Cry, the Beloved Country

The Yugoslav civil war will turn out to be, from the long perspective of the American experience, a mere dot on the horizon. But for a small part of the American landscape—the Americans of Serbian descent—the twisted portrayal of this war, by politicians and the media, will be painful and difficult to bear for a long time to come.

As a Kansas mother and public schoolteacher and her husband were listening to the morning TV news, which made reference to "bombing the Serbs," they were interrupted by their three-year-old who asked; "Will it be safe for me to go outside to play?" The mother was of Serbian ancestry (although not the father), and the child took the threat personally, hi the Chicago area, students of Serbian ethnic background were told by their teachers that they would not call on them until "their people" stopped doing those terrible things in Europe. An old man in New Jersey who immigrated from Serbia searched in vain for a support group or a legal defense fund to help him deal with anti-Serb taunts. And those Americans of Serbian background who have sought assistance from the American Red Cross in sending relief supplies to needy persons in Serbia have routinely received the cold shoulder. There is no end to such examples.

The media and the American political leadership have succeeded in poisoning the attitudes of Americans toward Serbs and Serbia to such an extent that...

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