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11 Oct, 2019 00:46

Critics shriek that Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke is ‘genocide denier’ – but they thought a literal Nazi was just fine

Critics shriek that Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke is ‘genocide denier’ – but they thought a literal Nazi was just fine

The Nobel Prize in Literature this year went to Peter Handke, a playwright with unquestionable literary achievements. He happened to have political opinions at odds with the Western establishment, however, so all hell broke loose.

The Nobel committee’s decision to honor Austrian author Peter Handke was met with howls of outrage – not over any lack of literary merit, but over his political activism. To Bosnian Muslim and Kosovo Albanian activists, and Western journalists and diplomats involved in the 1990s Yugoslav Wars, the screenwriter of 'Wings of Desire' was merely a heretic who dared argue the Serbs were unjustly demonized and delivered the eulogy at President Slobodan Milosevic’s funeral in 2006.  

“Something has gone terribly wrong!” tweeted Vlora Citaku, ambassador of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo in the US, asking prominent journalists and politicians to join her in outrage.

“Handke’s literature does not exist in artistic isolation – it is eminently political!” declared German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, calling it “shameful” that the Nobel committee would honor “a supporter of a brutal and genocidal dictator.”

Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s were terrible enough – I speak as one of their survivors – without their horrors being wildly exaggerated for propaganda purposes. Yet that is precisely what those who signal their virtue by denouncing Handke today did back then, to gain status and wealth.

The existence of Citaku’s “country” is based on an illegal war of aggression in March 1999, which ultimately resulted in NATO occupying Kosovo and setting up an ethnic Albanian state in that Serbian province. Ischinger was the deputy foreign minister of Germany at the time, and joined an international “mediation” team in 2007 “with only one goal and idea: for Kosovo to become independent.”

Perhaps the best illustration is this statement by PEN America, an organization that claims to stand “at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide.”

“We are dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succor to perpetrators of genocide, like former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic,” they wrote.

For something to be a historical truth, it needs to be proven – wishing or shouting others down doesn’t make it so. Unfortunately for the outrage brigade, Milosevic was never convicted of anything, and Karadzic and other Serb leaders were convicted by a court that has sought to redefine genocide as the killing of three men in a single village.

Yes, that is real. It’s from the ICTY case against General Zdravko Tolimir, and you can – and should – look it up, along with a brilliant dissenting opinion of a brave Zambian judge who dared to speak up against the entire farce. 

Also on rt.com A dramatic suicide in a ‘court’ of fake justice

Back to PEN America, however. When German author Günter Grass died in 2015, they published a gushing obituary of that 1999 Nobel laureate, praising him for becoming “involved in political debate and discussion” and being a “strong supporter of many international causes.”

Left out was one tiny little detail: that Grass was a Nazi. He fought in the Second World War as a tank gunner in the 10th Waffen-SS Panzer Division ‘Frundsberg’ and had kept that secret for over 60 years. Grass only admitted to it in 2006 – nine years prior to his death, so it’s not like PEN America didn’t know. He also faced far less condemnation than Handke. That should tell you everything, really. 

Nebojsa Malic, for RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.