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Not black and white

The word "racist" is necessary but devalued. We need more rigour and realism in applying it

By David Goodhart   May 2005

Elections are a time for the use and abuse of political language. As immigration is a bigger issue in the 2005 election than in any for a generation, one word that is, predictably, flying about is racism.

The r-word has, of course, become devalued through overuse and inaccurate use, a portmanteau term of abuse. But it remains a necessary word, one we cannot do without. This is a brief plea both for a more rigorous use of the word and for a broader vocabulary to capture the spectrum of feelings and opinions that are often indiscriminately and damagingly bracketed as…

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