The Man Behind the Gray Falcon: Interview with Nebojsa Malic

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Nebojsa Malic describes himself as a historian by education and a political analyst, columnist and blogger by circumstance. Having his name stamped on many a prolifically written political analysis, Nebojsa is best known for authoring blogs Gray Falcon (English, since 2004) and Sivi Soko (Serbian, since 2005), as well as contributing to online magazine Antiwar.com regularly, since 2000. He is also a frequent guest commentator on Russia Today and continues contributing to an array of political analysis publications in Serbia.

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, thirty-seven years ago, he has been living in the United States since 1996. He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area. His sophisticated, witty style, uncompromising, razor-sharp, thus controversial attitudes and smart cynicism earned him many fans and followers as well as scorn and criticism from anti-Serbian propagandists.

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SLM: You are one of the best known Serbian political bloggers in the United States. Please profile your audience?

NM – Very eclectic. There are Serbs, of course – both recent arrivals and older, second- or third-generation folks. But there are also Americans, Greeks, Romanians, Russians, Italians, etc. I am constantly surprised by fans who contact me from all over the world. They recognize something in what I write about that applies to their own situation, I guess.

SLM: A reader would consider you a Serb nationalist and an anti-globalist of sorts. How would you describe your ideology in a nutshell?

NM – It is difficult, because I would have to use labels that are prejudiced in advance. “Nationalist” is basically a label invented and used as an insult by anti-nationalists (first Communists, then globalists). I prefer patriot, something that ought to be completely normal and non-controversial by itself. I do oppose the postmodern omnipotent state, and its ultimate manifestation, trans-nationalism, because I consider them tyrannical. I also favor liberty (and the responsibility that comes with it). 

SLM: What is a place for a perceived Serb nationalist writer in the United States?

NM – Not in the mainstream media, for sure. But that is the beauty of the Internet, which has freed people from the constraints of the mainstream. If you don’t like the New York Times’ coverage, there is stuff like Antiwar.com (where I’ve been a columnist for 14 years now) which will give you more accurate information. On the other hand, the Serbs seem obsessed with trying to put you into a box:  Chetnik or Partisan, Democrat or Progressive, monarchist or republican, “ours” or “theirs”… And then we wonder why we can’t have nice things. 

SLM: Don’t you think it is like that with all groups of people?  Black and White? Conservative and liberal?  Republican or Democrat? Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine?  Why do you think categorizing and branding individuals is a Serbian trait rather than a human one?

NM: Everyone tends to categorize people, of course, but with most other groups the “tribal” identity is good enough to count you in; in the Serbian diaspora, being Serbian isn’t enough – you have to be the “right” kind of Serbian. Nationalism – we’re doing it wrong. 

SLM: Any message to young Serbs feeling the nationalist pride, but fearing contempt or criticism or being unable to manifest it properly?

NM – Any society that insists you be ashamed of your identity doesn’t deserve your loyalty. One should never have to apologize for existing, for having a culture, a history, a tradition – especially one so honorable, pious and freedom-loving as ours. Be proud of yourself and your heritage, but don’t be a chauvinist – i.e. express it by denigrating others. Keep the high moral ground, the “choistvo” of our ancestors. 

SLM: I once read that Serbs were ranked number one in the world for having the highest self-esteem, probably in some kind of an entertainment blog.  Would you generally agree, or would you say that Serbs are just full of themselves?

NM: Possibly because of the sort of Serb behaviors I’m dealing with on a daily basis (in politics and the media), I see expressions of extreme negativity much more often. I dare say most normal Serbs have a healthy self-esteem, as well they should, while a small group of media and political “elite” (ha!) are doing their utmost to destroy it. 

SLM: The readers of your blog get your positions on the state of Serbdom perfectly well. Please illustrate it for the SerbLife reader?

NM – For almost a hundred years now, the Serbs have been trying to escape from themselves, trying to be something else, so their false “friends”, rotten “allies” and ill-intentioned “advisers” would like them. And the more we do it, the worse off we are. The ironic thing is that ordinary Americans can totally relate to our core values – freedom, family, tradition. Many foreigners have fallen in love with the Serbs because of those values, not in spite of them. It is when we try not to be Serbs that we get lost and bogged down in misery and despair. Why pursue self-denial when it is so manifestly harmful?

SLM: The last 20 years of Serbian history have been very tumultuous. These characters played important roles in the Serbian national progress. Please characterize them as historical figures. (Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, Zoran Djindjic, Milorad Dodik, Boris Tadic).

NM: Milosevic started the process that gave us our identity back, but didn’t realize its repression in Yugoslavia was a feature, not a bug. Karadzic led the fight of Serbs to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was recognized for the first time ever. Dodik is defending that recognition against all attacks, foreign and domestic. Djindjic and Tadic agreed to be used in attempts to reverse or obliterate all those gains; depending on how kind future historians may be, those two will be remembered either as traitors, or as footnotes.

SLM: As an immigrant and a keen sociopolitical observer and analyst, how do you perceive the role of the American Serb Diaspora in the overall Serb national affairs?

NM – I’m an accidental immigrant; I didn’t mean to stay here permanently, it just kind of happened. So perhaps my perspective is a little different. Serbia believes we are all spoiled rich brats who refuse to share our immense wealth and instead just want to “enjoy life” while they suffer. Meanwhile, a lot of older people in the Diaspora have this image in their minds of what Serbia should be, and it doesn’t conform to reality. So both sides are angry and disappointed, because they are working from perceptions, rather than reality. But anger and bitterness don’t build a house. Those who wish to help will always find a way.

SLM: That being said, whose shoulders does the burden fall on to reach out to the other side?

NM: My feeling is that the Diaspora has more capacity to take the initiative right now, and should do so.

SLM: Are there any Serbian activists that you follow or gain inspiration from either in Serbia or in the Diaspora?

NM: I follow a great many patriotic activists, and link to many in a weekly feature on my Serbian blog. From people who organized resistance to “color” revolutions, documentary filmmakers, bloggers, humorists, songwriters… it is actually a very long list, and I’d hate to leave anyone out. 

SLM: And the last question, on a lighter side: what kind of music would top your playlist these days?

NM: My music taste is all over the place, from Classical to Country. I’ve been on a Russian kick recently, so a lot of Elena Vaenga, Grigory Leps and the Alexandrov Red Army Choir. 

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