2 minutes reading time
Fascism is not an idea to be debated, it's a set of actions to fight
Back when I was in high school in Sarajevo, my best friend was Zoka.
We listened to the same bands, went to the same rock shows, found the same stupid things hilarious, played soccer together, skied on the same mountain, supported the same soccer club, confided in each other re: girls, got drunk in the park after school from the same bottle of toxically cheap liquor. We argued about many things, very often about movies—back in the early 1980s (and thereafter) I fancied myself knowledgeable about cinema, which entitled me to deplore the movies he appreciated.
We spent less time together after high school but still remained close, playing soccer regularly and arguing pretty often. But then, bit by bit, in ways so incremental as to be imperceptible to me, he became a passionate Serbian nationalist. Posters of rock bands were replaced with pictures of Serbian saints and stately World War I generals. He no longer quoted lines from movies but from Gorski vijenac (The Mountain Wreath), the 19th-century epic poem about the Serbs' righteous extermination of Muslims. I detested his turn to nationalist tradition, entirely alien to the urban spirit of Sarajevo, where we both grew up, and I frequently told him so. It got to the point where we were likely to spiral into an argument whenever we saw each other. I'd often insist, before getting wound up myself, that we avoid "politics" and stick instead to soccer and movies, but by the time the war started in Croatia, with news of atrocities committed by the Serb Army, it was hard to stay away from it.
The last time we were together was in the fall of 1991, the war was raging in Croatia. We argued for hours, in the course of which he insisted that Radovan Karadzic—presently serving a 40-year sentence for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity—represented the interests of the Serbian people, including Zoka. I remember most clearly my considered response to him, conveyed by way of a tonsil-burn scream: "Well then fuck you and fuck the people Karadzic represents!"