Bruce Lee unites Bosniacs and Croats in Mostar

Growing up in Eastern Europe, one had to choose his favorite actor carefully. Your pick would not only unveil your manliness to the whole block, but the actor would also have to act as a virtual bodyguard to your psyche. He would have to battle the other kids’s pick at least twice a week.

Stallone and Schwarzenegger were popular choices, but they fared poor in virtual combat once stripped of their machine guns, rocket launchers and boxing gloves. Jackie Chan and even Chuck Norris were smart bets.

I went with Jean-Claude van Damme because he was virtually unknown in the early nineties, and as his name received more and more recognition, so did my choice. My hero could pretty much kill all the other kids’s heroes asses. Except one. As a Romanian ska-punk anthem by Coma put it “Bruce Lee beats up Van Damme.”

You couldn’t mess with the Dragon — no one could beat him.

This is probably what the people of Mostar, Bosnia, were thinking of when they decided to erect a statue that would appease both the Catholic Croats in the West and the Muslim Bosniacs in the East. After years of civil war, the town needed a hero everyone could relate to and Veselin Gatalo, president of the organization Urban Movement Mostar, picked the right one.

“He’s a hero from childhood of all of us,” Gatalo told NPR.

The municipal government agreed to put up the statue, which will be poured in bronze and will feature Lee in a defending position facing North. Why North? Because you have to make sure the Dragon doesn’t point his wrath at either Croats or Bosnians.

“It’s not monument to one actor,” Gatalo said in the All Things Considered interview. “Not monument to China. It’s monument to universal idea of universal justice.”

Unity through a statue is not a new idea. Russians tried it by putting Lenin and Stalin all across their empire. It’s true that it failed, but Bruce Lee might work. So would a marble carving of U2’s Bono in Rwanda and Sudan.

I wonder what would work for Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, and the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq. Batman maybe?

One Response to “Bruce Lee unites Bosniacs and Croats in Mostar”

  1. I think that is interesting idea. Greetings for Mostar from Montenegro 🙂

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