April 01, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali doubles down on her Islamophobia

Ayaan Hirsi Ali/Guardian photo
Islamophobic wingnut Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation" is probably even more over the top than Ayaan Hirsi Ali's two memiors. That’s not to mention that I'm skeptical of people who feel they need to write multiple memoirs before the age of 45. “Nomad: From Islam to America,” was nothing more than a PR screed. That’s not to mention that her first memoir, "Infidel," was not a memoir at all, but a huge pack of lies, as Alternet notes.

I read "Infidel" before all the untruths were exposed, and before she had gone so far down the Islamophobia road of lumping all Muslims together. I found her interesting, and semi-compelling. But, my eyes were eventually opened.

She's pretty much owned up to most of those mistruths, but not told why she told them in the first place. We'll see if she, beyond basic Islamophobia of calling all Muslims the equivalent of the Devil's spawn, gets manifest in Nomad.

That said, three reviews, from pandering to critical, will illustrate the problems with the new book.

First of all, it’s interesting that the Daily Beast first quotes Bernard Lewis, himself a cultural Christianist. It’s also interesting that the Daily Beast, generally thought of as a more liberal site, would run this fawning of a review. Then, that reviewer, Tunku Varadarajan, carefully elides around her actual childhood history vs. her original story about it. Given the background of Varadarajan, currently at the Hoover Institution, no surprise, though.

Nicholas Kristof ain't much better, and perpetuates his own stereotypes, especially on the "three problems" he claims Ali identifies in Islam Substitute "Buddhist" or "Hindu" for "Muslim," or for "African" as an ethnos (my neologism to replace "race" for super-ethnic level groupings) and imagine what people would say. I'm just surprised he didn't work in more explicit neoliberal platitudes, or his pointillist paintings of a bright neoliberal world abroad that, like actual pointillist paintings, fade into random dots on a close-up look.

The LA Times review gets it right: That she's lumping all of Islam together. Kind of like Gnu Atheists do with Christianity as well. (Surprisingly, Gnus haven't called all Jews fundamentalist and I'm not sure why.)
Given her avowed atheism, Hirsi Ali's solution comes as a surprise. 
"The Christian leaders now wasting precious time and resources on a futile exercise of interfaith dialogue with the self-appointed leaders of Islam should redirect their efforts to converting as many Muslims as possible to Christianity," she advises.
Bingo on the "surprise." It would be like d'Holbach or Diderot decided that Martin Luther hadn't worked and they needed to write a book about the reformation they thought Christianity needed.

And, it clearly puts her in the cultural Christianist world along with Lewis and others.

I disagree with Brandeis disinviting her from a speaking gig, while acknowledging that it has the right to do that. But atheist and secular humanist groups should not invite her in the first place.

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