It Takes a Sentence

There’s a lot of kack in this piece on religion in the New Statesman. This particular sentence especially caught my eye, for sheer quantity of kack in one sentence.

“So far, the response of the government has been mostly correct: dismissing the crude secularism of the French ban on the hijab, allowing for the establishment of Muslim schools and working closely with the leaders of the Muslim community.”

One, the word ‘correct’, as if political decisions were as clear-cut as arithmetic. Two, that much-recycled bit of obfuscation: the French ban on the hijab is not a French ban on the hijab, it’s a French ban on the hijab (and other conspicuous religious symbols and garments) in state schools. It is stacking the deck in one’s own favour to call a state school uniform code a ‘ban’ without qualification. Three, ‘the leaders.’ In what sense are they leaders? Are they elected? Are they accountable? Are they self-appointed leaders? Four, ‘the Muslim community.’ Is there such a thing? Five, the combination, ‘the leaders of the Muslim community,’ which more than doubles the effect of making it sound as if all Muslims think as a block and as a block appoint leaders. The whole sentence is a throbbing example of the kind of covert thought-herding that communitarians go in for. Pure operant conditioning. Pure kack.

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