Euphemism Piled Upon Euphemism

Identity, eh. Identity, identity, identity – how sick we all are of hearing about it. The hell with identity. Get over it – you are what you are, never mind what your precious ‘identity’ is, just get on with it, do something useful, make a difference, forget about your darling self for five minutes, think about something more interesting.

Eve Garrard says a few words on this subject at Normblog.

Human rights are an indispensable part of a morally decent society (though the eager embracing of victimhood is not, and there’s no doubt that the discourse of human rights has, along with multiculturalism, encouraged many to regard the status of victim of rights-violation as the most attractive one going, and hence to reach for it at the slightest provocation).

That’s the one – the thing about regarding the status of victim of rights-violation as the most attractive one going. That’s one of the problems with the (often frankly formulaic and mindless) repetition of the ‘alienation – rage – grievance’ trope. It creates the very thing it’s talking about – and then uses the created thing as a reason to go on talking about it, thus creating more of it, thus having yet more pretext to go on talking about it, ad infinitum. And then the victim-status that’s been invented can curdle and warp and go stark staring mad, and then look what happens.

The New Republic has an article on some inspiring people. It’s about three ‘clerics’ in the UK: Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza Al Masri, and Abu Qatada. But the authors keep saying a strange thing, despite their lack of admiration for these ‘clerics.’ They say it repeatedly – which I find odd. Not surprising, because I see it all the time, but very odd. Stupid, in fact.

In fact, German law enforcement documents we recently obtained indicate that Abu Qatada has provided much of the spiritual inspiration for Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the most effective Iraqi insurgent leader…Abu Qatada is the mentor and spiritual authority for many militant jihadists, including the notorious Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi…Abu Qatada’s central role as the spiritual guide of European jihadists was highlighted by the fact that the members of the Spanish cell who killed 191 Madrid commuters on March 11, 2004, tried to reach him three times by phone before they blew themselves up a couple of weeks after the Madrid attacks. Indeed, the Spanish judge who indicted Abu Qatada characterizes him in the indictment as “the recognized spiritual leader of numerous extremist groups.”

I daresay you’ve spotted the strange thing I have in mind. What’s all this ‘spiritual’ nonsense? What do people mean ‘spiritual’? They mean religious, so why don’t they say that? Why do they want to pretty it up? Religious is a hooray word these days anyway, why is there this compulsion to make it even hoorayer? They wouldn’t call Hitler a spiritual inspiration, so why the honorific for these bastards? Spiritual inspiration (same word is the root, there – it means breath), spiritual authority, spiritual guide, spiritual leader. Why so respectful? Really, it’s baffling.

Another knee-jerk honorific got on my nerves yesterday. An irritating little item on the need to keep religious schools in the UK – only of course they’re not called that. Why? Because that would make it too obvious what a bad stupid idea they are? Yes, probably. When your case is feeble, resort to manipulative language. It works, too.

Abolishing faith schools is not the way to create harmony between different communities in the wake of the London attacks, Tony Blair has said…He stressed that he backed faith schools, including Muslim schools, which were part of the “proper” school system. And he insisted the schools did not teach children to “look at children of other faiths in a bad way” and often contained some pupils from other religions. Mr Blair said parents were attracted to such schools because they provided a “strong ethos and values”.

Yeah, because people like you go on implying that religion has a monopoly on ‘values.’ Another self-perpetuating self-creating trope, just like identity and victim status. I think this is where we came in.

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