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← Ayaan Hirsi Ali: 'Why are Muslims so hypersensitive?'

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: 'Why are Muslims so hypersensitive?' - Comments

bethe123's Avatar Comment 1 by bethe123

She is sceptical of Obama, who, she thinks, in his speech to the Muslim world in Egypt last year was optimistic to the point of delusion. She says: "The idea that if people are just friendly and demonstrate they want peace, that will be answered with good will – that is really naive. If you have organisations in the US that are lobbying him and Congress to allow sharia, then being nice to them is not enough. --Ayaan Hirsi Ali

 This may be true... However, being the first black President and having a Muslim father it seems to me put Obama in an extremely unique position to reach out...in hindsight, one can judge the success or failure of the effort, but I do not criticize Obama for at least making the attempt.

In any event, always good to have Ayaan Hirsi Ali on RD.net.

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 16:20:23 UTC | #467800

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 2 by rsharvey

Is it just me or does the introduction to this piece have a pretty disrespectful tone to it?

Sat, 08 May 2010 16:37:09 UTC | #467805

Narvi's Avatar Comment 3 by Narvi

rsharvey
Is it just me or does the introduction to this piece have a pretty disrespectful tone to it?

It's not just you, it is disrespectful.

 

And I think it's strange that they spent so much time talking about how she looks. Perhaps the journalist should spend less time looking and more time listening.

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:00:24 UTC | #467807

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 4 by rsharvey

Narvi
Perhaps the journalist should spend less time looking and more time listening.

Yes, and as it went on it got worse. So condescending.

The journalist essentially suggests that Hirsi Ali can't be trusted to think rationally because she has been a victim of abuse. How unbelievably sexist! Noone would dream to write the same about a man in her position.

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:08:16 UTC | #467810

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 5 by aquilacane

How can anyone so beautiful have anything intelligent to say

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:18:12 UTC | #467813

Malakith's Avatar Comment 6 by Malakith

i find it funny that while she herself is an atheist, she promotes converting muslims to christianity, which really won't do all that much. switching one religion with another won't reduce extremism or fanaticism, it'll just change the way its acted out.

Sat, 08 May 2010 17:45:51 UTC | #467822

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 7 by Alovrin

"The book ends with a letter to her unborn, and as yet unconceived, daughter. Hirsi Ali draws a line from her grandmother, a nomad who followed the tribal religious code, to her mother, caught between tribalism and modernity, to what she hopes would be her daughter's uncomplicated relationship with the west."

 

A confused article, the journalist sways between sympathy and incredulousness. Us humans are strange creatures. I don't know anyone whose life is not without contradictions.

I just like that Hirsi Ali can see her life in a continuum of ongoing development towards a better future. If we have a future that is how it comes about.

But why cant people examine the facts and simply change their minds.Oh that's right everyone, apparently, doesn't have the same set of facts in front of them. 

Sheez how does that quote thing work 

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 17:56:01 UTC | #467824

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 8 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Someone hasn't read enough Spinoza... Which is odd for a well-educated woman, many of whose formative years were spent in Holland.

Or rather, her position is contra-Spinoza on the defeating of negative emotions. But such skepticism in the face of rigorous deductive arguments (however a priori and dogmatic) requires argument itself.

See Spinoza's Ethics, Part 4, Proposition 7. Her assertion to the effect that reasonable and just entreaties to the enemies of reason cannot work must contend with this.

Sat, 08 May 2010 18:03:41 UTC | #467831

Art Vandelay's Avatar Comment 9 by Art Vandelay

She didn't "convert from Islam to atheism", she just quit being a muslim.

Sat, 08 May 2010 18:18:25 UTC | #467837

louis14's Avatar Comment 10 by louis14

rsharvey
  Yes, and as it went on it got worse. So condescending. The journalist essentially suggests that Hirsi Ali can't be trusted to think rationally because she has been a victim of abuse. How unbelievably sexist! Noone would dream to write the same about a man in her position.

I agree that the journalist is very condescending. But I'm not sure I understand this argument that to be potentially unable to think clearly because of trauma is sexist. To be sure it's an ad hominem attack rather than a rebuttal of what she's saying, and fails because of that.

But we're all familiar with stories of male ex-soldiers going off the rails due to PTSD. Is it sexist to refer to PTSD in a war veteran?

 

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 19:00:26 UTC | #467840

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 11 by Philoctetes

The journalist, EMMA BROCKES is condescending, but what would you expect from a woman?

 

There you are, I can do condescending with the best of them.

 

But shouldn't we be a little careful here in our criticism of journalists, accusing them of condescension and lack of respect makes us sound a little like the religionists. We should not fall into the trap of being easily and routinely offended. Hirshi Ali has the wit and intelligence to counter this typical journalistic approach, as of course do RD & CH. It is counterproductive to take lessons on courtesy from ignoramouses. They can be rude if they like, we don't have to be

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 19:38:27 UTC | #467852

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 12 by rsharvey

louis14
 I agree that the journalist is very condescending. But I'm not sure I understand this argument that to be potentially unable to think clearly because of trauma is sexist. 

No, I'm not saying that this type of criticism is inherently sexist, just that it wouldn't be aimed at a man in a similar position. The double standard is what is sexist. A man who has survived torture is presumed to be stronger because of it. John McCain basically ran on that platform.

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 20:01:39 UTC | #467861

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 13 by rsharvey

Philoctetes
The journalist, EMMA BROCKES is condescending, but what would you expect from a woman?   There you are, I can do condescending with the best of them.   But shouldn't we be a little careful here in our criticism of journalists, accusing them of condescension and lack of respect makes us sound a little like the religionists. We should not fall into the trap of being easily and routinely offended. Hirshi Ali has the wit and intelligence to counter this typical journalistic approach, as of course do RD & CH. It is counterproductive to take lessons on courtesy from ignoramouses. They can be rude if they like, we don't have to be

The idea of offence is a weird one. You are still allowed to be offended, and to explain why something is offensive. Freedom of speech is not the freedom to insult unopposed, its just the freedom not to be arrested or persecuted for what you say. 

I  don't think its a matter of being too sensitive to say that this piece is condescending. It really is! Consider what Hirsi Ali has achieved in her life, despite such difficult and cruel beginnings, now consider how she is presented by this journalist. And yes women can be sexist too.

Sat, 08 May 2010 20:09:06 UTC | #467864

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 14 by rsharvey

louis14
But we're all familiar with stories of male ex-soldiers going off the rails due to PTSD. Is it sexist to refer to PTSD in a war veteran?
Its not sexist to refer to a diagnosable syndrome if it is true. But Hirsi Ali gives no indication that she is of unsound mind. The implication is that despite the achievements and bravery she has displayed throughout her life, we should mistrust her, because she probably isn't thinking clearly.

Sat, 08 May 2010 20:11:59 UTC | #467866

Alyson Miers's Avatar Comment 15 by Alyson Miers

The phrasing she uses is startlingly direct. When she writes that "violence is an integral part" of Islamic social discipline, or says in our interview that "Muhammad's example is terrible, don't follow it", it is deliberately, almost narcissistically provocative, the result, one imagines, of a siege mentality and the defensive self-assurance that goes with it. To Hirsi Ali, the act of speaking out, of saying what no one else will say, seems at this stage to be almost a pathology; to override all other considerations.

 

She should have stuck with "startlingly direct."

One might say that violence being an integral part of Islamic social discipline is debateable (though I think Ms. Hirsi Ali knows what she's on about), but her saying "don't follow Muhammad's example" is hardly "narcissistically provocative." Argue with her if you wish, but accusing her of shit-stirring just for the sake of shit-stirring says more about you than it does about her. She's shooting sacred cows because she genuinely thinks they need to die. The fact that they are sacred cows doesn't make her a shit-stirrer.

 

"But if you compare the reaction of Christians to what is written about Christianity – Richard Dawkins, who's a supporter, says religion is a form of madness – whereby Christians just shrug their shoulders and don't respond. If you compare the way Muslims take offence at perceived insults that are not insults, but are just a critical way of looking at their religion, then I start to ask myself, why are Muslims so hypersensitive to criticism and why don't they do anything with it except to respond by denying it or playing the victim?

 

*ahem* She hasn't been looking at many Christians, it seems. I don't dispute her claim that there is a considerable difference between the way Christians tend to react to outspoken atheism and the way Muslims react to the same, but the difference is not as profound as she tells it. When Christians stop getting offended at the news that nonbelievers exist and sometimes like to hang out together, then I'll believe they might be the non-hypersensitive example that Muslims should follow. 

 

I talk about a Christianity that is enlightened enough to separate spirituality from the rest of life. Not just church and state, but knowledge and church. Religious groups not telling you what you can and can't do, but religion becoming an inside thing. It's very hard for me to describe a thing that I don't have – that kind of spirituality."

 

I don't think a great number of Christians have that kind of spirituality, either. If she can promote that faith-as-inside-thing idea as a viable alternative to organized Islam, then I say good for her, and I wish her luck. I just don't think American Christianity sets that good of an example for what she's trying to do.

 

the life she might have led: "on welfare," she says, with hauteur, a virtual "prisoner", in need of her husband's permission to leave the house and then only if encased in a "black shroud".

 

I don't get the scare quotes around "prisoner." If the cousin needs her husband's permission to leave the house, then prisoner sounds about right.

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury may be surprised to know she considers him an "appeaser" of Islam for considering limited introduction of sharia law.

 

Again, the journalist makes "appeaser" sound like a frighteningly radical thing to call him. I think that's pretty mild. Has the Archbishop not tried thinking about what allowing sharia law in the UK would mean?

 

http://alysonmiers.wordpress.com/

Sat, 08 May 2010 20:26:45 UTC | #467870

Ygern's Avatar Comment 16 by Ygern

Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes journalists - and certain armchair critics  - nervous.

They want to sneer, the way they sneered at Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, - by "they" I mean those who couldn't be bothered or were too cowed to read the book when Fatwa on his life hit the headlines.

I always see the same bizarre ambivalence in articles on her. Journalists are so uncomfortable with her, they yearn to be able to dismiss her as a right-wing conservative who has brought this on herself. But most of them realise that they can't get away with it - not when the details of her life and courage paint a very different picture.

 

Sat, 08 May 2010 20:34:13 UTC | #467871

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 17 by rsharvey

Alyson Miers

That's a pretty good analysis of the interview I'd say.

Sat, 08 May 2010 20:35:08 UTC | #467872

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 18 by Crazycharlie

A.H. Ali broke free from the insanity of the Muslim world, a world she bitterly experienced growing up in first hand. She has more credibility in criticizing Islam than anyone. The conflict between the west and fundamentalist Islam isn't a clash of civilizations. It's a clash of civilization against barbarism. Many on the left of the political spectrum wish she would be quiet or go away. Her testimony fucks up their tidy notion of cultural understanding and "useful debate". They should insted be asking moderate muslims, 'How come you don't continually condemn and marginalize violent radicals in your religion who make threats of violence, or worse, make good on those threats'.  Empty public statements of condemning violence are a joke. We should be asking for a real effort to marginalize these fanatic loons.

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 21:05:33 UTC | #467878

Papalinton's Avatar Comment 19 by Papalinton

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has something to say.  She has something to say founded on traumatic and alienating personal experiences encountered in her life. From that troubling milieu she has taken unimaginably bold decisions to separate from her family, to shed herself of the horror of living as a woman in a belief system that is nothing less than a misogynist worldview.  And the result?  Through education, and actively participating in and contributing to the new environment around her, she has become master of her own destiny.  

The article may reflect some of her views as disparate or perhaps somewhat misguided, so what? Who can blame her given the circumstances that have shaped her life.  The gist of her perspective is still, nonetheless, clear - give every single person the opportunity to develop to their potential; and to challenge without equivocation those features of religion with a view to mitigate if not eliminate harm.

All power to her despite the reportage.

Updated: Sat, 08 May 2010 22:00:31 UTC | #467889

msloane's Avatar Comment 20 by msloane

From the opening paragraphs I take it the usual journalist was not available and the fashion journalist did the interview.

...otherwise some interesting insights.

Sat, 08 May 2010 23:12:56 UTC | #467906

ewaldrep's Avatar Comment 21 by ewaldrep

you don't convert to atheist like you would from one religion to another! gets my nerves when I hear even the simplest comments anymore.

Sun, 09 May 2010 05:42:50 UTC | #467952

Logicel's Avatar Comment 22 by Logicel

Positive aspect of this weirdly focused article is that Hirsi is quoted giving clear delineation of her position.

Updated: Sun, 09 May 2010 10:25:45 UTC | #467998

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 23 by Nunbeliever

Yes, I do hugely respect her and all that she's been through. Still, I realize that there is something about her as a person (judging from what I've read in articles) that I find a bit disturbing. I guess it has a lot to do with her right wing affiliations. I mean, she says she's not right wing but is working for American Enterprise Instituet and has written several articles in line with these associations. Well, I don't know. She's still a HUGE resource being a muslim and a woman.

Updated: Sun, 09 May 2010 10:51:02 UTC | #468000

retep57's Avatar Comment 24 by retep57

the article seems hardly worth reading  but i will buy her new book and read it for myself.

Sun, 09 May 2010 13:14:17 UTC | #468025

Pseudoniempje's Avatar Comment 25 by Pseudoniempje

@ Alyson Miers

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is talking about Dutch Christians and here on the continent they actually are like that. Unless you go to a Christian school (like I do, unfortunately) you don't get confronted with religion at all, except when Muslims are concerned or Jehovah's witnesses come knocking on your door.

Updated: Sun, 09 May 2010 18:42:47 UTC | #468152

SummerSeale's Avatar Comment 26 by SummerSeale

Once again, I'm going to get into hot water here with some. =)

 

I've seen a few comments about Hirsi's affiliation with right-wing groups such as the AEI. The fact is that there are good reasons for it, just as there were good reasons for Christopher Hitchens to also associate himself, in part, with likewise people.

 

A lot of what Hirsi says is considered "right wing" by the left these days. I'm not talking about hardcore Atheists, but by the multicultural left which is a completely different animal than many leftist Atheists. I'm on the left as well in most cases, and yet I still agree with Hitchens on, for example, the war in Iraq - for mostly atheist/humanist reasons. We can disagree there and that is fine, and please let's not start an argument about it. But it is fairly clear that Hirsi and Hitchens, among a few other select Atheists, do see a very big problem with the left in general in their acceptance of things that they should not be accepting of. There are not many places to turn to on the left (in fact there are almost none) when it comes to fighting this particular fight. If you want to fight Christianity (which I do every day along with other Atheists), the left is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you want to fight against Islam, however, you're a little bit ostracized. Again, I am not talking about RD Forums or a few other hardcore Atheist places, but about many other more "mainstream" leftist venues.

So when you don't have any other place to turn to, you turn to people who are in the same fight as you - perhaps for entirely different ideological reasons. But sometimes you need allies. And the fact that Hirsi doesn't find any allies to take here in on the left, and that she is forced to turn to the right to find them, should be speaking volumes about where the left sits on this particular issue.

I think that this is definitely a huge reason why she makes the left feel uneasy. I understand why. She is throwing up a mirror in the face of the left by showing everyone that they are not equipped, or are at least unwilling, to take that step that she is taking.

I've seen a lot of support on RD for her but this is not your typical leftist venue. We're mostly Atheists here and the left is bigger than just the Atheist camp. And certainly we are critical of multiculturalism when it comes to Shari'a Courts in the UK and other places, but I have seen some snipes at her from time to time for her affiliation at AEI in the last few years.

Again: I think that if she had another venue on the left to have the same freedom in her work against Islam, she would have taken it. If you ever hear her talk, you instantly realize that she is no right-winger. It is clear that she does not associate her own thoughts with 99% of most of the right-wing talking points. But then why is she forced to go to them for this particular fight?

It's pretty clear why, and it's also pretty clear to some of us Atheists on the left that she is absolutely right in her criticisms of much of the left these days. I have the same criticisms. I completely agree with her.

And, for what it's worth, I think many here should also start looking at the rest of the left outside of this circle with the same critical eye, and pointing it out a hell of a lot more, for what it's worth. It won't change until we do as a group, and it won't change until we accept the fact that she has a damned good point (as does Hitchens) about the state of the left today as a whole.

I still consider myself left of center on almost every issue. But when your only allies in fighting against Islam are on the right...well, let's just say you have to take what you can get.

Instead of throwing bombs at her for that, let's try to band together to fix that. We're Atheists. This is our fight she's fighting. We should help her make the point over and over again. And it would be far better to have allies on the left than the right in the future because we would have people doing it for our own rational arguments and reasons instead of religious reasons or other right-wing ones which we don't happen to agree with at all.

You can be as critical as you want with what I've posted, but it doesn't change the fact that it is true. Because, again, Hirsi would be at a left-wing think tank if she would be welcomed by one. She isn't, and that proves her point...and mine.

 

Mon, 10 May 2010 13:02:41 UTC | #468410

MatthaiNazrani's Avatar Comment 27 by MatthaiNazrani

When people throw out accusations of racism, she says, they forget that Islam is not a race but a religion; one chooses to follow it. But after 7/7, the racist on the street who's about to beat up a foreign-looking guy doesn't stop to ask him if he believes in Muhammad.

So, since the racist doesn't make a distinction, the rest of humanity shouldn't either?
Way to go, Guardian.

How then does Hirsi Ali resolve the Enlightenment paradox of advocating freedom, then turning to other people and saying, I know what's best for you?

Then I guess a liberal democratic constitution is also a paradox: it also advocates freedom, and then restricts what people can do. Maybe the author should try moving to a less Enlightenment-affected country, like Saudi Arabia or China.

Tue, 18 May 2010 18:51:14 UTC | #471185

katt33's Avatar Comment 28 by katt33

Anyone entrenched in their views believer or non-believer will lash out at the slightest word that is contrary to their belief or non-belief system. It is part of our nature and we have to work at not being so. I agree it was sexist, condescending and the idea that just because one is beautiful or abused they have nothing positive to say or contribute is nuts.
As for conversion, OYE!!! Humanity, Please!!!!!!!! stop trying to convert anyone to anything and to re-distrubtue anything through government!!!

Sun, 23 May 2010 20:16:07 UTC | #472793