Letter: Social work and political correctness

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The Independent Online
Sir: What was the point of Bryan Appleyard's incoherent rant against social workers and what is now called anti-racism? He seemed to be saying two things: that the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work's paper on racism was poorly worded and ambiguous, and that it was directly responsible for intolerance and fascism. Both cannot be true. The weakness of the argument is evident when Mr Appleyard says that such ambiguous language 'has been used' to justify black fascism. I'm sure Torquemada invoked the Sermon on the Mount. Was Christ therefore a torturer?

Mr Appleyard accuses social work academics of failing to listen to another point of view, while himself throwing the insult 'fascist' at anyone who dares disagree with his view that racism is not pervasive in Britain. Even those of us who share his distaste for terms such as 'institutional racism' find his idealisation of British tolerance difficult to square with reality.

One sentence reveals Mr Appleyard's prejudice: 'Lawyers or doctors could equally be pilloried, but it is social workers who are in the dock.' But why are they in the dock? Because journalists put them there] Mr Appleyard, like most journalists, hates social workers, and knows nothing about social work.

As someone with considerable experience in both professions, I have to say that social workers know an awful lot about what happens in society, especially to poor people, and that journalists do not have a clue.

Yours faithfully,


Warnham, West Sussex