“Not Of A Chemical Nature”

Ha’aritz has a disturbing and abnormally interesting story about a threat against Israeli historian Shlomo Sand. The disturbing part is that Prof Sand’s life was threatened. The threat came in a letter with an envelope also containing some kind of white power that came flying out when Sand open it. It is not completely clear why Sand was threatened but in all likelihood it is in reaction to his recent book, The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland.
The abnormally interesting part of the story concerns the nature of the white power. “Throughout the day, the police examined the substance and discovered it was not of a chemical nature [emphasis added].” I suppose readers should infer from this that the white power was not a dangerous chemical. At least that is almost certainly the implicature of the statement – I hope. But that sure isn’t what it says and if the stuff is not of a chemical nature, exactly what is its nature? But I worry that there is also something else working in this implicature. Those things that are not harmful are not chemical. No one thinks this on reflection but I worry that such formulations reinforce a set of pernicious concepts about the world.
Via Zwinglius Redivivus.