The wrong kind of website chose to follow me on twitter the other day. I was on my phone and just saw it was something with ‘Balkan’ in the name and thought ‘alright, cool’. A couple of days later I actually took a look at the twitter account. And saw red.
Although the bio says something about ‘strengthening the Balkan community in the USA and globally’, it’s actually just a dating website. They most likely followed me at random, as advertising—hoping I’d follow back—or maybe they even saw the ‘bosnae’ in my twitter name and thought ‘here’s a proper patriot’ or whatever.
Anyway, it’s a dating website for people hailing from the Balkans. Because the first thing you want to check out when looking for a date is people’s parents’ passports.
When I called them on it, they were like—
So I said—
After which they unfollowed me since I clearly wasn’t in the target group for, well, racist dating. The kind of dating where your criterion no. 1 is that the other person or at least their parents be from a specific country (and belong to a specific religion as well, I’m sure). ‘Cause what you really want to do is date the parents… or something. I don’t even know how it works, even though I’ve been dealing with this nonsense for at least half my life (I am in my 30s now). This website tries to present the concept in the nicest way possible, but basically, what it boils down to is racism. And the way they talk about it is as if it’s a given that of course you want to only date inside your group. And living among all these other people is just so inconvenient when you want to find a date, they’re just so in the way, you know what I mean? Ugh, FFS.
Not that I don’t think there’s a huge audience for their services. I’ve heard and seen some awfully disappointing displays of bigotry among Bosnians in Denmark, including those of my own generation or even slightly younger, which—back in the day—broke my heart more times than I can count. When I first went off to uni, I thought for sure the people I would meet there would be open-minded, worldly and intelligent. Or at the very least non-racist!
It didn’t quite work that way. On the one hand, the atmosphere at my uni actually became unbearably hostile toward Muslims for a while following the attacks of 11. September 2001, and on the other hand, I experienced social exclusion from a Bosnian student organisation in part for dating a Dane and in part, bizarrely, for being politically active. (Their issue was not what kind of political opinions I had, but the fact that I had them at all. I know, weird.)
Over the years, I’ve had the displeasure of seeing this bigotry in nearly every shape and form and it’s equally disgusting every time. The only difference is that nowadays I’ve got no patience for the bigots anymore.
You would turn your back on a friend for dating outside the tribe? You’re an idiot.
You pass laws sending your young into exile for marrying outside the tribe? You’ll be needing them far more than they’ll be needing you. (I’m looking at you, Denmark.)
You would terrorise or disown your child for dating outside the tribe? You don’t even deserve children. What you should get is, like, orchids or something that you can cross and breed however you like since that seems to be your obsession. Fool.
You actually like someone outside your tribe but choose not to be with them because you don’t want be cast out? I pity you most of all. You know for a fact that what your peers or parents are pressing for is wrong and against your own wishes, yet you choose them over yourself. Because, let me tell you, honey, that is exactly what you’re doing. It’s never a choice between your family and your partner. It’s a choice between whoever is trying to dictate your life and you. Always and only you. And if you start whining about pressure and ‘not everyone is that strong’ and whatnot, just stop. It’s not about strength, it’s about integrity. That persistant voice that will always tell you what’s right and true for you, no matter how hard or scary things are. That doesn’t take strength, it just takes paying attention to yourself. No one says following through is easy, but you have a choice.
Unless of course, you decided to stifle that voice—the better to bleat with the rest of the sheep. In which case you need to own up to it. You can’t lay that down at anyone else’s feet. It’s not an out-clause. But hey, I know just the dating site for you.