Claiming that Macedonians voluntarily chose to rename our country into “North Macedonia” and ethnicity into “North Macedonians” is like saying that Indigenous groups choose to be called “Redskins”. And when Western media attack Macedonians for denouncing the forced name change, it would be akin to them attacking Indigenous groups for denouncing anti-Indigenous terms.
Welcome to The Surreal World: Macedonia.
Yes, Macedonians get attacked for denouncing the derogatory terms used against us. Why? Because the United States says so. And they fund media and so-called “think tanks” to do the same. These same groups accuse Macedonians of the exact tactics that are being used against us. The US has perfected the “offence is the best defence” tactic, and they have taught other oppressors (namely Greece, Bulgaria and Albania) how to use it against Macedonians, and other minorities, too.
The US brutally stripped Macedonians of our right to self-determination by illegally forcing through a name change and by using methods that would be viewed as a declaration of war if ever used against the United States, including granting amnesty to terrorists, stoking (starting) a civil war, election-rigging, blatantly violating the Constitution…but wait, it wasn’t the US Constitution so the Republicrats (or do they prefer Demopublicans?) didn’t care. Yes, both US parties are united in their insatiable desire for US imperialism.
But why the forced name change? To prevent Greece and Bulgaria from vetoing Macedonia’s NATO and EU membership bids, something they pledged to do unless Macedonia changed its name to “North Macedonia” and gave away the name, identity and history of Macedonians to Greece and Bulgaria, depending on context. Confused? Just check the 19-page “Prespa Agreement” (that no Macedonian agreed to) which governs what, when, why, how and where we can identify ourselves.
And this is not just a “dispute” between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece/Bulgaria. All of Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 among Serbia (now the independent Republic of Macedonia), Greece, Bulgaria and, in 1919, Albania. The forced name, identity and history change affects all Macedonians, everywhere.
To combat against the outrage expressed by Macedonians at being called “North Macedonians” from “North Macedonia”, the United Political Parties of America claim that we’re taking away the right of self-determination for those (nobody) who choose to use the imposed name. It’s like defending the rights of someone who breaks into your house and condemning you for calling the police.
Our name and identity have been misappropriated, yet the US and their favourite foreign policy pupil, Greece, accuse Macedonians of cultural misappropriation for existing as who we’ve always been — Macedonians. Try figuring that one out. Following the illogical US playbook (Trump has “perfected” it), Greece, in 1988, implemented the most blatantly obvious propaganda switch in their history — claiming Macedonia’s name after generations spent denying its existence and fiercely suppressing any mention of it. As many Greek politicians have admitted, though, the reason had nothing to do with the name — it was to “wipe Macedonia off the map” and to deny its policy of persecution and cultural genocide against the large Macedonian minority in Greece.
The oppressor has claimed our name, publicly celebrates the eradication of our ethnic identity (Greek politicians have made the cultural genocide of Macedonians a campaign slogan), yet they accuse the oppressed of oppressing. The US-style maze of circular logic was fun on that Seinfeld episode with Elaine and the phone guy, but it’s not that much fun when US politicians and their deranged protégés employ it to wipe out my ethnic group. And it’s not just Trump doing it (his administration didn’t even start this policy, but they’re “proudly” continuing it), it’s every single foreign-interventionist president going back decades. Unlike our oppressors though, I won’t misappropriate the second Seinfeld reference and claim it as my own.
So, what would happen if the English claimed that the names of Indigenous groups belonged to them — does that mean colonization and brutalization of Indigenous lands and people didn’t happen? This is exactly what Greece will have you believe about Macedonia and Macedonians. They’re selling the idea that if you own the name, identity and history of the oppressed, no oppression could possibly have occurred. And to “prove” the unprovable, Greece’s mentor is spending millions of US-taxpayer dollars funding media and “think tanks” to write Peterman-worthy anecdotes trying to get you to buy this fancy, hate-filled fabrication.
The Twilight Zone continues. When Macedonians called for an end to the anti-Macedonian name negotiations and subsequent forced name change, we were called “radicals” by the racists. That’s like Nazis claiming that they suffered at the hands of Jews in World War II. Appealing for human rights conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be fairly applied to Macedonians causes the most openly interventionist country in the world, the United States, to attack the oppressed.
So how do we put an end to this brutally surreal reality show? Put yourself in our shoes. Don’t ignore hatred against any ethnic group, including Macedonians. Condemn it. Otherwise, whether intended or not, you’ll be enabling hypocritical foreign interventionism and rewarding cultural misappropriation.
Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International