bosnia report
New Series No: 21/22 January - May 2001
That difficult word 'Sorry'/Clericalization of schools
by Miodrag Stanisavljevic


That difficult word: ‘Sorry’

The media are ever more frequently asking the following question: is it worthwhile for the high dignitaries of the new government to apologize to our neighbours for Milosevic’s military assaults? Serb wisdom has found a brilliant reply to this question: everyone in the former Yugoslavia should apologize to everyone else! What a great show that would be! Everyone would wipe away tears, apologize and bow low to one another like they do in Japanese films. The living proof of the infamy of this proposal (Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Sarajevo, Omarska, Keraterm, Foca, Srebrenica...) would presumably be hidden away behind corrugated iron fences and hoardings carrying ‘Marlboro’ ads.

Some guys from Podgorica and Belgrade have at least summoned up the strength to ‘express regret’, which is a euphemistic way of saying sorry - a half-hearted half-apology. For ‘regret’ describes personal feelings, but does not necessarily involve any actual plea for forgiveness. IN everyday language the term even sometimes has a derisive, cynical undertone of insincere commiseration.

The Greater-Serbian Nazis and mapmakers would be happiest if our neighbours, from whom we tried to seize territory so that ‘all Serbs’ could live grandly ‘in a single state’, apologized for blocking these divine plans.

The act of apologizing - that minimal deviation from swinishness, that smallest and cheapest demonstration of civilization - is unfortunately prevented by the still persisting national imperiousness, and by certain psychological barriers that are difficult to surmount. How, for example, do we apologize to the Croats? Not only did we blunder over Dubrovnik and Vukovar, but we were beaten by them in only three days. How can we in addition apologize to them?! So far as I am concerned, the act of apology is too cheap and smacks of insufficient compensation for all the crime and evil that the Greater-Serbian Nazis committed in our name. One may apologize to a dog for treading on its tail in a bus - but does there exist an apology for Srebrenica? What Willi Brandt did was of more use to himself than to the victims of Auschwitz. The only true form our apology to our neighbours (and to ourselves) could take would be a rapid and decisive condemnation of the policies of conquest that emanated from Dedinje, and the extradition without hesitation or vacillation of all war criminals to Ms Carla del Ponte. The further they are from this country the cleaner the air here will be.

Translated from Republika, Belgrade, no. 250,

1-15 December 2000


Clericalization of Schools

I hear on the radio the federal minister of religion’s passionate advocacy of the introduction of ‘religious knowledge’ [literally science] into the schoolroom. The sounds of religious chanting will mingle with those of rock music, thus creating an entertaining tonal confusion. It is difficult to be against the introduction of any science into the school curriculum, but things are different in the case of ‘religious science’. The neologism ‘religious science’ rests on a linguistic trick that derives from a semantic ambiguity. If we accept the modern meaning of the words, this neologism is a sheer contradictio in adjecto, since faith and science do not belong together. We are talking here however not about science of any kind, nor even about the teaching of religion or faith. We are talking about drilling and imprinting religious doctrine into pupils’ brains. In the age of the Internet this is an anachronistic act of violence. Let the priests organize courses of this ‘science’ in their churches (whose numbers will soon rival those of the primary schools), so that children can choose whether to spend their free time attending classes in tennis, karate, Windows 95 or the New Testament.

Translated from Republika, Belgrade, nos. 252-3,

 1-31 January 2001


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