An American magazine criticized the culture of violence and the government in Serbia, tabloids: “Praise Vucic out loud”


Original article (in Serbian) was published on 17/05/2023

Web portals in Serbia reported that “the reputable American magazine The Atlantic praises Vucic’s moves regarding disarmament. This is about the author’s text of the sociologist Eric Gordy, explaining the mass murders in Serbia. In the text, Gordy does not praise Vucic, but on the contrary – expresses his view on the “culture of violence” in Serbia, which, he believes, will be much more difficult to eradicate: “Vucic is aware that he cannot deal with the basic causes of violence without questioning his rule”, the author writes in the text, but the pro-regime tabloids kept silent about all this criticism.

Several web portals in Serbia announced today that the American magazine The Atlantic praises Vucic and his measures regarding disarmament, after two mass murders in Serbia.

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“In the text, they underline that in just a few days, Serbia managed to reduce the number of possession of illegal weapons by as much as 90 percent”, the tabloids write.

However, it is not clear from their texts how The Atlantic praises the president, that is, in what words, because they do not provide a single quote from the text of this American paper to prove it.

This is because such a quote does not exist.

The text entitled: “What the United States of America can learn from Serbia after the mass murders”, published by The Atlantic on Tuesday, focuses on criticism of the culture of violence in Serbia and the authorities that even maintain that culture.

The author of the article, Eric Gordy, is a professor of political sociology at the Department of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London and an analyst of political and cultural events in the area of the former SFRY. At the very beginning, he states that the Government of Serbia “reduced the possession of illegal weapons by 90 percent in a few days. It will be much more difficult to eradicate the culture of violence”.

Gordy states in the article that “Serbia is deeply divided, traumatized by the violence of the recent past, which is simultaneously celebrated, condemned and ignored by different political cultures. (…) Institutions in Serbia talk about security as much as they encourage insecurity. As trite as it is to say that last week’s violence could not have been avoided, it is not wrong to say that you could always feel that there was a potential for something like that to happen”.

Speaking about the mass murders in Serbia, Gordy pointed out that the government made several mistakes at the beginning. He reminded that the Minister of Education Branko Ruzic blamed video games and the so-called Western values, and then the police demanded a list of “problematic and antisocial children” from the schools in Kikinda and Uzice.

Then Vucic addressed the public and announced that 90 percent of illegal weapons would be confiscated. In just a few days, the police collected 3,000 weapons.

Gordy states that this move “brought Serbia a lot of international praise”, but that Vucic’s actions did not satisfy activists who see the causes of mass murders not only in the availability of weapons but also in “a cultural and media environment in which violence is glorified”.

According to Gordy, Vucic “is rightly praised for doing what people have been asking for for years”, but he was able to introduce such measures immediately “partly because of the authoritarian way of governing”.

“The opposition is weak, Vucic has almost complete control over the Parliament, the judiciary and most other institutions for making and implementing decisions”.

The author points out that the confiscation of a large number of illegal weapons in Serbia will bring benefits rather than harm, but also that Vucic is aware that “he cannot deal with the root causes of violence without putting the foundations of his rule in danger”.

“The informal network of elites that govern the country needs confused, scared and insecure citizens”, states this sociologist. “The critical mass in Serbia indicates to the public that the state can get rid of weapons, but that eliminating the danger of violence will also require the building of responsible institutions as well as the building of a culture that is, if not tolerant and full of understanding, then at least non-toxic”.

In Gordy’s opinion, the attitude of state structures towards the past also supports the culture of violence.

“Serbia has not made serious efforts to come to terms with its complicity in war crimes during the 90s, despite numerous judgments by the International Court of Justice (…) Instead, political elites and tabloids continue to promote ethno-nationalist resentment and hatred”.

Vucic’s party has announced that it will meet every new protest with a counter-protest which, according to Gordy, will “certainly raise tensions and lead to further violence”. Gordy recalls that Vucic called the protesting citizens “hyenas and scavengers”, which “indicates that he is probably not interested in reaching a compromise and calming down the situation”.