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Why are some on left and right still seduced by the ‘noble savage’ myth?

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You learn much about people by the company they keep. The regressive left justified its name last week when Jeremy Corbyn sat down with one Shraga Stern in Westminster. In that convivial moment, he showed that the insults Labour hisses at its opponents – “homophobia”, “misogyny”, “exploitation” – were as nothing when set against the opportunity for its leader to counter the testimonies of the 30 whistleblowers who have gone to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to detail Labour’s racism. What did they matter when he could pose with an actual Jew?

And what a Jew! With his Yiddish accent, black clothes, beard and ringlets, Stern looks like a caricature from the 18th century – and the look does not deceive. Stern is part of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Jews: an outfit run by a dynasty of obscurantists which rejects every step humanity has taken away from religious domination since the Enlightenment. You can see its assertions of religious militancy in New York and Israel, and now in Britain.

Stern made his own contribution to interfaith dialogue when he appeared alongside Muslim parents protesting against LGBT equality lessons in Birmingham schools. His statement deserves examination. It was not just that he saw a plot by “LGBT lobbyists” to push the “indoctrination and sexualising of kids”. He ended with a call to fight for the freedom “to educate the children the way we were educated”.

Ideally, the “education” he favours for Hasidic children entails no secular teaching beyond a grasp of basic English and no sex education – so that teenagers are more easily pushed into arranged marriages and girls don’t........

© The Guardian