Dozens of neo-Nazis were arrested
in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad on Sunday, as they rallied despite
a government ban and clashed with a crowd of protesters. Western media hurried
to make hay of the incident; the New York Times appended the two-paragraph
report to the end of a story about the
resurgent KLA, while the Associated Press could
not resist the temptation to mention that Novi Sad was run by "a right-wing
mayor with nationalist policies" and point out that the neo-Nazis marched
against the secession of Kosovo.
Malicious reporting about Serbia is nothing new. However, the mayor of Novi
Sad, Maja Gojkovic of the Serbian Radical Party, ought to sue the AP for libel.
She was the one to ban the neo-Nazi demonstration in the first place, and the
Radical Party has no connection to the group whatsoever. Nor is opposing the
separation of Kosovo a Nazi-like sentiment – especially given that the Albanian
separatists have a rich
Nazi heritage themselves.
At issue as well was how many of these "neo-Nazis" were actually
Serbian. Among the 56 people arrested in Novi Sad were eleven
Slovak nationals, while eight Bulgarians were arrested in Belgrade. But
to the Western mainstream, "Serb Nazis protest Kosovo freedom" is
too good a cliché to pass up.
The truth, as usual, is far more complicated. There are racists and neo-Nazis
in Serbia, but they are on the far outer margin of society. Their behavior is
more Hollywood than Nuremberg: last year, several men at a soccer
game in Cacak wore KKK hoods and waved Confederate flags while shouting
insults at a black player – who was from Zimbabwe.
Serbian "Nazis" model their appearance, rhetoric and behavior on
American skinheads of Stormfront and American
History X, not the genuine article. Like "liberal democracy"
(which is neither liberal nor democratic), these phenomena are Western imports,
sound and fury devoid of substance in a society fighting for its identity after
four decades of Communist repression and almost two decades of conflict.
Fitting The Narrative
None of this, however, fits the "narrative"
embraced by the mainstream media, in which multi-culturalism is sacrosanct and
traditional identities of any kind are evil. On Monday, the Washington Post
carried a short AP report on the "Nazis" in Serbia, but featured
long story about "racism" in Switzerland, of all places. The placid
Alpine republic has enjoyed centuries of prosperity thanks to its geography,
a policy of neutrality, and a tradition-based, decentralized political system
that allowed for peaceful coexistence of four linguistic groups. Now, however,
20% of Switzerland's residents are foreign-born, and Swiss identity is very
much in question.
The Post defines the terms of the current Swiss debate thus: "to
embrace an increasingly globalized, multicultural society or to retreat into
social isolation in an effort to preserve eroding traditional identities."
Note the choice of words: either "embrace globalization" or "retreat
into isolation"! Loaded language like this has been the butter of propaganda
bread for years. The Post's reporter chooses to frame the article by
a story of an immigrant from Angola, who was victim of a brutal chainsaw attack
this May. The sympathy this man's plight rightly elicits is then used to derail
any rational discussion of the Swiss
People's Party and its policies, which are branded "racist."
Professional anti-racists get a lot of space in the Post article. But
even the government Commission Against Racism acknowledges that "most people
denied citizenship were Muslims and natives of the Balkans who were granted
asylum during the ethnic wars of the 1990s."
Trouble is, both Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians are as white as Germans,
Italians or Frenchmen. It appears "racism" – just like "genocide"
– has a very flexible definition…
For example, Croatian pop singer Marko Perkovic
"Thompson" held a concert
at the Zagreb soccer stadium in June this year. His "patriotic" lyrics
sing praises to the Ustasha – Croatian Nazis responsible for the mass
murder of Serbs and Jews during WW2 – and his fans dress
up in Ustasha uniforms and offer Nazi salutes.
Even though the Jewish community denounced the concert, Croatian public and
the government saw nothing wrong with it. One former diplomat even showed up
with his family in
"Thompson" has recently announced a North
Fuehrers Of All Kinds
The recent events in Novi Sad, however, weren't
just about a bunch of wannabe-Nazis aping Hollywood stereotypes to the great
joy of Western media. Most of the media and political ruckus has actually been
raised by the self-styled "social-democrats" and "liberals."
Djordje Vukadinovic, columnist of the daily Politika and editor of the
journal New Serbian Political Thought (NSPM), examined
the motives behind the vocal opposition to "fascism" by Nenad Canak,
a controversial regional politician, and his supporters among the "liberal
democrats." The key characteristic Canak shares with the neo-Nazi leader
Goran Davidovic is "the disregard of democratic institutions and procedures,
and the related reliance on verbal and physical violence as the means of political
Vukadinovic is convinced "there are no actual fascists in Serbia,
but Davidovic and Canak come close – the former preferring the German variety,
while the latter is more akin to Mussolini."
Slobodan Antonic, Vukadinovic's fellow editor and columnist, goes
"If you want to be a great anti-fascist, you need a great fascist enemy.
No one gives money or votes for a campaign against a score of bizarre and socially
marginal misfits. But if you paint that organization as the striking fist of
a mass movement… here come the votes of the scared and the confused, and a new
grant for your NGO.
"The 'Serbian fascism' is like the emperor's clothes. If you don't
see it everywhere and in everything, you are ridiculed. What can be
seen is a pathetic attempt of a marginal group at self-promotion. But what
one is expected to see – so as not to be branded stupid or evil –
is 'Serb fascism'"
Antonic points out that Communists and Nazis in Weimar Germany both employed
thugs to break up
each others' rallies, and compared that to the rhetoric and the behavior in
Antonic didn't say it this time, because it is a well-known fact, that those
who style themselves most vocally as "anti-fascists" today are political
heirs of the old Communists, ousted by Milosevic 20 years ago. While Cedomir
Jovanovic is their face, Latinka Perovic – a 1970s
party boss– is their guru. If "National Rank" – the incongruously
named neo-Nazi organization headed by Davidovic – did not exist, the "liberals"
would have invented them.
In loudly professing their "anti-fascism,"
Serbia's "liberal democrats" seem to have taken their cue from George
Lucas's Star Wars prequels.
For years, they have sought something against which they could define themselves
as champions – but their attacks on the Orthodox church, the army, the Academy
of Arts and Sciences, the intelligence agencies, and even the governing political
parties have produced underwhelming results. It appears that in the "National
Rank" they have finally found their "phantom menace."