Part Eleven Excerpts from ANTO KNEZEVIC'S AN ANALYSIS OF SERBIAN PROPAGANDA Time-Shifted Logic Dragnich, Simic and others maintain that today's Croats should ask forgiveness because of the Serbs who died fifty years ago. Because of the Serbs then who were murdered by the Croats then. According to this "time-shifted logic," the Serbs would not have to ask for forgiveness for today's Serbs, who are killing today's Croats, until 2041. (The question of whether today's Serbs should ask forgiveness for the Serbs who killed Croats, Muslims, Albanians, Jews, Gypsies and others fifty years ago, needless to say, does not trouble Dragnich and Simic.) The same time-shifted logic is apparent not only in Dragnich's missives, but also in all other literary genres and forms: myths, diaries, novels, dramas, recollections..., and even in poems. Here is an example of that logic in a contemporary poem printed under the title "The New World Order - Central European Division." Croatians are the good guys now, Although their past is slightly shady. So worry not that these same guys Chased both your bubbe and your zayde. (Calvin Trillin, "The New.World Order - Central European Division," The Nation, March 9, 1992, p. 293.) Trillin, a colleague of Alexander Cockburn at the weekly Nation, writes the words for "grandmother" and "grandfather" in Yiddish (bubbe, zayde). For stronger poetic-political effect. The use of Yiddish might seem to exclude the many Sephardic Jews who lived in former Yugoslavia (and, before that, in the Ottoman Empire). However, the message is clear: the Croats were persecutors of the Jews. If the Ustashe killed Jews (and some of them certainly did), then today's Croats are no better, although the international media show them as "the good guys now." It is very interesting to note that Trillin overlooks the following facts: - That in Serbia there were the concentration camps as well; it was not Croats who entered Serbia to kill Jews (and Serbs and others) there - it was Serbs (Nedic, Ljotic - names that don't ring a bell for the American reader). - That only 6% of Serbian Jews survived the Second World War. - That Belgrade was the first city in Europe to be declared in 1942 Judenfrei, by SS Plenipotentiary Dr. Harald Turner. - That of 11,970 Jews who lived in Belgrade before the Second World War, 1,115 survived the war thanks to effective collaboration of the Serbian quisling government, the Serbian public, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (see the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust [New York: Macmillan, 1990], vol. 4, pp. 1716-1722; Politika, Belgrade, April 29, 1989.) One might ask: are the Croats, who suffer today, shown in Trillin's poem in a bad light only because of the sins of the Ustashe against the Jews? The leftist orientation of the weekly Nation also, no doubt, contributed to the creation of the little poem: the government in power in Croatia is not left-wing, but the government in Serbia remains Communist (or "left-wing"). For Trillin it seems more important that someone is "left" rather than that someone is an aggressor (unless, of course, they kill Jews - we have no regrets, it s seems, for mere buildings like the synagogue in Dubrovnik, which is, incidentally, the second oldest surviving synagogue in Europe). It is also significant that figures such as Patrick Buchanan have emerged to champion the position of Croatia. It is understandable that a strong conservative support for any issue might provoke thinkers further to the left to take an opposing position. However, in this case that position has been assumed too automatically and without enough scepticism. Is the agenda of the American left shaped only by its disgust with Buchanan, or does it examine reality and make: conclusions for itself? For example: the Serbian government is opposed by Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians, ethnic Albanians, and Slavic Muslims, not to mention the ethnic Hungarians and other groups living in the formerly autonomous province of Vojvodina. Are the Croats to blame for all of this? Could there be another valid interpretation for this set of data - such as, none of the other groups that made up Yugoslavia want to live in Greater Serbia? Former Yugoslavia, which certainly was in some ways the most attractive manifestation of socialism in Eastern Europe, seems to be calling in debts from American leftist journalists and scholars who may have visited, collaborated, become friends with the old regime there. Dragnich writes in a similar, Trillinian vein: Mr. Tudjman could, of course, say that [the Independent State of Croatia] was not his Croatia. But postwar German leaders could also have said that Nazi Germany was not their regime. But not only did the new German leaders acknowledge the brutal acts or the Nazis, they also apologized and even paid reparations. Dragnich's memory has undergone the same change as Simic's. Dragnich overlooks some things, while other things magically appear to him. First, in Wilderness (and in other writings) Tudjman explicitly recognizes that terrible crimes were committed in the Independent State of Croatia, including crimes against Serbs. However, Tudjman also writes about the Serbian Chetniks' crimes against the Croats in that Croatian state. Dragnich does not speak about that - but that speaks about Dragnich. Second, even if it were necessary to ask for forgiveness, Tudjman as president of Croatia could not ask forgiveness of those who are attacking and killing the citizens who freely elected him. Neither did the German leaders seek (nor would they have sought) forgiveness of those who were killing contemporary Germans. Here Dragnich applies "actor-shifted logic." The possibility of forgiveness can only be spoken of in both directions: in the Second World War the Ustashe did kill Serbs, but the Chetniks also killed Croats. Someone should also ask forgiveness for the Croatian poet and anti-fascist Ivan Goran Kovacic, who was slaughtered in 1943 by Serbian Chetniks. And for thousands and thousands of other Croats who were not poets but who shared the poet's fate in the Second World War. The New York Times abandons its "balanced" approach when the search for any kind of balance becomes ridiculous. When the Croats are daily dying in front of tanks and bombers. Then the New York daily paper opens its pages only to the victims' side. On December 18, 1991, The New York Times printed two letters, both from Croats. In the first letter, "Croats are Victims of Serbian Harassment", Professor Davor Kapetanic of the University of Washington gives valid arguments for a refutation of David Martin's assertion about the arbitrariness of the Croatian boundaries. The author of the other letter, M. Modric from Zagreb, describes the everyday horrors of the citizens of Croatia who, before the eyes of the American president, are "enjoying" the fruits of the "New World Order" announced after the Gulf War. The letter is entitled "We live in Hell." The title is taken from the contents of the letter.