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Last Updated: 10/20/2003
She didn't have to kill herself.
Simon Stander

Sooner or later every journalist produces his or her taxi driver story. I recall on my first visit to Dublin asking the taxi driver from the airport one of the stupidest questions imaginable. “Where’s a good place to drink?” The taxi-driver sighed deeply and patiently and said, “ Look for a church and right opposite there’ll be a pub. You’ll have plenty to choose from. The Irish have lots of ways of killing an Englishman but they won’t let you die of thirst.”


Last week in New York I asked what I thought was a pretty innocent question. “Where are you from originally?” The answer turned out be somewhat deeper than I might have predicted.


He had left what was Yugoslavia twenty-five years ago and lived in New York pretty well ever since. He got married and had four children. Now he had two jobs, worked seven days a week, working harder than ever to help his children get through college. Despite his heavy family commitments (or maybe because of them) when the situation deteriorated for the Albanian population in Kosovo in 1999 he became part of a company of Kosovar volunteers that’s set out for Prishtina. “It was crazy. I saw some terrible things. It wasn’t clear what we could do. Even our captain did not put ammunition in his gun. He didn’t even know how to fire one. The worst thing…I can’t get it out of my mind, the worst thing and I think about every day is the young woman we saw hanging. She hanged herself because she was raped by some Serbian soldiers. But, you know, it wasn’t just the rape that killed her. It was the shame. She couldn’t face her family. Her family are to blame, too. Here in the US it would have been a terrible thing. Terrible. But she would not have killed herself. It would have taken counseling and that kind of thing for her and her family but she didn’t have to kill herself.. I can’t forget that woman. I think of her every day. Anyway, all of us here owe a big debt to Clinton and Tony Blair. I hope you voted for Tony Blair.” I told him I voted for the Labour Party and asked if he was planning to support General Wes Clark.


“Oh, yes,” he said. “For sure. All of us Kosovars would vote for him.”


Last week’s debate among the Democratic Party hopefuls on CNN indicated that there was a rush back by the leading candidates to cite Clinton successes in domestic policy. It seems, too, that there are some who look back kindly on Clinton’s foreign policy, too, even though one part of this this involved relentless bombing of Serbia.


For previous Monitor stories on Kosovo see:


For more signs of  a growing movement among commentators reinstating the Clinton Years: