Last week, a Brit named Ed Alexander posted on his blog ("Balkan Baby") an account of his 2006 visit to a Mitrovica cafe, owned by an Albanian who impersonated Hitler. Within a couple hours the link had made its rounds, and feedback started coming. Julia Gorin, a conservative commentator who has raised some excellent questions about the Balkans, gave full credit to Alexander for documenting this monstrosity. I mentioned it on Sivi Soko, as part of a story on Nazis and their sympathizers in the Balkans. I also included information from a Slovakian paper, Format, which covered that very same cafe some months before Alexander and his friends paid "Hitler" a visit. All of this stuff was scrupulously credited (though I probably should have explicitly noted that Alexander took the photo of the bill featuring the swastika).
Seems like Alexander is "a bit put out," though. He resents the fact that Serbianna.com and Julia Gorin "were very selective in the way they quoted" him. He describes Serbianna as a "Serbian nationalist website which tries to incite hatred and fear towards Bosnians, Croats, Kosova Albanians and anybody else that they choose to take a swipe at," while Julia is a "perennial right-wing commentator" (what's wrong with that?) he tars by association as "crony" of George Bush, "Islamophobe" and "warmonger." Well, now, who's being unfair here? Who is being racist, bigoted, intolerant or unprincipled?
What did Mr. Alexander expect, that such a bombshell of a story would remain private? He posted it - so obviously he wanted it to become public. He was given credit. So, he "wrote very favourably about the Serbian residents." Pardon me if I don't care, especially since he very graphically sympathizes with the "Republic of Kosova" (sic!) which has done its utmost to eradicate those very Serbs. If he had been quoted out of context, or misrepresented, then I would be sympathetic. But he was not - not by Julia, not by Serbianna, and not by me. Maybe by Kurir - I actually agree a great deal with his assessment of what passes for their investigative journalism - but the photo they used was from the Slovakian paper, and I'd wager the stuff he could not recognize in their coverage came from the same source.
Is anything any of us noted about his story factually untrue? Did we make anything up?
Mr. Alexander has a sizable chip on his shoulder, believing himself to be a member of some vast righteous majority - or, in his terms, "those of us who want the Balkans to progress, to admit its wrongs as to display its wonderful culture in the best possible way," while painting those who disagree with him as "nationalist Serbs, Serbs who had been duped by what they read in Kurir and a handful of American Bushites."
Seems to me like he suffers from myopia, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a dangerous set of delusions such as the belief in blooming bombs.
I see it almost every day. Westerners come to the Balkans and fall in love with its authenticity, but then wish to remake it into suburban Des Moines or Birmingham, so they can feel more comfortable. What they can't seem to understand is that it's the very authenticity they seek to destroy that endeared the place to them to begin with - and that both the hospitality and hatred are part of it. They desire "progress" of the same kind that made their own homelands such cultural voids, quagmires of welfare statism and political correctness. They see the world as a series of theme parks. Not their fault, I suppose; it's all they know. But it irks me when they try to forcibly remake my corner of this earth (yes, I live in the U.S. at the moment - that in itself is a long story, and one I intend to address at some point) into their distopian horror. We have enough imported delusions as it is.
Ed Alexander is entitled to his opinions, of course. But methinks he doth protest too much.