Feb. 5th, 2006

rfmcdonald: (Default)
In the uproar surrounding the cartoons of Muhammad, I've ben struck by the over-easy equation of blasphemous drawings of religious prophets with Holocaust denial, made with the intent of saying that if the one's okay the other is too, or vice versa. The key perceived similarity between blasphemy and holocaust denial seems to be rooted in the belief that the blasphemers and the holocaust-deniers are united in denying an evident reality for their own goals. The problem with this similarity is that while the Holocaust is a historical event, documented by numerous objective sources. The truth of divine prophecy, alas, isn't nearly so evident.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Croatia's 1995 Operation Storm offensive resulted in the destruction of the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the flight of most of Croatia's Serbs. B. Vekic wrote in September 1995 for the Yugoslav newsmagazine, Vreme that this flight, involving the depopulation of a good-sized chunk of Croatia, would have permanent effects.

Judging from the current situation, most of Krajina will remain unpopulated. World statistics show that only one-fourth of the displaced people decide to return to their homes and Croatia will probably not be be the exception. But Knin, which did not suffer heavy damage and which lies on an important communications route and close to the seaside, stands a good chance of starting to live again very soon - with new inhabitabts, of course. Some 600 applications have been received so far for the renting of business premises in the town. Similar will happen with Petrinja, Plitvice and places in the valleys of the Kupa and Una rivers.

Unless these areas are repopulated by next spring (which is technically infeasible) or the Serb refugees return to their homes (which is politically infeasible) - grass and weeds will overgrow towns and villages in Krajina and that will be the region's second death.

In 1998, the Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung's Anders Weysling wrote an article, "Looking for Life in the Ghost Towns of Croatia (cached copy available here). Weysling concluded that the prospects of a lasting resettlement of the area--whether by returnees or by new settlers--are low, save in the most economically favourable areas.

Nearer the Bosnian border, however, farther down the road through the green hilly landscape, the uncomfortable feeling of emptiness quickly returns. There are many houses with new windows and tiled roofs in the hamlets, and here and there fields have been freshly plowed. But, again, the people are missing. In Donji Ladjevac an old Croat peasant woman stands in a blossoming garden. She fled with her family and neighbors in 1991. In 1995 she came back with her husband, right after the Croatian "storm." The house and stall had been plundered and burned. "We worked for seven years in Germany for the house. Now we are living in a tool shed." The strength of the old people is limited, causing reconstruction to move sluggishly. There is still no barn; the dog is their only livestock. Nor do they have a tractor and plow. The son and daughter-in-law come on weekends to help out, but they have no plans to return to live in the village. The young woman is especially opposed to that idea. She has a job in the city and little desire to resume the strenuous life of a peasant in an out-of-the-way village.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Christopher Caldwell's article in The New York Times, "Islam on the Outskirts of the Welfare State " speculates about the consequence of Sweden's wave of heavy immigration--from the rest of Scandinavia, from eastern Europe, the Middle East, and other points. As Keith B. Richburg noted in the Washington Post in 2004 ("No Longer Just Nordic"), Sweden is now much more multiethnic than it has ever been at any point in its post-imperial history. The question, as Caldwell points out, is whether this multiethnicity is going to be handled sensibly.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Stefani Baldi's study "The Italians of Tanzania" is an entertaining brief study of a national community that arguably isn't so much a community as it is an aggregate.
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