Svinica's ruined church, a monument to the ruin wrought by racism*
Svinica's ruined church, a monument to the ruin wrought by racism

On a previous visit to Croatia our journey from Pula to Zagreb was diverted - and took hours longer than it should have - because the Croatian army was busy putting down a rebellion by Serbs in the Krajina. Today there is peace in the Krajina, but the Croatian government, ethnic hatred at full throttle, blinkers fully closed, is setting things up for another rebellion by making life as hard as possible for the Serbs who have not fled the country.

I got a taste of these ethnic hatreds when I passed through the tiny village of Svinica and, as is my wont, stopped to investigate a monument by the side of the road. My companion obligingly quizzed a couple of locals who happened to be passing and got the story from them - who the monument commemorated and why there were bullet marks in it.

There was something very odd, though. I looked at my Croatian friend, I looked at the Serbian locals, and, amazing as it may seem, I couldn't see any difference between them. Same features, same impossible language, and if I'd had the time to probe more deeply, I'll bet they had the same hopes and fears, the same joys and sorrows. So why do the Serbs hate the Croats? and why do the Croats hate the Serbs?

Lovely people - but complete and utter idiots (a comment which applies to all racists: Croat or Serb, Jew or Arab, black or white, or any other variety).