To the editor:
I’m responding to John Phillips’ article, US Aggression Reveals Only Arrogance (April 13). As a regular opinions writer for the Record with strong feelings on these issues, I was offended by Phillips’ condescending viewpoint toward various nationalities, namely the Kosovars; and by his flippant attitude regarding ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
The article opens comparing the current situation in the Balkans and the Gulf War in 1991 (incorrectly noted as 1992). Phillips lambastes the West for defending Kuwait, calling it a “nonsensical country” without cultural identity. What do you think the Kuwaitis think about that? I’m sure they don’t think of themselves as “nonsensical” or lacking cultural identity. Later, Phillips says Canada is so like the United States “…one wonders at its independence.” These intolerant and patronizing judgements of different nationalities have no place in an arena like The Williams Record opinions page.
Phillips continues by belittling the Kosovars, claiming their insignificance to Europeans. Ask a Kosovar if he thinks he’s insignificant. What do you think he/she would say about that? Again, Phillips makes prejudiced judgements about entire nationalities. Put bluntly, that sort of claim is inappropriate and offensive. How would you like it if someone said your people were so insignificant that your survival as a cultural entity didn’t matter? No one is in the position to deem any society meaningless.
Although well written and presented, Phillips’ arguments are misguided and impertinent. He compares this conflict to the U.S. Civil War, saying that, if we use NATO’s logic, “Britain…would’ve been amply justified in attacking the Union to stop the [Confederacy] from seceding… Lincoln would have gone down into history as a nationalist nut.” He argues that Serbia’s Kosovo problem is an internal matter, not an international one. The big difference between this and your run of the mill secessionist movement is the presence of genocide. NATO is involved in this conflict to end the mass extermination and expulsion of the Kosovars, a fact seemingly inconsequential to Phillips.
Phillips cheapens the magnitude of the violence inflicted upon the Kosovars by the Yugoslav army, saying, “For those not taught…the politically correct ‘moral’ considerations, one solution is to round up the men…put them into prison camps…shoot those who resist…send the women packing and you might actually be able to claim some of the land you were expelled from half a century ago.” (Incidentally, Albanian Muslims have been a majority in Kosovo since 1689). This is highly offensive. Phillips seems to think genocide isn’t important, rather, it is some nonsensical internal issue to which we should turn a blind eye. This is wrong. No civilized society can stand idly and allow ethnic cleansing to continue.
Though the conflict may be embedded in years of ethnic hatred, Phillips seems not to care about the prevalence of genocide. We should be concerned about Serbia’s violent atrocities, especially in present-day Europe. Ethnic cleansing is not an internal Serbian affair, rather something that all are bound by their simple humanity to fight.
Dan Elsea ’02