Bosnia and My Disillusion with Europe
Ah, Europa, Europa . . . I'm reminded of you today from my reading about "a gruesome video of the shooting deaths of . . . [six Bosnian] Muslims from Srebrenica by Serb forces in July 1995."
I first went to Europe in 1986 as something of a Europhile, lived there for about seven of the nine years from 1986 to 1995, and left disillusioned.
Don't misunderstand me. I like European life, I have friends there, and I think that Europe is important.
I simply lost a lot of respect for the place, especially with the European left.
The key reason was Bosnia.
For years, the European left had talked endlessly about fascism -- analyzing, labeling, and condemning it. Leftists seemed to see fascism everywhere.
Until it really showed up in the ethnic cleansing and genocidal killing in Bosnia. Suddenly . . . silence.
Most of my friends at that time in Europe were on the left politically, but none of them wanted to talk about Bosnia.
I remember asking one young German woman why the left was so quiet. She said:
"Yugoslavia is far away."
Her words reminded me of Chamberlain's words about "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing."
With irony, I supplied her a geography lesson:
"It's on the other side of Austria."
Finally, in another discussion, a somewhat older woman on the left leveled with me:
"If we called for intervention, then NATO would have to do it, and we're against NATO."
I got it: anti-Americanism trumped anti-fascism.
Apparently, it still does.