by Mile Stojic
What is Andric guilty of? In the interview with the originator of the demolition idea, a political activist from Tuzla, published in Sarajevo Avaz, Andric is accused of nothing less than "genocide against Bosniaks". Therefore, Andric is placed in the ranks of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. The man who wrote the most beautiful ode to bridge building in Bosnia is for God knows which time pushed among those who tried to destroy Bosnia and recommended, supposedly, to the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.
The argumentation goes like this: in his literary works, Andric "disqualified" Muslims (as if literary works were some sort of a soccer tournament!); Andric, then, tried to demythisize (demythologize?) positive Muslim characters such as Alija Djerzelez; also, Andric was a member of the Serb Academy of Arts and Sciences, which wrote the infamous memorandum, and because of his literary works "he bears huge responsibility, greater perhaps than that of the very implementers of the project Greater Serbia". "If he were alive," concludes the angry and for his people concerned activist, "we would probably initiate an investigation into his responsibility for crimes in Bosnia, for all horrors that have befallen the Bosniak people."
The unfortunate activist from Tuzla would not be worthy a mention if his statement were not a reflection of the political opinion of the ruling structures in this country. That opinion is based on ignorance and is hiding behind a name of a nation and its national tragedy; that opinion advocates the idea of unified Bosnia, and rejects everything in that Bosnia that is not marked by its national color, or is not under its direct rule.
Every high school student knows that a work of fiction is not a historical study and that a statement of a character in a book does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the writer. However, our activist is not aware of that. Thousands of pages inspired by the history of Bosnia, with hundreds of black and white (and most frequently neither black nor white) characters were filled by Andric while he created his art, but the activist does not want to deal with that, since he does not have time for analysis. He has to make quick conclusions and condemn: "Andric disqualifies Muslims"! A proof: he "demythisizes" a positive Muslim character, Alija Djerzelez! Well, Pasic, literature demythologizes everything. Its purpose is to show us a human drama of a hero and demonstrate that even positive historical characters are simply made of flesh and blood just like all of us and can sometimes loose their head over an ordinary harpy, as Andric did portraying his hero Djerzelez. However, where can such logic lead us, if we keep in mind that modern art does not acknowledge religious, national, and even sacred authorities? What would you say about Martin Scorsese or Salman Rushdi? Besides, could not, for example, led by the same logic, Croats complain that Andric "demythisizes" them through the character of Ustasha Jukic in the story Bife Titanik? What about the Serbs? Is not the main character of one of his novels is a Serb woman, Rajka Radakovic, an elderly spinster and a miser?
Secondly, what is the connection of Ivo Andric with the infamous SANU Memorandum if we know that Andric died in 1975, while the Memorandum was written in 1986? Perhaps the connection is that Andric was a member of SANU? However, Mesa Selimovic from Tuzla was also a member of the same institution (of his own will!), and it does not occur to anyone to condemn him for genocide after his death and to send him to the Hague, let alone to rename streets named after him. Or, is his turn also coming?
If there is unified Bosnia-Hercegovina, Andric will remain its most representative writer, Ivan Loverenovic said a few years ago. And if it there is no unified Bosnia-Hercegovina, various Pasics will always see in Andric a hater of Bosniaks, Mihanovics a Croat bastard, and Koljevics an unborn (therefore a convert to Islam) Serb. That is a tragedy and misfortune of the greatest poet of Bosnia. Led by that and such logic, Serbs will rename and blow up Bosnian towns (about which Andric wrote), Croats will blow up Turkish bridges (about which Andric wrote) and Bosniaks will smash plaques on the streets of Bosnian history (about which Andric also wrote).
The shameful chronicle will continue into infinity. The difference will only be in the amount of explosives.
AVAZ: Opponents of "Preporod's" initiative point out that Andric is our only Nobel Prize winner and that his literary work should be viewed separately from his personality?
That is not possible. Those who are trying that are certain anti-Bosniak characters. Andric has, that is unquestionable, with his political works demonstrated extreme nationalism-chauvinism which, according to Dr. Esad Durakovic, borders on racism. He also colors his literary works with theories from his political texts. That is why it is impossible to separate Andric the writer of political articles and Andric the novelist. I dare say that Ivo Andric, exactly because of his literary works, bears huge responsibility, perhaps larger than the very implementers of the project "Greater Serbia". He is one of ideological architects of this project, together with some members of SANU. If he were alive, we would probably initiate an investigation of his responsibility for crimes in Bosnia, for all horrors which befell the Bosniak people. Neither in that case, nor now, would it be relevant that Ivo Andric is a Nobel Prize laureate.
Some are criticizing you that, if everything is indeed so, you should have made this proposal earlier?
There are objective reasons for that. The previous regime did not allow any discussion about Ivo Andric, apart from the picture presented by the regime itself. We are in this manner trying to demystify Andric.
If the controversial name of the street is indeed changed, would you go further and demand that Andric be "ejected" from school programs?
That would be wrong. We do not want to satanize Andric in the sense of purging his works from school programs and required reading list for schools. His works should be studied. We only want to make it known that Andric, as everyone likes to say, our only Nobel Prize laureate, was one of those who spread hatred and divisiveness in Bosnia-Hercegovina and that he is one of the architects of the criminal project "Greater Serbia".