Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

Bosnia is Everywhere — even in Christchurch

| Mar. 25, 2019

It is more than a quarter of a century since Bosnia descended into a bloody conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Since the massacre of 50 Muslim men, women, and children in Christchurch, New Zealand, I have found myself wondering: Is the world turning into a giant Bosnia?

The break-up of Yugoslavia — as the imprisonment for life of Radovan Karadžić last week reminded us — was not the result of “ancient hatreds” mysteriously resurfacing, as was often claimed at the time. It was the result of the spread of pseudo-history.

Pseudo-history plays an important part in justifying massacres by giving perpetrators the idea that their enemies are not quite human and that exemplary violence will accelerate their expulsion. The communist president of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, lit the fuse in 1989, with a rabble-rousing speech to mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. The watchword of Milošević’s campaign was that the Serbs who lived in Bosnia and Kosovo were “endangered.”

The Bosnian War was marked by a string of exemplary massacres — what the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin called “propaganda of the deed.” In the spring of 1992, a group of Bosnian Serbs calling themselves the White Eagles unleashed hideous violence against the Muslims of Višegrad, who accounted for three-fifths of the population. Thousands of men, women and children were killed, many driven to the middle of the famous bridge over the Drina and shot, their bodies thrown in the river.

This is the repulsive tradition to which the Christchurch killer, Brenton Tarrant, belongs. His 74-page manifesto, “The Great Replacement,” is a grab-bag of pseudo-history that casts Muslims in the western world as “invaders,” invoking past battles between Muslims and Christians.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Ferguson, Niall.“Bosnia is Everywhere — even in Christchurch.” The Boston Globe, March 25, 2019.

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