“Good Serbians” part 2

As promised, I am back to explain why I believe that Monika, who posted a blog post calling Novak Djokovic “a dangerous Serbian nationalist whose actions are governed by his family’s narrow personal interests,” is mistaken.  (If you haven’t read part 1, please go back and do so, otherwise the following may not make any sense.)

Monika in essence, refers to an article published earlier this year as evidence that Novak is a “dangerous nationalist.”  She quotes the fact that he made a video in 2008 declaring that Kosova is Serbian, which was followed by riots in Belgrade and attacks on several embassies.  She also argues that Novak attempts to portray himself, and all Serbians, as victims, by emphasizing the fear he felt during the Nato bombings, but does not acknowledge that Serbia (then Yugoslavia) was bombed because of the ethnic cleansing taking place in Kosova.  I’m posting the link to the article below.  Once again, read the article.  I can wait. 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,790484,00.html

First of all, Monika is right that Novak did publish a video saying that Kosova belonged to Serbia.  However, Monika lumps this video with the attacks on several foreign embassies in Belgrade, thereby implying that Novak’s video was the cause of the riots in Belgrade.  A closer review of the article reveals that the video was released on the evening that Kosovo declared its independence, and that 150,000 people were already out on the streets, demonstrating against that independence.  Now, it’s possible, even probable, that Novak’s video fanned the flames of the demonstrators, and exacorbated the problem.  That being said, I think that the crowds probably would have acted violently without the video.  150,000 people cared enough about Kosovon independence to turn up on the streets and demonstrate even before Novak released a video statement.  Is it so unlikely that they would have turned violent without a video statement from a tennis player?  Whenever a portion of a country decides to secede and form an independent nation, violence is inevitably one of the results, and often it leads to civil war.  The conflict in the Chechnyan region of Russia is a prime example, as well as the Sudan.  I’m not arguing that Novak should have released the video.  I simply think that the video was an excuse, not a reason, for the crowds to turn violent and attack other embassies.  

Monika, however, ignores this, in order that her readers will come to the conclusions that Novak Djokovic is such a powerful force in his country that he can create mass uprisings, and that it is his intention to do so.  However, the video that Djokovic released does not prove that he created the uprising.  I readily admit that it was a bad move at his part.  But Monika’s argument is not that Novak has strong political views or has shown poor judgement in expressing them; Monika’s argument is that Novak is a dangerous nationalist.  This video simply does not show that he is dangerous. 

Monika’s other piece of evidence is that Novak focuses on his own sufferings during the war in Kosovo, especially in the interview that she cited.  She claims that the interview does not explain that NATO was bombing Kosovo because the Serbs was attacking the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo because Novak wants to paint the Serbs as the victims in the Kosovo wars.  This is possible, but this is far too simplistic of an answer.  First of all, while Novak gave the interview, he is not ultimately in control over what a journalist decides to publish.  (For a concrete example, go over to your local Rafa fans and ask them, “Who is Lynn Barber?”)  The journalist who wrote the article, and his editor, ultimately decided to not to go into detail about Serbian atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo.  There could be a number of reasons for this.  It may be simply an oversight, or poor research on the part of the journalist. 

There is another possibility, that this is simply not a part of the writer’s narrative.  The crux of the article is that Novak Djokovic represents a new Serbia, emerging from a very dark past.  The journalist alludes to Serbia’s dark past by stating that the name Serbia conjures up images of moral decay and war crimes.  However, Serbia is trying to forge an identity as a nation, and eventually join the European Union.  Novak Djokovic states that he wants to show the world that there are good Serbians.  To me, this explains why the writer does not include the facts about Serbian war crimes in Kosovo.  Monika sees this interview as evidence of some kind of conspiracy to support Novak’s dark political agenda, but the evidence simply does not support this view. 

The rest of Monika’s blog post is completely irrelevent to Novak’s potential danger to ethnic Albanians.  Monika tries to show that Kosovo belongs to the ethnic Albanians and that they were victims of Serbian war crimes.  While convincing, this evidence is completely irrelevent to her thesis.  Novak, as she admits, was a child during the war in Kosovo.  The actions of the Serbian people do not prove that Novak is dangerous.  Perhaps Monika hopes that, by implicating the Serbian people, she can show that Novak is guilty by association.  This is a fallacy. 

Monika, throughout the blog post seems content to simply make accusations without backing them up.  She accuses Novak of capitalizing on European anti-Muslim sentiments, but she provides the reader with no quotes or evidence to back up this assertion.  She also proclaims that Novak is motivated by his family’s narrow interests, but she cannot explain what those interests are.  She insinuates that his entire public persona is a carefully crafted facade to make Americans side with Serbia on the issue of Kosovo.  All she can point to for evidence is a video that Novak made three years ago that may or may not have started riots, and an article about in a German magazine that he did not write.  If Monika wants to argue that Novak is wrong about Kosovo, and that he should stay out of politics, she can easily argue that.  But to say that he is a “dangerous Serbian nationalist” is simply not supported by the evidence that she provides.

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3 Responses to “Good Serbians” part 2

  1. ariennalee says:

    Wow, your post really underscores the complexity of the situation. Did you happen to see the movie “Wag the Dog”? I remembered it while reading this…the effort to sort out cause/effect and power centers is so difficult. Out of curiosity, do you have a gut feeling about whether or not Novak has any political ambitions? Marat’s election to the Russian parliament (albeit at a low level) has made me wonder…

    • No, I haven’t seen the movie Wag The Dog, though I think I’ll have to get that from the library one of these days! You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if Novak did become interested in politics, and he’d probably do very well. He has a gregarious personality and very much enjoys playing to the crowd; that would serve him well in politics. You’re right, Marat’s election does make it seem much more plausible.

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