‘You say things sometimes, you don’t know what the hell you mean. But you’re sincere when you say it,” American singer Bob Dylan said in a September 27, 2012, cover story in Rolling Stone magazine.
Dylan, the civil rights movement anthem writer who has received the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom and was honored in 2013 by the French government as a knight in the French Legion of Honor, is being sued by a group of Croatian immigrants in France for inciting racist speech.
In the lengthy Rolling Stone interview quoted above, Dylan is asked about the parallels between America in the 1860s and present day.
“Mmm, I don’t know how to put it. It’s like . . . the United States burned and destroyed itself for the sake of slavery. The USA wouldn’t give it up. It had to be grinded out. The whole system had to be ripped out with force. A lot of killing. What, like, 500,000 people? A lot of destruction to end slavery. And that’s what it really was all about.
“This country is just too fucked up about color. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back – or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. 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.
“It’s doubtful that America’s ever going to get rid of that stigmatization. It’s a country founded on the backs of slaves. You know what I mean? Because it goes way back. It’s the root cause. If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today. Whoever invented the idea ‘lost cause . . . .’ There’s nothing heroic about any lost cause. No such thing, though there are people who still believe it.”
As reported by the November 25 Croatian Times, Vlatko Maric, the representative of the Council of Croatian Community in France (CRICCF), has brought charges against the singer for the latter half of the sentence, “Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
Says Maric, “The court in Paris has accepted the case and we still wait for the date of the trial to be confirmed.”
The Croatian organization is also suing the publisher of the French edition of Rolling Stone, which ran the interview in French, allowing for French jurisdiction. France is known to have strict anti-incitement laws.
“He was without any doubt inciting hatred against Croatians,” says Maric.
As reported by The Guardian, the CRICCF is not seeking damages but rather an apology from Dylan.
“We have nothing against Rolling Stone magazine or Bob Dylan as a singer,” says Maric. “[But] you cannot equate Croatian [war] criminals with all Croats.”