crusade?

Kirk Johnson said...

Thanks Shaina! Now that I've finished all five chapters, I just have the short postscript and that's it.

As for future projects--I'm thinking Michael Parenti is next. After a short break. It might be fun to just do a few posts on "one-off" topics for a little while.

I'd like to build up a body of work reviewing revisionist or just plain misinformed works on the subject, and eventually produce something more "publishable". Maybe a long article, or even a short book. Something I could offer to send to people as a Word file.

I have hopes of making a website with a more "polished" look, and keeping the blog for current events (something I haven't been doing very well--you pretty much steal everyone's thunder there! :) ) and works-in-progress.

Thanks again for the kind words and the feedback. Always appreciated.