Sunday, October 07, 2007

Actions Have Consequences

NOTE: Several readers have asked why I haven’t written about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s current situation. Given my past interest in her life and career, and my review of her autobiography, it doesn’t seem consistent to ignore the latest flap, does it?

My silence is merely a sign of my ambivalence concerning Hirsi Ali. This is a complex, ambitious woman. But she is limited by her lack of education in Western history, and it shows in some of her statements and decisions. As I said in the above-cited review:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: InfidelDuring her life in Holland, Ali shed her Muslim faith and became an atheist. That part of her journey seems fated: once the fire has been extinguished, it cannot be lit again. So she sets out to discover what her life will be as a non-believer. In the book at least, she appears not to have a quarrel with religion per se, though she is suspicious of any inroads it might make into political life. One can hardly blame her. However, the limits of her personal history are visible here: she doesn’t know enough history to understand that the religious impulse can be retained without harming the commonweal. The consuming, all-or-nothing Islam of her childhood predestines her passage from a totalitarian ‘all” to an equally doctrinaire “nothing.” That is the pity of trading one kind of fundamentalism for another.

After receiving her U.S. green card and promptly returning to the Netherlands the following day, Klein Verzet reports that the Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, told Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she is not welcome there.

It is my understanding that Ms. Ali is a Dutch citizen (perhaps seeking naturalized citizenship in the U.S., but not there yet). Thus I don’t see why, beyond being rude, the PM can make that statement.

Of more immediate interest, K.V. also has a link to a Dutch — and larger European audience — debate on democracy:

The Dutch are due to launch a public debate on the state of their national democracy Friday.

The week-long event is to be launched on public television Friday evening with the publication of the largest opinion poll ever held on the state of the Dutch democracy.

Some 200,000 Dutch nationals spent 21 minutes between August and October 1 filling out an online survey developed by consultancy company McKinsey. The survey asked Dutch citizens about the state of Dutch democracy, civil rights and current affairs.

The Dutch democracy week is part of a global event, “Why Democracy?”, a project initiated by 40 international television broadcasters.

Among them are the BBC, Finnish and Danish public broadcasters, as well as the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television channel. The international free newspaper Metro is also participating in the event.

Between 5 October and 12 October the 40 broadcasters participating in the global event will air a variety of talk shows, documentaries and movies dealing with the theme of democracy.

They hope to reach an audience of some 300 million people in Europe and beyond.

Among the documentaries will be one concerning “torture methods employed by authorities in the U.S.”… just in case you wanted to know the slant on this continental “debate.” If Gitmo didn’t exist, then they’d have to find something else to gnaw on. The fact that the United States incarcerates terrorists in comfortable circumstances counts for nothing. Our assiduous compliance with their religious requirements is simply what ought to be done anyway. The truly horrific prisons in their native countries are irrelevant. Gitmo is emblematic of an America that her enemies are determined to demonize. And it’s all so predictably tiresome.

It used to be that Europe could depend on America’s racist attitudes toward our black citizens…
- - - - - - - - -
…Unfortunately for the finger pointers, history has proved Europeans even more unwelcoming toward minorities than America ever dreamed of being. Thus that subject is now off the table. Instead they have been forced to stick to their broken record mantra about our ‘torture’ of terrorists — thugs who have killed many of our citizens — not to mention what they did to their own people.

When Gitmo is eventually gone, Europe will rise up with one voice decrying whatever new atrocity they can dredge up against the U.S. I believe the shrinks call this kind of behavior avoidance or denial: pointing fingers at America while giving the old Gallic shrug about their own incendiary “youths” saves having to actually do anything. Lord knows what extremes they’d be forced into were the big, bad American villains not so busy stomping out whole villages.

If you want a close-up and personal view of real European attitudes, just look at the treatment of Ms. Ali at the hands of both the government and her Dutch neighbors. The former had members who, for expedient political reasons, wanted to strip her of her Dutch citizenship. The latter, her neighbors in the apartment she rented when she lived in the Netherlands, petitioned to have her removed because her presence there was a nuisance and a danger.

So the bad Americans have Gitmo with its certified killers, and the Netherlands have Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whom they have decided should be left to her own fate. Maybe in their big debate on democracy, they can ponder how one treats a citizen that others have repeatedly sworn to kill just because she made a movie.

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This is not to say that I think Ms. Ali has shown good judgment in some of her decisions. The film, “Submission” was neither necessary nor particularly enlightening. The little I saw of it didn’t seem to have much aesthetic appeal either. She knew the inherent danger in releasing this work, and she warned Theo van Gogh. But she also knew how little he understood; yet she collaborated with him anyway. She is not responsible for his death, but at the very least she bears some of the burden of grief foisted upon his family.

I admire her courage in fleeing a forced marriage, in pursuing an education, and in using her considerable social skills to get others to help her along the way. She has many admirers for these things, and deservedly so. The obstacles she has overcome are quite extraordinary.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a formidable woman, but she isn’t perfect. Her mistakes have been costly to herself and others. I do not think any government has an obligation to provide security for her — this protection would not be necessary if she had not, of her own free will, made that mediocre movie. Actions have consequences, and this one is hers.

Though I don’t agree with her socialist political philosophy and I find her militant atheism without nuance, I would be willing to donate money to a private fund designated for her protection. However, it is not a government’s job to protect its citizens from their own folly. If any such fund is started, I’ll be glad to publicize it and to make a donation.

Mukhtar Mai: In the Name of HonorBut just to put things in perspective, Ms. Ali’s accomplishments pale beside those of real heroines like Mukhtar Mai. She has an autobiography, too, though she didn’t actually write In The Name of Honor, since Mai is illiterate. But her story is singular for the courage she displayed in the face of brutality, for her transcendence of a public humiliation designed to kill her, and beyond that, for her vision and vocation: to bring schools and electricity to her small village and to bring justice to her rapists. In the face of hatred, instead of dying, she flourished.

Mai has no doubt that the powerful clan she brought to justice will eventually kill her. But she also realizes that there are worse things than dying, and she knows her work will persist after her, living on in the literate boys and girls of her village.

It is the way of the world that desperately ambitious people like Jimmy Carter get the Nobel Prize while courageous individuals like Mukhtar Mai actually live out the principles of such awards. If Mr. Carter and his ilk had any integrity or humility, they would admit the fact that the Mukhtar Mais of this world should be standing in their place.

Don’t hold your breath.

16 comments:

germanbishounen said...

Oh, _come on_! She is one of the few human beings who honestly calls Islam to the mat and says that 'There is no hope in moderate Islam. Islam first needs to be defeated.'

She is one of the foremost figures of the counterjihad. We can quibble about the artistic merits of 'Submission', but can anyone doubt that she routinely raises the tough questions and makes good points?

Baron, we agree on alot. But I cannot help but think that this opposition to AHA has something to do with her outspoken atheism and refusal to bow to any kind of mysticism or faith-based irrationality, but instead turned to the history of the Enlightenment and its legacy of Reason. Let me point out that the Enlightenment did one thing that no other movement in history has: It worked. It produced freedom in Europe, destroyed the tyrrany of the priests and Kings, and founded the United States. And it is our most effective weapon against Islam today.

What, exactly, is 'the new fundamentalism' that AHA has adopted? Her staunch upholding of reason? Of a refusal to hold any assertion above her rational mind?

I can't help but think that this is also the reason why you haven't mentioned Sam Harris, for example, one of the most important figures in the counterjihad, someone who can say, where you and I will never get invited, "We are at war with Islam".

anti-uffe said...

"I do not think any government has an obligation to provide security for her — this protection would not be necessary if she had not, of her own free will, made that mediocre movie. Actions have consequences, and this one is hers".

I find this a saddening statement. As a matter of fact, I believe she was being protected even before Submission, for being an apostate. So is the implication that she shouldn't have left Islam if she was unable to pay for her own protection? Actions do have consequences, after all?

It doesn't end here.

In fact, nobody but the wealthiest should ever leave Camp Islam. Actions have consequences, right?

Salman Rushdie surely must have known the anger that his novel would cause. So he shouldn't have published it if he weren't willing to pay for his own protection himself? Actions do have consequences, no?

The Motoon artists should not ask the state for protection? After all, actions have consequences?

Jihadists come a-knock-knock-knocking on some blogger's door. Blogger shouldn't call the police, after all he/she should have known better? Actions have consequences, right?

We can play this blame game forever. The consequences of playing 'blame the victim' will most certainly play into the hand of the jihadists, and discourage anybody from leaving Submission. Think again.

I do wish that Ms. Hirsi Ali would come to Denmark after this embarrassing betrayal by the Dutch govt. I for one would be happy to know that my tax Kroner help provide her security.

FluffResponse said...

Hirsi Ali's simplistic take on religion is a minor quibble given her ability to communicate about Islam and the unwillingness of people to believe the message. Do you not find her categorization of Muslims a useful one, as we strain to make just the right distinctions before being called "bigots"? (The categories are apostates, then those who admit the serious problems but propose a reinterpretation, then those who wishfully and ineffectually state that there is no inconsistency between Islam and the modern world, then those who are deceptively trying to lull the potential victims to sleep, and then the self-described Jihadis).

Your essay was wrongheaded (and, by the way, unfocused). Should you bear the consequences of hosting a Web site that shows pictures of Mohammed as a dog? Or to put it less personally, do you really think that government should not protect its citizens against predators?

Recant, retract, repent.

R. Hartman said...

"I do not think any government has an obligation to provide security for her — this protection would not be necessary if she had not, of her own free will, made that mediocre movie. Actions have consequences, and this one is hers".

I find this a saddening statement. So far, I concur with anti-uffe. I agree with the first part of the statement, but not for the reason given in the second part. No government should ever have to protect individual citizens, as it takes all personal freedom away from that citizen.

The only real excuse for any government to exist lies in its one and only true responsibility: the protection of the individual freedom of its citizens. So the people that infringe that freedom, by threatening to hurt, maim or kill citizens shoudl be prosecuted and, when immigrant, be deported as persona non-grata. And if that means deporting all muslims from western societies, well, that'll have to be the case.

So far, no protests have been heard from so-called moderate muslims against the 'minority' deemed to give them a bad name, and that in itself speaks volumes. And that Muslims will be an ongoing threat becomes clearer and clearer, as is also shown by this publication

Having to protect individual citizens is unfair to other, less high profile citizens being threatened, and imposes a heavy burden on the individual being protected. Governments should keep any citizen safe, regardless of what their opinion is. Free speech ends when it calls for people to be killed. But apart from that, anyone should be free to speak his or her mind.

Cassandra said...

... The problem for open, Western, democratic society is that nobody is commenting anymore why this witch hunt (on Ali et al.)
is going on in the first place! That's how accustomed we've become to intimidation by a group of people who don't tolerate any vision, other than their own.

The mentality is also creeping in that it's the critics own fault for getting into trouble. Very much like: yeah, that's what you get when you enter a house on fire! Remarks made by Dutch Anti Terrorism czar, Tjibbe Joustra recently amounted to: "Since it's well known that Muslims are easily inflammable, the Dutch have only themselves to blame, should terrorist attacks occur", as if they were an Act of God!

This is blaming the victim, coupled to a refusal to hold the perpetrators responsible for their actions! This impunity in turn is undermining the rule of law and confidence in the state of justice and politics.

Society seems to be caving in, the moral compass being lost since some time. Ayaan is once again acting as the proverbial canary is the democratic coal mine.

http://newcitizenship.blogspot.com/2007/10/ayaan-hirsi-ali-moral-canary.html

Baron Bodissey said...

germanbishounen --

This is Dymphna's post, not mine.

Personally, I have no problem with Harris. If he says something that is useful and topical for one of my posts, I will quote him. There are plenty of staunch anti-jihad people I haven't quoted so far; that does not imply any opinion of them.

I'm not interested in the fight between the Orthodox Atheists and the Christians, but, as with any other religious extremists, I respect their right to hold their beliefs and practice their faith freely in this country.

Baron Bodissey said...

anti-uffe --

Equating being able to call the police with the government supplying personal bodyguards is specious.

If the Islamists get a fatwa against us for what we do, and come gunning for us, Dymphna and I can't expect to be provided personal bodyguards by the government. It won't happen. We will be on our own; we can call the police, or pack heat and wear kevlar: those are our options.

And that's the way it should be. It's the government's responsibility to protect its citizens. If the only way it can do that is to provide people with personal bodyguards, then the government has failed.

The government cannot pay for personal protection for everyone whose life is threatened by Islam, since there are millions of such people. Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn't deserve any more special protection than the average Dutch teenage girl in a working-class neighborhood in Rotterdam. They are both at risk, and for the same reason: they are not true believers.

Yes, Hirsi Ali may be a special case because she is an apostate. But she's not the only one; there are plenty of ordinary citizens who have courageously become apostates from Islam.

They don't get bodyguards because they're not celebrities. It's as simple as that.

Dymphna said...

Just to choose one statement at randon, r. hartman said:

So far, no protests have been heard from so-called moderate muslims against the 'minority' deemed to give them a bad name

It must be cherry-picking time. Either that, or perhaps people just happen to notice things they disagree with? The last post I wrote several hours before this one went up concerned the website Muslims Against Sharia. The fact that they are willing to speak up and demand reform of their religion, and the fact that they make fun of the jihadists places them in danger. Don't they deserve this blanket protection also?

And before that post I wrote another about the Kurdish woman in Germany who was killed by her husband in a cruel, premeditated act. First he stabbed her, then he set her on fire while she was still alive. The police knew he was dangerous; they'd already given him a restraining order. Why didn't his wife deserve 24/7 protection given that her situation was clearly dire?

I noted Hirsi Ali's move from Muslim to atheist because she talks about it in her autobiography. What she believes is her own business. It only becomes the business of others in the Netherlands when she proposes legislation to close all religious schools. The people who established the right for these schools to exist thought she was barging into a situation she hadn't studied. She wanted this legislation because it fit with her own personal history with religion; it drew not at all on Holland's history of tolerance in setting up these schools in the first place. People had fought hard for the right to send their children to parochial schools while still paying taxes on public schools: just as we do here. Hirsi Ali wanted to make that choice unlawful.

If Ms. Ali deserves complete protection so do all women in countries with Muslim populations where the men in the latter have shown their willingness to rape and assault the native-born girls and women. What about the Swedish girls who dye their hair brown and put on veils so they can regain their freedom to walk out the door? These girls have done nothing and yet they are targets. Given the horrific treatment they have received why don’t they have total state-provided security?

How about the girls who are gang-raped in France, when the boys decide to play retourné on the infidel whores – just as the Lebanese Muslims do in Australia? Surely the French and Aussie police ought to be protecting each of these girls?

As I said in my post on battered women, there is a difference between victims and those who make choices which place them in danger. Choices have consequences, sometimes ugly consequences.

As an aside, I also don’t believe that the government should have to pay 24/7 protection for former presidents and their families. No one forced these guys to run for office. None of them is poor and all could well afford to purchase security, yet we are saddled with the bill. Just one more piece of pork perk for the Imperial government of the U.S....but one that has philosophical resonance with what people here think is the proper course of action re Hirsi Ali.

I don't agree.

FluffResponse said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/07/AR2007100701031.html

Paardestaart said...

I do not think any government has an obligation to provide security for her

I so disagreem, Dymphna! Surely that would make freedom of speech totally meaningless..or in any case a right granted you not by the law, but by people who may disregard the law! It would totally annihilate the law!
It is the duty of government to keep its citizen's safe, isn't it? By what right can they give out rights otherwise?
That governments can't or don't seem want to do that is something they should take to heart, for there are no grounds for their jurisdiction or even their existence otherwise.

Whether the government ensures that safety by supplying people under threat with personal body-guards, or by the determined hunting down and extraditing or else incarcerating the people who threaten others is entirely up to them. For starters; the fact that authorities declare their are powerless against threats before they are actually being carried out is a matter that urgently needs seeing to, I think..
Thàt surely is the reason the kurdish wife in Germany was murdered, by the way: the refusal of the authorities to uphold the law and guarantee the safety of innocent people. She died because the German authorities are unduly concerned about the rights of a criminal; not because Hirsi Ali was being protected and she wasn't.
She should have been, of course - same as Ayaan. So should the danish girls who have to dye their hair because they are in danger of being raped be protected. And should Muslims against Sharia be protected.

Furthermore you are sadly mistaken if you think Hirsi Ali wouldn't have been treatened if she had not, of her own free will, made that mediocre movie
There are many more dutch citizens threatened by islamists who don't make movies - mediocre or brilliant.
One in fact is our famous, teadrinking mayor Mr. Cohen, and another the moroccan then alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb.

I can assure you that the only way to entirely avoid being threatened is to say absolutely nothing about islam, which is exactly the objective of course.. Don't even make complimentary remarks, I would suggest: mentioning moderate islam, for instance would be a gaffe if not an insult, because as mr. Erdogan of Turkey stated: There Is Only One Islam!
(Which is very funny because it is one of the arguments of hapless islam-defenders who time and again stress that there is not just one islam ..:-)

Dymphna said...

paardestaart --

We simply have a different philosoophy of what the role of government should be. The one you describe would eventually entail a police state.

When you say --

Thàt surely is the reason the kurdish wife in Germany was murdered, by the way: the refusal of the authorities to uphold the law and guarantee the safety of innocent people. She died because the German authorities are unduly concerned about the rights of a criminal...

-- you describe the problem as citizens see it. Seems so simple, doesn't it?

But in the US, a person is free to make threatening remarks under the first amendent of our Constitution. However, he is proscribed by law from actual phsycial assault. The police can do nothing about what he says, only about what he does. And this makes people angry at the police. They do not make the law, they simply enforce it. In order to do it your way, we would have to have a national referendum to change the Constitution so people can be jailed for their words. It won't happen.

The cost of liberty is eternal vigilance, and that includes our own behavior and speech. The Baron and I know we are at risk from writing about the criminals of Jamaat ul Fuqra who live not far from us. It was scary to contemplate exposing them, but we did it anyway so that people can know what is right in our midst.

But the police are not free to act on our opinion, or even what they know about the leader in Pakistan. His followers cannot be held responsible for his speech or behavior, but it was his actions which made him persona non grata in the US. If his followers want to see him, they have to travel to Pakistan.

The code of law in this country is very clear. When it gets violated by over-zealous law enforcement, as it did in Waco Texas under Janet Reno, innocent people die horribly for nothing.

If your ideas about protecting young women in Scandanavian countries were put into effect, those places would go broke trying to fund what would quickly become a military establishment. You'd need at least two guards a shift for each young woman. That's six guards a day per woman. And there would need to be part time staff so people could have days off...do the math.

The day may come when people are willing to pay that price. But it hasn't arrived yet, and when it does the cure will be far worse than the disease.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Dymphna,

I must say that I think your first comment made your point much better than the original post. Particularly the part about banning all religious schools. To me, that suggests ignorance of how our culture works, exactly as you said.

I'd also point something out to those that referred to the Kurdish woman in Germany as being deserving of protection. If you read D's original post on that, recall that just before her husband found and attacked her, she was warned by a fellow citizen that he was nearby and in a dangerous mood.

She laughed it off, as I recall.

After he attacked her, he was quickly apprehended. So to recap, she knew he was in the area and looking for her, she ignored warnings, was attacked, and then her attacker was arrested.

To me, that's sort of how the system is supposed to work- the police can't deter every crime and protect every person all the time. I've known people that were victims of crime and had nowhere near that level of police response- Dymphna's son for instance, was one of them.

The woman could have avoided the attack, in the immediate sense (admitting that he would have kept hunting for her) due to a concerned and attentive neighbor. Her attacker was swiftly apprehended, though it was too late for her. Simply put, the government can't protect everyone all the time, unless they put armed police officers on every corner.

And I doubt very much that any of us want that.

So either we have to accept police presence everywhere all the time, we have to take a degree of responsibility for our own safety (and those around us), or we have to live with the risk that some animal will attack us.

atheling2 said...

That's why Americans are permitted to bear arms. Our sensible Founding Fathers understand that we cannot rely on government to protect us. Ultimately, it's up to us individually to protect ourselves.

I have to agree, that sometimes Ms. Hirsi Ali is a bit ignorant of Western culture - in the classical sense. But I would attribute that to the poor educational system in the West these days.

R. Hartman said...

GTW,

The huband already had a restraining order due to prvious violence. If they'd kicked the guy out of the country, as they should with all criminals of foreign descent, the lady would still be alive today.

You don't need policemen on every street corner, you just need to treat criminals the way they deserve. This killer was already a know criminal.

R. Hartman said...

@Dymphna,

Cherrypicking... You may have written about it, but I don't have the time to read everything on GoV. Thing is that if Muslims speak up, as you apparently reported, those occasions are exceptions to the rule.

You missed my point: for western society to be safe, all Muslims need to be sent home. The link I provided illustrated that the problems with Islam go way beyond what we're seeing now, and there's no common Muslim response to these things. The just silently bide their time.

Unless Muslims intyegrate, learn the language and adapt to our culture, doing away with all their 'halal' demands in public places, and voicing an opinion against those that want to force their 'religious' habits on our society, they cannot be trusted.

Myrtus said...

Well done Dymphna! You're so right in saying that AHA is limited by her lack of education in Western history.
In fact she is limited by her lack of education in Islamic tradition as well, this is apparent in pretty much all she says in her interviews. Aside from her own experiences with Islam, she hasn't been able to present anything original or worthwhile in terms of intellect except what she borrowed from Rushdie and the likes.
Fact is shariaa law has plenty of flaws that would not make the cut in this day and age if someone were courageous enough to call for revision. Too bad AHA hasn't done her homework thouroughly. When she first took the stage as a politician, she started out as this courageous person tackling real life issues systematically to help improve the living standards of Muslim women living under oppression and I admired her, I looked up to her and applauded her actions. But then as she gradually drew attention from the Muslim radicals and they grew angrier every day threatening to kill her. She then started losing her focus and became driven with hatred and revenge just like those Muslim extremists, as if she wished to punish them for what they were doing to her. She began acting on emotion rather than reason and eventually started pushing the limits actually long before Theo van Gogh was murdered, and you know how it all went downhill since then.