Time and the Passion Play

Radovan Karadzic, President of the Republika Srpska, likes to appear in public with a gusle , the stick-fiddle used by bards to recite epic poetry. He makes a point of visiting the countryside frequently, where, he believes, the true Serb folk spirit can be found, unpolluted by the ethnic and religious mixing of the cities. His soldiers are accompanied by gusle players. As the gusle player sings, the Serb soldiers pass around an alcoholic drink and make the sign of the cross before drinking. They sing: "Serb brothers, wherever you are, with the help of Almighty God / For the sake of the Cross and the Christian Faith and our imperial fatherland / I call you to join the battle of Kosovo."

Karadzic explains that his favorite epic is "The Last Supper": "It has something to do with Jesus Christ, symbolizing Serbian faith after that last supper—so we lost our empire." Radovan Karadzic proudly claims as his ancestor the linguist and col-

lector of folk epic, Vuk Karadzic. Vuk, he says, "reawakened the spirit of the Serbian culture that had been buried in the memory of the Serb people during long centuries of Turkish occupation." He speaks of the gusle epics as being songs of "our people" (that is, Serbs as opposed to Bosnian Muslims) thus using them to divide Serb from Slavic Muslim. Such a definition of "our people" ignores the fact that the gusle epics were a major aspect of folk culture for both Muslim Slavs and Orthodox Serbs, who shared the same epic traditions, conventions, and sensibility.[32]

Christoslavism—the premise that Slavs are by essence Christian and that conversion to another religion is a betrayal of the people or race—was critical to the genocidal ideology being developed in 1989. Christoslavism places Slavic Muslims and any Christian who would tolerate them in the position of the Judas figure of Kosovo, Vuk Brankovic. It sets the Slavic Muslims outside the boundaries of nation, race, and people. As portrayed in The Mountain Wreath , it demonstrates what can be done to those defined as nonpeople and what is, under certain circumstances, a religious duty and a sacred, cleansing act. It transfers the generalized curse of Kosovo onto Slavic Muslims in particular, a curse against the natal milk that will allow them to progenerate. In their acts of genocide from 1992 through 1995, Radovan Karadzic and his followers integrated the Kosovo tradition, as it was handed down through Vuk Karadzic and transformed by Njegos and Andric, into the daily rituals of ethnoreligious purification.

Milovan Djilas, Tito's colleague in the Partisans, a chronicler of the events of World War II in Yugoslavia, and a famous critic of the later Tito regime, was an admirer of The Mountain Wreath . In his book on Njegos, he argued that the historical extermination of Montenegrin Muslims, the istraga Poturica , was a "pro-

cess" rather than a single "event" and that Njegos had shaped it into a single act for literary and ideological purposes.[ ] We can only speculate what Njegos himself would have thought had such an event occurred during his own life. The mounting evidence from human rights reports and war crimes testimony suggests powerfully that it did occur from 1992 to 1995.

To understand the full violence of the Christoslavic ideology unleashed by Serb nationalists at Kosovo in 1989, it is necessary to show how the contemporary conflict with Albanians in Kosovo and the atrocities committed by the Croat fascist state in World War II were incorporated into the Kosovo pageant.

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