Hate e-mail

The e-mails have come from all over the country, and most have those little chili peppers my e-mail application uses to signify a message contains hot language. Actually, dozens of the e-mails were filled with outright anger and hate.

The word has gotten out to the larger Serbian expatriate community that a story in this paper was just “wrong”—not that the facts of the story were in question so much or that we didn’t have the right to publish it, but that it was inflammatory to Christian Serbs and Kings fans, and they were just plain angry. Many hadn’t read the story (see “Vlade’s three-finger salute,” by Cosmo Garvin, January 30). The basic claim in the e-mails was that we were wrong to write a story that criticized Vlade Divac for using a hand gesture that is offensive to Muslims, particularly to one woman in Sacramento, former refugee Senka Filipovic.

A few of the e-mails and phone calls were polite; most were not. B.G. from Hershey, Penn., went so far as to send us pictures. The first grotesque picture was of a Bosnian soldier with the severed head of a Serbian civilian. The next horrifying photo was of a person’s foot on another severed head, as if the person were playing soccer. B.G. added, “This gotta be very funny for you and Miss Filipovic. I bet you are laughing right now. Shame on you Mr. Cosmo.”

Many of the messages claimed we are part of a media conspiracy on the left that is biased toward Bosnian Muslims. I can’t imagine.

A few locals called and declared that we must have something against Mr. Divac, which is not the case (see “A center of compassion”; January 17, 2002). Even the Kings’ own Web site has addressed the controversial nature of the hand gesture. Divac won’t stop using the three-finger salute, and that is his right. It is also Filipovic’s right to speak out against it. And all the hate won’t stop us from printing a story like that one.