Monday, June 06, 2011

Still in Denial


Pope Bendict XVI just wrapped up a visit to Croatia today. While Catholic reporters emphasized the pontiff's message about the importance of family, a few reporters here and there noted the controversial praising of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac.

Roman Catholics may believe their pontiff is incapable of error on matters religious. He definitely can - and does - err on matters historical. Far from being "manipulated by Hitler for his own ends," the so-called Independent State of Croatia (1941-45) was considered at the time the crowning achievement of Croatians' legitimate aspirations to statehood. That very opinion has been shared by all the governments of modern Croatia, from its independence in 1991 onward.

Nor was Cardinal Stepinac a defender of Serbs and Jews, as the Pope alleged, but rather the vicar to Croatia's fuehrer, Ante Pavelic (see note below). The ideology of Pavelic's Ustasha was inseparable from Catholic chauvinism, and its persecution and genocide of Orthodox Serbs was entirely based on religion. One part of the program of pogrom was to coerce into conversion a third of the Serb population - including the children orphaned by Ustasha murders. Catholic clergy not only blessed the Ustasha, but many personally participated in the murdering. Unlike Hitler's murder machine, designed to be impersonal and efficient, the Ustasha took visceral pleasure in their killing - using mallets, knives, pistols and picks. Even the Nazis were disgusted.

At the end of the war, with the Communists taking power in Yugoslavia, top Ustasha officials - including Pavelic himself - escaped to Western Europe, the US and Latin America, thanks to the Catholic Church.

Stepinac was jailed for five years by the Communist authorities, then held under house arrest until his death in 1960. Given that many in Yugoslavia had been shot for much lesser crimes, Tito's regime was actually exceptionally lenient towards Pavelic's vicar and the Church of Rome. Which, by the way, never offered an apology for mass murder and forced conversions. Or the fact it supported precisely the same scenario for the Serbs in the 1990s.

Now comes the ironic twist. Right after the pontiff's visit, Zagreb announced that it will hold a Gay Pride Parade on June 18. The motto of the event is "Tomorrow belongs to us." If that sounds familiar, here's why.

UPDATE: (June 8, 2011) Srdja Trifkovic documents Stepinac's wartime record.

NOTE: I originally mis-identified Stepinac as Pavelic's personal vicar; he was actually the "Supreme Military Apostolic Vicar" to the Ustasha army, which is arguably even worse.


Suvorov said...

"Tomorrow belongs to me" Haha.That is priceless. I've long been observing with some curiosity the rather peculiar mix of traditional Ustasa Nazism with post-modern EU-aspiring rainbow liberalism that represents the latest shift in the Croatian psyche. Remember those who leave comments under your articles on who pose as advocates of tolerance and pretend to hate nationalism of any kind, and, at the same time glorify all the aggression that Croats committed in the 20th century?

Speaking of Broz, isn't it true that he secretly visited the Vatican after he came to power?
Have you seen this:

CubuCoko said...

I've seen the video series, yes, and have read a fair bit of Dr. Avramov's work. Not sure about Tito and his visit to the Vatican - I'll have to research that - but he was remarkably lenient towards the Church of Rome, given its behavior in the war.

Dorde said...

Broz was born in an area that was predominantly catholic. My mother was born not to far from Hrvatsko Zagorje (of Hungarian parents, thank God!)

CubuCoko said...

I deleted an insulting comment claiming that I mistranslated the motto of the "Zagreb Pride" (which took place today, without violence); but I do actually want to answer the criticism.

According to my dismissive critic, the accurate translation of the motto would have been "Also, the future is ours".

I disagree.

The original motto is "I buducnost je nasa". At first I wanted to translate it as "The future is ours as well." But while that might sound grammatically correct, it misstates the meaning; if you translate it back, you get "Buducnost je i nasa".

That is actually a tolerant message: there's a place for us in the future too. No objections there. But word order changes the meaning. The way the original motto is structured, it includes the unspoken assertion that the present is already "theirs", and the future will be as well. Not theirs and someone else's - theirs alone.

Which is why I still believe my translation was correct.

Doot said...

so basically, it means whatever you want it to mean.

you're spitting on the same activists that fought with Croatian police when they tried to take down a memorial to Serbs run out of Knin.

CubuCoko said...

No - it means exactly what it says. As I stated perfectly clearly, had they opted for "Buducnost je i nasa" that would have been a perfectly legitimate and tolerant sentiment. But they did not.

I'm not spitting on anyone; I'm making a legitimate objection to a message that is neither tolerant nor peaceful. If you say the same people stood up for the Serbs (after the fact, but still), that's great - but doesn't change things any.

Eugene Costa said...

Incidentally, high compliments on your "Invasion of the Mind Snatchers", which is one of your most incisive essays ever (of many incisive ones).

CubuCoko said...

Eugene, thank you - the inspiration for that one came out of the blue.

I know I haven't posted much lately, but I have been writing.

Eugene Costa said...

"An End To Surrender"--just read--is also sterling in incisiveness.

Brussels' offer of hoops for the trained seal is brilliantly on target as perhaps the only mixed metaphor that does full justice to the absurdity of what has been dealt out to Serbia by the US and its "good Europeans".

This is what I referred to earlier in regard to Saddam Hussein more conventionally as "moving the goal line", which is a commonplace tactic of the pseudo-moralists (Republican and Democrat) of the Empire.

But it has now become close to surreal and as perverse as the IDF using Deleuze and Debord in urban warfare against Israeli Arabs, as retailed by Eyal Weizman here:

In short the psychological warfare has become no less than Dadaist in a Spectacle that is, after Sanguinetti, autistic.

Does one fight Dada with Dada? Or is meta-Dada required and is that an aspect of Spasojevic that some have missed--as the positing of endless series of hoops with no hope?

Often enough nihilism ends in grand explosions like the First World War.

And interestingly enough, Libya, a desert country very short of seals presumably, has so far declined hoops and seems to be fighting fire with something much cagier than fire.

Is Belarus the next in line as some of the signs seem to indicate and which Giraldi also just noted?

On verra.