Evil is lack of direction, and that which is done in it and out of
it is the grasping, seizing, devouring, compelling, seducing, ex-
ploiting, humiliating, torturing, and destroying of what offers it-
“Ethnic cleansing” is a widely misused euphemism for the arrests, expulsions, rapes, and murders of Bosnian citizens. The use of this phrase obstructs an adequate understanding of the activity that the term labels. The term is euphemistic because the word “cleansing” implies an activity that is ordinary, harmless, and even beneficial. There, however, was nothing ordinary, harmless, or beneficial about the arrests, expulsions, rapes, and murders of hundreds of thousands of Bosnian citizens.
In 1992, before the war, there were 4.5 million inhabitants of Bosnia. During the war, close to one-quarter of a million were killed, one-quarter of a million injured, and one-quarter of a million held in concentration camps. Over 2 million of Bosnia’s inhabitants were forced to abandon their homes to become refugees in another part of their country or another country altogether.
An earlier version of this chapter appeared first as “O latentnoj funkciji etničkog čisćenja u Bosni” in Forum Bosnae and then as “On the Latent Function of Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia” in Sociology after Bosnia and Kosovo: Recovering Justice.