Race, Religion and Cultural Labels

Excellent piece by Kenan Malik (originally from last weekend’s Observer).

“words still fail us when we talk about muslims”

It’s what I call “identity politics“, [and more here] but the choice of words is invariably polemic or politically motivated rhetoric rather than objective reporting of facts. These are subjectively entangled issues, and the lazy solution is the familiar PC option of euphemistically avoiding the “offending” terms, but as Malik says we need to talk about them and we need to do it using language that recognises reality.

“trapped between hostility towards Muslims
& fear of creating such hostility
or of offending Muslims”

“a broader confusion about
the relationship between race and culture
[and religion and labelling]”

As some of the Twitter responses indicate, even when being careful, each use of each chosen word nevertheless reduces individual sentences to this <> not-this duality. This is inevitable if we are to consider each point, each distinction, one at a time. To reduce language to nebulous catch-all terms to talk about the whole, is to talk honestly about nothing. The trap of being caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of the PC and the Polemic.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.