Thursday, October 14, 2010

Uncivil, Brutal Reactions

"It wasn't long before I hated the NATO warplanes as much as the Serbs, who, a matter of months earlier, I'd thought could use a good pounding. Now any of us on the ground could end up dead in bombing raids that were routinely killing civilians, so it made no difference whose side I was on, or who had the stronger claim to right or wrong. The constant rasp and howl of jets delivering their bombs was a trigger that set off a fire of anger in my gut. The people killing from the safety of great speed and height seemed as cowardly and arrogant as the Serbian murders they had come to stop." Paul Watson, Where War Lives
Wouldn't one be justified in thinking that Serbians had learned, through their own crucible of fire and instant death when NATO assaulted them while they were cleansing the country of Albanians, the signal lesson that people are people, needful of recognition for their differences, but never the kind of vicious disregard for their human rights that was exhibited during the uncivil war in Bosnia.

Apparently not. Serbs recently demonstrated the same shamefully brutish mentality of a vicious mob when they violently protested Belgrade's first gay pride parade in a decade. Gay pride parades are most definitely not family-fare events with their outlandish costumes, deliberately provocative voluptuous posturings, and defiance of homophobia. But nothing excuses the vicious behaviour of the rioting mobs.

Any society has its gay population. Men and women for whom gender differentiation holds no erotic and emotional attraction. That they seek emotional and sexual fulfillment with others of the same gender and orientation may be a matter of disgust to many in society but we still live with the conceit that we are civilized countries, capable of accepting diversity, and politely overlooking that some values do not mesh with our own.
A force of about 5,000  police clashed with anti-gay protesters on Sunday, leading to  arrests and many injuries as Belgrade hosted its first gay-rights  rally in nearly a decade.
Photograph by: Marko Djurica, Reuters, Reuters

Thousands of police were deployed to cope with anti-gay protesters, who went on to express their displeasure by attacking political party headquarters. Over a hundred police were injured in grappling with gangs of skinheads and nationalists. Five thousand riot-geared police valiantly attempted to control the violence of the crowd. The thuggish 'protesters' attempted to enter parliament, smashed windows at an embassy, torched a car in front of another embassy.

A blaze was set in the Democratic Party headquarters of Serbian President Boris Tadic, and at the location of the Socialist Party rioters went on the attack. This was most certainly a ravening crowd gone berserk. The country's Defence Minister spoke of a "really sad day for Serbia". President Tadic vowed "Serbia will secure human rights for all its citizens regardless of their diversity. No one will tolerate attempts to threaten them."

The situation bespeaks the legacy of former president Slobodan Milosevic. As a test of the country's preparedness to take its place in civil society with enlightened social values, this was a dismal failure. The ethnic hatred of the 1990s has been supplanted by a massive display of homophobia.

An obvious excuse, for young thugs to demonstrate the level of their commitment to the exercise of brutal rejection of those who are different. The occasion gave them the opportunity to rampage and to loot, under the guise of nationalism. Their ferocious violence merited the response of the police, using clubs and shields, tear gas and stun grenades, along with armoured vehicles.

The country that not so long ago suffered dreadfully from a war that represented the worst carnage that human beings could visit upon one another, the Serbians and the Albanians equally distant and divorced from enlightened civility, each in their savage quest to annihilate the other.

The government has its work cut out to persuade these pernicious elements of societal hatred that they cannot and shall not represent Serbia. And good luck to them.

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