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Ayaan Declares War

Interesting interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali (former Dutch MP and now a resident scholar at the neocon American Enterprise Institute) from The Spectator. I'm really conflicted aabout her, but nonetheless it is definitely enlightening to hear her insight considering she is coming from a very informed point of view.

‘Yes, I am at war with Islam,’ she says, as she gets up to leave, ‘but I am not at war with Muslims.’ It’s a crucial difference.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
I think she has some legitimate complaints but I hate all pundits who are perpetuating the "clash of civilizations" meme.
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
She has some valid points but couched in the worship of all things Western it all falls to pieces. I know she found her salvation in the west, but that doesn't mean she should turn a blind eye to the glaring danger of Christian fundamentalism while condemining all things Islam. If she thinks radical Islam is political and defies logic she should grab some popcorn and take a gander at Jesus Camp.
Dec. 5th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
what's to be conflicted about?
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
I don't like the idea of any gun totin' sheriff running a whole religion out of town. Especially not a neocon sheriff.
Dec. 5th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
i'm a little perplexed by this myself. granted i'm not familiar with this woman outside of the article (when i see the words "american enterprise institute", i'm generally not compelled to explore), but she seems like she's taking some pretty broad generalizations about the enlightenment, and using them to make a sweeping condemnation of an entire religion.

it's an argument i've heard before. martin amis has been pushing a more nuanced variation on it through a series of essays recently (resulting in a rather dramatic public quarrel with terry eagleton that makes for entertaining reading). and christopher hitchens as well, although he goes further, condemning (more or less) ALL formalized religions (which i must confess strikes me as more convincing if we're going to accept this kind of draconian "call to reason"-- which i'm not).

i'm really tired of the argument where the koran justifies 9/11 too. as if the bhagavad-gita or the parable of abraham and issac or thus spoke zarathustra or any number of old testament plagues and punishments couldn't be utilized for equally sinister ends. i think there's a difference between faith and fundamentalism, and that those differences extend across all faiths. not because faith is good or god is great or people are fundamentally caring, but because belief systems are by-and-large handed down to people culturally (and my secularism is no exception). these systems chooses me as much as i choose emth, and my ability to make adaptations is as inevitable as it is crucial.
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
wow you didnt hear about the whole theo van gogh debacle? That whole thing really brought Hirsi Ali onto the international radar.

you make a lot of really valid points as usual. essentially, she is holding up a lot of enlightenment age ideals up and wielding them in much the same sinister selve serving ways that the islamisists she criticizes use the koran. in doing this, she is proving her point and at the same time making her point moot.

i was really excited when i first heard about her, but the more i read the more she comes off as this brash (somewhat immature) anti-islam chauvinist who makes thes inflammatory comments not in the name of reason but because she was personally wronged and has a bone to pick. i'd rather ride with someone who is really grappling with these questions towards some progressive agenda. anyone touting the capitalist neocon ideology as "the right choice" and/or the alternative to fundamentalism is not someone who's going to get my support. if she doesn't understand the ways in which neocon ideology works hand in hand with the (almost as--if not more--dangerous) Christian fundemantal agenda, then she really needs to drop the mic, go home, and read up.

in related news, Bengali feminist writer Taslima Nasreen is being run out of Calcutta by menacing Islamic fundamentalists.
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
i heard about the theo van gogh thing, but never really delved into it (until wikipedia-ing hirsi ali after running my mouth off in the above, haha).

anyway, you sound a lot less conflicted about her than i'd imagined in the above, actually. the neo-con allegiance is a tough one for me to swallow. especially since the american enterprise type crowd is the one beating the drums about iran, and iran (as far as i can tell... and the american press doesn't make it easy) is one of the few places in the middle east where a real movement exists against fundamentalism. these arguments also make me think of the refugee crisis in iraq, and how many more thousands of refugees ended up in syria and lebanon than in the "enlightened" west. sometimes i wonder if the notion of "barbarism" is taken too simply for granted when i read these "let's-keep-it-real-islam-is-evil" type arguments. as you mention above, i'm not sure these people are taking a big enough look at the picture.
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
these systems chooses me as much as i choose emth

my computer trips up in really strange ways sometimes. that should say "them" obviously. weird.
Dec. 5th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
I think Terry Eagleton is my favourite public intellectual... the debate you mention and the write-up on Dawkins are amazing...
Dec. 5th, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC)
there's a GREAT eagleton piece on william blake in the guardian right now:


kinda meets up to both of our outlooks, no?

also, i must confess that i too equate kant's categorical imperative to "the golden rule"... in fact, while i was reading groundwork for a metaphysics of morals, i kept thinking to myself "this is kinda like the golden rule"... i'm a little embarrased to say this though. there's obviously more to it, but i'm not sure i always understand why.
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
she equates Kant's categorical imperative to the golden rule!

and thinks Christianity is at home in liberal democracy? If she bothered to read any Catholic political theology (before she started talking about Christianity) or Radical Orthodoxy, or liberation theology, etc., she might see how at odds it is with modern, Enlightenment philosophy and how it is at pains to dissociate itself with contemporary liberalism. she reduces all christianity as if it is all evangelical protestantism (yet she doesn't account for the fundamentalist aspects of it) and then reduces all Islam to a single reading because..."she was a muslim." but Ayaan Hirsi Ali, were you a theologian? or does your first year courses on Voltaire excuse you from having to engage in muslim theology? Here's another great line from Voltaire’s observation of liberal London: “The Jew, the Mohammedan, and the Christian deal with one another as if they were of the same religion, and give the name of infidel only to those who go bankrupt.” Capital gets to be the new religion.
From my reading, she's far more dangerous than the neo-cons. now the average white mom from the US doesn't just naively think her life-experience is the best of all experiences, now she has some 'authentic, foreign, straight-from-the-source' ex-muslim telling them that they were correct (b/c of "logic") in their presumptions. It reminds me of when P.I.G.s here in Canada, like the Taxpayers Association, round up middle-class First Nations people to speak publicly against the laziness and depravity of "most Native people" and how affirmative action is an insult, blah, blah, blah. And the white people at home pat themselves on the back, congratulating themselves for knowing it all along but not being able to say it because it would be deemed racist and now finally having someone from the "other side" admitting it. gross.
Dec. 6th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
See this is precisely where I am conflicted because I hate to believe that at the end of the day she is just a puppet. I wish there was some way to know if she's the horrible Condoleeza Rice type villain or simply an unfortunate confused soul who needs a few years of psychotherapy.
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
Weird. Didn't know she was with AEI. Yuck.

Then again, I feel roughly similar. I dispise the "Religions of The Book" yet, as a general rule, like individual people, despite their religion (even if I wouldn't date a die-hard believer).
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )



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