Sunday, May 06, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Five [20]


[Some concluding thoughts]

The book Fools' Crusade consists of an introduction, a short conclusion (which I will begin to briefly consider in the next post), and five rather long chapters. Two of these five chapters amount to little more than sustained and relentless (although not focused or persuasive) attacks on a nationality. Chapter Four searched far and wide across the history of ethnic Germans in order to bolster claims that Yugoslavia was destroyed partly as a result of resurgent Prussian/Hapsburg hegemony. And now Chapter Five, which dispenses with the relative calm and moderation of the preceeding anti-German screed in order to indulge if naked bigotry. She is not the slightest bit subtle about this--Albanians, we are assured, are a hateful, uncivilized people who are unable to restrain their bloodlust against Serbs when incited by outsiders. Like wild animals, they simply cannot resort to reason or empathy.

What to say? There is no rational response to much of what Johnstone says in this chapter. It is not enough to point out how flawed, dishonest, and selective her use of facts is. It is not enough to point out how biased she is when choosing who to belive and who to doubt. Throughout the entire book, Johnstone has operated from the premise that ethnic groups are homogenous, static, and clearly defined. Furthermore, she accepts as a given that they have collective identities and qualities which transcend temporal and spatial divides. By the end of the book, this troubling subtext has become explicit and even central to her argument. The first three chapters of Fools' Crusade centered on a simplisitc critique of Western hegemony and American foreign policy along with a distorted history of events in the former Yugoslavia, all mixed with a healthy dose of conspiracy mongering.

But here, we've had little more than crude, quasi-fascist race-baiting. It was not fun reading this chapter. What is truly depressing is to realize that she felt obliged to write it. The tiresome dreariness of her worldview almost makes me feel sorry for the woman.


Coming up next--the exciting Conclusion to Fools' Crusade.

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