Saturday, 1 May 2010
Croatia Uncensored by Jerry Blaskovich M.D. - Introduction
"Croatia Uncensored" is a compilation of letters to politicians, newspaper/periodical editors, and Op-Ed pieces that were published during Croatia's traumatic birth and until she became a robust teenager. I wrote them in response to the outrageous comments that was so rampant during that period. They are presented chronologically for context.
During those trying times when self-determination became a reality and while Serb paramilitary forces and the Serb-lead Yugoslav army devastated the Croatian landscape, the new democracy faced two fronts. While Croatia countered and ultimately defeated the Serb aggressors on one front, the second abysmally failed because they refused to participate. The Croatia lost battle was for the hearts and minds of a public who didn't have a clue about Croatia—let alone know where it was located. But the Serb propaganda machine persuasively and successfully played the media like a violin in demonizing Croatia.
The so-called democracies of England, France, and especially the United States vehemently opposed Croatia's independence. They used every diplomatic means at their disposal to sabotage Croatia's effort. The media, however, did not operate under the niceties of diplomatic constraints. They had no qualms or scruples to use half-truths, blatant lies, and juxtapose facts to project anti-Croatian messages.
The public were persistently fed a diet of buzzwords, such as 'the conflict resulted from ancient ethnic rivalry'; `all sides equally guilty'; and that the new Croatian government was the reincarnation of a World War II Nazi regime. Because of the latter idea, the media tacitly cast the wounded and dead Croatians--the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians as justifiable. These buzz words, without regard to authenticity, but became accepted as gospel, permeated the media and were quoted by every Secretary of State appointed by Presidents Bush (the first) and Clinton.
It is common knowledge that the United States is a markedly diverse country. Most assume this diversity carries over into the media. This, however, is not the case. The reality is that the American media, with rare exceptions, is markedly homogeneous. It should be noted that in the United States the major media outlets are owned by a handful of individuals or corporations who hold similar agendas. Regarding the Croatian and Bosnian story, the media echoed the State Department's policies chapter and verse, which inexorably clouded the issues and sharply limited debate.
Among American journalists, there is a herd mentality and an almost total lack of historical knowledge. Within days after an article would appear in the so called newspaper of record, The New York Times, columnists and reporters across the country would pick up the banner and write similar pieces. At times the stories bordered on plagiarism, but as long as the intent is in keeping with the New York Times editorial policy it was acceptable.
Journalists, such as Alexander Cockburn, Misha Glenny and A. M. Rosenthal, were particularly notorious and disingenuous. The post-modern critic Jean Baudrillard's statement: "We live in an age where people no longer produce or create their own opinions, but rather, where people reproduce opinions presented in the media" is particularly valid as to how the American public perceived Croatia.
Like most Americans with Croatian roots, I was appalled by the media's slant. We assumed that Franjo Golem, the first Croatian representative appointed to the United States would pick up the gauntlet and counter the disinformation. But, it became apparent that Golem and all subsequent ambassadors are afraid to confront the media since every Croatian appointee to the United States has followed this `policy'.
One of the seminal reasons the media rampantly disparaged Croatia was that its diplomats were loath to respond to any disinformation, no matter how ludicrous. The media interpreted the silence from Croatian officials as agreement that their allegations were correct. That is precisely the reason why Croatia has such a terrible image. Even at this late date, Croatian officialdom has done absolutely nothing to explain their case in the United States.
While the Croatian ambassadors are of different political factions, they agreed on one point. They ignored numerous pleas from concerned Croatian Americans that the embassy should respond to the media's allegations.
Since we received no cooperation or guidance from Croatian government representatives, many of us took the self-initiative to set the record straight. I submitted in excess of 250 letters to the editors. In this book only a select few were printed. To show the others would be redundant since they basically reemphasized the same points. Their intent was to combat those buzz words that appeared ad infinitum in almost in every news report.
After my letters starting popping up in the newspapers, Anthony Bazdarich, whom I had not met previously, contacted me and urged me to write Op-Ed pieces. I am forever in his debt. I also must thank Angie Papadakis who encouraged me to write "Anatomy of Deceit". But most of all I must thank my wife Katica for her never ending patience.
The opinions expressed are my own and were based on information that was available to me at the time.
(c) Jerry Blaskovich. Published here by permission from the author
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