This piece from last week — Anti-Islam Conservatives Demonize Balkans, Kosovo by an Andrew Belonsky (Jan. 2) — started out comically enough. Then it ventured into the hilarious realm, and by the end I had to cut myself.

A caption under a picture actually read: “The United States and Kosovo have the same goal: inclusive democracy.”

(Is that why you spontaneously meet your maker if you start speaking a Slavic tongue at a Pristina cafe?)

Ah, yet another journalist strives to fit the cliche described in 2008 by Robert Hayden in UPI: “…U.S. journalists who honor the First Amendment by parroting the State Department.”

So, here we have yet another non-follower of the Balkans ‘venturing’ all the allowable opinions on Kosovo. Forward march, Foot Soldier!

Here’s what he wrote, interspersed with my comments:

International conservatives have long targeted so-called “Islamization.”

For Leftists Islamization isn’t real until they — personally — are Muslim at gunpoint. Belonsky to his imam in 2020: “I just don’t see it.”

While their previous efforts focused on the Middle East, they’re now moving their attention to the Balkans, particularly the contested nation of Kosovo.

No, YOU are now paying attention to the Balkans. Some of us have been doing it for quite a while — and actually tried to prevent the predictable Islamization outcome of our intervention before it was too late (rather than whining about it afterward like so many of the bipartisan proponents of the 1999 bombing are doing now).

And is the Balkans not a worthy region for attention, given that it has been the West’s historic bulwark against invading armies from the East? But then, we’re speaking to an American, so there are no regions that are relevant to the cloud upon which America is situated. Compared to the rest of the world, we are a country without memory, so what could words like “Gates of Vienna” or “Ottoman Empire” or “caliphate” mean to a young, hip writer in New York?

With the new year upon us, the European Union has relaxed visa regulations for a number of its member nations, including Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Kosovo, whose US-backed independence has yet to be recognized by nations like Russia, China and Venezuela, will most likely join that group in the near future.

And nations like Israel, Cyprus, Spain, India, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Georgia, South Africa, Philippines, Mexico and 105 others. (But notice the three countries he selectively selects as examples.)

While certainly a welcome step for millions of Europeans looking for unhindered travel on the continent, conservatives are decrying the relaxed visa policies as a portal for hypothetical “radicals.”

That’s right — radicals don’t exist! Because unlike a lot of other people, Belonsky still has the luxury of not having been killed by one yet. Radicals are “hypothetical” until this specific hipster is missing his head. (Literally, not figuratively like he is now.)

As the new rules go into place, asserts the site Gates of Vienna, “About seven million new Muslims will be able to walk across the borders of the EU and disappear into the no-go zones along with the millions of legal and illegal immigrants who are already there.”

They go on, “Let’s say that a only tiny minority of 1% of those new migrants have jihad on their minds. That’s 3,500 new mujahideen, safely ensconced in the heart of Europe and drawing on state benefits to finance their jihad.”

The Astute Bloggers, the site that helped fuel the white supremacist ‘Thor’ boycott, has also targeted the Balkans, including Kosovo, which they describe as part of a “Muslim invasion of the EU.” I hate to break the news to these people, but Muslims have lived in Europe for decades, and these visa rules do not feed into an “invasion.”

Kosovo’s rapidly becoming target number one in this fabricated war on the Balkans…As part of their attempts to smear the region, conservatives are taking aim at Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who investigators say was leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s organ trafficking ring during the war against the Serbs.

While surely Thaci, if guilty, should be punished, past atrocities should not be held over the heads of Kosovo’s population as a whole. It would be like calling all Germans “Nazis,” something social satirists and comedians sometimes still do.

Actually, every last Albanian (who’s still breathing, anyway) cheers the KLA as heroes. And Thaci represents how the KLA operated (and still operates). No pun intended. Distinctions (though few and far between) arise after-the-victory-fact. That is, some ex-KLA fighters have had, of late, a bout of conscience, and have gotten it into their heads to come clean about the kinds of things the KLA did. Like this soon-to-be-dead guy. (Indeed, if the Council of Europe’s Dick Marty follows the advice — god forbid — of writer Chuck Sudetic and shares with Washington the identities of the sources who helped with the report, the sources will have run out of time on this earth. It won’t be the first time the U.S. hands over dossiers from investigations so that the KLA/ex-KLA can kill whatever informants may get in the way of our proteges.)

It’s no secret Kosovo struggles under economic and ethnic strains: unemployment hovers around 45% and race-based clashes are still quite common. To use this nation, however, as a proxy for an anti-Islam war is nothing short of irresponsible, and anti-democratic.

“We have achieved a victory for a safer world, for our democratic values, and for a stronger America,” said President Bill Clinton in 1999, after the successful NATO-led strike against Serbian forces who had for decades enacted ethnic cleansing against Kosovo’s Albanians.

And he believed Clinton. Uh, check out some New York Times articles from the 80s, baby boy, to find out who was cleansing whom.

But that’s a nice added touch to pull out of one’s ass: Not only did the Serbs cleanse Albanians out of Kosovo in 1999, but they’d been doing it for, uh, for uh — DECADES! — yeah, that’s it! (Is that how Kosovo went from being 40% Albanian to 90% Albanian, and from 60% Serb to 5% Serb?)

Even the 1999-ethnic-cleansing thing turned out to be bogus, Fetus. That’s war propaganda you bought into, little buddy. And yes, Democratic administrations are just as capable of it. The day is so full of hard lessons, isn’t it? Nap time.

Wakey, wakey! We’ve got to get back to cleaning up the rest of your potty:

Vice-President Joe Biden made similar remarks during his visit to the nation last year, telling an enthusiastic crowd, “Kosovo’s independence was and remains today in my view, in the view of my government, the only viable option for stability in the region.” Biden concluded, “And your independence — as I’ve said in the countries I have visited — your independence, is irreversible, absolutely irreversible.”

The pup hasn’t yet learned how to crack Balkan code-speak. Here is a guide.

Even Republican President George W. Bush celebrated Kosovo’s right to democratic life. “Independence is the goal. That’s what the people of Kosovo need to know,” the former President said in 2007. “Sooner rather than later you’ve got to say enough’s enough: Kosovo’s independent.”

(See above-linked “guide” to understand why there’s no left-right divide on the Kosovo issue.)

Some on the right will insist that Muslims in Kosovo are launching their own holy war. The website Twilight of the American Empire claims Kosovo’s Muslim population has threatened Protestants and other Christians, and the writers conclude these people are enacting a “clash of civilizations.” You’ll no doubt hear similar arguments in the months ahead. They are, however, misleading.

While ethnic conflicts still exist in Kosovo, especially in the North, they are not characteristic of the nation as a whole. These incidents [are] an example of the trials and tribulations of democratic progress, something even our nation hasn’t accomplished: see, for example, Rep. Peter King’s attacks on “Muslim radicalization” or unrelated Rep. Steve King’s remarks about “reparations” for black farmers.

“Characteristic” is exactly what it is. Does Baby need Mommy to read him a bedtime story calledHiding Genocide in Kosovo“? If you ask nicely, Mommy can send you a pdf. And that’s all of course without mentioning the “growing pain” of “progress” embodied in a province-wide pogrom in March 2004 by mobs of Albanians numbering over 50,000. (Did you miss the demonic zeal of the cross-removal from the 35 churches destroyed over those four days? To cheers by the onlookers? Or were you not born yet?) Of course, Belonsky’s non-sensical supposed examples of America’s lack of democratic progress negate his case anyway. (Is he actually comparing perpetual assaults on non-Muslims/non-Albanians in Kosovo to a congressman warning that 80% of American mosques have been radicalized? Is this what things sound like on the other side of the looking glass?)

Like the Albanian prosecutor accompanying Sudetic and Del Ponte on their futile 2003 fact-finding mission about the murder-for-organs scheme: But they’re Serbs — they deserved it!

And then, of course, there’s the staggering amount of hate crimes reported from coast to coast: nearly half of the estimated 8,336 hate crimes of 2009 were motivated by race, while about 20% were based on religious intolerance.

Not that Belonsky got the ethnic crime statistics for Kosovo, which at a population of two-million-something as compared to ours of 300-million-something has a far more intractable hate-crime problem. Of course, one can’t get those stats, since ethnic crimes in Kosovo are not reported as such, and are permanently “being investigated,” as the famous Kosovo phrase goes — and investigated as “isolated incidents,” as the other famous Kosovo phrase goes. All to keep people like Belonsky fooled, and keep Kosovo on the Euro-Atlantic fast-track.

If we’re going by these anti-Kosovo conservatives’ standards, then our nation could be viewed as a bastion for white, Christian power. But it’s not. It’s a proverbial melting pot.

Ohhhhhhhhhh! He just got out of college. I needed to get to the last two buzz words to realize it: “white” and “Christian.” He just got off the conveyor belt, folks. Well then, I’m kind of sorry I bothered. They’re sort of a dime a dozen.

Kosovo’s not as diverse as our nation, but it is part of Europe, and its relationship with the rest of that continent should not be seen as a threat. It should be welcome with open arms, a test for American commitment to sustainable, inclusive democracy.

In the interest of full disclosure, and to prove my point, my last boyfriend hails from Kosovo. He’s also Muslim. And, you know what, he worked as a translator for the U.S. Army during the post-war period. As I told him on the 7th anniversary of his American arrival last year, he embodies the American dream, even if he’s not this nation’s native son. He overcame persecution and violence, came to America and is building a prosperous life for himself.

How generous! He translated for the U.S. Army in a war it was waging on Albanian Muslims’ behalf. How about that! How very selfless of the boy’s boyfriend. And I’m sure that a nice Jewish boy’s Muslim boyfriend wouldn’t have been anything like the translators for the U.S. Army who would tip off the KLA every time NATO troops got close to the locations where it was holding Serbs, Albanians, Bulgarians, Russians and others to be cut up for organs. Nor would he be like any of the other translators who infiltrated NATO for the KLA, tipping off the latter about any impending patrols or weapons-searches. I’m just going to think the best of this particular Albanian, because a) he’s gay (NOT a good thing in Kosovo) and b) he apparently likes Kosher as much as halal, if not more. So this paragraph was really just to say that his having translated for the U.S. military in a land-grab war that his people conned us into — doesn’t mean jack, Jack.

Of course, the funniest thing about the writer’s proud revelation of his Albanian boyfriend: And Albanians accuse me of having a Serbian boyfriend or husband — or mother! Notice how his having a Muslim-Albanian boyfriend is supposed to speak well of said Muslim-Albanian. Whereas if I did have a Serbian boyfriend or relation, it would taint the both of us!

Kosovo and its Balkan neighbors are not our enemies. They are part of the European continent and deserve support in their struggles for democracy, rather than being demonized as a failure of our own creation. To ostracize the region and its people as being “Islamic terrorists” will not only alienate our allies in the Balkans, but in Europe as a whole.

The boy just needs to live a little longer. But for now, he’s accomplished inoffensiveness. Which is the whole point of college.

But take it from Mommy: There’s a whole big world of information out there that preceded your tuning into the Balkans. You may want to check it out before embarrassing yourself again. Then again, maybe you should just stick to writing about music, movies and gay issues.