Nerzuk Ćurak: Destroying prejudice

Nerzuk Ćurak
Autor 26.8.2019. u 18:01

Nerzuk Ćurak: Destroying prejudice

Of the requests put forth by the Bosniak „us“. The deconstruction.

 Written by: Nerzuk Ćurak

Riding the wave of global antisemitism and Islamophobia, the President of the neighboring Republic of Croatia had developed an arsenal of rhetorical anti-Bosniak sentiments which have non-chalantly confirmed the importance of ethnic and religious prejudices on these areas, so much so that those very prejudices greatly construct the strategic points of national politics. It is unbelieveable to think how much of the fantastic tale of Bosnian Muslims being Serbs which had left the „faith of their forefathers“ makes up the heart of the darkness shaped by the Serb’s political, cultural and intellectual right. The revival of prejudiced speech, especially through social media, which had become a very distinct type of reality, the constantly-cloned theory of wild nationalism and the unexpected ally of chauvinist politics, has motivated me to question the theses of a theoretical  exploration I had done two decades ago, in a new context.

The trigger for the revival of the debate about prejudices, which are, and now it is obvious, the important marker of the production of hate speech, to me, was the neo-Nazi, individual-hating graphite assassination of the initial renewal of the coexistence of Croats and Bosniaks in Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje by Adis Pokvić, as his hateful gesture was the precise opener of the already-full cloacas of Facebook and Twitter’s trash among people considering themselves Bosniaks, and, before we would discover that the painter of Gornji Vakuf is named Adis and not Franjo, his self-hating grafitti will be seen as obvious evidence („We knew it!“) of the collective support for the Ustaša among the Uskoplje Croats.

I feel shame facing the extremely loud hate speech on social media (before the actor’s identity is revealed), and the silence (following the revelation of the identity of the actor), however, I am also worried due to the obvious growth of nationalism produced by Bosniak political, spiritual, intellectual and cultural elite, as that has taken quite a toll, similar to the growth of Serb or Croat nationalism. What I want to say is that Bosniak nationalism is growing at a rate similar to the rate of the growth of Serbian or Croat nationalism – growing in a way not really noticeable as nationalism, and, the most primitive and worst prejudices of the latter enter the virtual and real spaces as the old, yet new language of the Bosniak nationalist imagination.

The nationalist youth, raised in the spirit of the SDA ethno-clerical mobilization, inherits the power of prejudice and reduces the possibility of Bosnia. On the other hand, that possibility, the possibility of Bosnia, always grows when, contrary to the theory of reflections and the dishes tied to the system, the nationalist, Denyen-like gifts of Serb and Croat nationalism are rejected. That rejection, calling for the survival of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the geo-political map of the world, surely does not contain the production and promotion of the war culture, which, while (justifiably) shrieking in front of graffiti and transparents such as – „Nož, žica, Srebrenica“ („The Knife, The Barbed Wire, Srebrenica“) – does not see a problem in charging Bosnian Crats as a collective for anti-Bosniak and anti-Muslim messages in Gornji Vakuf beforehand and with no knowlege of the perpetrator, reducing them to the „Ustaša“ as part of their sneaky hate speech. One should fight against that anti-Bosnian-and-Herzegovinian culture by destroying prejudice.

Ergo, for the second time, after 20 years. Of the Bosniak prejudice:

As a Russian poet had written: „To smile, be natural and quiet, is the greatest art in the world.“

 Wishing to „smile, be natural and quiet“, he had killed himself. His name was Sergei Yesenin. He had no prejudice towards life, people, nature, cows, bitches… He even, with the use of the magic of his words, turned the great fraud of Vladimir Ilyich into the cosmic unity of people, classes, nations and religions. He passionately and gently embraced the Persian civilization, the one foreign to Mother Russia due to the ban on vodka. Nothing different was foreign to him. He was an „atheist of the Orthodox type“ (E. Čimić) and loved the other and the different. A rarity for the structure of the type he belonged to, which, according to its’ own highlighted opinion, only loves the other and the different it it loses the title of the other and the different.

 Maybe it could have been the very first civilizational prejudice of one oriental-Slavic agnostic (the group I am joining for a good reason, and the needs of this article) towards the world of those lacking faith. This is me descussing stereotypes as to try to answer the very important question of the modalities and ways of protecting prejudice against Orthodox and Catholic Christians, against Serbs and Croats, among the people which have, for a long time, been baby-talked to in an irresponsible and first-impression, yet a practically-correct manner – the majority ethnic group of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am talking about Bosniaks.

 Until yesterday, they had been „a people of words unspoken“, „a half-way nation“, „a late nation“, and, suddenly, out of that unfinished state, through the nourishment of the cult of the warrior in the last decade of the 20th century, they had become „a nation which is“, a historical subject of one geopolitical area. They had become a factor. Which does sound important.

 However, the jump from the so-called „empire of necessity“ (the Communist Yugoslavia) into an „empire of liberty“ (the modern state of Bosnia and Herzegovina) had been orchestrated by outside forces (the international community) and the inside will of the referendum not including the armed forces, and, so, the result of the national awakening had been catastrophic: tens of thousands murdered, wounded and raped as well as the life space being reduced to the critical minimum, leading to the Bosniak’s careful conscious to the conclusion of – Bosniaks being forced to sleep upright should the nation continue to push itself deep into the central Bosnian areas!

The sudden step into freedom interrupted with tears had added further complications to the lives of Bosniaks. Those prejudices about the neighbors fed by Communism, or, for lack of a better word, pushed into ignorance, had exploded with all of their power. Combined with the basic prejudice of oneself, as stated by Jung, the inferiority complex (not held by Serbs and Croats according to Bosniak visions), those archetypical punches of atavism, mixed in with the existential fear of „the Eastern knife“, have multiplied the stereotypical „Cross show“, which had moved into the actual social life and become the norm of a world which we can observingly title the partisan-religious life of Bosniak citizens, from the depths of traditions, the remoteness of backyards and the narrowness of the streets. Prejudice has become the norm for daily usage in such a life.

 Telling someone working at an SDA office that us Bosniaks cannot possibly coexist with Serbs and Croats, sealing that expected prejudice with the arsenal of the introductory submission (as-salamu-alaykum-wa-rahmatullah…) during the war, meant the hope for  existential (a package supply) and spiritual (the Quran, as received as a present from King Fahd) welfare. From what kinds of history and generational tales do such prejudices come from, as well as the most recent national conscience in our common Bosnian backyard? It is the question deserving the most attention possible, as it opens a Pandora’s box of other dilemmas, disagreements and sub-questions which we can select in the following:

 Are those „bitter prejudices“ a product of fore-judging, basically, mythical constructions? Or are they merely imminent contents of one latently-unacknowledged European type of spirituality such as Islam? It would make sense to ask the following as well: did not the mostly-shaped conscience of Serbs and Croats ad Muslims being „the European others“ decide the type of Bosniak prejudice towards its’ closest ethnic surrounding beforehand? Is it the case of that melancholic-choleric, in actuality, that sad-nervous, yet never phlegmatic, show of Turk-bastard killers over the Drina, who have to soften themselves with their false, hypocritical acceptance to their nutritionist code: eat pork so I can  treat you like a man?We cannot forget that type of Bosniak prejudice judging Croats as „sneaky Latins“ beforehand, like those wishing to cut the roots of „the Croat people’s flowers“ while nurturing them.

 The results of all of these questions are the following: Bosniak prejudices against other ethnic communities are primarily a result of the prejudices against Muslims rooted inside those ethnic communities. I would state that prejudices against Bosniaks  should be born at this very moment, and those actual stereotypes screaming from the depths of Serb and Croat wells are dominantly of the quasi-religious temper. That is contributed by Bosniaks themselves, or, more precisely, that type of their primitive elitist conscience (the current leadership of the very worst), which is only satisfied with Bosniakdom being merely a public bersion of Muslimhood, used by their mythically-rooted neighbors to see Bosniaks as solely one religious group, in the worst way possible.

 Bosniak prejudices towards others closest to them can be defined as reactive prejudices, and, as such, they are dull, defensive and redundant. 

 It would be marvelous to see Bosniaks not having any prejudice towards Croats and Serbs. However, that is already a kind of Bosniak romantic prejudice, which has been contradicting the modern-age Bosniak prejudice from the beginning: the one about us being a peaceful nation which, exactly due to the absence of actual prejudice (actual prejudice, wait, what?), had to dig deeper to discover all of its’ unfortunate antropology’s victimologist sorrow.

 So, inside an ethnic group, in this case, the Bosniaks, we have already, conditionally speaking, seen two bodies of prejudice in conflict with each other. I would state that it is a part of all ethnic groups, whether or not it be more or less noticeable. However, I am not sure if every ethnic group is obliged to individually create a „collective consensus“ on the other one. It would be a renewned force-feeding of prejudice against others close to us. In this case, we could talk about the forced-upon prejudice of the type, which, even if it were better and more beautiful than the present prejudices, it would not evade the traps of manipulation.

 Ergo, no option but living one’s individual, short, human life, with a conscious acceptance of the given –  to have prejudice against others not being non-human, but the worst thing for one to do is to do nothing to kill off the prejudice in oneself – exists. The Drina river is crooked, however, not trying to straighten its’ course means accepting the spiritual poverty of the worst kind possible. Ergo, the acceptance of a civil war in the future. As even the latest war was led, above other things, by the  type-related prejudice of others which the intelligence of all three ethnic groups has mostly refused to change. On the contrary, it fed them.

 One of those stereotype visions is the one over the rights on the land of the others, as well as the others’ home, generated from the serf-bey disagreements in previous centuries. Some Bosniaks have, based on the senseless title of „bey blood“, systematically developed prejudices of Serbs being the „rayah“, the proletariate, the serfs, and, thus, indirectly, strenghtening that type of Serb national conscious still performing the „exploration of the Turkified“. In the same manner, especially after the Croat-Bosniak War, Bosniaks have strenghtened a new prejudice against Croats, which can be highly felt in the areas where the conflict of those two ethnic armies was brutal. That prejudice can be conditionally, and in an Aesopian manner, be „captured“ by this animalization: the snake representing itself as a lizard, not realizing that the one bitten by another snake is afraid of lizards as well, no matter how much the lizard visibly regenerates its’ character. This prejudice of the nation-snake is disgusting, yet its’ historical importance is torn down by the fact that it is, in fact, a regional, and not an ethnic, stereotype.

 The interloping  prejudices of oneself and the others are a mascot for Bosniak scholastics. Under that term, we imply the refusal of something we can see with our bare eyes and what we think about with our heads, and the acceptance of that deemed mythical, unprovable, dogmatic and allegedly unquestionable. We cannot bow our heads down in front of the evidence testifying that the fluid, prejudice-lacking spirits of Galileo Galilei (It is moving after all!) and Karl Popper (No one is right at first) are falling down on the present highway of Bosniak spirituality, leaving behind the idea of a closed-off society, the idea of the narrow path. And, rarely anyone wishes to drive on the narrow path, leaving no chance to meet anyone else in such a type of Bosniak futuristics, nor to see for oneself if the Croat and Serb prejudices against Bosniaks have finally waned down and if the Turks had become as beautiful as swans.

 The talk of the general categories is dangerous. At the same time, generalization sharpens the image, provokes people and looks for dialogue. This is why the idea of objectivisation of general national prejudices (on the levels of language, religion, institutions, et cetera) is praiseworthy. It cleanses people from that small national fuse possessed by all men, whether or not that man be „a tolerant totalitarian“ or merely a room painter. On the other hand, a biblical exodus into the outside, and giving oneself to the other one, to the bone, will set those silent values on fire, and so, every Mento Papo, every Bosniak with a complex, will become the star of the nation shining with a sheriff’s bravery and conviction, who is brave enough to show himself off and constitute himself over the other with no fear of defeat, nor his religious greeting, and especially without the fear of fear. However, not forcing fear unto others as well.

 It is correct to state that Serbs and Croats fear Bosniak unity. That constructed prejudice, centered around the rigid Bosniak political structures and ruining the balance of interest of Bosnia as the homeland of all, will be destroyed the most by Bosniak acceptance of a future in which Serbs would not be Vlachs, backwards-going, atavist hill-people of the pagan type, barbarians of an era before time, uncultured nemeses of carpets and kilims, and simplistic lovers of the holy trinity (onions-bacon-cutting knives), and Croats would not be sellouts, Catholic missionaries, hypocrites, „Šokci“, „Ustaša“, Herzegovinians… Yes, the regionalization of Bosnian Croatdom to Herzegovina is one of the newest Bosniak prejudices coming from an entire arsenal, offending not just Croats, but Herzegovinians as well.

 However, this scary, perhaps even the scariest prejudiced, is now present in the reserve ammunition of the conscience of the Bosniak people: „Serbs are a genocidal people, no matter those individuals who are not“. That matrix does not feature any life, and such a teasing song with which injustice wishes to be sanctioned in a „Serb“ way („Croats are a genocidal nation“) should not only be pushed back, but eliminatd from all, and even the border regions, of national thought.

 The rejection of prejudice testifies for the vitality of a certain community. If the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina had, at the same time, also been gaining elements of a war against the Bosniak people (which it had been), one of the ways of preventing such an event is the creation of a culture of resistance towards xenophobic ideas located deep inside of us. We should not think about if the Serbs or Croats will be the ones doing it, nor if anyone else will be the one doing it. The first step is, to paraphrase Derviš Sušić, to tell the neighbors, even those living solely off of prejudice, that all our roughness is solely our gentleness destroyed by an offense.

 For the other one.

 / October 1999 /

Nerzuk Ćurak
Autor 26.8.2019. u 18:01