Jasminka Udovički
The fall of Yugoslavia was brought about by brutal military force, but the
energy needed to utterly dismantle the country was supplied by political
ethno-kitsch. Beginning in , and throughout the prewar years, ethno-
kitsch was everywhere in Serbia: at seemingly spontaneous yet officially
orchestrated mass rallies; in the new ‘‘turbo-folk’’ rock flooding the air-
waves; in the slogans chanted by fans of the favorite national football club,
Crvena Zvezda; in public statements by some well-known writers, law-
yers, actors, painters, generals, academicians, and journalists; even in the
 ads of the up-and-coming, privately owned bank of the Karić Brothers.
At the root of the new wave of ethno-kitsch was a gradually growing
perception that Serbian people have been wronged and were hated—en-
tirely undeservedly—by other ethnic groups in former Yugoslavia; that
their unsparing sacrifice for the common good of all South Slavs—in the
Balkan Wars of –, in World War I, and again in World War II—met
with little recognition and less appreciation; that instead of respect, they
encountered hostility. ‘‘We do not hate them—they hate us!’’ was a com-
ment one heard on the streets and in cafés, expressed with vehemence,
dismay, and self-righteousness.
A xenophobic sense of isolation grew steadily following the emergence,
in , of Slobodan Milošević on the national scene. The television and
print media that Milošević took oversoon afterhis ascent to poweren-
couraged the conviction that through no fault of their own Serbs had been
reduced to the status of ‘‘the Jews of the Balkans.’’ Patriotic charge, re-
sulting from the feeling of a deep national grievance, found its expression
in the newspeak, drawn from an anachronistic reservoir of archetypal
national vernacular. Its focus was the victimization of Serbian people, not
hatred of others. Its claims were for justice and fairness. It warned of an
uncertain, haunting
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