HRT management issued a statement regarding their journalist Aleksandar Stankovic. The reason for this was the fact that Stankovic “equated the Homeland war with civil war on multiple occasions” in his show “Nedjeljom u dva”. By doing this, he violated the “Declaration on the Homeland war of the Croatian Parliament”, which HRT management holds as sacred and as important as the Croatian constitution.
As is usually the case, the statement was caused by a public proclamation from one of several hundred active organizations of war veterans (the Association of Croatian guard unit veterans) asking HRT to remove Stankovic’s show from the air. In their public announcement, HRT management quoted fragments from the Declaration on the Homeland war of the Croatian Parliament, which state that said war can never be considered “civil”, and that:
“Croatian radio-television would like to stress that all journalists and employees of the public service are obliged to perform their duties objectively and impartially and honor the regulatory framework of the Republic of Croatia, including those related to the Homeland war and the establishment of today’s free, sovereign, and democratic Republic of Croatia.”
Where was Joseph Goebbels at that time?
Formally, underground, as ash and dust. But actually, he was in the minds of HRT management, although they didn’t mention him by name. Due to that invisible presence of the Third Reich’s minister of propaganda, they were able to come up with one of the most important public announcements about the democratic reality of Croatia.
Why is this announcement so important?
Because this was the first time that national-journalism was formalized. Until now, national-journalism was implicitly widely accepted in Croatia, i.e. unofficially obligatory. But now, its inevitability is finally precisely and strictly prescribed by the appropriate authority. National-journalism has been officially outed. It was publicly declared that there are no more reasons to hide its characteristics and intentions.
And what is national-journalism?
According to a German philosopher, it is the kind of journalism dedicated to gathering the nation “as a collective of joint listening” (i.e. joint reading and watching), whose goal is to join “that which gets informed and excited together”. According to the same philosopher, the role of national-journalism is to constantly “produce uniting hysterias and integrating panics” and, thus, inspire the life of the nation as a “vibrating media subject”.
How is this manifested in Croatia?
Unlike other countries, including the homeland of said philosopher, national-journalism in Croatia isn’t only a branch of journalism. It encompasses almost everything happening in the media. An all-around nationalization of the profession has come to pass, so it’s safe to say that “homeland journalism” is the only acceptable form of journalism.
How could we define “homeland journalism”?
“Homeland journalism” is exactly the thing prescribed in the final chapter of HRT’s announcement and which, as the announcement says, “all journalists are obliged to honor”. In reality, this means that it is no longer enough for nationalism and burning patriotism to be a part of a journalist’s beliefs – if the journalist is a nationalist and a patriot. Now, they are part of the professional norm and accepted as an obligatory professional standard.
In other words?
A journalist is a “professional” only if the information they bring is presented in the proper patriotic tone. They will be forgiven for missing one of the key questions – Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? in their attempts to inform us. However, omission of the patriotic stamp will be severely punished.
If this is the case, what exactly is Aleksandar Stankovic doing when he, in a conversation with his guest, suggests that the so-called Homeland war (for mental hygiene, from now on this expression will be placed under quotation marks) had some elements of a civil war?
Stankovic is stating an opinion which is not allowed. Which means that this opinion, although true according to all available facts, is also – paradoxically – evidence of his wrongdoing.
Because it is obvious that in the “Homeland war” the Croats fought not only against the aggressor, but also against the right to free expression of opinion, especially those opinions concerning the war itself. So, it truly can’t be said that the “Homeland war” was a civil war, but rather an anti-civil one, as it is presented in the public today.
What intentions could stand behind an anti-civil war?
The intention to violate basic civil rights and freedoms, as the name implies, all the while adding a liberal-libertarian polish to these ideals. If official interpretations are true and the result of the “Homeland war” is something we call “free Croatia”, this means that “free Croatia” is the place where free thought and speech are not allowed, i.e. that “free Croatia” is not a free country.
Then what does the announcement of a public TV management that journalists are obliged to “honor the legal framework” regarding not only the “Homeland war”, but also the “establishment of free, sovereign and democratic Republic of Croatia,” actually represent?
The Republic of Croatia is, in summation, “free” because free speech is not allowed, “sovereign” because its faith is decided by international powers, and “democratic” because of countless villainies, the least of which is the one about public media service management condemning a journalist for telling the truth. In short, Croatia is a country where adjectives which negate their primary meaning are officially used. Combined with nouns, they make for some glorious oxymorons. One of these with triple power is the one about the “free, sovereign, and democratic Republic of Croatia”.
What would an honest prime minister, a competent government, or a smart president mean in a country like that?
Let’s not allow such wicked remarks to deter us from the subject. Let’s rather focus on the “Declaration on the Homeland war” stating the official and binding truth on the “Homeland war”, all the while that truth is the complete opposite of what really happened. For example, the document says that Croatia’s war was purely defensive, although it’s publicly known that it committed military aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
How can we understand this?
By saying that it’s one of the characteristics of an anti-civil war and that people die in the name of contradictions.
Why is HRT management saying that reporters are obliged to be “objective” and, at the same time, “abide by the positive laws”, meaning the “Declaration on the Homeland war”?
First of all, the “Declaration on the Homeland war” is no “positive law”. This document has no normative, but rather biblical power, meaning that it is to be treated as Holy Scripture in everyday life. The rest is clear: if we respect the “Declaration on the Homeland war,” then “objective reporting” is an oxymoron to end all oxymorons.
Doesn’t this bring back memories of journalist Dunja Ujevic who, in the early nineties, claimed that it’s a reporter’s duty to lie if it benefits the homeland?
It does, but with a side note that this was not her subjective statement, but rather a principle of the program. When a journalist “reports objectively” by spreading disinformation, then it’s in complete alignment with the oxymoronic nature of the Republic of Croatia itself, which is “free, sovereign, and democratic”.
So, what is journalist Aleksandar Stankovic to do?
If he wants to stick to the traditional notions of journalism, he can remain calm. Given the trends we’ve depicted here, there is hardly a greater commendation to professionalism than for the management you work for to condemn your work. The only thing he could have learned from his own experience is that all official Croatian fairytales come down to just one, “The Emperor’s new clothes”.
And the rest of us?
Each of the colleagues from HRT has a choice now, depending on their readiness to honor “the positive law” and reach deep inside to find their inner idiot. Because there can be no doubt when you look at the national-journalistic pamphlet: if they are going to do the work “objectively” and serve the governing oxymorons, they are obliged to be morons.
Translated by Marijana Simic