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October 15, 2007

This is Pretty Crazy (or, how to declare war on a whole religion and keep your job at AEI)
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Matt Yglesias points us to a very frightening Reason interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch MP, and outspoken opponent of Islam and Muslims in general. Not surprisingly, she is now perched at AEI, an institution which now appears intent to lend its imprimatur to the most blatant kind of bigotry. But, then again, that's not so surprising. What is surprising, however, is that a good many reasonable people have also fallen under Ayaan Hirsi Ali's sway, and hailed her as a brave voice of reason and reform. An unfortunate example is this column by the Washington Post's otherwise sensible Anne Applebaum (see my previous post on this).

The fact that Applebaum and the MSM in general would have good things to say about someone who has, in very explicit terms, declared war on a whole religion (and, by extension, 1.5 billion people) tells us a lot about current state of discourse in our country. In any case, here is what Hirsi Ali has to say about the unfolding "war":

Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.


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Don't know if this provided the impetus for the post but's affiliated website, Onfaith, has an article on Hirsi Ali (


That some populations of cities and nations have contained people of and from diverse cultures has been a fact of history since the earliest records. In times past wars of conquest, trade in slaves, people fleeing dangers of various kinds, and peaceful trade have contributed to a mixing of people of diverse cultural origins in new and different social contexts. Since the 2nd World War and the advent of more efficient and faster mass transportation, population migration and multicultural mixes of ever greater diversity and complexity has occurred. In the new world multicultural mixtures of people of different origins became the norm, and particularly in the United States and Canada. New cultures resulted from these "melting pots" creating entirely unique societies of cultural hybrids, a kind of mongrel breed of humans. In some countries and communities that had stable homogenous populations for centuries, like old Europe a need for labor and great wealth and opportunity differentials created a migration from Muslim lands into the heart of Christianity creating enclaves of tribal people who neither desired or were encouraged to integrate into the host society. This multi cultural fact has both resulted in conflict and a population of second and even third generation people who are neither of the parent Muslim culture or that of the land in which they were born, and their ambiguous self-identity has been a weakness exploited by radical dissidents.

The present multicultural mix with its conflicts and insoluble social problems has developed gradually and largely unnoticed over the past half century until 9-11 and Osama bin Laden's declaration war existed between the civilizations of East (Islam) and the West. From his perspective, and that of many disaffected Muslims around the world, Islam is seen as having been under attack by the West, and particularly America; and Muslims should engage in Jihad to defend the faith. Of course most in the West see this view as having no basis is reality and therefore the ravings of a madman. But an understanding of the Koran, the nature of Muslim faith, and the fact it requires of believers submission to a very suppressive kind of tribal culture; combined with a perspective of history whose facts do in all rationality support the idea Islam has declined and the West has ascended due in large part to imperial colonialism and the hegemony of first one super power, the Soviet Union, and now a second in the West led by America, cannot be denied as historical fact. Neither side pays dues to the fact the Turks chose to side with Germany in the First WW, and then being on the loosing side lost the entire Ottomon Empire to British and French control. So imagine from 1918 through the 2nd WW much of the Muslim world had to abide the indignities of control by white-skinned Christians. To them it was an ignominious loss in what was begun a millennium before with the Crusades and the first Western invasion of the then Arabic middle east.

This is not offered as any apology or justification for 9-11 and Islamic terrorism, but rather an understanding that it is not just the result of a few crazies, but a much broader and deeper hostility and resentment, that is also a significant element in the intractable problem of the multicultural realities the West is trying to deal with inside its own boarders. So far most western nations have responded to their particular problems stemming from a multicultural reality with policies that are in one form or another broadly under the rubric of Multiculturalism. What this term refers to is really an extension of the foundational values of democratic self-governanace based on Enlightenment concepts of individual rights and freedoms, ideals like those of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity in France along with its strong belief in the separation of church and state.

Western democratic societies in their respect for both the individual and the rights and freedoms accorded by secular governments, is tolerant therefore of individual religious freedom to worship and belief without discrimination. Therefore if a society and its constitutional government supports freedom of religion and individual worship, all religions must be awarded equal tolerance, which essentially treats all religions equally, making no distinction between different faiths or religious practices. All religions therefore in the eyes of democratic governments and law are the same, parallel to the concept that each individual is afforded equal protection under the law. Putting this extension of democratic principle into practice as a policy of multiculturalism has had unintended consequences when the tenets of faith, like Shariah, if followed by a devout Muslim results in an act that is unlawful in a western democracy, like honor killing, the imposition of a death sentence for apostasy, forcing a minor child to mary someone not of their choosing, or subjecting female children to circumcision. In some jurisdictions an offense to the law of the land is waived if the offender's culture requires it, while in other jurisdictions the culturally required behavior has led to arrest, prosecution, trial and penalty according to law. If multiculturalism prevails and culture is an exception to the law all indigenous citizens must obey, the majority of the population is badly and unfairly served, and if honor killing is treated as capital murder those who believe it is called for by their religious and cultural beliefs are offended.

This concept of multiculturalism that all religions and cultures are equivalent and therefore provided equal protection and toleration is fundamentally flawed when extended by a western democratic society to an Islamic culture that does not and cannot reciprocate with equal tolerance and respect for western democratic values like free speech, separation of church and state and the rule of secular law.

The idea of extending tolerance equally to all religions and hence to cultures that are Islamic may be consistent with our liberal, humanist, western democratic values including the tolerance and respect enjoyed in the religious freedom our societies afford, but if our values are not equally understood, respected and tolerated, we undermine both ourselves and do a disservice to Muslims by allowing them our protection and respect when it is not reciprocated because the Quran forbids it and Islam and its followers must obey.

This Aqoul post seems to have been the first link in the chain that led to Yglesias' place.

On what planet is Anne Applebaum sensible?

And this BS about using public money to defend Ali's life has got to stop. Let the AEI pay for her bodyguards.

YOU are pretty crazy, Shadi Hamid. Ayaan Hirsi Ali does NOT "declare war" on 1.5 billion Muslims.

She has repeatedly written and stated that Islam (the religion, the ideology) is incompatible with a modern democracy, while muslims (the people, the human beeings) certainly can be compatible with a modern democracy. In order to be compatible one has to abandon certain aspects of one's own religion - bescome "infidel" in some aspects (or better: completely). The same is true for Christianity and other religions. The development of modern democracies required the "watering down" of religious doctrines, which happened in Europe in the era caled Enlightenment. I would dare to say that a large proportion of muslims in the world do not take their religion too seriously, and therefore can be very good citizens of any modern democrycy. Those who do take their religion too seriously are dangerous (that applies for Christians too) .

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