Slovenia Discovers the Best Propaganda Ever

Slate's Culture Blog
June 18 2010 2:29 PM

Slovenia Discovers the Best Propaganda Ever

The red, white, and blue Slovenian flag drew me to the back corner of Washington, D.C.'s Buffalo Billiards, a 14,000-square-foot shrine to beer, sports, and Americana. On this sunny Friday morning, the place was teeming with U.S. soccer fans. Except for a small living-room-sized area in the back filled with 100 or so Slovenes, who were decked out in green-and-white jerseys, scarves, and "I feel S love nia" hats. The gathering was advertised on the Slovenian Embassy's Web site . The organizers, however, failed to tell the bar about it.

"I read about it in the sports section ," laughed Geoff Dawson, a co-owner of Buffalo Billiards. Not that he minded. His pool hall was hopping. Slovenian public-television cameraman Sylvester Stok was on hand to document the festivities. Even Ambassador Roman Kirn made an appearance, high-fiving countrymen after both of Slovenia's goals. It was a fitting scene: Slovenia, a country of about 2 million people, has its own little corner of Europe; here, it had its own little corner of a bar (though, perhaps unfittingly, one decorated with canoes, antlers, and other Old West-themed paraphernalia). To the Slovenes, the team's 2-0 lead at halftime was as beautiful as the Julian Alps , the mountain range that appears on the national team's jerseys .

Advertisement

"This is the best propaganda ever!" said Masa Siftar de Arzu, second secretary of the Slovenian Embassy. She hoped a Slovenia World Cup victory over the United States would boost tourism. It certainly would've been a landmark moment for a nation that only declared independence in 1991. That's why Neja Brglez, a twentysomething Slovenian Embassy worker, was fidgeting in her seat. She nearly dropped her drink when Landon Donovan scored for the United States early in the second half. Still, the crowd remained boisterous, shaking noisemakers (the party was vuvuzela-free) every time Slovenia pushed forward. Even Michael Bradley's equalizing strike in the 82nd minute could only dampen the mood a little.

As the final whistle was blown on a 2-2 tie, I tried to pay my tab and leave. At the bar, I met a few gregarious middle-age men from various parts of the former Yugoslavia. "We split up so we could have more countries in the World Cup," one told me. His Bosnian friend said he was rooting for Slovenia as a gesture of solidarity, "in spite of all the shit" their countries have been through. A third guy, who was rocking a bushy black mustache, jokingly told me that he was incognito. "My girlfriend doesn't know I'm here." (His wife was standing a few feet away.) "Have a beer!" he said, grabbing my arm. I quickly learned that like me, he was a writer. And apparently a teacher. "I tell all my students, there is no journalism without beer." For a moment, I wished I were Slovenian, too.

Alan Siegel is a writer in Washington, D.C. You can reach him at asiegel05@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.