The famous atheist politician and women's rights activist defends Christianity while calling for a war against all of Islam
Ayaan Hirsi Ali wants a war against Islam. Ali, while I admonish for her criticism of Islam, she has clearly adopted a two faced personality. While she claims to be in favor of human rights, women’s rights, secular rights and so on, her ideas and methods for combating the radical elements of Islam I believe are ultimately harmful.
For those unfamiliar with her, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Muslim ex-pat originally from Somalia. She left Islam and immigrated to the Netherlands, eventually becoming an Member of Parliament there. During those years she served as a leading figure against Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands, and slowly turned into a darling of the so-called “New Atheist” movement.
Ali, while I agree in principle with her attacks against the nonsensical aspects of Islamic religious doctrine, seems to take things to a little too far. Here’s why.
Ali does not just criticize the religion of Islam, she believes that the (Christian) West is in a “war” with Islam. We are not in a war against Islam in terms of “ideas.” That is not what she means, in full. It is not just about ideological debate. Ali believes we are engaged (or should be) in a physical war with Islam and its adherents. She does not say “radical Islam”, she says “Islam” period.
Ali does not believe in the idea of “radical Islam.” She believes that all of Islam is radical, and that the only way it can be dealt with is to be “crushed” and “defeated,” “by any way.” I am not putting words in her mouth. She said this in an interview with the libertarian website reason.com in 2007.
It is not a coincidence she holds these positions. Ali clearly despises her former religion, and I believe that it did have an adverse effect on her. While it has been clarified that many portions of Ali’s life story have been fabricated, I hold no doubt she suffered on behalf of some conservative Islamic traditions. That does not excuse her from having bad ideas about what to do about these religious lunatics.
I don’t give credence to Ali’s ideas of being in a total-war with Islam, and its adherents. While Ali and I are atheists, she, like many secularists today, has repeated a false talking point that Islam is the most barbaric religion in the world today. She also inadvertently defends radical Christianity in many ways, in spite of her self-declared atheism.
In the same interview referenced earlier, Ali regurgitated the talking points of Christian Terrorist and mass murderer Anders Breivik. While Ali did not state these points as her own, she uncritically repeated his position. It came off as if she agree or somewhat sympathized with his position. What was Anders Breivik’s position? He was oppressed, and had no choice but to kill nearly one-hundred people, including children (mainly non-Muslims, ironically).
Breivik stated that he had been “censored” from mainstream media outlets, unable to convey his message of a crusade against Islam and its adherents. Essentially, he felt violence was his only outlet because mainstream broadcasts in Norway would not air his message that all Muslims are an enemy to the West, and that physical war should be waged against them. He advocated a Holy War, and apparently Norway didn’t allow him (or goons like him) air time on mainstream networks, therefore violence was his only option in gaining attention and spreading his message.
With this logic, Breivik had no choice, but to be violent. He was socially oppressed, so he had no choice but to lash out. I guarantee that if I were to make the same argument in defense of groups like Hamas, or Hezbollah, people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali would call me an apologist for terrorism.
While Ali did not state Breivik’s points as her own, she seemed to defend him without defending him. It’s a classic play of words. “Oh, I’m not saying that he’s right, I’m just saying why he thinks he was right.” She doesn’t then follow with, “I don’t agree with that, and I think he is wrong.” Quite the contrary, she merely stated Breivik’s defense of his terrorism without a critical addendum.
While this isn’t a huge issue, it does reveal the double-standard that even secularists lay claim to these days. Islam is exceptionally violent and evil, and all measures must be taken against it in ways that should not be taken against Christianity.
What really seals the deal for me is that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a stooge for the neo-con think-tank the American Enterprise Institute. Most progressives are by now familiar with the AEI. Most might know it as the base-camp for the architects of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. For years Ali has worked for them, and has been used as an “example” of ex-Muslims agreeing that war is an acceptable option, and that Islam can only be reformed by being crushed.
Many of Ali’s defenders have said that she joined AEI because she was shunned by most “liberal” organizations in America. This may be true to a certain extent, but I don’t find it shocking or unusual. Ali does not just advocate a war of ideas against Islam, she advocates the possible use of a physical war. She equates all of Islam and its adherents as radical, remember.
Ali is used as a tool by the right to justify further wars in the Muslim world, and she is used in a way to defend the argument that we are at war with all of Islam, rather than say radical Islam. Ali, much like the righties, equate all adherents to Islam as radicals, or at least the vast majority of them. So, yes, it might be hard for liberals to warm up to a person like that. The left generally opposes senseless war.
Granted, I am not criticizing her from the vantage point of defending the religion of Islam. I am an atheist, therefore I don’t believe in Islam. I reject it as mythology, as I do all religions. The argument that progressives and people on the left ignore or defend the barbarism of Islam is nonsense. The people who criticize the theocratic elements of Islam the most across the world are leftists, especially in relations to women’s rights. No progressive simply glosses over atrocities against women in the Muslim world, while only attacking Christianity. That’s absurd.
The only reason, for the most part, righties attack Islam is because they practice a different religion. I have criticized Islam before, I would again. Mohammed was a pedophile, war monger, and pathological liar. He did not ascend to heaven on a winged horse, nor did a spider spread a web over his cave to hide him, nor did the goddamn Archangel Gabriel come from heaven and reveal Allah’s word.
I criticize the religion of Islam profusely, and in no way do I believe anyone should be restrained from challenging the religious doctrine. Yet, the argument used to defend Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s tough stances revolves around the premise that Islam is not criticized enough in the West. This is serious. There is a train of logic that thinks Islam and Muslims are given easy passes in the West, and the religion should be open to further scrutiny. This not only stupid, but false and harmful.
Islam is very easy to attack and criticize in the West, especially America. American Atheists holds an annual “Draw Mohammed” day every year, and Islam is the only major religion that seems wide open to attack in Western media. We see very little such criticism in respect to Christianity in similar media outlets.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not a progressive. As an atheist, I feel she glosses over Christianity too easily, while giving credibility to the idea of a total war against Islam. This is no coincidence, and this is in part for her mostly associating with right-wing think-tanks. Anders Breivik even cited Ali as an inspiration for his ideas on Islam. Also, not a coincidence.
She is not wrong because she wants to wage a war of ideas. She is wrong because she would justify an actual war against all of Islam. As an atheist who despises religion, I would never advocate a physical war against Christianity or its followers. War does not solve the problem. Then again, war does make the people who fund AEI (and Ali) money. I wonder if there is a connection.