Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the great heroes of our era. Born a Muslim in Somalia, she was subjected to genital mutilation at age five. Her family fled to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. After her father ordered her to marry a stranger, she sought political asylum in the Netherlands and eventually was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003.
Hirsi Ali became a feminist spokesman for women who are oppressed in Islamic societies. She wrote the screenplay for Theo van Gogh’s film Submission. Van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist who shoved a knife into his body with a note that said Hirsi Ali was next.
That made Hirsi Ali too hot to handle for Dutch authorities, so she made her way to the United States, where she now lives and continues her fight on behalf of oppressed women around the world.
You might think that would make her a heroine to American liberals, but you would be wrong. For whatever reason, they can’t stand her. The latest evidence of this antipathy is Nick Kristof’s review of her book Nomad in the New York Times.
Kristof isn’t the Times’s worst columnist. On the contrary, he is quite rational compared to Paul Krugman and Frank Rich. But he is a liberal, and liberals apparently detest Muslim apostates. Don’t ask me why. But Kristof, in his review of Nomad, places the blame for the fact that crazed Muslim extremists want to assassinate Hirsi Ali squarely on her:
She has managed to outrage more people — in some cases to the point that they want to assassinate her — in more languages in more countries on more continents than almost any writer in the world today.
That’s only the beginning. Kristof goes on to write that Hirsi Ali “is working on antagonizing even more people,” even though it “might seem presumptuous to write another memoir so soon.” It is easy to see why so many want to kill her, Kristof says, since she is “by nature a provocateur, the type of person who rolls out verbal hand grenades by reflex.” Bear in mind that in this case, the “provocateur’s” “hand grenades” are arguments that little girls shouldn’t have their clitorises cut out, be beaten for no particular reason, or be forced to marry men they haven’t met. Is that provocative? To liberals like Kristof, apparently so.
Kristof continues that Hirsi Ali “denounces Islam with a ferocity that I find strident, potentially feeding religious bigotry.” Given that Hirsi Ali had her clitoris cut out at age five, one can only ask, is this some kind of sick joke? Can Kristof and the New York Times possibly be serious? If a similar injury were inflicted on a Western woman–by, let’s let our imagination run wild, a Republican–would their reaction be the same?
Kristof isn’t done yet. He launches a defense of Islam, arguing that Indonesia is very different from Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan. No doubt that is true, as the countries in question are thousands of miles apart. But, if Kristof hasn’t noticed, radical Islam is on the march in Indonesia, too. And anyway, what is the point? Suppose there were one decent Islamic country in the world: would that somehow delegitimize Hirsi Ali’s effort to rescue the hundreds of millions of women who are trapped in societies that viciously oppress them? I think not.
But Kristof still isn’t finished. He offers this paean to Islam:
To those of us who have lived and traveled widely in Africa and Asia, descriptions of Islam often seem true but incomplete. The repression of women, the persecution complexes, the lack of democracy, the volatility, the anti-Semitism, the difficulties modernizing, the disproportionate role in terrorism — those are all real. But if those were the only faces of Islam, it wouldn’t be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world today. There is also the warm hospitality toward guests, including Christians and Jews; charity for the poor; the aesthetic beauty of Koranic Arabic; the sense of democratic unity as rich and poor pray shoulder to shoulder in the mosque.
Is Kristof completely ignorant of history? Does he not understand that Christians, Jews, Hindus and others have been systematically excluded, by death or other means, from many Muslim countries? Some “warm hospitality!”
In a recent post, I quoted a refrain from a country song that says, “people are crazy.” But in fact, not all people are crazy. It is mostly liberals who are stark raving mad. All the liberals I know claim to be feminists, so how can they support those who mutilate little girls and sanction forced marriages and wife beating?
Beats me. The mind of the liberal is inscrutable. Which, I think, is a polite word for stupid.
PAUL adds: The left, and especially its representatives at the New York Times, has a long history of being seduced by anti-American, anti-democratic thugs and butchers. But Kristof seems easier than most to seduce.
For his Soviet Union sympathizing predecessors of the 1930s, it took the illusion of progressivism — something Islam can’t provide. For Thomas Friedman, it takes economic progress — again largely absent in Islamic states. For Kristof, a spot of tea and a touch of charm seem to have been enough.
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