Friday, October 23, 2009


Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, gave an interview recently to the L.A. Times. Her incisive intelligence is obvious, as is her willingness to take politically incorrect positions.

The interviewer, Patt Morrison, gives a brief overview of Ms. Ali’s background. For our readers who are not familiar with The Somalian Freedom Fighter, that page is a good place to catch up. By the way, the reporter says that Ms. Ali’s third book, Nomad, will be published in February. You can pre-order it here. I suspect it will cover her years spent in hiding and later, here in America.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Feminism’s freedom fighter*

What did you think of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s trip to Africa?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali I am always very happy when the United States shows interest in Africa, even if it’s symbolic, and hers was largely symbolic. I think that Hillary Clinton will continue State Department aid to Africa. But many African countries are faced with the expansion of radical Islam, [which] will mean that the United States is going to be faced with a new national security question. Wahhabi money is in Africa. They’re building mosques very fast. They’re introducing Sharia. It’s a grass-roots movement, and I didn’t see anybody talking about that.

Translated: this administration (much like the last one) is playing the same old “symbolic” game with Africa. All clashing cymbals and banging drums, but no real investment in preventing the Wahhabi take-over.

When it comes to women in Africa, is the U.S. using too many of its values or too few?

There is too much apologizing for what freedom means. In Africa, you’re told, “Oh, this is our custom - polygamy is our custom, female genital mutilation is our custom, these are our values.” Then you have the Americans and the Europeans being very shy and saying, “Oh, I’m really sorry, it’s your custom.”

No translation necessary. Ms. Ali is telling the Anthropology Department, otherwise known as American foreign policy, to get a grip on reality and quit endorsing atrocities just because they’re “customs”.

Will someone make a permanent banner to wave at our President every time he speaks? It should say:
- - - - - - - - -
— Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Maybe blue letters on a red background with white stars?

Do you make a distinction between mainstream and radical Islam?

I refuse to do that because one gives birth to the other. You are born into mainstream Islam. You are taught: Do not question the prophet; everything in the Koran is true. And then the radicals come and they expand on that, they build on that. it is up to so-called mainstream Islam to tackle the radical element. [Mainstream Muslims] have to question the infallibility of the prophet Muhammad. They have to quit teaching children and young people that everything in the Koran is true and has to be taken seriously. [italics added]

You can see it in the Christian world. You have pockets of very radical Christians who refuse to change. But most Christians have decided to reform, to introduce new ways of looking at [the Bible] and to allow freedom of thought and speech. So if people move away from the radical ideas, they’re not killed, they’re not beheaded.

You’ll be eligible for U.S. citizenship in about three years. How do people here regard their citizenship compared with citizens of other countries?

I think the American situation is much healthier than the European situation. America has the advantage that when you become a citizen, you pledge loyalty to a Constitution that’s about ideas and not about ethnicity. Because of that, Americans do not feel shy about teaching new Americans why citizenship is important, why patriotism is important, pride about the Founding Fathers. That’s an easier sell than taking pride in the history of France, for instance.

Heh. Another Francophobe here. I wonder if she knows that the President thinks our Constitution is “deeply flawed”.

By the way, I didn’t know she was going to become an American citizen, did you? Well no wonder her new book is called Nomad!

One guiding value here is tolerance. You’re concerned about Americans tolerating the wrong things?

To be a community of free people, you have to defend that freedom tooth and nail, and for this country to remain vital, you have to understand that freedom is a very, very vulnerable institution. It’s something you have to keep defending, and the only way to achieve that is intolerance of intolerance.

I hope she keeps saying that at colleges and universities. Coming from her, the icon of freedom in chains, “the intolerance of intolerance” will tie them in philosophical knots.

Are American Muslims different from European Muslims?

I see one big difference, and that is economic. Most Muslims who come to the United States had a higher level of education than Muslims going to Europe, and a higher level of income. That is changing now because of resettlement [of more Muslims in the U.S.]. The United States is not a welfare state. American Muslims have to have a job. European [nations] are welfare states so you have a lot of poor people who depend on the state for their survival. That makes it very attractive for radicals. I hope that American Muslims are different. But that does not make America immune to radical Islam.

She’s right. We are not immune, and our own home-grown versions of radical jihadist terrorism are just as deadly as anything imported.

Be sure to read the rest of the interview here. You’ll find out where Ms. Hirsi Ali puts herself on the political spectrum. I was surprised.

I’ve emailed the reporter to ask if she’s going to publish any more of this interview. At the bottom of the page it says: This interview was edited and excerpted from a longer taped transcript. I’ll let you know if there is any more information forthcoming.

*Note: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is definitely a freedom fighter for women, as the title of this interview says. But then again, so is Phyllis Chesler. Ms. Chesler had to make her escape from Afghanistan and now she slogs away, pushing back against the politically correct tide that tries to wash over everything.

If there were any justice in the world, it would be Phyllis Chesler getting that award in December, not our newly-minted, maybe-counterfeit President…

We could start with her book (one of many), Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. Every woman has experienced it at one time or another. Phyllis Chesler explains the phenomenon.

One of the advantages of Chesler’s book over the one with the President’s name on it is that Ms. Chesler actually wrote hers.

Hat Tip: Act for America


Anonymous said...

A time for choosing

Yesterday afternoon, in the last of his appearances during his just ended trip to the United States, Geert Wilders addressed a private luncheon at the Union League Club in Philadelphia. According to a source in Philadelphia who was at the lunch, Wilders at the end of the speech announced a plan to form an international organization, the purpose of which will be "to break the chains of political correctness and cultural relativism." Wilders said that everywhere he goes people ask him, "What can we do?", "How can we help?", "What can we join?", and that it was in response to these questions that he has decided to take this initiative.

This is profoundly important news. To understand its significance, let us consider again, based on Wilders's talk that I heard earlier this week in New York City, what Wilders stands for, and thus what this new international organization will stand for:

(1) Islam is the problem (not "radical Islam," "radical extreme Islam," or "Islamo-fascism").

(2) While individual Muslims may be moderate, there is no such thing as moderate Islam.

(3) Islam is in part a religion but is primarily a tyrannical ideology aimed at controlling the world.

(4) The more Muslims there are in a non-Muslim society, the greater becomes the power of sharia, the Islamic law, which requires that all aspects of society be brought under its control.

(5) Wilders says that he has nothing against Muslims as people, and that Muslims who support the freedoms and the culture of their host societies in the West are welcome; but that those who do not, are not.

(6) All mass Muslim immigration to Western countries must be ended.

(7) Muslims in the West who promote sharia should be made to leave, "today."

That is an extraordinary list of statements and positions. An international organization formed on these principles, and aimed at bringing them into the politics of each Western country, is exactly what is needed. It would represent, for the first time, the beginning of a serious effort to defend the West from Islamization.

A time for choosing

Anonymous said...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali said :

"I think the American situation is much healthier than the European situation. America has the advantage that when you become a citizen, you pledge loyalty to a Constitution that’s about ideas and not about ethnicity. Because of that, Americans do not feel shy about teaching new Americans why citizenship is important, why patriotism is important, pride about the Founding Fathers. That’s an easier sell than taking pride in the history of France, for instance."

The American situation is not healthier. It's easier for immigrants. But there's no given that a nation has to be welcoming to immigrants.

It's precisely because Europe is trying, in a naive way, to imitate America, that immigration in Europe is such a disaster. America is, up to now, the world superpower. It has been built on immigration. Therefore, Europe thinks that immigration is the secret key to power. Since America is relatively better at it, Europe thinks it should try harder.

In other words, if only Europe was America ! Well, it's not. It's a shallow way of thinking, with disastrous consequences.

As for France, Ayaan Hirsi Ali does not explain why it is more difficult to take pride in the history of France than... in the history of America. "Pride about the Founding Fathers" is pride about the history of America.

She says that America's constitution is about ideas, and not ethnicity. But France's constitution, and core values, are very much about ideas, and not about ethnicity. More than any other country in the world (except, precisely, America) France has this pretense about joining people together with ideas alone.

The differences are :

1. Age. Europe is older. It's more difficult to integrate into an older civilisation. How many people emigrate to China or Japan ?

2. Colonialism. America is a colony. All Americans are colonialists in their own country. When you emigrate to America, you become a co-colonialist. There's less unhealthy competition with the locals. Immigrants are less of a threat to them.

This is easier than emigrating to Europe, where you quickly become a hostile colonialist, poised to take the country away from its inhabitants. We Europeans didn't kill the Indians. You did. You are not the aboriginal population. We are. Fundamental difference.

3. Slavery. Blacks. The presence of two races was a reality in America very early on. Since this is an original sin, you can't get rid of Blacks. You tried, a long time ago (Liberia), but it did not work. You're stuck with the problem.

Because it is, indeed, a problem. Your only way out is to pretend it's a positive thing, and act accordingly. Hence, all the nice talk about "the Constitution that's not about ethnicity".

However, ethnicity is like sexuality : it doesn't go away, even if you'd like to. Contrary to the popular myth, America's foundations are not ethnically neutral ; for quite a long time, immigration has not been ethnically diverse. On the contrary. America's social cohesion is built on the fact that its immigration was quite selective, and ethnically homogeneous. That is, European.

This has changed. But the change has occurred recently. The myth of a country which doesn't care about the ethnicity of its immigrants means we are marvelling at the brightness of a star, while actually it's long dead.

Ethnicity matters. It matters very much. Multiculturalism might very well be the demise of the United States, ultimately. But life is short, and obviously it's a very rational choice, for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to settle in America rather than in Europe or in France. She just shouldn't make too much of a theory of it.

4. Economic freedom and responsibility. Europe is socialist. The welfare state is big. While it attracts immigrants in the short term, it is very poisonous to them and to society in general. The wrong type of people are attracted. The good are discouraged to take their fate in their own hands. America is less socialist -- for how long ?

James Higham said...

freedom fighter


Dymphna said...

Mr. Higham:

It depends. Both Hirsi Ali and Phyllis Chesler speak out about the plight of women under Islam. Other Western feminists ignore it as they natter on about trivia.

Western feminists are marginalizing themselves. They're all leftists marching to the same utopian drum.

@ Mr. Marchenoir re blacks in the US:

Your only way out is to pretend it's a positive thing, and act accordingly...

Yours is a European point of view; I've given up trying to discuss it. What you say is your basic, non-negoitable idea about America and blacks. No amount of talk will change what is for you an article of faith re American culture.

However, it is not my view of race relations in this country. I accept the inevitable tensions around race, both the historical reality and our present situation. Neither of these conditions limits my hope or my affection for my black friends and relatives.

Racial tensions will always be with us. Yet we are a richer culture because of black people. We are willing to trade off the downside because the advantages outweigh the problems.

Anonymous said...

Dymphna, I don't understand what you think is "my basic idea about America and Blacks". I don't understand what makes you think "it's non-negotiable".

I think it's rather unfair to say that "no amount of talk will change what for me is an article of faith". Where's the talk, apart from the one comment I offered here myself ? It seems to me you're starting and stopping the discussion at the same time.

You say "racial tensions will always be with us". That's exactly what I mean. I'm not sure that's a happy state of affairs. I, for one, would not like to live in such a society. I have spent most of my life in a country where there was no racial tension. As a result of the historical shifts covered by Gates of Vienna, this is changing fast. I don't like it. I don't like it at all. And I'm not alone in this.

As a matter of fact, members of the other, non-aboriginal ethnic groups, don't like it either. Having to coexist with other races makes them very angry. They say so everyday.

For what it's worth, I haven't always held that opinion. I used to think, for quite a long time, that America had it right regarding immigration and race relations. I thought it was the winning formula, and could be replicated elsewhere, notably in Europe. (I still think there's some merit in it. It depends what part you consider.)

If you had a lot of time to lose, you could even try and find past comments of mine on the Web arguing just that (not on Gates of Vienna).

By the way, that's the dominant viewpoint in Europe (at least in France), both on the Left and on the Right, especially since Obama. My present viewpoint is completely marginal over here. (That does not preclude the traditional European and French Leftist viewpoint : Americans are racists, Blacks are hideously oppressed by capitalism, etc. Yes, it's contradictory with the opinion that Americans, contrary to the French, know how to deal with an ethnically diverse immigration, but you'd be surprised how easily people switch from one opinion to the other. I even suspect quite a lot of them to harbour both viewpoints at the same time. And of course, all dark-skinned people are often lumped together : immigrants and Blacks related to slavery.)

So, in fact, I have already submitted myself voluntarily to quite a lot of talk, or to other people's written opinion on the subject, and changed my mind as a result.

There's nothing to say I would not do it again if someone is willing to argue the issue.

Chechar said...

@ Yet we are a richer culture because of black people…

Although twelve years ago my coworkers in Texas were neighborhood blacks, I better approach this subject by talking about Mexico.

Long before Lincoln’s blunder, Mestizo America in general—“Latin America” is a misnomer: most “Latin” Americans are no Latins at all, but semi-Indians—and Mexico in particular were the first gigantic multiracial experiments. This happened almost half a millennia ago: the real overture of today’s multicultural tune that is conducting the West straight into the precipice.

The big difference between the English colonizers and the Spaniards is that the former migrated with their whole families, whereas the latter arrived as bachelor soldiers to the Americas, many of them in their twenties. As can be read in the delicious narrative by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, even since their first journey to Tenochtitlan while they passed through the intermediate towns in their way to the magnificent capital of the Aztec Empire, the natives gave the bachelor soldiers Indian girls as presents, in order to appease them. Very few Spaniards resisted the temptation. Thus the first miscegenations on American soil were consumed—just a few weeks after the Spanish step on American continent’s soil for the first time in history.

This first multicultural, multiracial gigantic social experiment in America has ended in an absolute disaster. Just look at Latin America! Obviously, had the Europeans encountered an empty continent, the whole of Latin America would be First World by now, not the poor, underdeveloped “enriched” semi-Indian nations we see today.

I’ll try to expand this point in my Quetzalcoatl series. Suffice it to say that North Americans ought to take into consideration what has happened in a 500-year history just below their borders.

Profitsbeard said...

Europe should let America be the global guinea pig in "racial harmonizing", and keep their own lands their own.

The U.S. is a unique accident of unreplicatable circumstances and it should not be tried by already-settled and long-civilized, greatly-homogeneous lands.

It has been happening (naively) since WW II, where Europeans have imitated the most dangerous aspect of the American Experiment, to their own peril, as they are now discovering.

Their current crisis has something to do with "race", but much more to do with "faith".

There would be some tensions if the immigrants were African or Asian or Arab Christians or Buddhists or Hindus or atheists, since different-looking people tend to naturally self-segregrate.

But the fact that Islam, a form of intolerant, militant, totalitarian theocracy has been invited in, glibly and blindly, turns this from a mild social and cultural frisson to an open and implacable war between a mass-movement of colonizing, dogmatic despots and the diffident and increasingly-agnostic (and thereby spiritually "disarmed") Europeans.

Unless the people on the Continent recognize their existential mistake and the growing threat to their survival, and reverse Islamic infiltration into Europe, this will not end well for the well-meaning folks of the Old World.

Islam's 1400 year long record of depredations is warning and haruscopy enough for any with the wit to read it.

The Louvre could be the Bamiyan Buddhas in 50 years.

Along with the Prado.

And the Rijksmuseum.

And the Uffizi.

And the Berlinische Galerie.

And the British Museum.

And any other despised "relic" on non-Islamic "backwardness".