Letters for February 13, 2003

Terror goes both ways

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

I could not believe what I was reading! Filipovic frightened by the three-finger salute?

I am an Orthodox [Christian], and I use the three fingers to cross myself every night.

To think that this Muslim is trying to cause problems in the United States is to me the answer to who started the problem in Bosnia.

Filipovic has to be reminded that we are not going to tear the United States apart with propaganda about other ethnic groups the way it was done by her countrymen in Bosnia. If she does not like Vlade’s freedom to give his victory salute, which I love, then she should go back to Bosnia, where she does not have to worry about it.

There were many Bosnian Serbs who were terrorized by Bosnian Muslims. When I see the Muslim women walking in our malls with those heads covered, I wonder when the veil is next. But it is a free country.

Filipovic frightens me, as she is trying to bring trouble to Vlade and the Serbs in America. She is being successful when you fall into her trap. I wonder how much of her story is fiction.

This is the United States of America, and we do not want Muslims, or anyone else, coming here and trying to tear this nation apart.

Kathryn Love
via e-mail

To SN&R: a one-finger salute

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

First of all, Vlade Divac is a great person who has gone out of his way to sponsor events to help children all over the world.

Secondly, his respected teammate, Hedo Turkoglu, a Muslim, also uses the three-finger salute in celebrating a three-point shot.

Last but not least, the three fingers denote [the number] three in American Sign Language, as opposed to the letter W, formed by the index, middle and ring fingers.

The written article is definitely a stretch of the imagination. Perhaps the author and the editor who proofed the article should be given the one-finger salute and apologize to Vlade Divac.

Tom Dominick

… and another

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

For this article, you can get the middle finger from me.

The war ended in 1995. If you don’t remember, we now have 2003. Your country will attack Iraq in the near future.

Maybe the Serbs will be guilty also for this war?

Drasko Zivkovic
via e-mail

Offensive symbols everywhere

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

Following the logic of some of the Bosnian Muslims about Vlade’s three-finger salute, we should expect a ban on crosses on all churches in America. They are offensive to some other Muslims.

Mirjana Petrovic
San Diego

Use the remote, but be careful about which fingers!

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

Do you wonder if any of Filipovic’s countrymen turned down any of the humanitarian aid Mr. Divac sent to their area? He is a very generous human being and a member of a humanitarian organization that helps all people in war-torn Yugoslavia, including Muslims in Sarajevo. I am shocked your paper didn’t give him credit for that. I believe him when he said he respects everybody.

As for Filipovic, who is obviously enjoying her free education here in the United States, she is surely aware that every TV remote comes equipped with an on/off button. I suggest she use it. But she should be careful to use only her ring and pinky finger, for obvious reasons.

Mary Paich
president of Serbian Cultural Society of Pennsylvania

No gestures, please

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

As an avid Kings fan, I applaud the efforts of Vlade Divac and other members of the Sacramento Kings in initiating several projects that improve our local community. In addition to their local support, they have been known for their international humanitarianism, which is also to be applauded.

However, I am concerned that gestures such as the three-finger salute may alienate many minorities, locally and internationally. No matter the intent of its usage, such a symbol has been used to intimidate those who are of a particular ethnic background or culture.

Symbols and gestures have no place in a community as diverse as ours. Although our community may not be familiar with this specific symbol, we should not condone its usage. We clearly would not support other such emotional and intimidating symbols, such as a burning cross or the Nazi’s stiff-arm salute. In fact, the debate over the use of the Confederate flag brings attention to symbols that have a highly emotional tie.

I want to reiterate that the use of the three-finger salute does not make any of the Kings players or staff supportive of ethnic discrimination. And I’m sure they all have felt the pain of those lost or harmed as a result of such discrimination. However, they need to be aware of the impact of their actions.

In addition, would our community be supportive if the Lakers were exhibiting symbols that were as emotionally charged? I think that we need to separate our love of sports and our love for our teams from the love of members of our community, humanitarianism and people.

Jason Braverman

Symbols can’t be suppressed

Re “Vlade’s Three-finger Salute” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 30):

Your article compares the Serbian three-finger salute to Nazi symbols. According to this analogy, perhaps the United States should consider changing its flag, which is a thorn in the side of many Native Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, Panamanians, Yugoslavs, Vietnamese and scores of others whose relatives have been victims of, justified or not, American attacks and bombings around the world during the past 200 years.

Childish comparisons aside, your fact checking leaves a lot to be desired. The three-finger salute stands for the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—the paramount of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It was first introduced in the early 1990s by Serbian opposition parties in Belgrade, who, in opposing the communist rule of Slobodan Milosevic, wanted to invoke long-suppressed religious and traditional values. From those early anti-communist street protests, the salute took on a life of its own in many aspects of everyday life in Serbia, including politics and sports arenas, as well as the Serbian combatants involved in Balkan conflicts.

Just as with the decades-old German national anthem “Deutschland über alles,” which to this day sticks in all Jewish and Serbian minds as one of the greatest symbols of World War II aggression and atrocities, symbols of these kinds cannot be suppressed just because there were some bad apples using them at one time.

Also, there are no three C’s in the slogan, “Only Unity Will Save the Serbs.” Better research would have shown you that these are four S’s (Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava) on the Serbian official flag and the coat of arms, which have absolutely nothing to do with the three-finger salute. (Vlade could have told you this himself, had you bothered to ask him.)

This was an article in poor taste, displaying many inaccurate facts. Should you decide to print a correction or clarification, it would go a long way toward appeasing the large Serbian community in the Sacramento area. They are understandably very disturbed by the inaccuracies and the slanderous tone of your article.

Nenad Vasic
via e-mail

Cosmo Garvin replies: The use of the term “Three Cs” was unnecessarily confusing. Sources told SN&R that, among many other meanings, the three-finger salute was associated with what is most commonly referred to as the “Four Cs,” i.e., the slogan “Only Unity Will Save the Serb.” Though some believe there is a connection between the slogan and the salute, the paragraph should have been omitted.

Governor sneakier than Czar

Re “The Budget Czar” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R Cover, January 23):

The Czar might be able to cut state workers’ pay, but the governor can’t. The contract is signed.

However, the California State Employees Association will capitulate because it is more concerned about the number of employees in the workforce than it is about salaries. For each employee, CSEA gets $20 to $40 per month. So, it is in CSEA’s interest to save jobs rather than salaries.

The reality is that after Davis gets the cuts, he’ll go ahead with the layoffs regardless, and, by then, there will be nothing CSEA can do about it.

Dean Izett
via e-mail