2007 December 10 Monday
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Sees Western Cowards Toward Islam

A Der Spiegel profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalian immigrant to the Netherlands who is targeted for death by Muslim fundamentalists, includes some great comments by Hirsi Ali.

Her attacks drew criticism from Islamic fundamentalists as well as leftist Western intellectuals, who accused Hirsi Ali of discriminating against, offending and stirring up resentment among Muslims across the board. Her critics said her demands amounted to nothing less than a demand for Muslim immigrants to renounce their religion.

She's discovered, she now says, that even those who claim to be fighting outdated dogmas are quick to impose their restrictions on thought. From public life she's learned that minorities should not be rebuked; that there are also racists among non-whites; and that "tolerance of the intolerant is nothing but cowardice."

Respect for cultures of Muslim immigrants amounts to disrespect for individual rights.

Hirsi Ali admits her behavior could be seen as provocative. But, she adds, there was no doubt the Dutch had turned a blind eye to the horrors some of their Muslim neighbors were inflicting on their wives and daughters. "Teachers, the authorities, politicians and even the media looked the other way when girls didn't return to school after the summer vacation, because they had been married off in Morocco in the meantime." All the talk about respect for the identity of immigrants and their culture, Hirsi Ali says, is "nothing but thoughtlessness, laziness and fear of openly addressing human rights violations."

As Lawrence Auster noted a couple of months ago, Hirsi Ali has thought her way out of the box of conventional thinking that still held her back from advocating effective and sufficient policies for dealing with Islam. She's no longer in the elite crowd that defends the conventional wisdom that the problem with Islam is some small number of radicals who have hijacked it. She's not even in the smaller crowd that holds Islam is the problem but that we are basically helpless to do nothing but wring our hands and talk about it.

She gave a great interview to the libertarian Reason magazine. Hirsi Ali pretty much advocates forcing Islam to submit to the West rather than vice versa.

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago—ought to change?

Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

Look, in a democracy, it’s like this: I suggest, “Let’s close Muslim schools.” You say, “No, we can’t do it.” The problem that I’m pointing out to you gets bigger and bigger. Then you say, “OK, let’s somehow discourage them,” and still the problem keeps on growing, and in another few years it gets so bad that I belatedly get what I wanted in the first place.

I respect that it needs to happen this way, but there’s a price for the fact that you and I didn’t share these insights earlier, and the longer we wait, the higher the price. In itself the whole process is not a bad thing. People and communities and societies learn through experience. The drawback is, in this case, that “let’s learn from experience” means other people’s lives will be taken.

I love how she's figured out that constitutions aren't supposed to be suicide pacts.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 December 10 10:16 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

dchamil said at December 11, 2007 8:18 AM:

I'd like to know the language in which the interview was conducted. Hirsi Ali's first language is apparently some African language. She speaks fluent Dutch from having spent years in that country. Is her English really as fluent as it appears in this interview?

KD said at December 11, 2007 11:53 PM:

There are many videos of her giving live interviews in English. She speaks it very well.

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