Ann Dummett, 9 July 1987
A few years ago, most people would have taken the term ‘anti-racism’ to mean any activity opposed to racial discrimination, or a set of attitudes opposed to the expression of racial prejudice and hatred. It might have been invoked to describe, for example, a motive behind the war against Nazi Germany, the current activities of the Commission for Racial Equality in this country, or concern in Japan for the contemptuous treatment meted out there to Korean immigrants. Recently, however, ‘anti-racism’ has come to be associated with a much more specialised set of activities and individual people, whom the right-wing press has lumped together as ‘the loony Left’. It has also come to be understood as part of a single package of opinions belonging to campaigners for anti-sexism, anti-heterosexism, anti-élitism and so on. The campaigners and their attackers have, in effect, colluded to force this new sense of ‘anti-racism’ on the public, so that when the term is used in its first and more general sense, to describe a concern with racism and no other issue, it can be seriously misunderstood. The result is a debate conducted between certain ‘anti-racists’ who have adopted the terms and concepts of opposition to racism for a different battle and certain columnists and reporters on the Times, Telegraph, Sun, Daily Mail and Spectator, who are disposed to attack all opponents of racism.