Sunday, February 22, 2004

Blair and Drug Testing

Among those Croatians who consider themselves leftist, liberal, progressive or simply "hip", Bill Clinton was closest thing to role model and inspirational leader. Sometimes their appreciation of US President evolved into outright idolatry, not unlike the one Stalin created among 1930s and 1940s leftist establishment.

With Clinton out of White House, Croatians leftists had to find new foreign icon to rally around. Tony Blair, as Clinton's ideological twin, seemed to be perfect replacement (or even superior to Clinton, because his hold on Britain and ability to make a world better place was apparently better than the one you could expect from US President). In first nine months of 2001 all those couldn't stand George W. Bush in White House had comforting thought of Tony Blair making sure that Washington Usurper doesn't destroy Clinton's legacy.

Than came September 11th 2001 and Blair slowly began his descent from the pedestal of liberal deity towards reputation of Bush's lapdog. These days Blair's reputation among Croatian leftists is similar to the reputation Trotsky had among devout Communists in 1930s. Former ideological inspiration is now viewed as traitor and object of intense hatred.

Blair's chances to improve his standing within Croatian Bush-hating crowds probably won't be helped by his initiative to introduce random drug-testing in British schools. Similar (although less ambitious) initiative, which had been floated by Croatian government last year, was quashed by intense opposition that came not only from leftist, progressive and civil libertarian circles, but even from those segments of Croatian politics which are associated with conservatism and right-wing (Croatian Peasant's Party). Although the proposal was limited strictly to publicly-funded university dorms and left grammar and high schools out of it, words like "repression" and "human rights abuse" were the most common reactions to it.

I can only imagine how this measure is going to further reduce image of 1990s Blair's "cool" Britannia in Croatia. Once the beacon of progressive values, Britain is going to be viewed as fascist, oppressive Bush-loving Airstrip One.


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