Out of the Looking Glass into a Brave New World

by Jared Israel

The other day I attended a protest teach-in on Kosovo, a sort of post mortem held in Cambridge, Mass. I have a fondness for protest teach-ins because I am old and remember the ones held during the Vietnam war; I even spoke at a few.

One of the speakers was Paula Gutlove, who described herself as having been a "mediator in Macedonia." Apparently she is well-placed in some Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). NGO's, in case you haven't heard, are a fairly recent development, part think tank part international social worker; they make their money off grants and they intervene in other countries to teach the locals how to get along, followed by civil war. (For a fuller explanation of NGO's, see Diana Johnstone's elegant piece, Yugoslavia: Through a Dark Glass by clicking on Yugoslavia: Through a Dark Glass, part I. Johnstone not only explains NGO's, she explains why and how they played such an awful role in Yugoslavia).

Mediators and Other Mysteries

Ms. Gutlove ran through a 600 year history of Serbian-Albanian relations with dazzling speed; the theme of it all was that sometimes Serbs were "up" and Albanians were "down" and sometimes it was quite the other way around. Listening to her I wondered: "Why do the Macedonians need an American mediator who knows so little about ethnic relations in the Balkans? Indeed, why do they need any American mediator at all? Haven't Macedonians been around since the Dawn of Time? Don't they have mediators of their own?" I recalled the Macedonian-Americans I know. They are intelligent; they are up on all the latest things, but none have mediators. They don't seem to need them. Do Macedonians lose the urge to seek mediation when they move here?

Or is "mediator" a euphemism, as when Madeline Albright called the U.S. the "indispensable nation" meaning of course, the New Rome? Do American "mediators" in places like Macedonia derive their influence not from their skill or the Macedonians' need but from the very fact of their link to Rome? Is there an unstated understanding that they represent American power, just as Englishmen once represented the British Empire? And does this power, which derives from U.S. domination, give "mediators" a stake in that domination?

Milosevic's Speech, Rewritten

Getting back to Gutlove: commenting on the important speech which Yugoslav Pres. Slobodan Milosevic delivered to a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Kosovo Field in 1989, Gutlove was inventive. She said he whipped the attending Serbs into a frenzy against Kosovo Albanians and swore that "never again would the Serbs be ruled by Islam." Quite dramatic, except I had read the speech (it is published at Emperors-clothes.com). It is not hysterical; it's rather professorial in tone, reflective. And Milosevic never uses the word "Albanian" or says a word about Islam. Gutlove's misrepresentation is not unusual: the usual approach to describing this speech is: let the imagination soar. Thus do Milosevic's critics escape earthlyconstraintss, such as his words.

I, A Heckler

Because I admired the speech; because none of the speakers had said a word about the vicious attacks being carried out by the KLA, under NATO supervision, against Serbs and other ethnic groups in Kosovo; and because I had been listening to an hour and a half of baloney, I yelled from the back of the hall: "That's a lie. I have the speech." Gutlove was stunned - not, I think, because she was being heckled for lying about the Serbs at a liberal gathering but because it was so unlikely that she would find herself being heckled for lying about the Serbs at a liberal gathering. Just so would the Pope be stunned if heckled while celebrating Mass. The liberal left has been bombarded with Serbophobia till they're gaga. Anything said against Serbia is accepted on faith.

Ms. Gutlove composed herself and defended her version, saying that a "reliable source" had heard the speech and told her Milosveich said exactly those things.

Howard Zinn: The Uncritical Critic

Howard Zinn, an icon of the liberal left, spoke that evening as well. Zinn began by asserting that by now nobody disagrees with the media's contention that the Serbs committed widespread anti-Albanian atrocities before the bombing began, and that after the bombing began the atrocities got much worse. But contrary to Zinn, much of the anti-war movement in this country, and for that matter most of the people in the world (such as India, China, Russia, Cuba, Angola, the Congo, Vietnam, most of Italy, virtually all of Greece, much of Austria, most of Latin America, and Africa, etc., etc.) do disagree with the media hype on Kosovo and do dispute the atrocity stories. That's several billion people; the reason they disagree is that they are not exposed to the avalanche of lies we get in the NATO mass media. They get to read a lot of honest reporting which contradicts our mass media's baloney. (Even Agence France Presse is better than the U.S. media.) And by the way, those who challenge the atrocity stories include the German Courts and Foreign Ministry, for which see German Documents and the British Helsinki Human Rights Group http://www.bhhrg.org/serbia/serbia1999/serbia1999.htm

Zinn Says Don't Question Media Attacks on Serbs

I challenged Zinn from the floor. I said the purpose of the anti-Serbian atrocity stories in the press was to blind people in this country to the genocide that's going on right now, aimed at creating an ethnically pure Kosovo. I said I was frankly shocked that he accepted the media hype so uncritically. Though he opposed NATO intervention, though he said the media had an interest in lying to build support for intervention, he never questioned the validity of the anti-Serbian atrocity stories. Why not?

Zinn answered that if one got too nit-picky about such details (e.g., whether the Serbs are mass murderers) the public wouldn't take one seriously. To which I said: If we do not challenge this campaign of lies, how can we build a movement against a U.S. policy that attempts to derive justification from the accusations made against the Serbs? Case in point: I had asked my doctor if he opposed the bombing. He said, "Frankly, no. The Serbs had it coming." The only way to answer this is to show the atrocity stories are lies. Of course it's hard to take on the mass media. But it has to be done.

An Ugly Fact about Kosovo Albanians

If Zinn was distressing, Gutlove was remarkable. Her history of Serbian-Albanian relations consisted of a string of misrepresentations, as when she rewrote World War II. It is a shameful fact that during the Anti-Fascist War many ethnic Albanians helped the Fascists. Not just some leaders. The Fascists had a big base in the Kosovo Albania community, especially in Drenica, which is now the stronghold of the KLA. Describing the difficulty anti-Fascists had winning Kosovo Albanians to the anti-Fascist movement, Svetozar Vukmanovich-Tempo, a leader of Tito's Partisans, reported in 1943 that:

"…conditions for [starting] armed resistance in Kosovo and Metohija were worse than in any other region of the country... The [Fascist] occupiers have succeeded in winning the Kosovo Albanians to their side…the local government is in the hands of the Albanians, the Albanian language is obligatory... The Albanian population is suspicious of all those who struggle for [multi-ethnic] Yugoslavia, whether old or new; in their eyes it is always less than what they have got from the occupier..." (quoted in "The Saga of Kosovo", by Alex Dragnich and Slavko Todorovich)

World War II, Revised

Gutlove avoided this World War II unpleasantness with a verbal maneuver. She said: "During the period from 1941 to 1945 the Albanians were 'up' and the Serbs were 'down.'" That was it. Albanians up, Serbs down and poof! - the slaughter of tens of thousands of Serbs, Roma ("Gypsies"), Jews and others vanishes. History is improved.

Gutlove is a proponent of the Humpty Dumpty school of liberal revisionism, so called because Mr. Dumpty, who appears in the works of Louis Carroll, teaches that outer reality should conform to (his) inner desires. Thus his famous quote: "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean— neither more nor less." And so, with the liberal followers of Mr. D., if something ugly has been done by people who are currently allies of the U.S. and therefore humanitarians, and if that something was done before last week: just lie, sucker. I mean, what's the problem? Americans don't know any history; nobody will care.

"Well said, Mr. Israel,"

commented Mr. Dumpty. "Precisely my point. We may make a Mediator of you yet, or at least a Reliable Source. Of course you'll never be a match for Ms. Gutlove not to mention the editors of the New York Times; nevertheless, if you would like to profit from my teachings, form an NGO of your very own and remember Dumpty's Diktat: The Bigger the Liar the Fatter the Grants!"

As my Yiddisha grandfather remarked, when he stepped off the boat and took his first look at this Brave New World: "Ooombelievable."

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