THE criticism directed at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) is not dissimilar to that which it received for endorsing unpopular positions in the 1980s, which you can read about in Jill Wentzel’s excellent 1995 book The Liberal Slideaway.
At that time, a schism developed in the liberal community around the question of whether the institute, in opposing apartheid, should surrender its independence to the ANC/UDF and its left-wing alliance partners. This would require it to endorse the violence the ANC was unleashing to eliminate its black political rivals – violence that began and then intensified after it was already evident that apartheid was on the way out.
As Wentzel records, critics who stood for human rights by condemning the use of violence “were berated for criticising blacks”, much as present-day critics of the ANC are accused of being racist...
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