A matter of Rape-Speak: The New York Times on Serbia

By Peter Duveen

PETER'S NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2008--The manner in which the New York Times serves as an instrument of the foreign policy establishment is truly remarkable. Times reporters receive training (is brainwashing a better term?) in sessions sponsored by the New York Times Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations. These training sessions, of a sort that are regrettably common in the journalistic profession,  instruct reporters on how they are to view and report on foreign affairs and other issues. As a result, Times reporters have inherited the mantle of those who have crafted foreign policy for a string of U.S. presidential administrations These reporters serve as sort of busy bees to get the program out there to the public.

So what is Rape-Speak, and how does it figure in the Times's reporting? A good example may be found in the World Briefing sidebar, page A14 of the Times's September 4th edition. In fact, it is such a perfect specimen that it ought to be used as an illustration in journalism classes. For those busy bees who parrot what they have learned in sessions conducted by the CFR,  it is an example of how to write to satisfy their handlers and keep themselves on the payroll. For those pillars of the foreign policy establishment, it is one more notch in the belt of trying to create history by fiat. But for the astute reader, it is an insult on the mind and spirit, and a gauntlet thrown down at the feet of the Serbian people.

Ever since the end of the Balkan conflict of the 1990s, the United States government has been trying to impress upon the Serbian people that they are evil demons who must repent of their behavior during that bloody episode in their regional history. Somehow, Serbians don't unanimously buy into it. Many remember the bombing of Belgrade directed by then Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The young of their small country would huddle every night in basements as a tirade of explosions filled the night with terror. Death and destruction was rained down on that city for weeks on end. Then-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic eventually capitulated and signed some kind of surrender agreement, lost his post as president, and was hauled off to a war crimes tribunal. He died while still in custody of the tribunal, apparently after being poisoned by his captors. His very public fight at the tribunal had become an embarrassment to the West, which felt compelled to end the show trial by any means necessary.

So now, it would appear that the West, particularly after Russia's recent show of strength in neighboring Georgia, is anxious, or shall we say, desperate, to bring Serbia under its wing.

The snippet by Stephen Castle in the aforementioned article-ette tells it all. Titled "Serbia: Good News From the European Union," it immediately raises the studied eyebrows of the seasoned reader. Good news for whom? one asks.

"A European official told Serbia on Wednesday that it might become a candidate for membership in the European Union next year and could receive trade concessions even sooner."

Oh boy! Wow, break out the ice cream and chocolate bars!  But wait! Not so fast! Has Serbia actually sought membership in this so-called Union of thugs that were behind the bombing of Belgrade? One might think our reporter, Mr. Castle, would answer this question for us. But he remains eerily silent on the issue.

He continues in pure, unabashed Rape-Speak: "It was the most upbeat and specific statement yet on Serbia's prospects for joining the 27-nation European bloc." Still no mention of whether the government of Serbia has even expressed an interest in membership. Castle: "The comments, from Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, suggested to the government in Belgrade that things could move quickly if Serbia removed the main remaining obstacle to its application for membership: the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander." Now that sentence sounds more like a veiled threat than a passage from a news story.

The entire article cannot help but remind one of the many descriptions of the heinous crime where the perpetrator emanates glowing confidence in testifying that the victim wanted, and in fact, enjoyed his actions, while his hand was held over the victim's mouth to muffle any cries for help. Rape-Speak has become, or shall we say has been for many decades now, the lingua franca of the foreign policy establishment and of its beloved instrument, the New York Times. The difference is that the so-called victim in this case has proudly and defiantly opposed the rapist's bully body. And there is a rescuer in the ranks. Russia stands by to lend a helping hand, as it seeks to form a new pan-Eurasian union of its own. Let's hope the American public can see through this putrid rhetoric of the Times. But let's also thank Stephen Castle, who, among the minions at the Times, has provided us with one of the finest text-book examples of Rape-Speak.

BACK TO HOME PAGE