In its January 13 issue, Feral Tribune published an interview with a historian, a professor at the respected Yale University, Ivo Banac. The title of the interview, "There are no good HDZ members" is a faithful reflection of the article in which the professor emphasizes that he "supports any anti-HDZ [Croatian Democratic Union, ruling party in Croatia] coalition, above all that of HSLS [Croatian Social Liberal Party] and HSS [Croatian Peasant Party] and [is] against any agreement which would spare even good HDZ members, who don't exist after all". It seems that Banac learned in America that there are no good Indians, except for the dead ones, and wants to apply that lesson in Croatia on HDZ and its members. He wouldn't spare those who were elected by the people. A strange understanding of democracy.
Like a lunatic, he asserts without any basis that some opposition politicians may "disappear". Banac mixed up Kosovo, where political murders are a daily occurrence, and Croatia.
For Banac, the most important political event of 1996 is the round table about Serbs in Croatia. He always cares about the Serbs, he misses those who have left, and pines for their return. He cannot imagine a democratic Croatia without those Serbs who have left. In that he doesn't care that Krajina Serbs had always been a thorn in the side of Croatia and that in 1990 they rebelled and initiated a war which was supposed to be the final showdown with Croats. The war took 10,000 lives, made several 100,000 of poor wretches and made Croatia poorer. After the defeat of their criminal intentions, aware of the evil they had done, Serbs left, mostly because they could not bear the Croatian state. Against Banac's wishes, a huge majority of them does not want to return to Croatia.
Ivo Banac states that "he doesn't understand why Croats from Kosovo should be happier in the town of Kistanje than in their homeland". Obviously, Banac doesn't see and understand that there is no survival for non Serbs in Kosovo because of greater Serbian persecution.
The professor takes upon himself to pronounce judgments on everything, which surpasses his right to criticize. For example, while speaking about Drazen Budisa he talks as if he were a professor and Budisa his student. He accuses Budisa of "drzavotvornost" [roughly equivalent to patriotism]. Banac says that is the same as "supporting HDZ"; as if the meaning of that word is not patriotic support of the Croatian state, regardless of which party is in power. It seems to Banac that Budisa has given up because of his assumptions about the uneducated and backward character of the Croat population. Thus, Banac implies that Budisa despises his own people.
Actually, it is Banac who despises the Croat people. That is the root of his patronizing attitude. Otherwise he wouldn't have been so intolerant of "evil" HDZ members, but would have taken into account that the people have given a majority of its votes to that party several times [in the last few elections, HDZ has managed to win convincing majorities in both chambers of parliament by winning about 35% of votes cast]. By refusing to accept popular will professor Banac not only shows disrespect of the people but also demonstrates a strange attitude towards democracy.
We've heard that Croatian parliament is a hen coop, as Zlatko Vitez said; Professor Banac's respect for the members of Parliament is evident from this statement: "Even if the Parliament were full of umbrella traders its attitude would be better than it is today". Democratically speaking, even if the people really elected umbrella traders (why them?), that must be accepted and respected. However, Banac has a rather idiosyncratic understanding of democracy.
As far as the forthcoming presidential elections are concerned, Banac states that he will not run in them. That is somewhat surprising, because his long lasting activism indicates that he has great political ambitions in Croatia.
We've heard for professor Banac for a first time when his book "National Question in Yugoslavia" was published at the end of '80s. The book demonstrated that the writer had a good understanding of south Slav national ideologies and the ancient disputes between these ideologies. In one of his numerous interviews he said that Serb krajina was a stronghold whose purpose was the establishment of Greater Serbia. Banac knows everything; hence, it is surprising that he supports the return of krajina Serbs to Croatia and the establishment of new greater Serbian strongholds in Croatia.
Banac's interview in Feral seems like an outburst of a man blinded by hate. After reading this article we have to ask one more question: why so much intolerance?
Translated on 5/23/97