DAY 5 (8:00 AM)
the television station owned by the San Francisco Chronicle, covered
yesterday's march and rally against the war in San Francisco in a most
peculiar way. As the lead marchers are shown on camera, a voice-over informs
us that this is a "Serbian protest." I am on the phone to the
newsroom in minutes.
me," I explain to the reporter who answers the phone, "but I
attended the rally you just reported, and I can tell you that the march
consisted of about 1,000 leftists, a good number of Serbians, and the
usual proportion of homeless bums who have taken over Market Street."
that all the complaining phone calls have so far been from Serbian-Americans,
who (unfairly) see bias in KRON's simple reporting of the facts. Pressing
her on the question of whether the rally was "Serbian," I pointed
out that there were plenty of Americans there, including myself, and went
on to insist that by no stretch of the imagination was this a "Serbian"
rally. Her answer was that by "Serbian" she meant that it was
a rally about what is going on in Serbia. I could hardly believe what
I was hearing, and said so, laughing out loud. Having humiliated her sufficiently
to feel avenged, at least in part, for having been subjected to such a
barrage of lies, I bid her good morning and good-bye.
THE BATTLE FOR PUBLIC
of the media as the trumpet of this war is vividly dramatized in little
moments of self-consciousness, such as when MSNBC's intrepid reporter,
Patti Anne Brown, went out to New York City's Times Square to feel the
pulse of the nation. The three people she chose were a multiculturalists'
dream: an Asian woman, a French tourist, and an African-American male.
When asked her opinion on the subject of the war and the prospect of U.S.
troops on the ground, the Chinese woman said that people in other countries
should settle their own problems. The French tourist said that he couldn't
understand why Americans were intent on solving all the world's problems
according to their own formula. The African-American said the whole operation
seems ill-thought out. None supported the bombing or the Clinton administration's
policy. "But what about the ethnic cleansing," insisted Patti-Anne,
what about the "humanitarian disaster"? The African-American
said that he thought diplomacy had not been exhausted. "But we've
tried negotiating and that didn't work," insisted Patti-Ann, clearly
impatient that she wasn't getting the kind of response she had been looking
for. "Well, that's just my opinion," the man said, looking somewhat
puzzled. Oblivious to the implications of what she was doing, Patti-Ann
turned mournfully to the camera: "We've been getting a lot of people
in support of military action, too," she assures us.
no news story on the Serbian-Albanian civil war in Kosovo has failed to
inform its readers by the third sentence that the latter make up "90
percent of Kosovo's population." Now, as the atrocity stories reach
a crescendo and the War Party seeks a pretext -- any pretext -- to call
in the ground troops, we are told by government officials and their media
handmaidens that the Serbs are engaged in a policy of "ethnic cleansing,"
that is, a policy of systematically driving the Albanians out of Kosovo.
Aside from the dubious sources of this information -- the KLA and its
Western sympathizers -- the assertion is flat-out absurd on its face.
It would have to mean that Milosevic is intent on almost completely depopulating
Kosovo province, a Serbian version of Pol Pot. While the demonization
of Old Slobo has proceeded apace, does anybody seriously believe this?.
PORTRAITS OF THE
THE GLITTERRATTI GO TO WAR
looking malevolent and purplish, today made her debut as a stateswoman:
"It is important that we support the military actions that are being
taken by NATO," she piously avers to MSNBC's John Gibson. She composes
the tired muscles of her face -- stretched taut by who knows how many
plastic surgeons--into an approximation of passion: "We need to send
ground troops. I have spoken to people inside Kosovo who are begging for
ground troops." Although the screen identified her as representing
something called the "International Coalition for Justice,"
I look at her exhausted-looking vice-ravaged face, sallow in the merciless
glare of the camera, and wonder what sort of a "coalition" she
represents: a grand alliance of rock stars, drug dealers, and fashion
designers? That this air-headed symbol of jet-setting decadence is being
hauled out to cheerlead the bombing of Belgrade is the kind of grotesque
detail that makes "Allied Force" into "Allied Farce."
Bianca, in her role as the war goddess leading her troops into battle
from the comfort of her New York townhouse, may be the best thing that
ever happened to the antiwar opposition. A few more such exhortations,
and the troops may just mutiny.
HOMAGE TO MONTENEGRO
mountainous republic of Montenegro, with its Serbian orthodox churches
and ancient monasteries, green valleys and majestic mountains, would be
a tourists' paradise if not for the war. It has relatively good weather,
some great beaches, and autonomy within the Yugoslav Federation, of which
it is the only remaining constituent republic aside from Serbia. The present
government is friendly to the West, and has distanced itself considerably
from Milosevic, openly declaring Montenegro to be officially neutral now
that hostilities have commenced. Yet the United States has bombed several
sites in Montenegro, including churches, much to the bewilderment of the
Montenegrin government. Attacking a "neutral" state is apparently
now a NATO prerogative, along with intervening in the internal affairs
of any and all states within its reach.
THEME OF THE DAY
No day is
without its theme, in this war: yesterday's was "The Rescue,"
which concentrated on the "good" news that the downed pilot
was safe: we were all supposed to forget about the $45 million Stealth
plane left in pieces on the ground. Assuming everyone has by now forgotten
about yesterday's disaster, today's theme is "Humanitarian Disaster."
While bombs kill scores of Yugoslav civilians, and even rain down on poor
little Montenegro, the unverified and unverifiable accounts of KLA partisans
are accepted by the U.S. government as gospel and touted as fact by the
media. We are now supposed to be moving into "Phase II" of this
operation, having allegedly "degraded" Yugoslav air defense
systems, in spite of the downing of the Stealth. Yet the exact nature
of this new "phase" is ominously murky. Increased bombing of
the Kosovo area shows Pristina in flames, with the fires spreading to
civilian areas -- the very areas we are supposed to be "liberating."
There is no telling what theme tomorrow will bring, but what about something
like "Chariots of Fire?" Coming soon: "Apocalypse Now."
PORTRAITS OF THE
John Gibson hosts one Gary Kokalari, a balding heavy-faced man with
small beady eyes, who represents the Albanian-American Council. What is
your solution, Gary, asks Gibson, what would you do? "Level
Belgrade to the ground," he replied. " I would tell Milosevic
that he either signs the peace accord or else he won't recognize Belgrade
as a city anymore." Yes, we are suffering from a humanitarian disaster
today -- for it is truly disastrous when such human monsters as Kokalari
are considered "humanitarians."
Brown is back at the end of a long afternoon, reporting from Times Square.
She has somehow managed to find an authentic Kosovar: Hyr Qosas, a thin
young woman with stringy hair and a petulant manner, who insists that
Kosovo is historically Albanian and delivers the requisite lecture on
the need for ground troops. Host John Gibson playfully interjects:
"I see you've found one, Patti-Ann." The blush that spread across
Patti-Ann's face was visible even under the make-up--the only evidence
I have seen that the media is not entirely shameless.