You don’t want to make flippant racial comments in France – that would be the takeaway for legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who’s just been charged with incitement to racial hatred following an investigation of comments he made comparing Croats to Nazis and slave owners, AFP reported.
Answering a question from the French Rolling Stone in 2012. about race relations in America, Dylan, whose anti-racist credentials are impeccable, said: “Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
For the record, the German and Italian occupation of Yugoslavia in 1941 encouraged the rise of the Croatian radical right revolutionary movement Ustaše to take power, forming the “Independent State of Croatia,” enacting racial laws, and constructing concentration camps for Serbs, Gypsies and Jews. It is estimated that some 330,000 were killed in those camps. So, yes, Serbs should be as good at smelling Croatian atrocities as Jews do Nazi.
Needless to say, the Croatians did not like that. So the Council of Croats in France (CRICCF) filed a lawsuit, and Dylan was questioned by police and eventually charged last month.
According to the International Business Times, CRICCF secretary general Vlatko Maric confirmed that a Parisian court will hear the case and has requested Dylan’s presence at the hearing.
If you ask me, he should be sued by his fans for singing without a voice these past ten years or so, but if they don’t mind it, I don’t mind it. It’s funny, though, to be sued by the Croatians. It’s like being sued by your parish pedophile priest. I mean, all Dylan has to do is open up a laptop and plug in Croatian atrocities. They got Wikipedia in French, don’t they? Try “Atrocités Croates 1941-1945.”
Vlatko Maric told AFP: “It is an incitement to hatred. You cannot compare Croatian criminals to all Croats.”
No, it isn’t, and you can. It’s known as calling a spade a spade.
According to the Independent, there are greater restrictions on freedom of speech in France than there are in the U.S., and if Dylan is found guilty of racism, he could face a fine. Croatian radio stations, meanwhile, are boycotting his songs.
Funny thing, though? Only a few weeks ago, Dylan was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the most prestigious award in France. According to the Guardian, France’s culture minister Aurélie Filippetti presented Dylan with the award, given to individuals who have served France (Jerry Lewis gets it ever other year).
Filippetti spoke about Dylan’s cultural importance and how he had become a role model for young people who strive for justice and independence.
How cool is that? Well, originally the award ceremony was suspended back in May, because the grand chancellor of the French Legion, Jean-Louis Georgelin (whose main claim to fame was serving ten years in the Army’s financial department), declared the singer was unworthy of the award, because he was against the Vietnam war and, really, all the other wars, too. Also – because he did weed.
Finally, after a few months and heated behind the scenes action, the old bookkeeper gave in and Dylan was awarded the thing just in time for an international incident.
Dylan played in Croatia in 2010. That’s not happening again.