The Likes of Me: a dispatch from Jasmina Tesanovic

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9 Responses to “The Likes of Me: a dispatch from Jasmina Tesanovic”

  1. Nadreck says:

    When I was a kid there would be a newspaper headline from Hamilton, Ontario about once a year about a garage full of Croatian kids blowing themselves up trying to make bombs to throw at the annual Serbian parade there.  They never actually got to the practical bomb stage; just the explosive which they couldn’t handle safely.  Sad, really, when you consider that neither they nor the Serbian kids they got into vicious fights with had ever, or would ever, visit their parents’ homelands: homelands that would soon be turned into burning wastelands due to behaviour like theirs.

    Even sadder is the pattern seen here which is common to most of these pointless Ethnic squabbles.  The people far to the rear of the conflict do nothing for the victims of their policies because then they can live in a fantasy world where they’re not the worst enemies of their own group.  The victims loudly defend their own betrayers out of stone age tribal loyalty.

  2. mb81 says:

    Since ethnic cleansing works and is not punished, it will happen again and again. See: the colonization of the US, Australia, and New Zealand, of Argentina and Chile, the emptying of the Scottish highlands, the Greek-Turkish war, the huguenots, moriscos, and many others.
    Many prosperous countries have it in their past and remember it only on special occasions. Serbia’s only problem is that it failed to carry it out. Croatia succeeded and now prospers.

    • aeon says:

      I have to take issue with the characterisation of New Zealand’s colonisation as an ‘ethnic cleansing’, given that the settlement here by Europeans was by treaty ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Waitangi ); however flawed it was. 

      Maori culture has a substantial impact on most aspects of public life here and Maori constitute 35% of the population of my city. I’m pretty sure they haven’t been ethnically cleansed…

  3. Rickenbacker4001 says:

    I am Croatian and my parents let me choose what high school to go to in Canada. Catholic school with all my Croatian friends and church mates? Public school where I would rub shoulders with Serbians? I chose public school as it had a healthy arts program and never had issues with my class mates. I still hold these people as my friends. We never talked about the war as we attributed it to our parents and THEIR homelands. Most of us call ourselves Canadians first now.
    But I tend to think that my ethnic history keeps me deeply empathic to other strife happening today.

    • John Napsterista says:

       We never talked about the war as we attributed it to our parents and THEIR homelands. Most of us call ourselves Canadians first now.

      This ^^^ . Similarly, here in Chicago, the north side neighborhood of West Rogers Park is populated by Orthodox Jews and Muslims, who have lived side-by-side for years.  On Western Ave., Jewish men in wide-brimmed black fedoras walk past the Muslim-owned KFC (which advertises Halal Original Recipe and Crispy Strips on its sign, right under The Colonel).  I’ve been in Chicago for 15 years, and I’ve never heard of any neighborhood warfare between the two groups.  The conflict in their homeland probably isn’t entirely forgotten, but the ones that came here have more important things to do than fight each other. I suspect that if there’s a solution to ethnic conflict in general, we can find clue to it in your former high school and in neighborhoods like this.

  4. I feel bad for the Serbs in the Krajina – they had been living there for centuries, as I understand it.

    However, perhaps it’s also worth noting that Croatia’s Krajina offensive in 1995 also ended the war. In Richard Holbrook’s memoir, he points out that Operation Storm was the first time in the entire war that the Serb army suffered a setback. After this, he claims that the Serbian leadership realized that they wouldn’t get any more territory and so should seek a peace agreement. Prior to this, no one could get the Serbs to the negotiating table – after all, they had been winning. It’s sad that it took a tragedy to end a war.

    I don’t know where those people ended up.

    Germany took a large number of them. But around 2000 Germany asked them to “go home.” As pointed out in the post, most of them actually had no home to go back to, so they applied for refugee status elsewhere. The US took many of them and gave them permanent resident status, which I know because I helped process many of them when I worked with refugees in the US at this time.

  5. zany says:

    This is a very good article which evoked a lot of mixed emotions in me. I live in Zagreb, Croatia, and remember the war well. Luckily, I ‘only’ got to experience the running-to-shelters part, but parts of my family were forced to flee, literally overnight, to avoid certain death. A lot of ugly, ugly things happened, things that were boiling under the surface for years before exploding.

    It is sad that it took such an operation to end the war, but if you do not know how it is to follow line of defense on news day after day, watching it crawl closer and closer to you or people you know, hearing the darn sirens (I still involuntarily flinch when I heart that noise on TV or in movies), run like mad through empty streets, not have a future or a normal life for years, have people you love perish, watch your male relatives get drafted and sent to battlefields when they should be in college or offices, not knowing when or if this madness will ever end…   you cannot understand why it was necessary. This was not a Settlers of Catan game session, this was real life. Forget about Croatia’s independence, new republic, international recognition yadda yadda. I clearly remember that, when Oluja (Storm) ended, I felt only a huge relief because I didn’t have to fear for my life and lives of my loved ones any more. Can someone truly relate to that and honestly ask was Oluja necessary?

    Also, I am sure that war crimes have been committed all over the place, after all, people are people. Nobody can bring those victims back, regardless of their nationality, creed, ethnicity. Let them rest in peace. As for the living, this nightmare was necessary for us to have a clean slate and a fresh start. We should strive to live together in peace and respect, and never let something like the hell of the entire 20th century in these regions happen again. We owe it to the ones in graves.

  6. Amelia_G says:

    Thank you for this, incl. the course-relevant perspective. No, your stories aren’t boring! I must confess I can’t read Dan Brown because of the inaccuracies and vanities.

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