By: Julia Gorin
Among the handful of non-pro-Islamic Balkans-observers in America, all eyebrows raised on Friday when The New Republic outdid its own famous fabulist Stephen Glass with two new ones, who penned an opinion article clunkily headlined “Putin is Behaving in Ukraine Like Milosevic Did in Serbia.”
Set aside that virtually no one outside the Balkans knows how Milosevic actually did behave in Serbia. And set aside that the headline and article read as if TNR has started outsourcing copy-editing to non-English-speaking countries. Set aside also TNR’s unequivocal policy-lockstep stance on every 90s war we waged against Orthodox Christians in the Balkans (a September 1999 article-rejection I got from a senior editor there: “i think there are other magazines that would be happy to publish it. the problem is that tnr has a fairly firm editorial line on the balkans, and i’m afraid your piece doesn’t quite match it…were it not for our disagreement on the issue this would have been a good piece for us.”)
Set aside all that, along with the consistent pattern that Balkans material in the U.S. is exempt from the usual editorial checks and balances when it’s written from the ‘correct’ perspective, giving writers free rein to make stories up out of whole cloth and, alternately, to graft their sources’ yarns directly from the reporter’s notebook to the newspaper.
One supposed it was only a matter of time before the deceased Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was yet again dredged from his grave, this time in service of some pathetic attempt at a Putin analogy. But if you can imagine, this product was a notch more ridiculous even than the usual.
This morning the Reiss Institute published director Nebojsa Malic’s reaction to the TNR “article” (some links added):
Holocaust Denial at The New Republic (Reiss Institute, June 23, 2014)
On June 19, The New Republic published an article by Vera Mironova and Maria Snegovaya, that not only violates the rules of journalism in a manner reminiscent of Stephen Glass, but also engages in outright Holocaust denial by declaring the very real genocidal atrocities committed by Croatian and Ukrainian fascists during World War Two to be “old myths” promoted by Serb and Russian “propaganda.”
Snegovaya…and Mironova, a first-time contributor, describe Croatia and Ukraine as “Catholic and much more pro-Western” nations upon which Serbia and Russia “…imposed their rule.” While Catholicism is indeed a defining characteristic of Croats, most Ukrainians are not Catholic by any stretch of imagination.
Having thus made up a key “fact”, the authors go on to describe both Croatia and the Ukraine as “colonies” of Serbia and Russia, respectively. Therefore, they argue, “Understandably, both Croatia and Ukraine resisted what they perceived as invasion, and in the 1940s, this resistance translated into substantive support for fascists in both countries.” (emphasis added)
Though they identify, however grudgingly, Ante Pavelić and Stepan Bandera as fascists, there is no mention in their essay – not a single word – about the atrocities Pavelic’s Croatia, or Bandera’s followers, committed as Hitler’s allies. This is not an accidental omission, but a crucial one; just a paragraph later, the authors claim that Serbs and Russians – in the 1990s and today, respectively – created ethnic conflict “where none existed before”, clearly implying the 1940s atrocities never happened.
But the worst outright lie is Snegovaya and Mironova’s claim that “Russian and Serbian propaganda referenced the old myths of Croatian (and Ukrainian) fascists”, [and conjured] the imagery of Bandera and Pavelić to unjustly accuse modern Ukrainian and Croatian nationalists…:
“To personalize the link with the Nazis, the historic character Ante Pavelić was used in Croatia, just as Stepan Bandera was used in Ukraine.”
Note the passive “was used”, suggesting it was the Serbs and Russians using Pavelić and Bandera to smear the Croats and Ukrainians as Nazis. The clear implication is that no actual connection exists between the followers of Pavelić and Bandera in the 1940s and the Croats and Ukrainians of today, and that any such connection is purely a product of Serb and Russian propaganda. In actual fact, not malicious fantasy, present-day Croats routinely give Mass for Pavelić and his Ustasha, whom they have promoted to Christ-like martyrs (e.g. Bleiburg), while modern “Ukrainian nationalists” organize torchlight parades in which they march carrying Bandera’s portraits. Simply put, Croat and Ukrainian chauvinists consider Pavelić and Bandera their national heroes. This is not something the Serbs or Russians made up.
[The writers attribute the 1990s Ustasha revival to a “Serb portrayal” of modern Croatia. Whence came, then, all the hard copies of 1990s articles that I have in my drawer, put out by mainstream media and Jewish news agencies and making the same inescapable observations about Croatian streets being renamed for Ustasha “heroes;” about actual Ustasha who’d served in WWII being brought back from South America and given official positions; about the popular band Thompson’s songs rhapsodizing about concentration camps, Pavelic and the Black Legion. These news outfits, ranging from Guardian, to Christian Science Monitor to NY Times, aren’t named Slobodan Milosevic. And that’s without mentioning the busts to the Croatian fuehrer Pavelic that still adorn Croatian cultural centers across the globe. And what did Snegovaya and Mironova make of the sieg-heiling by FIFA-sanctioned Croatian soccer player Joseph Simunic, or of Mario Mandzukic, the Croatian soccer player doing the same a year earlier? Do they think Bob Dylan is just talking out of his rear end?]
There are multiple gross factual errors in the essay by Snegovaya and Mironova. One example is their use of “Greater Serbia” to describe “the region with self-proclaimed pro-Serbian republics, partially located in modern-day Croatia”…“Greater Serbia” is but an Austro-Hungarian propaganda canard predating the Great War, and used by Serbophobes ever since.
Another factual error is their accusation that “Milošević went as far as to suggest that Croats were Serbs converted to Catholicism.” There is ample evidence to support that contention as historical fact – but they offer no evidence that Milošević himself ever said so. Then again, it would not be the first time Milošević has been deliberately misquoted. [Besides which, one might ask: Where did all those Serbs converted to Catholicism in WWII go? And do Croats and Bosnian Muslims just happen to have Serbian first and last names by accident? And speak the Serbian language?]
Stephen Glass made his stories up to advance his career. Mironova and Snegovaya go a step further, making up or outright inverting facts in order to whitewash the atrocities of the Kiev junta today, and those of the Croatian and Ukrainian fascists in the 1940s, by accusing the Russians (and ethnic Ukrainians in the East) trying to defend their lives, property and identity from attack — as well as the Serbs who tried to do the same in the 1990s — of being the real aggressors.
Mironova and Snegovaya need to be sanctioned for their gross misconduct, while the The New Republic owes both the Serbs and the Russians an apology. However, having seen the impunity with which the Serbs and the Russians have been demonized in the Western press for almost 25 years, we’re not holding our breath.