Author: Zarko Trajanoski, MA in Human Rights
“It is extremely important for the media to be careful not to become sources of hate speech and not to contribute to its further spread.” (Announcement of the Broadcasting Council, March 6, 2013)
“Patriotic” hate speech is recognizable by the intention of inciting, encouraging or justifying hatred towards internal and external “enemies.” At the core of this hate speech is the division to “We” (“patriots”) and “Them” (non-patriots) that are labeled with various stigmatizing names. “Patriotic” hate speech is often used as an instrument of psychological violence against critics of the current government, by pro-government politicians, journalists or columnists.
In the first part of this analysis we will focus on several examples of “patriotic” hate speech targeting domestic “traitors”, “foreign mercenaries“, “informers”…
Hate speech towards the former minister of VMRO–DPMNE: from “hero” to “snitch”
“Patriotic” hate speech in the media became a particularly worrisome problem in 2009, especially after the media attacks on the presidential candidate Ljube Boshkovski. The Broadcasting Council of the Republic of Macedonia (BC) on decided to reprimand the Macedonian Radio Television on December 10, 2009 for creating an “atmosphere of incitement to hatred which might lead to an endangerment of personal safety” in the TV show “Open with the people“ titled “12 years in prison: Johan Tarculovski, “fate or treason?“.
According to the analysis of the then BC, “there were attempts to discredit Boskovski as a person and as a politician” and “to deconstruct the myth about the patriot “Brother Ljube” with the frequent use of the terms treason, traitor, snitch, and the phrase “Sister Ljube” as a gender stereotype in order to add pejorative meaning, without taking into account the wider negative gender labeling.“
The media smear campaign against the former minister of VMRO–DPMNE started after he became a fierce critic of the government. The campaign was led by pro-government journalists who publicly admitted that they have previously praised him as a hero, even when he was released from the Hague tribunal in 2008. For example, in the column “Snitch“, the author admits part of the “guilt” for praising the Minister as a hero (“Mirka and I are also partially guilty for the informer Ljube“). Once the “Hero of 2001“ began to fiercely criticize the Prime Minister (who welcomed him back from Hague in 2008 as a hero), the same journalist began portraying him as a “snitch.”
“Patriotic” hate speech by journalists towards journalists
Towards the end of 2009, the “patriotic” hate speech in the media was focused not only on politicians but on journalists as well. The Council of honor of the AJM (Association of Journalists of Macedonia) then defended the journalistic profession and strongly condemned “the frequent practice of unverifiable labeling of the journalists as ‘traitors’ just because some of their views do not match the views of certain groups or centers of power.”
The reason for this reaction was the text “Journalists in both Greece and Macedonia are paid to support the Greek proposal“ specifying people, public figures and journalists, who, without any evidence, were deemed to be mercenaries spreading propaganda” that would help the acceptance of the Greek proposals for changing the name of the country.” It was also indicated that a similar list is posted on the blog of journalist Milenko Nedelkovski with a direct threat addressed to the persons named as traitors: “the hand of the Macedonian will get you.”
In 2010, the hate speech and the calls for liquidation by Milenko Nedelkovski in the TV show “Zebra” were again condemned not only by the AJM, but also by the European Federation of Journalists. AJM condemned “the public appearances of TV host Milenko Nedelkovski, his lists of traitors and direct and open calls for liquidation of fellow journalists, who should be eliminated solely on the basis of the “criteria” of Nedelkovski and his associates.”
European Federation of Journalists also condemned “the television call for violence against journalists in Macedonia.” EFJ General Secretary outlined that this is a very serious call for people to commit violence against journalists, clarifying that “the controversy erupted after Milenko Nedelkovski, a TV presenter on Kanal 5 presented a list of journalists ‘traitors’ last week and openly called for their physical elimination.“
The Broadcasting Council fined Kanal 5 TV on December 2, 2011 with a two day ban for broadcasting advertisements and teleshopping due to programs containing hate speech in the “Milenko Nedelkovski Show” (aired on November 18, 2011). In the expert analysis, the BC concluded that “… the audience can only hear which journalists, according to Nedelkovski, are traitors, mercenaries, police informants and snitches, leaving an impression that those journalists are guilty only because they think or act differently than the host of the show. “According to the same analysis of the Broadcasting Council, “With the labeling and stigmatization of his opponents – primarily a group of journalists – Milenko Nedelkovski shows open hostility with elements of hate speech and creates a hostile atmosphere.”
Hate speech towards journalists culminates with open calls for violence
In 2014, the Front for Freedom of Expression publicly condemned the thuggish attack of Milenko Nedelkovski on participants in the public TV debate before the elections, saying “The time has come for a bullet to the head. There is no other way. We must rid ourselves of this scum“.
After the elections, the same public figure published another list of media, journalists and politicians on his website, calling for the “removal of ulcers.” He called the group of media and journalists “a bunch of gays working for the interests of the Greek government and the Greek secret services” and “foreign mercenaries.”
This hate speech that openly encourages violence towards media and journalists was not publicly condemned by the President, the Prime Minister and Ministers, who are regular guests on the “Milenko Nedelkovski show.”
Continues: “Patriotic” hate speech: Hate towards NGOs and activists (2)