‘Serbs never hated the Jews’: the denial of antisemitism in Serbian Orthodox Christian culture.
Patterns of Prejudice, 40(2),
Over the past five years, the Serbian Orthodox Church has been criticized by liberal public opinion in Serbia for maintaining organizational and ideological links with Christian right-wing groups whose political discourse includes antisemitic themes. Byford looks at two specific responses to this public criticism, one from the Serbian Orthodox Church and the other from the Christian right, and examines the rhetoric employed to counter the allegations of antisemitism. The dominant discourse in these responses is denial, stating that there is, and never has been, any antisemitism in Serbia or within Orthodox Christianity. In examining various aspects of this denial, Byford demonstrates that generalized statements about Serbian and Orthodox tolerance manage the moral accountability of those who find themselves under criticism by turning public attention away from the ongoing controversy and by confining the problem to a small number of individual extremists on the far right. He also argues that, by helping to generate a consensus about Serbian tolerance, the denial implicitly perpetuates the very same xenophobic and antisemitic elements of Serbian nationalist discourse that it is meant to negate and refute.
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