Herewith we repost for posterity something I felt compelled to fling onto my Facebook Timeline last night. The part I left out was this: The bloody breakup of Yugoslavia and its aftermath hit me hard, for reasons even I didn't understand at the time. I don't have family connections there, didn't have any friends there at the time. I was a young, big-R Romantic lefty rooting for Socialism with a Human Face (to borrow a phrase from the Prague Spring) to succeed—and naïve about how dissent was suppressed under Tito and afterward.
On top of that, a Democrat for whom I had voted was in the White House—and Democrats were the party of peace, weren't they?
On my first trip to Italy in 1986, I wrote a wistful song about not getting to make a side-trip to Yugoslavia; I couldn't just abandon the high school students I was accompanying, now, could I? A couple of years later, my half-brother Erik was at a boarding school in Salzburg, where class trips into Eastern Europe were routine, so he got to go.
In the years before the breakup, Yugoslavia experienced some wicked hyper-inflation, thanks in part to international economic pressure. Erik reported that prices were increasing hourly. A cup of coffee that cost 10,000 dinars when you bought it might cost 20,000 for the next customer. Yugoslavia had not fenced off its currency the way other Eastern Bloc nations had, so it was vulnerable. There were also shortages, just as in the Soviet Union...just as in Venezuela today. It's yet another example of the Western imperialist "make the economy scream" strategy to turn people against their governments and let Western energy companies buy land on the cheap.
During the Bosnian War, I had elaborate fantasies of staging a peace walk from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo, but I never got my shit together sufficiently that time either. I still haven't been any closer than Venice.
On the Southwest Freeway yesterday afternoon, I got behind an 18-wheeler from (IIRC) UFC Trucking. In the top-left corner of the back panel of the trailer was some Cyrillic text*:
Some trucker is driving on US and Interstate highways with a truck that wears the message, "Kosovo is Serbian." It's still kinda haunting me. Was this something the trucking company painted on the trailer, or was it the individual driver? Does the driver even know? Do their other trailers also bear that message?
In the late '90s, just after Bill Clinton was impeached for lying to Congress about where his pecker had been, the US & NATO killed a lot of Serbs (and bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade—oops) to make the point that Kosovo is Kosovar-Albanian & independent or at least autonomous. Twenty years later, Serbia's national soccer teams can't be matched safely against Albania or Kosovo in international tournaments because there's still so much bad blood.
Throughout the painful breakup of Yugoslavia, we kept hearing from the media that the Serbs were the bad guys. We would never be allowed to forget what ethnic Serbs did in Croatian & Bosnian cities: Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Mostar, & of course Srebrenica. Occasionally the media would let it slip that there was brutality from all sides—but...Miloševic is worse! Occasionally, but not often, they would try to square their depictions of Bosnian & Kosovar Muslims as Good Muslims worthy of US protection with their constant stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists.
This illustrates why it's healthy to be skeptical about what the corporate-establishment media are telling us. The news outlets can't keep their narrative coherent & consistent—or refuse to do so. Their analysis leads to the conclusions most convenient for the corporate establishment at a particular moment.
1980s: Saddam Hussein is a US ally against Iran, so the US is selling him a shit-ton of weapons.
1990s: Saddam Hussein is no longer useful now that the Iran-Iraq War is over, so now he's a Bad Muslim & a dictator who needs to be punished (but left in power so we have an enemy who can keep US arms sales strong).
2000s: Saddam Hussein won't let weapons inspectors in, he probably helped al Qaeda do 9/11, & ooh, look! aerial photos of what can only be WMD trailers! so he needs to die.
Hong Kong protests against Big Bad Communist China get big-time TV coverage.
Ongoing anti-government protests in France, Brazil, and other countries get very little if any. Pro-government rallies in Venezuela, same.
The media can't tell you everything that's going on. There aren't enough hours in the day to cover it all. So they filter the news. It's so much easier when their sponsors tell them how & what to filter.
* The South Slavic modification of the Cyrillic alphabet includes a "J" and some remnants of the Slavonic alphabet not found in Russian or Bulgarian. It lacks the palatalized vowels, such as я and ю, that make Russian a real party language.
The preferred Serbian way to write "Serbia" is Србија (Srbiya). The preferred Albanian way to write "Kosovo" is Kosova or Kosovë (with the accent on the second syllable).
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.