Srebrenica remains controversial

[editor's note: The United States and the United Nations both accept the story of the Srebrenica massacre by Serbs. However, it remains controversial in some circles. Julia Gorin wrote the following letter to us in response to Jeannie DeAngelis's article "One Mosque at a Time" which mentioned the massacre]

In objecting to the Ground Zero mosque, some conservatives pull out the universal whipping boy from the ‘90s, and invert the analogy

No sooner did I post a blog castigating fellow conservatives who are using "the Srebrenica example" as a counter-example to Muslim behavior with the Ground Zero Mosque, than we see yet another conservative jump on the convenient anti-Serb bandwagon, at American Thinker. Jeannie DeAngelis wrote:

In modern history, a territorial struggle started by Muslims culminated in one of the worst acts of genocidal aggression in modern times. The massacre took place at the end of the Slavic civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mining town of Srebrenica, on the border of Serbia. Only this time, barbarian Serbs, Christian in name only, targeted a Muslim enclave and systematically slaughtered 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men.

To date, there is nothing on record that indicates that Serbian Christians have ever requested permission to erect an Orthodox church in Srebrenica to pay homage to the memory of the 8,000 Muslims who perished.

Perhaps not exactly "barbarians," then, Ms. DeAngelis?

Here was my aforementioned piece about all this, which I hope Ms. DeAngelis might be edified by:

Over the past two weeks, some conservative pundits and politicians have said that building the Mosque de Triomphe at Ground Zero would be, I've almost got it...It would be like building a Serbian Orthodox church at Serba...Srebre...Sebranka...Srebawho?...Serbawhatchamacallit - WHATEVER - YOU KNOW, THAT PLACE WHERE "8,000 Muslims blah blah blah..."

Glenn Beck got the ball rolling on August 10th, first on his radio show and then on his TV show. Here is the relevant part of the transcript from his "Common Sense Moment of the Day," during which his assistant Pat helped him out:

GLENN: Hum. Who was it that had the idea of building a Christian church where was that?
PAT: In Srebrenica, a Serbian orthodox church on the ground where 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Srebrenica and -
GLENN: How tolerant would they be?
PAT: And defending their property rights and freedom of religious expression.

Later that day, Beck tried again on his TV show:

It doesn't sit well with Americans. It probably sits as well as a Serbian [O]rthodox church on the ground where 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Sebranka or - seriously, what is it? Srebrenica. Thank you very much. Whatever. Really? Are they going to build that there? No. Why? Because it would be a slap in the face. To describe it anything other than that is really a second slap in the face. And if they have a reason, well, I'd love to hear it.

(Notice the accidental implication of inherent decency being applied to the purportedly vile Serbs.)

More recently, last Wednesday Aug. 18th the Weekly Standard's online editor John McCormack cited a Rod Dreher column, writing:

"Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian, runs through another thought experiment at Big Questions Online:

In July of 1995, Bosnian Serbs killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in and around the town of Srebrenica, in the worst atrocity of its kind since World War II[(TM)]. The Serbs did so in the name of ethnic supremacy and tribalism, not religion, but religious and tribal identities are so tightly knotted together in the Balkans that it's fruitless to insist on their separation as a practical matter.

"Dreher asks: Would it be a good idea to build an Orthodox church at Srebrenica?

I think absolutely not. The pain and the offense created by the act of murderous terror carried out against Muslims by Orthodox Christians because they were Muslim makes such a project far too risky, no matter how good its organizers' intentions. It would seem to me to be rubbing salt in the wounds of Bosnian Muslims. If Orthodox Christians really wanted to sow seeds of peace and reconciliation, they should find other, less provocative ways to do it.

Between Beck and Dreher/McCormack, Sarah Palin picked up on the trend, sending an Aug. 14th tweet that read:

9/11 mosque=act of fitna, "equivalent to bldg Serbian Orthodox church@Srebrenica killing fields where Muslims were slaughtered" - Raza&Fatah

With "Raza&Fatah," Palin was crediting the people whom this whole analogy originated with and whom these conservatives are parroting: a pair of Muslims in Canada, who wrote an article for The Ottawa Citizen on Aug. 7th. The relevant sentence by Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah:

Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered?

These two, like the rest of the world, never got the memo that the "killing fields" weren't in Srebrenica, but on the road to Tuzla, which the Muslim fighters from Srebrenica used to break through Serb-held territory to Muslim-held territory, engaging in gunfights with Bosnian-Serb forces along the way. Even the tape that was being circulated to media by the Hague in June-July 2005, in which six Bosnian-Muslim POWs were executed (therefore "proving" that 8,000 were) did not happen in Srebrenica.

Of course, even those who have gotten the memo, don't care. And that's the whole point. It's very important that the official story of dissolution of the former Yugoslavia be set in stone. Conservative opinion-makers, for example, are impervious to evidence about what really happened at Srebrenica, because when accused of being anti-Muslim, the story of the '90s Balkans gives them something to reach for and say, "Oh I'm not anti-Muslim, see? I supported the Muslims against the Christians in the 90s Balkans."

At the same time, it's an area and a history they ignore so completely, that they can't even pronounce the damn place when they suddenly need to make use of it.

And naturally, for the two Muslims who wrote that Ottawa Citizen column which conservatives have found so useful for the mosque debate, there wasn't going to be any divergence from the official narrative of events in Bosnia, which was Muslim-spun to begin with.

The bio at the bottom of the piece reads, "Raheel Raza is author of Their Jihad ... Not my Jihad, and Tarek Fatah is author of The Jew is Not My Enemy (McClelland & Stewart), to be launched in October. Both sit on the board of the Muslim Canadian Congress."

The Jew not being this Muslim's enemy is certainly refreshing, but the Serb is an altogether different story, isn't he? For that is too useful a designated enemy to not be objectified. The book title demonstrates that, as narrow as Muslim views and attitudes toward Israel are, they are actually more diverse than the views vis-a-vis Serbia. But we knew that, and it ain't saying much.

It's funny how, no sooner did I write that Canada has more of a spine than America when it comes to questioning the official truth about the Muslim-spawned "genocide" at Srebrenica, than even the "tough Americans" obliviously and eagerly reinforced the point.

But it's always entertaining when people employ Serbophobia to illustrate that they're not Islamophobic. (Without, of course, stopping to think which phobia is more rational.)

So here's your Common Sense Moment of the Day, Glenn Beck et al:

The analogy doesn't work. Because the people whom the Muslims killed on 9/11 hadn't previously been raiding Muslim villages and killing women, children, elderly and livestock as they engaged in an ongoing civil war. They hadn't been using the World Trade Center as a launching pad for attacks on Muslim villages. In contrast, all this was in fact being done to the Serbian villages in and around Srebrenica, by the Muslims of Srebrenica. So in Srebrenica, Serbs died too - about 2,000 of them.

The raids and killings went on for years before the Serbs finally retaliated. Which sheds light on the next inversion contained in this popular new analogy. Muslims were the aggressors on 9/11 and killed unarmed civilians. In contrast, the Bosnian Serbs were reacting to aggression by militarized Muslims. However the fall of the Srebrenica enclave ended, it started out as a defensive or reactive action, to which more than just UN General Philippe Morillon has attested. In the end, there were war crimes committed against a few hundred POWs, as evidenced in some cases by the bodies' hands having been bound.

The Muslims who killed Americans on 9/11 killed men, women, children, and elderly. In contrast, the Serbs provided buses to help the UN evacuate women, children and elderly from Srebrenica. The "boys" part of the "Muslim men and boys" mantra refers to boys aged 14 and over - two years older than what is considered legitimate soldier age in the Muslim world (and at least 12 years older than what other parts of the Islamic world consider an appropriate age for waging jihad, if photos of toddlers in suicide vests are any indication).

One last bit of trivia: There are Orthodox churches dotting Srebrenica. Is there one at the specific site where Muslims were killed? We don't know, since no one - not even the UN military observers who were there - knows where that site might be. And that's probably because mass killings didn't happen in Srebrenica. So where could Serbs even place such a would-be offensive monument?

There is, on the other hand - as I recently wrote - a monument on Bosnian-Serb land to Srebrenica's Muslims, including those who had killed Srebrenica Serbs.

And while we're on the subject of churches in Srebrenica, it turns out that - guess what - three such churches were destroyed and/or looted by the Bosnian Muslims. (See toward bottom of this article.)

So much for yet another inverted Balkans analogy. Enjoy the fruits of your ignorance at the Ground Zero Mosque.

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