Archduke Otto—The Smears
Not one of the challenges to his sources is he able to gainsay or rebut.
The most he can do is claim some sort of generalised misinterpretation of his position.
There is but one exception: He clarifies that he was referring to Dr. Ceric as the one who “counts among his international activities participation in radical Islamic groups and events, as well as links with Muslim activists banned from the US for terrorist funding and phony Islamic charities tainted by terrorist links.”
But he cannot deny that the links he pointed us to, simply don't exist.
Indeed, he cannot deny that his “sources” simply did not prove any of his claims against Archduke Otto.
Clearly, an apology is due from Dr. Trifkovic for his unworthy smear of Archduke Otto.
Instead, we get more of the same.
Since Habsburg’s support of the Muslim side in the Bosnian war is uncontentious . . .
Not an ounce of evidence does Dr. Trifkovic produce for this claim. Meeting Alija Izetbegovic is certainly not proof that Archduke Otto was “an enthusiastic supporter of the Jihadist side.” Yet, despite the opportunity to provide proper evidence of the claim, Dr. Trifkovic produces none.
Well, Dr. T? Where is your evidence? Well, sir? Where is it?
Once again—nothing, nix, nil.
Instead he tells that “since . . . it is uncontentious.”
Uncontentious? Is this a jest?
Of course the claim is highly contentious!
Archduke Otto was a proponent of the peaceful co-existence of all members of the three great monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
He was under no illusion that such an aim is very difficult to achieve in the Balkans but he nevertheless regarded it as a worthy aim—and rightly so.
Thus—the claim that he was “an enthusiastic supporter of the jihadist side” was, is and remains exactly what I claimed it was: ludicrous. More so—it is offensively ludicrous.
Regarding those Eastern Orthodox clerics [“Wrong! Not only were they invited, but they attended . . . ”], being invited to attend a funeral is rather distinct from being invited to read homilies and say prayers. No Orthodox cleric was awarded such honor . . .
Let us remember what Dr. Trifkovic said in his initial article: “No orthodox Christians were invited.”
He does not deny that this statement was simply wrong.
Instead, he now says that no Orthodox cleric was “awarded the honour of reading a homily or saying a prayer.”
And why, may we suppose, did they not do so?
The answer is simple: Most Orthodox clergy themselves refuse so to do!
But now the Orthodox clergy's declining to read or pray gets twisted by Dr. Trifkovic into blame of the funeral organisers for not pressing them so to do.
The funeral organisers did not press them precisely because they respected the Orthodox clergy's wishes.
Thus, the original statement was simply false. It would be wiser for Dr. Trifkovic simply to admit that he made a mistake and leave it at that.
Moreover, the willingness of Bosnia’s Reis-ul-Ulema Mustafa effendi Cerić to read a prayer is a strong indication that he is a more moderate Muslim since extreme Muslims would decline such an invitation.
Bogle’s defense of Cerić
I did not defend Dr Ceric. I defended Archduke Otto and his good name.
and his categorical denial of the latter’s extremist proclivities and connections [“Nothing. Err . . . at all. Yep. Nix. Not one little reference at all!”]
No, I did not deny this, and certainly not categorically.
What I said was that Dr. Trifkovic had provided no evidence—nothing at all—for his claim.
I accept that Dr. Trifkovic was talking about Ceric and not Archduke Otto but, even so, he produced no evidence for his claims.
Still less has he produced evidence for his claims about Archduke Otto, and it was Archduke Otto whom I was defending.
The record of the late Archduke’s favorite mufti is long and unpleasant.
Dr. Trifkovic also produces no evidence for his claim that Dr Ceric was the Archduke's favourite mufti.
As to his “long and unpleasant” record, this was peripheral to my response.
But, since he raises it, I have looked, once again, at his sources and, once again, they are very far from being proof of Dr. Trifkovic's assertions.
The quotes from Dr. Ceric are little more than the kind of comments that one would expect from any Muslim mufti, moderate or otherwise.
Of course Christians will not agree with those sentiments, but it is of the essence of peaceful co-existence, whether as championed by Archduke Otto, or any other kind, that one learns how to live in the same country with others whose beliefs one does not share.
That was the policy of the Habsburg empire, just as it was of the Pontifical States and of other European countries. Austria recognised minority races and religions (including Jews and Muslims) as having all the constitutional rights of the Emperor's subjects. Papal Rome is one of the cities in Europe from which the Jews were never expelled.
The mere wish to implement sharia law is not, of itself, evidence of extremism, since, once again, almost all Muslims believe it should be implemented when Muslims are in the majority.
The real test of extremism consists in what is to be included under the rubric of sharia law.
In Britain, the Roman Catholic King James II was ousted from his throne in 1688/9 because his Declaration of Indulgence would have established religious tolerance. Nonsensically, his Anglican Whig opponents accused him of “intolerance” for being tolerant.
Dr. Trifkovic seems to argue similarly.
Because Archduke Otto favoured peaceful co-existence, he is painted as being against peace and against co-existence.
It is absurd.
Almost two decades ago Cerić launched a campaign against mixed marriages and declared that children born to Muslim victims of rape were “easier to accept” than those born to Muslim women married to non-Muslim men.
This is extracted from Professor David Campbell's book National Deconstruction: Violence, Identity and Justice in Bosnia, an unfortunate choice for Dr. Trifkovic since the book details evidence of Serbian militia atrocities, mass murders, rapes and deportations during the Bosnian war.
The alleged quote, however, is not sourced in David Campbell's book.
What is sourced, however, by Professor Campbell is Dr. Ceric saying this:
“We are being killed because we want to live together. You see, we Bosnians are defending your principles in Europe. We are defending the principles of the United Nations and its Secretary-General—and he is the one breaking those principles. I ask you, is there anything left of humanity in the West? Is there anything left of justice and humanism?”
These are not words normally associated with a Muslim “jihadist.”
Last May Cerić openly threatened a “Sarajevo Sumer,” inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, unless grades from religion classes were included in students’ overall grade calculation.
What did he threaten?
Well, according to Dr. Trifkovic's source, Dr. Ceric threatened demonstrations in the streets inspired by the Middle Eastern “Arab spring” which demanded democracy. Dr. Ceric did this because religious (including, presumably, Christian) education was in danger of being excluded from student's grade assessments.
The article goes on to say (and Dr. Trifkovic carefully omits), this:
For his part, the head of Ceric's office said that the Islamic leader was 'emotional' when he gave his speech in Blagaj, and maintained that the call for protests was not a call for violence.
This, then, is a rather different thing from what Dr. Trifkovic would have us believe.
On interfaith dialogue, in which he has been inordinately active, to his co-religionists Cerić says that it is wrong to expect much from such forums: “Islam is the religion of God and it is the best way forward known to man. In it lies the salvation of humanity, dignity and all that is required for a creature to be classified as a human.”
What does Dr. Ceric actually say in the article? He says this:
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the principles of interfaith dialogue but they are a farce when conducted within a setting in which real power is in the hands of secularists who don't even believe in God. Under such circumstances interfaith dialogue becomes a tool through which the religious rights of one group—in most cases the Muslims—are slowly eroded. Muslims who want to meet with people of other faiths have every right to do so but it is wrong to accept much from such forums.
My advice is that everybody should stick to their faith and practise it and not attempt to deny others the right to do the same. People should also be honest and not allow themselves to be intoxicated by the occasion and give in to pressure to water down either their beliefs or what constitutes their basic interests.
If anybody decides to enter into any kind of dialogue my only advice then would be to do so as an equal and to be neither apologetic nor reactionary: Islam is the religion of God and it is the best way forward known to man. In it lies the salvation of humanity, dignity and all that is required for a creature to be classified as a human.
It is quite clear that he is not suggesting that non-Muslims are somehow “not fully human” or sub-human, as Dr. Trifkovic tendentiously suggests.
In the same article Dr. Ceric says this, too:
But—and Muslims need to know this as much as any other people—human beings also have duties and obligations to one another. We have to respect one another's right . . . A just and equitable Muslim would respect other individuals' rights in respect to each of these.
Muslim extremist fanatic? Well, maybe, but it is not immediately obvious from the article upon which Dr. Trifkovic so much relies.
A year later, in April 2010, Ceric led prayers at the funeral of Bosnian Army General Rasim Delic, convicted of war crimes against Serbs and Croats by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
This is a phenomenon seen in all three communities, Serb, Croat and Muslim, and it is frankly verging on the hypocritical for Serb or Croat nationalists to take issue here.
General Delic was sentenced to three years prison (and not for murder).
Dr. Trifkovic's friends and colleagues received much bigger sentences, e.g., Milomar Stakic, sentenced in July 2003 to life for extermination, murder , deportation, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and for his role as Prijedor mayor in the atrocities perpetrated against non-Serbs in the Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje concentration camps; and Biljana Plavsic, Radovan Karadzic's successor as Bosnian Serb President, sentenced to 11 years (which she accepted as just) for war crimes (to which she mostly pleaded guilty).
According to the court judgment, as mayor of Prijedor in northwest Bosnia during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Milomir Stakic presided over more than 1,500 deaths and 20,000 deportations of Muslims and Croats, and organized detention camps where Serbian overseers killed, tortured, raped, and starved non-Serbs.
Dr. Trifkovic gave evidence for Stakic at his trial and served with Plavsic when she was a political leader.
The manner in which Kosovo became “independent and integrated” through NATO-supported KLA terrorism and criminality is familiar to most of our readers.
Through what medium is it familiar? Through the reporting of Dr. Trifkovic, I wonder?
The indisputable fact is that Kosovo was largely inhabited by Muslims, long before the war started. Some put the figure as high as 90% Muslim. It is not therefore surprising that some might take a different view of the Serbianisation of Kosovo, even if it was once an important part of Greater Serbia.
Whichever side one takes in the dispute, it was, is, and remains false to say that Archduke Otto supported terrorism, the KLA, the bombing of Belgrade, “visceral Serbophobia” or “outright mendacity.”
Denying the validity of an event or quote not because it is not true but because it is not hyperlinked, or the link is out of date, or the source not to the critic’s liking, smacks of desperate pedantry.
This is also an absurd objection. Dr. Trifkovic referred to these hyperlinked “quotes” as supporting evidence for his very serious accusations against the recently dead Archduke Otto.
It is hardly pedantry to point out that they simply do not exist!
Trying to make it sound like I am saying Hispanics in America are Muslim . . .
That, of course, is not what I said.
On the contrary, I pointed out that Hispanics in America tend to be Christian, as compared with the rising Muslim numbers in Europe. To criticise Archduke Otto for adverting to this fact was clearly otiose.
As to the use of colloquialisms, these are very commonly found on the pages of many respectable journals such as, for instance, The Spectator, and are a very common device in modern journalism. Anyone writing in journals must expect journalism.
On the remaining issues of alleged calling for the bombing of Belgrade, alleged support for the destruction of the Njegos chapel, alleged support for “Eurabia,” alleged “anti-Serb” and “viscerally anti-Orthodox” sentiments, alleged 32nd degree Freemasonry, alleged support for Chechnyan terrorists, and the thoroughly unpleasant reference to the Roman Catholic religion as “bigoted, schwarzgelb Christianity that cost Europe dearly in 1914,” there is not a word.
Putting the most benevolent and charitable construction upon such silence as I can, I take it to be a retraction of his smears. An apology would have been nice, but retraction will suffice.
Let me conclude by repeating that I, too, have some misgivings about the post-war tribunals and am concerned that Serbs and their leaders be treated justly and fairly. I hope I would wish the same for any member of the human race, even my enemies.
Far from being anti-Serb or anti-Orthodox, I have many Slavophile friends, as my very good friend, the late Yuri Miller, a descendant of the Princes Kurakin, a long-standing supporter of the Russian Union of Solidarists (NTS), and long a campaigner against Soviet Communism and for a free Russia, would have readily testified.
On the other hand, I do not think that any cause is well served by distortions, misinformation and smears against anyone, whether archduke or not, and I think it distasteful to be doing so particularly when his family are still in the first week of their mourning and bereavement.
After the Europe-wide revolutions of 1848, the Austrian Emperor set up the Voivodeship of Serbia and the Banat of Temeschwar which, in turn, reflected something of the former recognition of the autonomy that the Habsburg emperors had, in the past, given to Serbia.
The Emperor himself retained the title of Grand Voivod to emphasize the immediacy of Serbian autonomy within the Empire. Indeed, this title was again used at the funeral obsequies of Archduke Otto, as it had been for his mother, Empress Zita.
It was the nationalist chauvinism of the Hungarians that spelt the end of the Voivodeship, most of which was eventually incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary and ruled directly by Hungary after the Historic Compromise (Maerische Ausgleich) of 1867, which was forced onto an unwilling emperor by Magyar nationalists.
However, the Emperor managed to keep respect for national differences in the Austrian part of the Empire with Article 19 of the new Constitution (Staatsgrundgesetz) which stated:
All races of the empire have equal rights, and every race has an inviolable right to the preservation and use of its own nationality and language. The equality of all customary languages [landesübliche Sprache] in school, office and public life, is recognized by the state. In those territories in which several races dwell, the public and educational institutions are to be so arranged that, without applying compulsion to learn a second country language [Landessprache], each of the races receives the necessary means of education in its own language.
The Hungarians went on to be a thorn in the side of the Empire and greatly assisted its fall. When it fell, the vacuum was filled by the evil that fanatical nationalism had fed and nurtured. The Magyars then felt the effect of their disloyalty when, first, Nazism, then Communism, overtook them and crushed them. Hungarian Jews famously suffered at the hand of the Nazi monster, Adolf Eichmann.
Hungary has largely learned the lesson that the yoke of Austria was far better than what came after. It is thus not surprising that the late Archduke Otto was enormously popular in that country.
The lesson of history is that narrow or fanatical nationalism is never likely to serve the twin aims of justice and peace. Indeed, it has often been the harbinger of the very opposite.
That is why there was a call for European unity after the war, but that, too, has now been diverted from its original path. It was that original path that had attracted Archduke Otto, not the secularising pastiche that now threatens the institutions of the EU.
The Austrian Empire was never perfect (what polity ever is?) but we might usefully study today just how it managed for so long to keep so many different ethnics groups together in relative peace, stability and harmony. Not for nothing was it said of Austria's growth through dynastic marriage alliances rather than than war, alii bella gerent, tu, O felix Austria, nubes —others make war but thou, O happy Austria, simply marry and make love.
Of one thing, however, we can be sure. Mud-slinging and false accusations against the late, erstwhile Crown Prince of that Empire will not achieve any good at all.