The Croatian newspaper ‘Free Dalmatia’ showed that it’s anything but free.
Damir Pilić (PHOTO: portalnovosti.com)
This article originally appeared at Lupiga translated by Stevo Marjanović exclusively for SouthFront.
This morning’s Slobodna Dalmacija (“Free Dalmatia”) was released without Damir Pilić’s regular column, although the journalist carried out his weekly work. But apparently not appropriately enough. His colleague Zlatko Gall announced via Facebook that, “Damir Pilić’s column in Slobodna Dalmacija wasn’t published, and that the author received no explanation whatsoever. It was a great article about the correlation between HDZ’s (“Hrvatska demokratska zajednica – Croatian Democratic Union”) ‘patriotic’ program, and about the values among young people”. The text can be found here, on Lupiga. It is not, however, the only Pilić’s text that was censored in the Slobodna Dalmacija. Gall also reports that Slobodna Dalmacija will not publish Pilić’s work on American foreign policy. A sudden turn to the right is a long time distinctiveness of Slobodna Dalmacija, but examples of such censorship are a new tendency in publishing office. Regardless of whether this is just a short-term phenomenon or further conversion of this newspaper in the conservative clerical journal of Dalmatia, not publishing Damir Pilić’s work is dangerous and one must hope that the Croatian Journalists’ Association will react and try to preserve what little professionalism is left in the Croatian media. Also, censorship is impossible in today’s age of social networking as evidenced by the rapid expansion of these texts. Journalist Damir Pilić was asked to comment on this, and here’s what he told us:
“First of all, I must say that I am a journalist for more than 20 years and this is the first time I had any column censored. I think that in the 21st century, in a democratic society this is completely inappropriate and unacceptable procedure.
Not only that the editor in chief of Slobodna Dalmacija Ivo Bonković banned the publication of the column, but he didn’t even inform me about it, as is otherwise required by journalistic and human principles. Therefore, I can only speculate on the reasons for the ban.
In my opinion, columns can be prohibited only in two cases – if it is very illiterate or if it is promoting hate speech. Since I think my column does not meet either of these two criteria, I assume that the reason for the prohibition lies in the election campaign, and the desire of the chief editor to protect the HDZ from critical articles. This seriously jeopardizes the professional integrity of Slobodna Dalmacija, which should encourage critical thinking and analysis of the Croatian society.
In the column I talked about the impact of the HDZ on the political attitude of Croatian high school seniors. I was prompted to do that by the published research of the Institute for Social research on the political literacy of young people, and particularly by the fact that three-quarters of the surveyed graduates believe that NDH (“Independent State of Croatia”) was not a fascist country. I think this is alarming for our society and I devoted a column to this matter.
Imagine that in Germany three quarters of young people believes that the Third Reich was not a fascist state – I am convinced that the complete German society, from Chancellor Angela Merkel down to the last editor of the local newspaper, would mobilize to do something to prevent further rehabilitation of fascism. And in Croatia text that attempts to analyze this phenomenon is prohibited. It even happens in the same papers that were founded by the Dalmatian and Croatian anti-fascists. I think because of this censorship the founders of Slobodna Dalmacija, who fought against the fascist state of NDH, are rolling in their graves. ”
And now, you can read Pilić’s censored column.
Happy nation, happy youngsters
It’s very convenient when you have one next to another two newspaper articles whose combinations are very frightening. Here, look what happened to me on Thursday morning.
I read on portal index.hr text on the HDZ’s economic program, right before of its presentation at the Congress Hall of the Zagreb Fair, and I remember a sentence that one of the highlights of the program will be placed on “the strengthening of patriotism, especially among young people”. I remember this sentence because I immediately realized that this was a crucial thing for general economic development.
Then I clicked on the adjacent article, because I thought the title is somehow associated with HDZ’s ideas of patriotism among young people. Judge for yourself, the headline reads: “The Croatian high school graduates: NDH was not a fascist country, homosexuality is a disease, and only Catholics are true Croats”.
I must admit, that I have studied this article more carefully than the previous one, because this is much more important for the future of Croatia than economic dreams of HDZ.
So I read: Institute for Social Research – in collaboration with GOOD initiative and GONG association – conducted a study on “Political Literacy of high school graduates in Croatia” on a sample of 1146 Croatian graduates.
Next thing I read: almost three-quarters of students finishing high school do not consider that the NDH was a fascist state. Half of them claimed that homosexuality is some kind of disorder or disease and that homosexuals should be banned from public statements because they can have a bad effect on the young people. And 40 per cent of them think that true Croats are Catholics.
Then I go back to that previous article, the HDZ’s economic program, and re-read the sentence how one of the highlights of the program will be placed on “the strengthening of patriotism, especially among young people”.
And the chill gets me to the bone. Because I could perceive the predictable trend that could mark the Croatian society in the future. And this trend results from the connection between the HDZ and the education of young people in Croatia.
Ever since the beginning of the Croatian state HDZ had a dominant and decisive role in the formation of educational programs and the creation of a social climate in which it was abundantly helped by the Catholic Church.
So this is the “patriotism” that the HDZ and the Catholic Church in these 25 years managed to incorporate into the educational system and social atmosphere of Croatia. These are the “Christian” and “patriotic” values our children grow up with.
Optimists would say that we have to be happy that a quarter of graduates still knows that the NDH was a fascist state, that half of them are aware that homosexuality is not a disorder or disease, and as much as 60 percent of them still say that religious choice does not determine a Croat.
But in the normal and tolerant society, these percentages of awareness should be between 90 and 100. Why should we be satisfied with this?
Let’s go back again to the HDZ’s “economic program”, or the “patriotic section” of the program, whose results we have seen so far. Our Christian Democrats now want to further “strengthen the patriotism”. In particular, they say, “among young people.” What would that mean in mathematical terms? What might be the future, when they “increase” patriotism among young people?
We can get an answer using current trends. Instead of three-quarters of young people thinking that the NDH was not a fascist state, in the “enhanced version of patriotism,” I guess we should get to the four quarters of young people thinking so. Instead of only one-half of young people to which the homosexuality is a disease, we will reach both halfs of young people with such an attitude. And instead of only 40 percent of kids who are the true Catholic Croats, the ultimate goal of is to have 100 percent Catholic Croats.
The final idea of “strengthening of patriotism, especially among young people” turns out to be creation of generation that is 100 percent sure that NDH was not one of Hitler’s satellite, that gays are sick and that atheists cannot be Croats.
There is just one small problem in this attempt. This, in fact, is not called patriotism, but fascism.