A New York Times article about the bioenergetic skills of war criminal Radovan Karadzic came under fire on social media for allegedly portraying the genocide convict as a charming new age healer.
Critics described the article published on Thursday as outrageous and shameful.
Author Jessica Stern wrote about her encounter with the convict in the prison of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where the two spoke about alternative medicine. The article is an excerpt of her upcoming book, “My War Criminal.”
“It’s the equivalent of getting an eye examination from President Assad and boasting of his bedside manner,” Senior Fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Janine di Giovanni, who covered the Bosnian war for several outlets, posted, calling for a boycott of the book.
Stern spent four hours with Karadzic “who caused extreme suffering to Bosnia, a country I love, and people I love, and now she publishes a book about “her” war criminal,” she wrote.
“The insensitivity to the hundreds of thousands of Bosnians murdered by Karadzic, the rape victims, the children of rape, the displaced, the ethnically cleansed, is staggering,” she argued, calling the fact that The New York Times gave Stern space and credence “appalling.”
Sarajevo-born novelist, screenwriter, columnist and professor at Princeton University, Aleksandar Hemon, posted an article he previously wrote about Karadzic, along with the comment “I wrote this back when war criminals, fascists and murderers were not as cool as they are now.”
I wrote this back when war criminals, facsists and murderers were not as cool as they are now. https://t.co/4Lfoo2Fbjw
— Sasha Hemon (@SashaHemon) January 17, 2020
He also gave a few suggestions to the NYT:
“Hey, NYT, consider these Op-Ed pieces: “Adolf Hitler: The Vegetarian behind the Holocaust,” “Pol Pot's Favorite Parisian Pâtisseries,” “Stalin and the Return of the Gulag Chic,” “Belgian Congo: The Lost Paradise”.”
The ‘Remembering Srebrenica’ NGO strongly criticised the piece, reminding that families have lost their beloved because of Karadzic who “should not be romanticised.”
Emir Suljagic, the director of the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center who is himself a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide Karadzic is convicted of, reacted as well, saying he grew up fatherless because of Karadzic.
“My 17 years old cousin survived a mass execution. Sisters lost brothers, mothers lost sons. But as long as @JessicaEStern has the sensation of cypress trees growing out of her palms when he touches her – it's alright,” he tweeted.
I grew up fatherless because of Radovan Karadžić. My 17 years old cousin survived a mass execution. Sisters lost brothers, mothers lost sons. But as long as @JessicaEStern has the sensation of cypress trees growing out of her palms when he touches her – it's alright. https://t.co/KSkygyW6lA
— Emir Suljagić (@suljagicemir1) January 17, 2020
Stern responded on Twitter.
“I am so sorry that the excerpt was so hurtful. I think it's important for us to understand the extreme danger of nationalisms. But I understand why the excerpt hurt this community, and I apologize,” she wrote.
Stern explained that she wrote her book My War Criminal because she thought it was important for people to understand how a person becomes capable of overseeing a genocide – how he comes to power and how he succeeds.
“I am in no way condoning the monstrous actions of Radovan Karadzic, which I find repugnant,” she wrote, explaining that “the book is about the extreme dangers of nationalisms.”
“The genocide in Bosnia has become a model for white supremacists around the globe, some of whom now view Serb nationalists as a more appealing model than Nazis for the contemporary white-power movement,” she added.
I wrote My War Criminal because I think it’s important for everyone to understand how a person becomes capable of overseeing a genocide – how he comes to power and how he succeeds. I am in no way condoning the monstrous actions of Radovan Karadzic, which I find repugnant.
— Jessica Stern (@JessicaEStern) January 18, 2020