Most readers of this blog will be aware of Stuff's front-page apology to Maori on Monday for supposedly racist reporting dating back generations, and of the series of subsequent articles setting out the many ways in which the newspaper titles now owned by Stuff have supposedly perpetuated negative racist stereotypes.
This was my response in a letter published in The Dominion Post this morning:
The accusation of racism is an extremely serious slur – or would be, if the meaning of the word hadn’t been so weakened by overuse.
Racism is the belief that some races are intrinsically superior to others and that discrimination is therefore justified.
Adolf Hitler was a racist. The Ku Klux Klan is racist. So were the apartheid-era leaders of South Africa.
And now we’re told that the former editors and editorial executives of some of this country’s leading newspapers, of whom I am one, were (are?) racists too.
If the accusation of racism still meant something, it would be damning. But in the 21st century the word racist simply means anyone who doesn’t conform to the authoritarian orthodoxies of identity politics.
So I refuse to take it seriously when I’m lumped in the same category as Adolf Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, and I hope my former colleagues don’t either. But it’s saddening to see the papers we once proudly worked for confusing polemics with journalism.
Karl du Fresne, a freelance journalist, is the former editor of The Dominion newspaper. He blogs at karldufresne.blogspot.co.nz.