Vid Petrovic on Mon, 5 Apr 1999 09:16:29 +0100

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Syndicate: From Canada: on the media.....

The media and the demonization of Serbs

The Yugoslavian government has just expelled some journalists from NATO
countries from its territory. This is deplored by the media as "censorship,"
but in some of us it has created a strange sense of relief: perhaps now
there will be a cease-fire in the 10-year disinformation campaign about the
Yugoslavian conflict in general and the Serbs in particular. Or at least the
"journalists" (few actually deserve the name) have to declare that what they
are talking about is unverified rumour and hearsay since they are nowhere
near the scene.  Up to this point they have been able to create the false
impression that they have witnessed the events they report on.
The Western media's relentless demonization of the Serbs of Yugoslavia has,
however, produced a very predictable (and no doubt, wished-for) result a
truly genocidal assault on the Serbian people by Western military might,
Canada to its eternal shame participating, breaking every relevant
international covenant and treaty.
The pack-journalism over the last ten years has also succeeded in
hoodwinking many Canadians into thinking that what is at stake is the
good-riddance of a Serbian Hitler who has attempted a 'final solution" of
sorts on assorted ethnic groups in Yugoslavia.  A lot of well-intentioned
people are cheering the bombing of yet another pariah nation into the Stone
Age.  With the accumulated effects of media rumour-mongering and willful
disinforniation, who can blame these folks for their barely controlled blood
thirst?  After all because Hitler wasn't stopped in time, millions perished
in concentration camps, goes the heartfelt argument.
Yet the labelling of Yugoslavia's Serb leaders as Hitlers and the Serbs
themselves as bruta, subhuman monsters - is a familiar trick from recent
history.  It has been perpetuated by the various hired hands, PR firms, who
have worked overtime for the various ethnic groups pushing for secession
which would utterly destroy the once well-functioning, multi-ethnic
Yugoslavian federation and replace it with small nation-states which
ethnically cleansed themselves. (Croatia, for instance, expelled between
500,000 and a million Serbs from its territory.) The media has merely
carried the message of these 'hidden hands' of the Balkan conflict.
The world was shocked to find out that a PR firm Hill and Knowlton, had
manufactured the 'incubator babies' incident in Kuwait which precipitated
the Gulf War Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators in a
genocidal fashion.  Phony eyewitnesses to this atrocity tearfully testified
in front of U.S. politicians and the media, adding to public support for the
subsequent bombing of Iraq and contributing hugely to the demonization of
the Iraqis, leaders and citizens alike.  Even Amnesty International was
taken in by the falsehood, which was later exposed as such, but only after
the military damage was done.
Yet the shock of being duped soon wore off and gullibility returned.  In no
time another American PR firm, Ruder Finn, working for the Croatian and
Bosnian separatists, publicly bragged that it had been able to turn world
opinion against the Serbs.  In April 1993 on French television, James Harff,
the director of Ruder Finn, described his proudest public relations effort
as having "managed to put Jewish opinion on our [Croatian and Bosnian]
side." This was a "sensitive matter," he added, as "the Croatian and Bosnian
past was marked by real and cruel anti-semitism.  Tens of thousands of Jews
perished in Croatian camps... Our challenge was to reverse this attitude and
we succeeded masterfully.  At the beginning of July 1992, New York Newsday
came out with the article on Serb camps.  We jumped at the opportunity
immediately.  We outwitted three big Jewish organizations.... That was a
tremendous coup.  When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side
of the [Muslim] Bosnians we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis
in the public mind.  Nobody understood what was happening in Yugoslavia...
By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and
bad guys which would hereafter play itself.  We won by targeting the Jewish
audience.  Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the
press, with the use of words with high emotional content such as ethnic
cleansing, concentration camps, etc, which evoke images of Nazi Germany and
the gas chambers of Auschwitz."
The PR firm was piling hoax upon hoax.  The famous story of Serb
concentration camps was built on a photo of a gaunt man surrounded by
others, staring at the viewer from behind barbed wire; surely an image to
chill one to the bones.  It took years before a German journalist Thomas
Deichman, in an article titled 'The picture that fooled the world,'
described how the famous photo was staged by its takers, British
journalists, who were photographing the inhabitants from inside barbed wire
which was protecting agricultural products and machinery from theft in a
refugee and transit camp; the men stood outside of it; and at no time was
them a barbed-wire fence surrounding the camp.  But by that time the image
had done its deed, terminally slamming the Serbs as genocidal mass
There are countless other stories, all deliberately maligning the Serbs to
further the ends of military intervention.  These stories and photos of
'genocide' and 'ethnic cleansing" (a la Hitler) in a civil war, in which
Serbs are guilty as sin and others are their innocent victims, are repeated
ad nauseam by western reporters without the slightest evidence, and have
provided the ground for the public's (hopefully only temporary) acceptance
of the illegal and brutal war against the sovereign nation of Yugoslavia.
They continue after NATO's bombing began, unabated, with new absurdities
such as the suggestion that the Serbs are really bombing themelves!  Perhaps
in the war crimes court there will soon be a place for journalists and PR
firms who with their inflammatory reporting and Fraudulent actions cause
wars to begin.

MARJALEENA REPO is a free lance writer with a special interest in justice
issues.  She lives and works in Saskatoon and Toronto (Canada).  She can be
reached at (416) 922-7867.

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