Monthly Archives: April 2011
Yesterday, the Washington Times (yes, the Moonie cult founded newspaper) ran an absurd editorial by Jeffrey T. Kuhner defending Croatian military leader Ante Gotovina, and decrying the ICTY for its prosecution of him. Kuhner seems to be of the belief that Croatia was a victim of Serb nationalism, that Slobodan Milosevic would have destroyed said country if left unchecked, and that the only individuals who deserve punishment for the events of the Wars of Yugoslav Secession are Serbs. His view doesn’t much differ from that of the average American, who being fed a steady 90′s diet of CNN and the New York Times, sees the Serbs as the bloodthirsty butchers of Europe, heir to the legacy of brutality once associated with Adolph Hitler. But, such a belief has little basis in the facts.
To properly understand the events of the Wars of Yugoslav Secession, we must understand Yugoslav history, which begins with the defeat of the Central Powers during WWI. In the post-war settlement, the Western allies sought to create a number of independent states in East-Central Europe that would be powerful enough to prevent the resurgence of Germany and Austria, and counterbalance the dominance of the USSR, while still weak and conflict-ridden enough that international intervention by way of the League of Nations would be necessary. To that end, the nations created were not borne out of plebiscites, despite the grandiose rhetoric championing self-determination and democratic governance. Rather, states were shaped to ensure conflict.
As the enlarged version of the above map should make clear, the borders drawn were bound to cause problems. For example, Danzig was left to the Germans, but was geographically isolated from the rest of said country, as all the intermediate territory was awarded to Poland. Similarly, a large portion of Silesia was awarded to the Czechs, much to the dismay of both the Germans and the Poles. Perhaps most famously, the Sudatenland went to Czechoslovakia, which was appropriate, since Germans made up less than 25% of the population, but which all the same enraged Germany. Territorial disputes aside, the new map of Europe broke up empires, and restored historic states such as Poland, which had died out in 1795 when Russia, Austria, and Germany (then still known as Prussia) partitioned it.
Yugoslavia however, was unique. Never before had a Yugoslav state existed. As I’ve written about before, there is a well-established history of a Serb state, which included Kosovo, Montengro, Bosnia, and much of Macedonia. It even included portions of Croatia. However, the historic record is not replete with evidence of Serb rule over the collective Croat community, whose independence before World War II is a contested historical matter. And it certainly never included Slovenia. As historian Joseph Rothschild notes quite clearly in East Central Europe Between the Two World Wars, the Serbs wanted their monarchy to cover historic territory, and had no interest in being co-nationals with the Croats and Slovenes. Likewise, because the monarchy of Yugoslavia would be Serbian, neither the Croats or the Slovenes cared for such an arrangement. Lacking any sense of national unity, the country quickly fell apart when faced with a second world war.
For its part, following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, the Croats jumped at the prospect of an alliance with Hitler, whilst their Serb brethren mounted two major resistance movements (the Partisans and the Chetniks). As soon as the invasion was complete, they installed Ante Pavelic, who had been under the protection of Mussolini following the French indictment against him for the double assassination of Yugoslavian King Alexander I and French foreign minister Louis Barthou, as dictator. As Avro Manhattan noted in his groundbreaking word The Vatican’s Holocaust:
The Nazis had records of massacres of their own second to none. Yet the horrors committed by Pavelic’s Ustashi troops proved to be of such bestiality as to shock even them: a most crushing evidence that the Ustashi massacres had surpassed anything experienced even by the Germany of Hitler. The magnitude of the butchery can best be gauged by the fact that within the first three months, from April to June, 1941, 120,000 people perished thus. Proportionately to its duration and the smallness of the territory, it had been the greatest massacre to take place anywhere in the West prior to, during, or after that greatest of cataclysms, the Second World War.
Pg 54 (1986, Ozark Books)
As the previously linked Jerusalem Post article makes clear, this brutality was not the mere result of cold, machine-like efficiency, but driven by demented competition:
On August 29, 1942, a friar from the monastery of Siroki Brijeg, named Petar Brzica, won first place for killing the most Serbs in the shortest time, boasting 1,350 throats slit in one night.
The Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) have almost as revolting a track record, but I shall avoid extensive discussion of the matter, as it is somewhat tangential to the subject at hand. What I hope the above illustrates is that the first Yugoslav confederation, known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, was doomed to fail, because it grouped enemy peoples under one government, who were happy to fracture as soon as the opportunity presented itself, with catastrophic results thereafter.
After World War II, the Western allies once again re-built Yugoslavia, this time replacing a Serb-led monarchy with a Communist dictatorship. Leading this unfortunate entity was Josip Broz Tito, a Croat by birth who led the Yugoslav Partisans (which was, in the early days, was largely comprised of Serbs from Montengro and Bosnia). It was his wartime actions which left him in power for decades thereafter. But, it is vital to note, that the only reason the Partisans became the dominant force is because Churchill betrayed the Chetniks, seemingly due to faulty intelligence passed on by highly-placed Soviet moles. A regime under his command was commensurate with the Yalta “percentages agreement” reached between Churchill and Stalin to divide influence in the new Yugoslav state evenly, as Tito was a communist, but not loyal to Stalin.
Of course, World War II hadn’t changed anything, except that now the hostility between Serbs and Croats was greater than ever, and the government had replaced monarchy with communism. With the death of Yugoslavia’s master manipulator, who routinely re-wrote the national constitution and shifted the internal borders to dilute the influence of Serbs displeased with his leadership (and in so doing empowering many of the groups who would agitate for war soon thereafter) it was all but assured that the state would fail not long after his death.
It is here where we can begin to discuss Milosevic, and the allegations of Serb brutality during the Wars of Yugoslav Secession. Kuhner echoes the dominant Silber and Little thesis, made famous in the undeservedly popular Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, which portrays the collapse as a necessary and blameless reaction by non-Serbs to extreme Serb nationalism as anchored by Slobodan Milosevic. To dispel such nonsense, we must look at Milosevic’s rhetoric, rise to power, and actions once in power.
Milosevic first became a recognizable figure within the Serb community on April 24, 1987, when he spoke before a crowd of 15,000 Serbs in Kosovo Polje. Tensions were high, as the continued influx of Albanian immigrants under Titoist policy had given the group a super-majority, which threatened the political and safety rights of the ever-dwindling Serbian minority population, already subject to mass violence. Accordingly, the Serbs in Kosovo clamored for intervention by the Federal government on their behalf, which had not yet happened. As an empty gesture designed more to pacify the crowd of angry Serbs than to facilitate a redress of grievances or study the situation to determine an appropriate course of action, Milosevic had been “dispatched from Belgrade (as documented by Louis Sell in “Slobodan Milosevic: A Political Biography,” which ran in Problems of Post-Communism 46.6 Nov/Dec 1999).” This is particularly important to understand as it makes clear Milosevic went to Polje not with an agenda that would end with his seizure of power, but because his superiors ordered he go there and give a party-approved speech devoid of any proposals for a change in policy that would give Serbs equal protection in Kosovo. In other words, he was sent in as a pawn with no nationalist aims.
His statements acknowledged the importance of Kosovo, though not in radically nationalist terms. Speaking of the situation, Milosevic described it as “the weightiest problem during a difficult economic crisis, when standards have fallen drastically, when prices have climbed, when there are more unemployed,” thereby attempting to frame his case in the prism of communism that so defined his policy. In the speech, he specifically cautioned against degenerating into nationalist conflict, saying “I believe that those who carry the spirit of brotherhood and unity, equal rights and progressiveness can be and must be the only working class of Kosovo, because those that are unified have identical interests, and the least reason to divide into nationalism.” Only through willful misinterpretation of his words can sentiments of Serb nationalism be found in his words. Lines such as “It was never in the spirit of the Serbian and Montenegrin nation to bow before adversity, to demobilize when they need to fight, to demoralize when times are tough. You need to stay here because of your forefathers and because of your descendants. You would shame your forefathers and disappoint your descendants,” must be understood in context. He was not concerned so much with asserting Serb control over Kosovo as he was interested in ensuring that Serbs and Montenegrins not be “pressured by crime and humiliation” to give up their land, and that Kosovo have a sufficient ethnic balance that the Albanians could not achieve their secessionist aims. This is particularly well evidenced by his concluding statement that “Yugoslavia would disintegrate without Kosovo! Yugoslavia and Serbia will never give up Kosovo!” The mention of Serbia is expected because Kosovo, though largely autonomous, was (and technically speaking still is) a province of Serbia. But that is of relatively little consequence, for he focuses chiefly on Yugoslav unity, speaking to the need for action in Kosovo based on its integral role in preserving Yugoslavia.
Many cite his 1989 speech marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo as evidence of his nationalist vision for Serbia. Indeed, his rhetoric was more firebrand than before, and one so motivated could pick out individual statements that seem somewhat damning. Yet the overall tone is again moderate. “Yugoslavia is a multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it,” he said. And even when speaking of Serbia itself, Milosevic noted that “Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage.”
Certainly, this does not sound like the rhetoric of an ardent Serb nationalist. Compare these statements against the words of his Bosniak and Croat counterparts, and it becomes apparent just how moderate Milosevic’s words were. Of course, politicians throughout history have said one thing and done another. So, we must ask, is Kuhner’s claim reasonable? Did Milosevic really aim to “unite the truncated parts of Croatia with the nearly 70 percent of territory his forces had carved out in neighboring Bosnia,” and in so doing, engage in “state-building through genocidal partition?”
Useful in understanding the Croatia situation is the story of Slovene independence, as it fought for independence at the same time Croatia did. The wealthiest of the Yugoslav states, Slovenia was often the odd republic out, having few bonds with the other peoples of Yugoslavia, except for the Yugoslav national identity pushed by the state. Thus, on December 23, 1990, Slovenia held a referendum for independence, with only 5% voting to remain a part of Yugoslavia. In one of the least bloody conflicts in regional history, Slovenia won independence in the Ten Day War, which claimed a mere 62 lives. Neither Milosevic nor the Serbian military leadership supported the Federal plan for a full scale invasion, defending Slovenia’s exit from Yugoslavia. It was not that he saw the disintegration of Yugoslavia as a positive, but that their independence was not a profound threat to the Serbs. Slovenia was (and remains) the most ethnically homogeneous former Yugoslav republic. It had very few Serbs, and would not present major territorial dispute issues for Yugoslavia moving forward.
Croatian independence was an entirely different matter. Before Operation Storm, which ethnically cleansed the region, Krajina had an estimated 430,000 Serbs. Moreover, an independent Croatia would fight with the slowly collapsing Yugoslav state for control of Bosnia, which contained more than 1.3 million Serbs. No neat borders could be drawn, and neither territory was prepared to allow their Serb minority to remain with Yugoslavia. Given the all too recent history of World War II, the Serb minorities in each had profound reason to fear for their safety. This is made especially true by the fact that both the Bosniaks and the Croats quickly returned to their Nazi-era habits. As Djilas notes in the linked Croatian article, almost immediately after the democratic election of Croat leader Franjo Tudjman (an infamous Holocaust denier), the government restored to prominence of the pro-Nazi Ustashe regime and adopted its flag, currency, and anthem. Further, under his direction, Croatia dropped the official use of the Cyrillic script favored by the Serbs, fired many government-employed Serbs, and significantly reduced Serbian parliamentary representation.
Yet, as willing as the Croats were to threaten the Serbs, Milosevic provided little support to his ethnic kin in the rebel republics. The greatest evidence of this is in his handling of Bosnia, where Bosnian Serbs were at war with Croats and Bosniaks for control of their shared homeland. Following the Bosnian Serb rejection of the Vance-Owen Plan, which would have involved the surrender of substantial territory to Herzog-Bosnia (Croatian Bosnia), Milosevic imposed a blockade on the Drina in 1993, cutting off the availability of weapons and other critical resources to the VRS (Bosnian Serb Army). It is worth noting here that NATO did not first bomb Serb territory until 1995, so there was no military pressure for Milosevic to betray his own. As to the Krajina Serbs in particular, Srdja Trifkovic notes in The Krajina Chronicle: A History of Serbs in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, “In Serbia however, [the Republic of Serbian Krajina] was seen as an unwanted economic and burden by Milosevic. To his frustration, the Krajina Serb assembly continued to reject his demands to settle the conflict by accepting the principle of Croatian sovereignty (pgs 217-18).”
Categorically therefore, we can conclude that Milosevic was not a hardliner bent on creating a Greater Serbia. Both his actions and his rhetoric evidence as much. On those grounds alone, one should be prepared to disregard the Kuhner article. If not, his outright hypocrisy should do the trick. Whereas he trivially asserts that Operation Storm, which essentially led to an exodus of all Krajina Serbs not killed in the initial attack, as a proper rebuff against the Serbs, he laments supposedly similar actions taken by the Serbs. Action which he fails to fully explain, and which are not well grounded in history. And, while he faults the HDZ as “fundamentally treasonous” and hopes to see them replaced with “a new conservative party – one that will provide voters with a real patriotic-populist option,” he makes certain to describe Tomislav Nikolic and his Progressive Party (an offshoot of the Radical Party) as “odious,” and their popular support as troubling. More profoundly, he insists that Croatia cease its participation in the ICTY, but never indicates that other countries should do the same, implying that the Serbs should still bow before the court’s authority.
In truth, there is only one phrase in Kuhner’s article which the facts support. Namely, he is correct in describing the ICTY as “a kangaroo court.” Where he is once again in error is in insisting that it is subordinate to the whims of Serb nationalists, and has made a substantial effort to prosecute non-Serbs. The numbers tell a rather different story, as does the fact that Western forces that bombed the Serbs repeatedly (and allied themselves with the Croats, Bosniaks, and Kosovo Albanians) are not being held to account for violation of the same rules of warfare the Serbs are said to have ignored.
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Recently, I wrote about Universal Beatz, and their decision to bow before anti-semitic pressure groups and disinvite the lone Israeli participant from their supposedly multicultural hip-hop week. Unsurprisingly, in expressing this view in the comments of the campus paper, I got many negative responses. Given the unreliability of the Student Life website when it comes to archiving, I have copied my responses below.
I’m sorry, but Marvin Casey admits that the Jewish fund, the very fund that denies Palestinians their right of return, while giving foreigners a free ticket to the same land, has supported him. Just because he dances, it does not mean he’s any less complicit in the racism that the Jewish Fund happily partakes in. Keeping a blind eye to something wrong makes you just as guilty. Instead of pretending that both sides are equal in standing, let’s first learn to recognize that one side is an oppressive, occupying, apartheid government and the other other is under occupation. Just because some of you do no feel terrorized by the Israeli government, it does not mean they haven’t terrorized millions of Palestinians. Instead of pretending to be interested in dialogue, visit the occupied territories and tell me you aren’t witnessing apartheid. Maybe he should go see for himself if he’s really interested in seeing peace between both peoples. And maybe he should ask the people of “Arab descent” if they were once called Palestinians before his government made it impossible for them to claim as such.
To which I replied:
Bre, the Jewish Agency in no way inhibits non-Jewish immigration. It just fails to actively support it, which is no crime. Consider how Italy extends citizenship offers. If your grandparent is a citizen of Italy, you may seek to automatically be extended Italian citizenship. Israel’s process is similar, though because of the extended period of time for which the Jewish state was under foreign occupation, a slightly different criteria for judging inherited citizenship claims had to be established. Being that the UN created the contemporary state to be a “Jewish” homeland, it seems entirely fair that the state was biased in favor Jews when developing a citizenship system.
Moreover, let us consider this supposed right of return. The Palestinians refused statehood in 1948, and numerous times since then. They have no full state, yet agitate actively for one. Israel is expected to dismantle itself and return to the green line, and then accept millions into the newly dwarfed Israeli state? Such a process would ensure what is already all too probable, which is that Israel’s Jewish identity will be fully extinguished in short order. And since the creation of modern Israel was intended as a remedy to safeguard the Jews from yet another genocide, that seems profoundly troubling to me.
Moreover, let us consider the conditions under which they fled. Israel’s neighbors vowed to destroy Israel and give the totality of the territory to the Palestinians. They temporarily vacated in support of this aim. That turns out to have been a bad bet. But, just as a casino doesn’t return your money when the house has a better blackjack hand, your enemy has no equivalent obligation either. And make no mistake about it, Israel and Palestine are enemies of one another, as evidenced by the persistent terrorism of the latter.
And then some ISM folks affiliated with the university, who apparently are blind to reality, wrote a rather lengthy defense of the disinvitation of Casey.
My reply to their message is as follows:
Interesting how you appeal to Gandhi, for when asked directly if “the Jews should have committed collective suicide,” he responded “Yes, that would have been heroism .” That is exactly what would happen if Israel, rather than fight back in the extremely restrained fashion they already have, turned an even blinder eye to Palestinian terrorism.
Mind you, if you insist on using the Gandhi motif, let us recall that Israel’s creation was as much a rejection of British imperialism as India’s. To that end, Israel is the product of decolonization, and therefore cannot itself be a colonizing power.
The territory in dispute was won through defensive warfare. If one reviews the international law without an initial anti-Israel bias in mind, it becomes readily evident that Israel has ownership or the right to assert ownership over those territories. In practice, this means that Israel’s actions are no more problematic than the US federal government apportioning aid to the various states at unequal levels, or two states having different gun laws.
As to the Brand Israel campaign, decrying that would be the equivalent of getting angry at US travel agencies advertising abroad and talking about the vibrant nightlife and ample cultural centers available here, instead of emphasizing how the US came to being through the taking of Native American lands. In other words, you’re holding the JA to a standard you wouldn’t hold an American equivalent, so that you can try and find acceptable terms in which to couch your anti-zionism, which itself is just a mask for your anti-semitism (or Jewish self-loathing as may be the case for some).
That you condemn the disinvitation of the Palestinian performers is stunning, insofar as they were not disinvited. Rather, they indicated an intent to boycott, and once their demands were met, they were not actively invited for a second time. It is they who sewed the seeds for their own exclusion.
Oh, and since you like to cite MLK as well, I shall leave you with a couple of quotes from him:
“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
“When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
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This week, a Washington University student’s group by the name of Universal Beatz, is hosting “U.S.-Mideast Hip Hop Exchange Week.” They received some $12,799 from the Student Union’s individual appeals account. The event, as it was sold to them, intended to “[break] down the misconceptions Americans have about the Middle East and Middle Easterners have about America through the artistic medium of hip-hop.” Group president Nicole Lopez said, of hip-hop, that “It’s a medium for people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice to criticize society or talk about the day-to-day realities they might face.” Naturally then, one would expect a diverse roster, selected apolitically.
In broad terms, one might argue that the original line-up fit such a description. It included rappers of both genders, local acts, and those hailing from countries such as Morocco and Israel. Marvin Casey’s Tribe 13 was the only Israeli representation on a heavily Arab list, but given the relative percentage of the Middle East’s population, that would’ve been entirely fair. I stress “would’ve,” because they have since been disinvited. Why? Because the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee reached out to some of the other rappers performing, and talked them into threatening a boycott if Tribe 13 remained invited. This led Universal Beatz to “[evaluate] the effects of this on our event” and conclude that Casey and Tribe 13 should be disinvited.
In what may be the most feeble attempt to justify caving into such pressure that I have ever witnessed, the group claims that they behaved in a politically neutral capacity by not pandering to Sharif “the Truth” and BiRD, the no-name rappers who had threatened to boycott. Their invitations were not so much withdrawn as they were not extended for a second time after the named individuals first refused to appear. Yet, to Nicole Lopez, this keeps the event “politically neutral in the matter by physically representing neither side of this conflict.” Giving into one side, but only accommodating their wishes in full, without supplemental groveling, is not neutral. Not is a decision like this apolitical. By disinviting the only Israeli representation, there becomes a relative homogeneity of voices, which seems antithetical to a supposedly multicultural event.
But then, such is the nature of multiculturalism, is it not? In practice, multiculturalism means the promotion of minority cultures, from which Jews seems categorically excluded, as we are grouped with caucasians when such matters are being considered. The essence of the STL-PSC’s complaint is that any is Israeli not actively shunning their home country and treating it as an apartheid state (which, for the record, is an idea rejected by the black community) is diverting attention away from Palestinian suffering, and thus is to be boycotted. Never mind that Mr. Casey is not a part of the Israeli political right, or that the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement never condemns the heinous crimes of the Palestinians. Instead, the issue here is that simply being an Israeli renders one a villain by default in the eyes of these champions of multiculturalism.
British journalist Melanie Phillips stated that “Anti-Semitism is protean, mutating over the centuries into new forms. Now it has changed again, into a shape which requires a new way of thinking and a new vocabulary. The new anti-Semitism does not discriminate against Jews as individuals on account of their race. Instead, it is centred on Israel, and the denial to the Jewish people alone of the right of self-determination.” And that is exactly the force at work behind the actions of groups like the STL-PSC. Overt racial or religious anti-semitism has been deemed socially unacceptable in the civilized world since the full horrors of the Holocaust became known. Israel provided the answer, in the it is essentially Jewish, but being a nation, is open to more stringent criticism than would ever be tolerated of Jews directly in our modern context.
As Mrs. Phillips puts it, “This has produced an Orwellian situation in which hatred of the Jews now marches behind the Left’s banner of anti-racism and human rights, giving rise not merely to distortions, fabrications and slander about Israel in the media but also to mainstream articles discussing the malign power of the Jews over American and world policy.” This is exactly what we’re witnessing, and what we need to speak out against.
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For some time now, I’ve been meaning to write about rape, specifically in regards to how we profoundly exaggerate its frequency, disregard the ubiquity of fraudulent charges of it, and paint a grossly distorted picture on the whole. To date, I’ve avoided doing so, largely because Pierce Harlan does such an exceptional job speaking to these issues on a regular basis on his blog, The False Rape Society. But, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Week, my campus newspaper has decided to run a lengthy article about rape and attempted rape, presenting it as news, despite its reliance on appeals to emotion over the presentation of fact and the inclusion of demonstrably incorrect information. While a blatant disregard for basic journalistic standards is old hat for the paper, this particular article is too egregious to go unchallenged.
The article opens by declaring:
Most students on this campus are shocked to learn that one in four of their female peers are the victims of rape or attempted rape. But this is the reality that exists at Washington University and on college campuses across the nation. This week is Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and Student Life is taking a deeper look into sexual assault on campus and why so many rapes and rapists go undetected. In the hopes of debunking the myth that rape can only be defined as a violent crime between strangers, one student has shared her story of rape.
Now, there are a couple of fair points within this paragraph. Namely, it is correct to say that Washington University is not immune from rape, and that the act of rape needn’t be a man jumping out of the bushes to attack a woman casually passing by. Everything else stated therein however, is false. The “one in four” canard, elaborated on shortly thereafter, is an absurd Department of Justice statistic that, if true, would translate to approximately 750 undergraduate women at Washington University either having been raped, or been the victims of attempted rape. Realizing that the average undergraduate spends four years at Washington university, we should expect approximately 188 rapes and rape attempts to have occurred within the past year. Yet, as the Student Life article readily admits, only five women on campus reported being raped in 2009.
What this means is that if we accept the DOJ numbers, 97.3% of rapes or attempted rapes where current Washington University students are the victim go unreported. That number alone should suggest that the DOJ’s estimates are too extreme to be trustworthy. Still, the official statistic is one in four. So how exactly is that number reached? According to the National Institute of Justice, which is part of the Department of Justice, the “one in four” canard comes from a “methodologically rigorous” study by Koss, Gidycz, and Wisiewski. It turns out however that study doesn’t hold up too well to scrutiny. Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers does a phenomenal job demonstrating its flaws. In short, the survey of some three thousand college aged women asked a series of 10 questions about their past sexual activity, from which she concluded that 15.4 percent of respondents had been raped, and that 12.1 percent had been victims of attempted rape, translating to 27.5% overall, called “one in four” out of convenience.
There are two problems however. First, the definition of rape included any woman who admitted to having sex after having ingested alcohol or drugs, making no distinction regarding her actual level of impairment, the willingness of the woman to ingest such substances, or even how they reacted once sober. Second, and even more damning, Koss and her associates entirely disregarded whether or not a woman regarded themselves as having been victimized. As such, roughly one quarter described their experience as rape or attempted rape, five percent as some other crime, and the remaining as a simple matter of “miscommunication,” where in many cases no victimization was felt. In essence then, the “one in four” canard gives a big tent definition of rape and attempted rape which includes women who don’t feel victimized or who willingly ingested even the smallest quantity of alcohol.
This trivializes real rape. But so does the story of “Rachel,” the anonymous figure whose story in the Student Life article is supposed to sway emotionally those of us not moved by obviously false statistics. She, after a night of drinking, blacked out and awoke later with vaginal pain. Despite remembering almost nothing of that night, including having had sex, she believed that the male peer who drove her home had sex with her, and thus raped her. Now, there seems to be no evidence for this (other than a UTI, obtainable through other means), and certainly no way to know whether or not he too was intoxicated, if indeed they had sex. And, likely because it was not rape, but at most drunken sex between the willingly intoxicated, she did not regard herself as a victim until quite a while later, under the guidance of a friend who has grown up in a generation that believes rape to be far more prevalent than experience and hard data suggests, and who by extension see rape where it is not.
It is worth noting that the law does hold a person unable to consent after ingesting alcohol. However, if both parties are intoxicated, it is generally only the male who is liable to face criminal charges. This is in keeping the cultural and legal emphasis on defining rape as a male crime against women. The reality however, is quite different. And if we are to recognize the severity of rape, and thus seek to properly address it, we must recognize that men are just as seriously victimized by rape.
The male victimization occurs in two forms: actual rape, and the trauma of false rape accusations. Regarding the former matter, it is often overlooked, but the prevalence of prison rape is quite astounding - 240,000 American men falling victim to it each year. Before dismissing it is as the fitting punishment of criminal scum, remember that many men raped in prison are there for victimless crimes, especially of the drug related variety. Sanctioning prison rape then, aside from granting approval to something inhumane and otherwise immediately fit for condemnation, is sanctioning rape for possession of marijuana. And that is all without even discussing male rape outside of prison, particularly of minors.
False rape accusations get even less attention. Outside of the Duke Lacrosse scandal, such matters are rarely discussed. Yet RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) has demonstrated nearly half of all rape accusations against non-criminal males are false. Their conclusion is based on three academic studies of rape accusations (one in the Air Force, another in a large midwestern city, and a third at a pair of universities), all of which found between 41% and 60% of rape allegations to be false, as measured primarily through the accuser recanting their charge of rape. As they disturbingly note, with 95,000 reported rapes per year in the US, this means that approximately 47,000 men are falsely accused of rape each year within our borders. And, even those who avoid conviction have their lives ruined.
In the spirit of Sexual Assault Awareness Week, let us therefore reject unsound dogma and acknowledge certain facts:
- Rape is not vastly underreported. While no doubt some women who are genuinely raped never file a police report, it is not the rarity the DOJ statistics would have you believe. Moreover, about half of those instances where rape charges are filed are bogus.
- Men can be victims of rape too, and are, in large numbers. Prison rape is a serious phenomenon.
- False rape accusations and gross statistical distortions, as well as defining intoxicated sex as rape, serve to belittle true victims by both introducing greater doubt in genuine cases, and in trivializing rape by making it falsely appear to be something so commonplace and potentially non-violent.
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