INFIDEL, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Note from Razib: This discussion thread will be heavily moderated. If you’re not going to be interesting, be banal and polite. Otherwise, be interesting. My point in Islam threads isn’t to sit there listening to self-important prigs repeat the same talking points I’ve heard since 9/11. Been there, done that (myself). Let’s add some value.
End Note

Reviewers of Hirsi Ali’s autobiography, Infidel, should be required to put relevant cards on the table. Accordingly, here are mine: I am a reluctant atheist, which I mean that I wish I could believe in some comforting suprapersonal code, but I don’t (and I have a particular contempt for the latterday “god of the gaps”); that said, I am nervous about and wary of Islam finding a beachhead in the West, even as I reject anguished warnings of the immanence of Eurabia and creeping dhimmitude.

Also, I had no particular interest in reading Hirsi Ali’s book. (Parenthetically, I knew of her long before the Theo Van Gogh murder, and it occurred to me when I first heard of her and apprehended her striking physical presence, that she would eventually end up in the United States. I did not, of course, foresee the terrible events that precipitated her move, but I suspected that Holland was simply too small a country to contain her.) I have so far been unimpressed by the intellectual calibre of other Muslim critics. They have zero credibility in the Muslim world and their criticisms of Islam may be valid but the only noteworthy thing about them is that they are undergoing enlightenment two centuries after it became unremarkable in the West. I sympathize, but for my crowd, the thrill is gone.

What sparked my interest in reading Hirsi Ali’s was a fierce irritation at the constant references to religion in American public life since 9/11. This was bad enough when the hectoring came from the right, but now it’s coming from the left. I could and did ignore the Baptist who said that god doesn’t hear the prayers of a Jew, because he’s a hick that no one in the cultural elite, among whom I live and work, takes seriously. I don’t pray and I don’t care. I scorned the leftists who brandished this nobody in my face as an example of the horrors of American anti-Semitism, when it was nothing of the sort.

Now these same people go on Air America to tell the world that Jesus was a leftist (no links, but I heard it) and they supply ludicrous, a-historical examples to prove their non-existent case. This “who can be more sanctimonious” religious competition is driving me crazy, but it has had the salutary effect of clarifying my attitudes. So I paid renewed attention to this literal firebrand. I wanted to see if I could learn anything from her book than the fact that another smart girl grew up and left god-as-daddy with her dolls.

I did. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I am pleased to report, is a much more interesting, deep (and flawed, like all heroic figures) person than any collection of newspaper reports can convey. Those looking for a simple “I hate Islam” manifesto will be disappointed by Infidel. The book — which should more properly be called “Apostate”– is a calm, lucid, balanced account of a nightmarish upbringing. She wasn’t really raised, as Westerners understand it, she just grew taller while being dragged around to various third world hellholes (Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and then Nairobi), due to her father’s clan-based opposition to Somali dictator Siad Barre. Hirsi Ali’s mother, grandmother, older brother and younger sister existed on charity doled out by her father’s clan members. Hirsi Ali watched her once-vibrant and enterprising mother become distorted with bitterness, subjecting Hirsi Ali’s to routine beatings, while turning her outwardly docile middle child into the family drudge.

It is revealing that Ayaan Hirsi Ali divides her autobiography into two parts, entitled “My Childhood,” and “My Freedom.” The animating force of her life is to tell the world that Islam is essentially infantilizing. The first half of the book, which encompasses the first 22 years of her life, is riveting reading. She describes the ideal of Somali womanwood: to be baarri, whose closest approximation in English would be virtue: “If you are a Somali woman you must learn to tell yourself that God is just and all-knowing and will reward you in the Hereafter.” Hirsi Ali explains: “If her husband is cruel, if he rapes her and then taunts her about it, if he decides to take another wife, or beats her, she lowers her gaze and hides her tears. And she works, faultlessly.”

Have you ever wondered about the bewildering complexity of Somalia’s clan structure? This is the book for you. Somali life, as she describes it, consists of complete, utter, subservience to family and clan, yet it is pervaded by suspicion and violence. When she is a little girl, her one-year older brother pushes her into a shit-filled latrine. And whose fault is it? Ayaan’s, because she failed to be suspicious. It’s a world where feelings are considered weakness, and pride is everything.

No review can do justice to how crowded with incident and packed with colorful, fantastic characters the first half of the book is. She is moved from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia to a series of dwellings in Nairobi. She and her younger sister are gentially mutilated by their nomad-born grandmother. She learns Arabic, Amharic, English and Swahili. She becomes infatuated with Islamic fundamentalism but describes the process as so natural we never question its inevitability. A crazed Quran teacher shoves her head against a wall and fractures her skull; the hospital costs are covered by (what else?) the clan. Other wandering preachers of Islam drift in and out of the exile Somali community. She elopes with a gorgeous cousin strictly for the sex; they ditch each other quickly and figure out a way to “unmarry” each other. (Hint: the clan works out the details.) She rescues family members streaming out of Mogadishu by bribing Kenyan border police. This is all portrayed expertly, with deft omissions (to keep the story in control; whole books could be written about the era of African history she witnessed), swift pacing, and tight narrative.

The amount of human suffering that Hirsi Ali witnesses in Africa is sometimes overwhelming, and one wonders whether the second part of the book doesn’t show evidence of some post-traumatic stress disorder. As Ian Buruma points out, her account of Dutch life is a bit too pat, too admiring. But should we not empathize with Hirsi Ali? after living the life she has, and witnessing what she has, Holland is a paradise. But, as she herself points out, it’s a hard-won paradise, created by centuries of conflict between Catholic and Protestant, reclaimed from the sea. Her Dutch experience sounds reported and not fully lived, as her life in Africa was. (Perhaps this is true of the difference between life in Africa and life in Europe and has nothing to do with Hirsi Ali’s specific experience — I report, you decide.)

In Holland, Hirsi Ali committed two signal mistakes. The first was that she fabricated the reasons for claiming asylum in Holland. The fabrications were minor and were common knowledge, but her status could and should have been legally regularized before she stood for Parliament. More seriously, Hirsi Ali’s collaboration with Theo Van Gogh on Submission occurred after she was elected to Parliament. Van Gogh’s November 2004 murder was not her fault, but Hirsi Ali was a public servant at the time, and would have done her cause of protecting Muslim women greater service by focusing on the passage of laws to protect them, than by auditioning to be the Karen Finlay/Andres Serrano of Holland. These judgement mistakes made her vulnerable to a Swift Boat slandering on a Dutch television show from which her reputation suffered. Family members denied that Hirsi Ali was forced into an arranged marriage and was not genitally mutilated. These slanders continue to be retailed in the Muslim blogosphere and are thoroughly and convincingly refuted in the book. No one who reads the description of her mutilation can doubt that she experienced this horrific abuse; her detailing of the arranged marriage is as watertight as the grass jugs her grandmother used to weave by hand.

Hirsi Ali isn’t the first prophet to experience dishonor in her country. What she can do to modernize and moderate Islam is doubtful, as she is now by public profession no more a part of the Ummah. She’s our girl now and part of our furious debate about how to get along with Islam. The same neoconservatives whose chief guru cynically valued religion as social control for dummies have insincerely gushed over her book not because she has embraced enlightenment, but because she has rejected Islam.

Hirsi Ali thinks the West is falling apart. I disagree: we’ve never had it so good, and it’s getting better all the time. She thinks that Muslims will destroy the West with higher birthrates: I doubt this. Pim Fortuyn favored a Cold War with Islam. I don’t think that’s necessary.

However, Fortuyn also said, “I don’t want to fight for the rights of women and homosexuals again,” and that, I think, is the heart of the issue, although I wouldn’t put it that way. Here’s how I would put it: “the law of the land is the law.” Those of you who wish to keep your youth Muslim and live in the West must figure out a way to reconcile Islam with the dominant culture. If you can’t, expect more Hirsi Alis. In fact, expect more Hirsi Alis even if you do — it’s the price of the ticket. The stupid among your children will be seduced by bling; the brilliant, by science.

And, unlike the chicken littles of the Right blogosphere, I think that is exactly what we are saying, if rather mumblingly, hesitantly and stammeringly. Sometimes, it’s not way you say, it’s what you do. That Puerto Rican girl on the subway isn’t exchanging her t-shirt that says, “I must, I must, I must improve my bust,” for a burqa. Our industrialists and molecular biologists and physicists aren’t going to stop thinking and innovating and creating. They are an army much more powerful than the Quran, yes. We will insist, acidly, on our freedoms, on our laws, on our science, and our crummy t-shirts. If the Muslims in our midst can’t handle it, that’s their problem. The fact that Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards is disgusting and unacceptable but it is evidence of Islam’s fragility, not our weakness.

Finally, we will protect the apostates from Islam who come to our free societies for refuge. If Hirsi Ali has helped us to focus our minds on that task, she deserves our gratitude.

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100 Comments

  1. The stupid among your children will be seduced by bling; the brilliant, by science. 
    Yes, that’s really working in Britain, where Muslim youth are far more supportive of Sharia and punishing those converting to another religion with death, among other things, than their elders. By Daniel Pipes’ count, Muslims from Britain have carried out attacks in 16 countries.  
     
    Our industrialists and molecular biologists and physicists aren’t going to stop thinking and innovating and creating. They are an army much more powerful than the Quran, yes. We will insist, acidly, on our freedoms, on our laws, on our science, and our crummy t-shirts.  
    If our industrialists and scientists are so great, why haven’t their efforts solved the problem of Christian fundamentalism which you’ve described as significant and growing? (Not that I myself view it as such a problem.) You seem to contradict yourself.  
     
    The Muslims insist pretty strongly on their own ways, dontcha know. Are those bent on terrorism going to back down because we tell them that’s not fair play? “Words, words, words.”  
     
    That little ‘yes’ after Quran makes you sound like you’re trying to convince yourself of what you’re writing. 
     
    If the Muslims in our midst can’t handle it, that’s their problem.  
    No, it’s our problem when they start threatening and attacking us. When we cannot safely express what we think of Islam, it is our problem, it is our lives at risk. 
     
    The fact that Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards is disgusting and unacceptable but it is evidence of Islam’s fragility, not our weakness. 
    It’s evidence of its zeal, and intellectual/pyschological fragility, as they cannot peaceably tolerate criticism, but not physical fragility. Zeal among Muslims is unrelated, or perhaps inversely related, to the rigor and truth of Islam. You seem to point to the same in regards to fundamentalist Christianity. So what does Islam’s fragility (or evangelical christanity’s, say) matter if it’s growing in power all the same? This fragility makes its adherents no less of a physical threat. Intellectual victories are nice, but don’t necessarily translate into tangible gains, i.e., less of a threat. 
     
    [chill with the fucking attitude or i’m going to ban your ass! diana has been reading this blog way before you fucking showed up, so you better not think everyone else is an idiot, understand? 
     
    -razib
    ]

  2. Wow… way to give it to the Muslims, Diana. I must disagree with your premise that Islam and Muslims are the fragile party. Atheists, neo-cons, Catholics, Evangelists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, leftists, rightists, and the so-called Western world, confronting the Islamic world politically, militarily, economically, culturally, and intellectually. You’d think if Islam was so weak and fragile, it would have shattered already. 
     
    Pitting “Islam” vs. “Science”, a common subject of this blog, is a false dichotomy. Islam is a religion, a way of life, a political orientation, a people, and a culture. Science is the study of physical knowledge. Islam contributed to science, benefits from science, and exploits scientific knowledge, like any other people. Once you start to shape “science” as some sort of religion, opposed to another, it loses its objectivity and power. Science loses. 
     
    Muslims have enough problems to worry too much about Ayaan and her antics. Similarly scientists have too many scientific problems to solve to be concerned with and obsess over Islam. In the end, Islam is not really a scientific problem despite Razib and others to make it so. Scientists should concentrate on curing AIDS, solving the protein-folding problem, and proving the existence of dark energy. God will sort out the rest.

  3. If our industrialists and scientists are so great, why haven’t their efforts solved the problem of Christian fundamentalism which you’ve described as significant and growing? (Not that I myself view it as such a problem.) 
     
    diana seemed to imply that the problem was with the christian left. did you fucking read her post, or are you just bent on being an asshole? you want to stuff words into her mouth for your little responses. there are credible critiques you could (have in other sentences) make of her arguments, but chill with the tone, this isn’t your house, be polite (not a request). 
     
    (to be clear, i don’t think that diana and you really disagree on much, you were just using her sentences as launching points for clever quips, and that really fucking pisses me off because it is a waste of FUCKING TIME, and i HATE wasting time. engage where you really disagree, don’t engage in bullshit like this: 
     
    If the Muslims in our midst can’t handle it, that’s their problem. 
     
    No, it’s our problem when they start threatening and attacking us. When we cannot safely express what we think of Islam, it is our problem, it is our lives at risk. 
     
    what the fuck is that supposed to mean? because diana asserts A that means she accepts !B?)

  4. You’d think if Islam was so weak and fragile, it would have shattered already. 
     
    it is a common assertion (starting with spengler) that fundamentalism (as is common in islam) is a reaction of the weak party. if you are in a strong position you wouldn’t go blowing yourselves up in suicide bombings. reactionary violence exists in the context of resistance to change. fundamentalism is a byproduct of modernity, just as biblical literalism as an organized movement arose to counteract the influence of modernist critiques in the 19th century.  
     
    Islam is a religion, a way of life, a political orientation, a people, and a culture.  
     
    you define it in a such vague manner as to be meaningless. 
     
     
    Muslims have enough problems to worry too much about Ayaan and her antics.
     
     
    some muslims do have problems, or better things to do with their lives. on the other hand, other muslims are quite happy to waste their lives tracking her down and trying to kill her. there is no “muslims” per se, just a range of people who call themselves muslims with varied beliefs & interests. if muslims kept to themselves non-muslims could care less about their message. as it is, in the past few years some muslims have decided that violence in the name of islam in the west is cool. that demands some notice.

  5. Good review! 
     
    Apart from upsetting Muslims in general, I am not sure if Hirsi Ali has the ability to sway Muslim opinion any more than Daniel Pipes. 
     
    I think people like Tariq Ramadan and Khalid Abu Fadl would be better at changing the hearts and minds of Muslims. Of course as Razib has pointed out before, people like Tariq Ramadan have views which are more in line with those of Southern Baptists than Buddhists but thats the reality of the Muslim world.

  6. I am not sure if Hirsi Ali has the ability to sway Muslim opinion any more than Daniel Pipes. 
     
     
    did voltaire or diderot sway catholic opinion? you’re right, she won’t sway muslim opinion, and i think that her recent tack of being a ‘cultural muslim’ is wrongheaded. that being said, the freedom that unbelievers has won is the dethronement of religion from its position as forbidden sacred space. this doesn’t mean that people can’t practice or use religion to further their ends, or justify them, but, it means that such activities are not without dispute or accepted as a matter of course. muslims are not used to public disputation about the validity of their religion (though there is plenty of private skepticism), and that is what they need to be habituated toward.

  7. Muslims have enough problems to worry too much about Ayaan and her antics. 
     
    Oh please! Most muslims in America loving hating on Hirsi Ali. Bring up her name at a Muslim party and see perfectly mild old uncles turn into the crazy Dutch Moroccon dude who killed Van Gogh.

  8. p.s. re: the role of unbelievers. if all christians were congregationalists most of us wouldn’t care.* but, i think the presence of real unbelievers as an acceptable faction means that liberals like congregationalists can triangulate.  
     
    * this a major beef i have with dawkins et. al., who act as if the untrue beliefs of congregationalists are worthy of a secular jihad. me thinks not.

  9. I’ll respond at greater length to the more substantive points raised later on, because I’ve got to run, but for now, “Scientists should concentrate on curing AIDS, solving the protein-folding problem, and proving the existence of dark energy. God will sort out the rest.” 
     
    Well, who would disagree? And what in my review says the opposite?  
     
    And I can assure you that very few of these scientist will be Muslims, and of those few, most will be trained in the West. For the modern science to which you refer is strictly, solely and totally a creation of the West. Sorry, but the attempt to create a straight line between the Muslim geniuses of 10th century Andalus and modern science is an illusion. Muslims have been shockingly absent from modern scientific inquiry and what I mean by this is the institutional support for free scientific inquiry in predominantly Muslim countries, not sending your brightest to American engineering schools  
     
    Enough with the Islamic Aristotelian BS, you are only fooling yourselves, as Stephen Weinberg points out here
     
    I’ll respond to the resident Daniel Pipes later on.

  10. “She thinks that Muslims will destroy the West with higher birthrates: I doubt this.” 
     
    From Human Development report 2005: 
    Total fertility rates by region: in 1970-75 and 2000-05: 
     
    1975 2005 Region 
    2.6 1.8 OECD 
    6.7 3.7 Arab states 
    5.0 1.9 East Asia 
    5.1 2.5 Latin America 
    5.6 3.2 South Asia 
    6.8 5.5 Sub Saharan Africa 
    4.5 2.6 World total 
     
    The biggest drop is in East Asia (-3.1), followed by Arab States (-3.0). The Arab world (proxy for muslim, Ok?), is going through one of the fastest demographic transitions. For the next few decades these societes will be dominated by “angry youths” searching for their place and livelihood. But after that, things should start to settle down.  
     
    Also the analysis by Norris & Inglehart*, based on World Values Surveys, suggests that lower birth rates and growing economy tend to lead to “secular-rational” values within populations, and the trend is evident also in the islamic world. 
     
    I’d put my money on moderation of islam, driven my the populations of the islamic countries.. 
     
    Haven’t read the Hirsi Ali’s book yet, but am seriously considering it. Thanks for the good review. 
     
    * Sacred and Secular, Cambridge University Press 2005

  11. I’d put my money on moderation of islam, driven my the populations of the islamic countries 
     
    the key is to keep out many more muslims from getting in before the inertia of decreasing compounding growth is irrelevant. in the early 20th century ethnic indians in fiji had a higher birthrate than fijians, but that is no longer true. the fijians managed to cap them (through some unpalatable methods, though not genocide) at around 50%, before emigration and lower birthrates began to decrease the indian proportion.

  12. ANM,  
     
    “Yes, that’s really working in Britain, where Muslim youth are far more supportive of Sharia and punishing those converting to another religion with death, among other things, than their elders.” 
     
    You clearly missed the part where I wrote, “hesitantly & stammeringly.” 
     
    The British have admitted that they have a problem in their midst. Blair and every other Brit poltician of note has come out and stated that multicult is bullshit and Britishness is the way to go. 
     
    I didn’t say the situation is going to be easy. I just said and will continue to say that there is no way that Muslims minorities are going to institute Sharia in the West. Some will try. They will fail. 
     
    “If our industrialists and scientists are so great, why haven’t their efforts solved the problem of Christian fundamentalism which you’ve described as significant and growing? (Not that I myself view it as such a problem.) You seem to contradict yourself.” 
     
    I did not say that Christian fundamentalism was growing, I said that in the effort to compete with the right-wing appropriation of religion, the left is larding (sorry) its message with Jesus. Our society is Christian-based, the majority of people are Christian. In order to reach them, you speak to them in the language they understand. It’s not the religion I object to so much as the rank opportunism.  
     
    In any case, the point is ludicrous — I admit that science and rationalism haven’t destroyed religion in the West — but it has, to an extent, constrained its reach. 
     
    “The Muslims insist pretty strongly on their own ways, dontcha know. Are those bent on terrorism going to back down because we tell them that’s not fair play? “Words, words, words.” 
     
    That little ‘yes’ after Quran makes you sound like you’re trying to convince yourself of what you’re writing.” 
     
    Perhaps, yes. 
     
    I do believe we are in a fight, and that takes constant vigilance. 
     
    “No, it’s our problem when they start threatening and attacking us. When we cannot safely express what we think of Islam, it is our problem, it is our lives at risk.” 
     
    What’s YOUR problem? I agree with that, and said so. 
     
    “It’s evidence of its zeal, and intellectual/pyschological fragility, as they cannot peaceably tolerate criticism, but not physical fragility. “ 
     
    Again, agreed, I’m glad you got that off your chest. 
     
    “Zeal among Muslims is unrelated, or perhaps inversely related, to the rigor and truth of Islam. You seem to point to the same in regards to fundamentalist Christianity. So what does Islam’s fragility (or evangelical christanity’s, say) matter if it’s growing in power all the same?” 
     
    I was speaking strictly of the Islam in our midst. I did not refer to Islam outside the West. Even there, though, I don’t see the threat. I can’t think of one Muslim country that has produced a single great scientist, outside of Abdus Salam, who was considered a heretic by Muslims.  
     
    Can you?  
     
    What are you scared of, the Muslim hordes marching on Jerusalem?

  13. “Wow… way to give it to the Muslims, Diana.” 
     
    Khalid, I didn’t “give it” to anybody, and it’s revealing that you think I did. I reviewed a book; the autobiography of a woman who has left Islam. She has a right to leave Islam, to denounce it, and to live her life in peace. She has a right to make movies about women who are oppressed in the name of Islam and not be killed, even if I think she wasn’t right to do it. As for the rest of dar al Islam, my feelings are like the prayer for the Tsar the old rabbis in the Russian empire used to say: “God Bless and keep the Tsar. Far away from us.” What is your problem with that? If Islam is so superior to all the rest of the world, you should rejoice at people like me, who will burn in hellfire eternal, while living their pitiful lives out in declining, corrupt Western decadence. 
     
    “I must disagree with your premise that Islam and Muslims are the fragile party. Atheists, neo-cons, Catholics, Evangelists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, leftists, rightists, and the so-called Western world, confronting the Islamic world politically, militarily, economically, culturally, and intellectually. You’d think if Islam was so weak and fragile, it would have shattered already.” 
     
    Religiously it has, into Sunni and Shia. Politically I can’t say that there is a Muslim entity so the observation is irrelevant. When I say that Islam is fragile, I mean that in the West, it can’t hope to survive in the traditional forms brought by immigrants.  
     
    In fact, fundamentalism is an example of this. This is not the traditional Islam of the parents’ generation. 
     
    “Pitting “Islam” vs. “Science”, a common subject of this blog, is a false dichotomy. Islam is a religion, a way of life, a political orientation, a people, and a culture. Science is the study of physical knowledge. Islam contributed to science, benefits from science, and exploits scientific knowledge, like any other people. Once you start to shape “science” as some sort of religion, opposed to another, it loses its objectivity and power. Science loses.” 
     
    Khalid, what you are saying makes absolutely no logical sense whatever. We ar enot pitting Islam v. science. We are contrasting Islam v. a way of life that is based upon accountability, transparency, the rule of law, and science. It’s part of something much bigger than what you say, and the fact that you can’t see that is a perfect example of the failure of Muslims to deal with these issues honestly and rationally. 
     
    “Muslims have enough problems to worry too much about Ayaan and her antics.” 
     
    Except, as Razib pointed out, the ones who want to kill her.  
     
    “God will sort out the rest.” 
     
    Oh dear, the god of the gaps. Look dude, I hate to be rude, but god’ll do nothing of the sort. God hasn’t sorted out anything since the beginning of time, and won’t until the end of time. It’s high time you religious folk (all of you, not just Muslims) admitted that people solve problems, not god. 
     
    That kind of thinking creates any number of Muslim-run hellholes where there is no law, no science, no rights, no progress, nothing but war and famine and deprivation, and that’s why Muslims are moving to the West and not the other way around.

  14. I presuppose a certain level of intelligence from GNXP readers. The processes to which I refer here are long-term and will play out over several generations. I agree w/Razib that the key is to cut down on Muslim immigration. This is happening in Holland and Denmark. Obviously if half the 1.3 bn Muslims relocate to the West, all bets are off. But why would they be doing that if Islam is perfect and provides all answers to all questions? And why do Muslims like Khalid never wonder why the traffic is so lopsided?

  15. And why do Muslims like Khalid never wonder why the traffic is so lopsided? 
     
    there are multiple levels of orientation here. there are muslims whose muslim identities are so overwhelming that they lack perspective or ability to engage in distancing. e.g., the type who will automatically start changing the subject when the subject is islam (e.g., “well, atheist communism was bad too!”). there are the sorts of muslims like aziz & ali who are western and muslim and showing a face of their faith which is reconcilable (or, as aziz has asserted, totally vindicated by and consistent with) islam. and then there are those on the outside, like most GNXP readers, who view islam as a natural phenomenon which we need to grapple with in our time. position 1 and 3 have no fundamental ground for discussion, the axioms are simply too disparate. in the other hand, 1 and 2 and 2 and 3 do have some common ground in their assumptions.

  16. That kind of thinking creates any number of Muslim-run hellholes where there is no law, no science, no rights, no progress, nothing but war and famine and deprivation, and that’s why Muslims are moving to the West and not the other way around. 
     
    And why do Muslims like Khalid never wonder why the traffic is so lopsided? 
     
    I’ve met many Muslims who’ve come to the West to learn medicine, technology, biology, etc. Some stay, most return home. Why do they go back? Racism, repression, prejudice, and lack of opportunity here in the wonderful West. I’ve also met many, male and female, who have achieved the highest levels of education at universities back home. With the exception of the Taliban and other fundamentalists, Muslims place a high value on education. 
     
    Meanwhile, millions of expats work in the Islamic world and hundreds of thousands non-Muslim troops are stationed there. I wonder why that is? 
     
    Oh dear, the god of the gaps. Look dude, I hate to be rude, but god’ll do nothing of the sort. God hasn’t sorted out anything since the beginning of time, and won’t until the end of time. It’s high time you religious folk (all of you, not just Muslims) admitted that people solve problems, not god. 
     
    I always find it amusing when atheists go off on God. (“If I talk about God, my record won’t get played, hugh?!” K. West). Don’t pretend like you don’t mean to be rude when you do. I won’t hold it against you, its nothing new.  
     
    Anyways, God is a philosophical discussion that is tangential to my main argument; trying to co-opt science as a discipline antithetical to Islam is false and pointless. When the Western world was in its dark-ages, Muslims were at the forefront of science.  
     
    Are you completely confident that the Islamic world will not emerge from its own dark period and that the Western world will continue marching inevitably forward? I wouldn’t be so sure, Diana.  
     
    And even if Muslims were as scientifically stagnant and socially backward, as you claim, we already enjoy solutions to problems that scientists have been working on for years:  
     
    AIDS: Marriage, fidelity, circumcision (Naturally, Jews and Christians can share in the prize). 
     
    M-Theory vs. dark energy: “(God) is the One Who created seven heavens one above another. (67:3) Did you see how God created seven heavens one above another and made the moon a light therein and made the sun a lamp? (71:15-16)” 
     
    From Wikipedia: Unlike more conventional views of creation in modern physics, that are ex nihilo, the M-Theory vision, although not yet complete, is of the whole observable universe being one of many extended 4 dimensional branes in an 11 dimensional spacetime. Although branes similar to that representing our universe can co-exist in the theory, their physical laws could differ from our own, as could their number of dimensions. Some proponents of the theory now believe that a collision of two branes may have been responsible for the Big Bang. 
     
    My educated guess is that there are 7 branes, including the one that we observe as our own universe and as such, there is no such thing as dark energy. Discuss!

  17. Khalid: 
     
    You admit that the traffic from East to West is lopsided, and then whine that Muslims leave due to “Racism, repression, prejudice, and lack of opportunity here in the wonderful West.” You charge “atheists go off on God” when it is you who brought up the concept in the first place. You then say that god is “tangential” to your main argument. And then, the predictable kicker: “When the Western world was in its dark-ages, Muslims were at the forefront of science.” (Did you read the link to Weinberg and the reference to Al-Ghazzali? What have you done since the “dark ages”?) 
     
    Nothing you say adds up to a coherent argument, it’s all just pique. 
     
    You then admit that the “Islamic world …[is in] its own dark period… 
     
    As for your question “Can I be confident that the Western world will continue marching inevitably forward? .” 
     
    I see no reason why the West will not continue, and no reason why the Islamic world will catch up. They may produce a few technicians in the oil-based economies, but as long as scientists are fearful of offending an Orthodox establishment in places where imams still have the power to have people killed, I doubt that much will happen. 
     
    “And even if Muslims were as scientifically stagnant and socially backward, as you claim,” 
     
    You have admitted that you agree with me. 
     
    In any case, this is all irrelevant to the post. 
     
    Do you think Hirsi Ali should be killed? Do you think it right that she needs bodyguards?

  18. The stupid will not be seduced by the bling. The stupid will see the bling, not be able to acquire it, and so will reject it like a too-high bunch of grapes. The gap between themselves and the rest of Western society being too great to close, they will fall back to the society they *can* reach.

  19. I thought about composing a well-reasoned response to Khalid, but then I read this: 
    M-Theory vs. dark energy: “(God) is the One Who created seven heavens one above another. (67:3) Did you see how God created seven heavens one above another and made the moon a light therein and made the sun a lamp? (71:15-16)” 
    Like Sam Harris, I think that it is a waste of time to argue with someone who invokes the authority of an irrelevant 7th-century religious document. There is no possibility for reasoned discourse with someone whose worldview derives from the Quran.

  20. There is no possibility for reasoned discourse with someone whose worldview derives from the Quran. 
     
    well…it depends on the topic ;-)

  21. Thanks. Most interesting.

  22. If 7th century it be.

  23. Why do they go back? Racism, repression, prejudice, and lack of opportunity here in the wonderful West. 
     
    Yes, because the Muslim majority nations are so full of opportunities. I am pretty sure that even YOU dont believe this. 
     
    Meanwhile, millions of expats work in the Islamic world and hundreds of thousands non-Muslim troops are stationed there. I wonder why that is? 
     
    Do you know that the expats have to be paid 3-4 times the salaries paid to locals to entice them to live in those nations? 
    Also a LOT of those expats dont even have a college degree and are working in the Gulf as Engineers and Lawyers. ARAMCO the biggest Oil company in Saudi Arabia has American paralegals working as lawyers and making over $150,000 tax free plus free housing, car etc. South Asians who do the same job get paid one-third the salary and have actual law degrees.

  24. > AIDS: Marriage, fidelity, circumcision (Naturally, Jews and Christians can share in the prize). 
     
    Minor tangential quibble about circumcision. 
     
    From what I can tell, circumcision only reduces the per-instance infection rate. Say it goes from an x/event infection rate in non-circumcised men to 0.5x/event. But this doesn’t matter if there are enough risky sexual events taking place. Both curves will have the same asymptote. 
     
    Also, circumcision is not a requirement of most Christian denominations. And marriage and fidelity clearly is not specific to the Abrahamic faiths.

  25. Diana, 
     
    Thanks for the thoughtful review of Hirsi Ali’s book. She sounds like a fascinating figure, but I have been somewhat put off by the tone of some of her cheerleaders in the U.S., so I’m glad to hear a positive review from a different quarter. 
     
    I’m also interested in Khalid’s forays into the world of cosmology. I have a mild fascination with Christian fundamentalist cosmology, which runs the gamut from the mundane (“dark matter can’t be seen, so how can astronomers know it exists?”, a standard I will remember the next time I bark my knee on the coffee table in the middle of the night) to the fanciful (the Earth was expelled from a white hole 6000 years ago). If the Muslim fundamentalists get involved, will we see Dinesh D’Souza-type alliances, or will we find ourselves in a creationist smack-down between the 7-brane Big Bang collision and a static universe?

  26. CyndiF, 
     
    “She sounds like a fascinating figure, but I have been somewhat put off by the tone of some of her cheerleaders in the U.S., so I’m glad to hear a positive review from a different quarter.” 
     
    I feel your pain, and that’s why I addressed this issue in the review. I felt some of the same reservations and overcame them. A book can be good even if Mona Charen thinks so. 
     
    However, I do not want this comment line to degenerate to a discussion about Islamic cosmology, which is why I pointedly ignored Khalid’s “forays” into that bowl of squid ink.  
     
    I will ask Razib to delete any further comments which so much as mention this. It’s simply too much of a red flag and leads nowhere.

  27. Diana: 
     
    but as long as scientists are fearful of offending an Orthodox establishment in places where imams still have the power to have people killed…  
     
    Isn’t there an Orthodox establishment in the West as well, in the name of political correctness? 
     
    Sure, the PC police don’t kill people, but they don’t need to go that far to strike fear into the hearts of scientists. Here’s one geneticist who, according to John Derbyshire’s account, sounds rather like a Soviet dissident, if not a Muslim heretic: 
     
    He: “I can’t afford to be known. There are people out there trying to find out who I am — people who mean me no good, people who could wreck my career. I’m not going to let that happen.” 
     
    Although he’s determined to push forward, the climate of fear does inhibit progress: 
     
    “What about a cure for Alzheimer’s?” I ask my guest. My Dad died from Alzheimer’s, and it’s a thing I worry about. I had read that some genetic research was going on. 
     
    The Datanaut shook his head. “Tricky. Dangerous. Alzheimer’s correlates with IQ, you see. Also has different incidence among different races…” He laughed. “Once researchers know that, they go find something else to work on. The state our science is in right now, there’s plenty of low-hanging fruit. No need to go committing professional suicide.” 
     
    Sure, Derbyshire bills genetic science now in development as an inevitable “Swelling Wave”, and he may be right. But he also implies that the people he calls the “guardians of our public morality”, not to mention the public at large, have so far been unable to grasp the significance of what geneticists are cooking up in their labs. 
     
    What happens whey they do?  
     
    So yes, if Muslims can’t handle the West’s freedom and science, it’s their problem. But if the Western elite can’t handle the West’s freedom and science, then whose problem is it?  
     
    Not China’s, presumbably.  
     
    PS My heartfelt appologies for straying off topic. Please, God… I mean Razib, don’t smite this comment.

  28. It’s not off-topic and you have a point.  
     
    Look — I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna here, but I think, in the words of Sir Paul Macca, “We can work it out.” 
     
    Freedom isn’t free. 
     
    We shall overcome. 
     
    But yeah, you have a point.

  29. I was in Amsterdam a while back and I thought it was a supremely decadent place, drugs and prostitutes everywhere. It is a little bit understandable that young Muslims in the Netherlands would reject some of the values before them, from their perspective – there are none. They rebel against not so much freedom in the abstract, as decadence in reality. Their parents could stomach it, due to the latent desire to fit in, and, like with Hirsi Ali, the brutal memories of where they jumped ship from. But for the young with no memories of the old country it is quite logical for them to reject the decadence before them. I rembember Roger Scruton finished an AEI debate on culture by mentioning this positive side to Islamic fundamentalism – at least they offer a straight path, devoid of compromises and qualifications, and look on their own history with respect and awe, rather than with the self-loathing lens through which westerners view their own history. John Updike makes a similar point in Terrorist. 
     
    I personally think this problem of fundamentalism partially stems from the unwillingness of western countries to put a ‘straight path’ before people, especially young men. High IQ men like Razib can easily ‘find their own way’ (as he recommends) even if they are not a typical looking specimen of the society, but for your average medium IQ brown guy it can be much more difficult. There are simply TOO MANY CHOICES. Western societies need to take a more proactive, hands on approach to integrating the children of Muslims. Perhaps a military draft programme or something. For many young men just leaving them alone and letting them ‘find their own way’ is going to lead to as much trouble as the multicultural decision to leave Muslim communities in the west alone has.

  30. There are simply TOO MANY CHOICES. 
     
    please note that converts are over-represented in the salafist terror networks. modernity is be a bitch, especially if you are a zeta-male pussy.

  31. to be clear, i think there is something to be said that for some in the west radical islam has become the modern day equivalent of radical leftism or rightism. it can turn pussies & rejects into the hunters of men, or so they think.

  32. ha! zeta males… inspired

  33. I agree with Diana that Hirsi Ali’s impact on Muslim thought etc. will be zero.  
     
    These appear to bee Hirsi Alis solutions: 
     
    Limit immigration:  
     
    probably a good idea. As a Muslim immigrant to the west I was of course conflicted about this. My guiding light has been the quirky British philosopher Roger Scruton. I remember feeling quite hurt when he addressed the Vlaams Belang, a Belgian anti-immigration party which seemed to hate people like me. Hirsi Ali had some problems with them as well. But when I actually analyzed what Scruton said it kinda made sense. I have seen no evidence whatsoever that multiculturalism works beyond the elite. As a believer in western values I also agree with Hirsi Ali that were they a majority, Muslims could easily introduce Sharia. I’ve spoken to a lot of them, they don’t see it as a big deal. 
    My own generation of Muslim immigrants to the west were mainly doctors (like my dad), respectful of Muslim culture but meh overall. On the other hand the current crop seem to be mainly asylum seekers from the various civil wars on the African Horn and from the neocons disastrous wars, and are pretty hardcore in the faith, like Hirsi Alis family. I certainly don’t see their offspring integrating very well.  
     
    Abolish religious schools:  
     
    A bit of a gray area. May help limit radicalism and ghettoisation, but the majority population usually don’t like being told they can’t send their children to that good Catholic school two towns over. May increase resentment among the caucasian population.  
     
    Be intolerant of intolerance
     
    I agree with this. Sharia is monstrously intolerant, and yet is also a central manifestation of Islamic culture. It should not be tolerated. The west needs to be intolerant of Sharia. And burqa’s. 
     
    Encourage a tolerant Islam
     
    Will it work? I’m optimistic, but skeptical. 
     
    Cut back on welfare
     
    I haven’t read the book, but she has implied as much in her speeches. The welfarism of Muslims in Europe is indefensible, and causes much resentment among the native population.  
     
    Ultimately Diana and Hirsi Ali’s solutions are the only possible ones for the foreseeable future – enforce the damn law.

  34. On the question of Western decadence vs. Islamic purity, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Islam has legitimate institutions like “temporary marriage” which are fairly close to prostitution, and the secondary wives are also objectionable, and buggery has long been rumored to be very common. One big difference is what’s done openly and what secretly, and the secrecy isn’t just about vice. In Saudi Arabia government and law are secret. There’s really an enormous amount of pretense and hypocrisy, with everything happening behind the scenes.

  35. Islam has legitimate institutions like “temporary marriage” which are fairly close to prostitution 
     
    if you meet your spouse on the night and marriage and copulate on that night, are you are a slut or not? since it is sanctified by marriage i suppose it is acceptable to ‘traditional’ mores, but if you have sex outside of marriage after being a relationship with someone for 6 months you are a whore. i’m using an extreme case, but the issue of ‘sexual decadence’ needs to be handled with some care….

  36. Somewhere between decadence (and yes, I do believe in the concept) and hypocrisy there’s got to be a sane middle. 
     
    Omar, I agree w/what you are saying about the reactions of some Muslim kids to Dutch society. I often wonder what would have been the reactions of my own grandparents to America if the price of the ticket had been radical feminism & gay rights. (They emigrated in the early 1900s.) I think it’s frikkin ludicrous to make Muslim asylum-seekers watch videos of men kissing as a condition of asylum.  
     
    To me, it’s simple: enforce the laws we have and pass those when they are needed. I feel a sense of revulsion & outrage the the US even had to pass a law against female genital mutilation, but we did. That’s life. That said, just as the young Dutch Muslims are aghast at Dutch decadence, I am aghast at the Somali clan culture Hirsi Ali describes in her book.  
     
    I do not see how this culture can possibly be melded with American civic virtues of fair play, giving the other guy a square deal, merit, transparency, yada yada. (Yes, honored more in the breach than practiced, but still.) This just doesn’t exist in Somalia, according to her (and others I’ve read). How the hell are these people going to be assimilated? I don’t see it. That’s where Islam comes into the mix. I can see a lot of these guys heading straight for Al Qaidaville, and it fills me with dismay.

  37. emulsification
     
    to make into or form an emulsion. 
     
    emulsion
     
    a liquid preparation consisting of two completely immiscible liquids, one of which, as minute globules coated by a gum or other mucilaginous substance, is dispersed throughout the other: used as a means of making a medicine palatable. 
     
    when my family first arrived in the USA there weren’t enough browns to form a ‘community.’ hell, all the browns, hindu, muslim, north indian and south india, bengali and gujarati, hung with each other in social situations because there were so few of any ethnic group. that happens less now than in the past because now there is a critical mass of co-ethnics. the big problem is family based chain migration. we need to discourage family values in the first wave of immigrants so that they can be swallowed and absorbed by the indigenous substrate.  
     
    re: jews. the german jews of the 19th century assimilated more easily i believe in part because their numbers were so small relative to the gentile majority that they were quickly emulsified. reform judaism arose during this period precisely because it was necessary, halakhic lifestyles were simply not possible because the critical mass of the jewry did not exist.

  38. I remember feeling quite hurt when he addressed the Vlaams Belang, a Belgian anti-immigration party which seemed to hate people like me. 
     
    …but of course, unassimilated immigrants who bring the folkways of the old country into the new country in an uncompromising manner will hate people like us. vlaams belang is extreme, but when you muffle reasonable debate in the center only the extremes can speak truth to power because they aren’t invested in the mainstream status game.

  39. I live in a state in the us where we are a melting pot of ethnic groups. Instead of integrating them into our society, we are allowing them to live as they did in there previous countries. If they came to the us, then they should conform to our country. My relatives came to the us in the early 1900′s. My great grandfather was arrested for speaking german in public. We have since embraced america . They also did the Ellis Island, and some were turned away. Let them come–but let them become Americans.

  40. Its a little weird that since Hirsi Ali came over to AEI, the problems of European Muslims have kind of followed her to the US.  
    The Somali cab drivers in Minnesota first refused to accept passengers with alcohol, then refused to accept passengers with dogs and now some Somali grocery store cashiers are refusing to check out pork products.

  41. My great grandfather was arrested for speaking german in public. 
     
    as i have noted before there was a concerted kulturkampf by the irish american heirerchy against german language usage in the american catholic church. i wonder what the current church leaderships’ attitude toward spanish is???

  42. A probably rude and not Razib-worthy comment – from a man living somewhere in the Muslim world, as an atheist agnostic: if the Muzzy dimwits don’t like it in the West, they should just get the fuck outa there, period. I am ready to trade my slot in the cultural quagmire (of Muzzy and seriously fuzzy logic) for theirs, and I am ready to sign a contract that denies me – or my future offspring – any “public” (i.e. tax-driven, subsidy-based) service throughout my entire life. I’ll settle for a hut somewhere in Arizona, whose rent I’ll pay myself. The “science cult” is my cult, and the libraries are reason enough for me to live there. 
     
    [i understand and sympathize with the sentiments, but yeah, the comment was borderline in terms of value added. the point is that asserting that ‘diversity isn’t always strength’ really isn’t adding anything to the discussion on this blog, we just aren’t the normal conformist retards, so give it a rest. the blog has been around for 5 years now so that is one thing newbies need to understand: your shocking thoughts are often quite yawn-inducing. that said, if you live in a muslim country your having to get stuff off your chest is understandeable, so i’ll let that comment stand…. 
     
    -razib]

  43. There still exist two lay-Catholic newspapers in Minnesota representing the German side of this dispute. “The Wanderer” is now 140 years old and published a German edition until 1957. “The Remnant” is an even-more conservative split-off faction, though neither has renounced the Pope as some conservative Catholics have done.  
     
    Minnesota is really more heavily German than Scandinavian. When I was growing up the priest here was a very old-school veteran of Kaiser Wilhelm’s army.  
     
    In New Ulm, MN, there’s a big copper statue of Arminius, the Teuton who destroyed a Roman Army about 9 AD. (locally called “Herman the German”). How the statue survived two world wars I don’t know.  
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wanderer_(newspaper)

  44. “The Remnant” is still uncompromising: 
     
    By the latter part of the 16th century, the true Church had effectively been extirpated in Britain and everyone in the realm was expected to pay homage and pay taxes to the state religion, the Church of England. The few Catholics who hadnÂ’t been killed off were still hounded mercilessly, but in reality the government was being threatened by prosperous Calvinist dissidents, not papist peasants. Though Catholics were miserably oppressed by the regime, they werenÂ’t treated cruelly enough to suit the Calvinists. The very word “Puritan” smacks of hatred. What they desired was to purify, by fire and sword, the Church of England and England itself of all vestiges of Catholicism. 
     
    A small group originally left England for the Netherlands but they couldn’t tolerate their Dutch hosts so in the 1620s they established themselves in Plymouth and soon after in Boston and Salem. Here they could enjoy their New Zion, entirely cleansed of Europe’s Christian past. How they worked things out in Salem is well known. The irony of the story is that the whole trip was unnecessary. By the early 1650s King Charles I had been executed and England was then ruled by Oliver Cromwell, one of the most sadistic mass-murderers in history. Cromwell carried out a genocide in Ireland in order to rid the island, as he so colorfully phrased it, of “papist lice.” His crimes against humanity are virtually unknown in America, since most secondary and college textbooks remain philosophically Anglocentric and fail to mention this Catholic holocaust.
     
     
    a href=”http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/“>Link 
     
    The “anti-German” Irish-Americans were primarily Americanizers. There are Irish among conservative Catholics now, as you can see.

  45. razib and omar: 
     
    Shouldn’t it be “omega-male?” “Zeta” would be mixing metaphors (and don’t come back telling me that “mixing is what a meta’s for”–I said it first!

  46. Perhaps Razib was thinking subconsciously of Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Who got herself an alpha, if an aging one…but you know what they say: “there’s no alpha like an old alpha.”)  
     
    :)

  47. John,  
     
    The point is that a remnant is exactly that: a remnant. (And they are not as unaffected by modernity as they claim, but that’s another story.) In the Islamic world, it’s the dominant segment and this is something we are having to face by importing large numbers of Muslims into the West. I didn’t make that clear enough in my review: which was that Hirsi Ali in the 2nd part of the book expresses her amazement that the exact same people in Holland who are 100% totally in favor of literally enforcing equality of the sexes between Dutch men & women closed their eyes to the retention of barbaric patriarchal customs (such as FMG and customary wife abuse) in Holland. 
     
    Hirsi Ali states that this was done in the name of multicult and places it in its context of Dutch history, which was characterized by bitter disputes between Catholic & Protestant, correctly, I think, portraying it as the higher politeness, practiced for the sake of peace in the house. She doesn’t mouth off about dhimmitude. And she never compares Islam to Nazi Germany, unlike her Stateside neocon cheerleaders.

  48. I wasn’t responding to your piece, Diana, just to Razib’s comment.

  49. Islam, at least in the Jihadist form, is a zeta male fantasy. Dominion over women, 24/7 scoring, no need to worry about them leaving you, probably don’t even have to ask them out on a date in the first place. The only downside to losers is that polygamy could allow some alpha hijacking of hotties. Hell scoring all those virgins in the afterlife is one of the motivations of suiciders (merci George W.). Does Hirsi Ali deal with any of this? I mean with the sexual frustrations & loser status of these guys?

  50. I’m new to this site so forgive me if you’ve debated this a thousand times before.

  51. ” Does Hirsi Ali deal with any of this? I mean with the sexual frustrations & loser status of “ 
     
    Read the book!  
     
    She pointedly exculpates Islam from causing personal tragedies. I don’t want to give too much away. Read the book!  
     
    I would love to hear other people’s opinions.

  52. KHALID: 
     
    “And even if Muslims were as scientifically stagnant and socially backward, as you claim, we already enjoy solutions to problems that scientists have been working on for years:  
     
    AIDS: Marriage, fidelity, circumcision (Naturally, Jews and Christians can share in the prize).” 
     
    The “solution” for AIDS is finding, by avails of science, cures, treatments and strategies for surviving and living healthily WITH the disease: individual, societal, intercultural. There are many problems to solve, but the agregate of retroviruses that bring about the SYNDROME isn’t one of them; they just are. As with queers (being one myself), you might say “they’re here, get used to it. 
     
    To suggest that marriage, fidelity and circumsion are solutions to AIDS suceeds only in insulting nearly everyone’s intelligence, and reducing traditional cultural and societal institutions to methods and strategies of prophylaxis.

  53. i don’t know from “bling.” would somebody please tell me what it means? thx

  54. diana said: 
    “Blair and every other Brit politician of note has come out and stated that multicult is bullshit and Britishness is the way to go.” 
     
    But it seems that they are completely clueless as to what values and definitions the “new” Britishness should encompass – at least what I’ve read was only meowing about tolerance as the main component…not much an improvement from the previously preached multicultural tolerance, though. Rejecting British colonial history and stressing the “mixed ancestry” of Britons remained firmly in place.

  55. Khalid is sorta correct. Until a cure for AIDS comes along the Abrahamic faiths actually do have a good solution – don’t screw around. If you stick to your wife/husband, are sure they don’t have the disease, and don’t do needle drugs you won’t get aids. Some things are true even if a religion says they are true.

  56. comes along the Abrahamic faiths actually do have a good solution – don’t screw around.  
     
    1) circumcision is not normative for christians (in the west only the USA practices it) 
     
    2) since when did the abrahamic faiths have a monopoly on fidelity? it’s a human universal in the ideal.

  57. since when did the abrahamic faiths have a monopoly on fidelity? 
     
    Sure they don’t. But fire and brimstone attacks on sleeping around (It’s a sin, you’re going to the fires of hell!!!) are probably more effective than Bill & Melinda, Wolfy or the UN tepidly asking the African masses to be more responsible.

  58. Note – I’m not saying they are more effective in practice, believers contradict religious doctrine all the time, just that they have the right idea vis-a-vis the most effective way to combat AIDS.

  59. Razib said— 
     
    the key is to keep out many more muslims from getting in before the inertia of decreasing compounding growth is irrelevant. 
     
    Yeah, exactly.  
     
    ItÂ’s great to see from this and DianaÂ’s post and most comments here that it seems to have become the general consensus here that doing so is of vital importance to Europe, and before too long (with room still for the lower risk best and brightest of course). Yeah, it does seem pressing, given political lead times and terrorist development uncertainties, despite how polemical and exaggerated some of the most alarmist neo-cons are on the subject (Mark Steyn, etc.). 
     
    It doesnÂ’t take an absolute Islamic majority to have very tilting effects in parliamentary, fragmented political systems particularly. 
     
    DonÂ’t think there was nearly such a consensus here six months or certainly a year ago though.  
     
    ThatÂ’s swell and all, but now, whatÂ’s it gonna take for Europe to actually start DOING that in a big way, Denmark and a guess to some extent Holland, notwithstanding? 
     
    It’s truly amazing how much common sense thought and action continue to be often and massively blocked in Europe and the US by that form of amorphous post-Modern neo-Marxism known as “little old innocuous” PC, at least in the Anglosphere. (Do they call it that in France and Germany?) Not that the polar opposite and many other things wouldn’t be worse. Avoid jumping for the antithesis, junk Hegelian modes of thought and go for Greek balance, perhaps.

  60. Diana – 
     
    (Coming late to the table.) Very interesting review, thanks. Glad to hear that her critique of Muslim religious and cultural practice was as thoughtful as it apparently seems, rather than merely polemical. 
     
    You said— 
     
    I do believe we are in a fight, and that takes constant vigilance. 
     
    Right. WeÂ’re neither in a true civilizational death struggle, nor facing vastly overhyped minor annoyances in the scheme of things. Except it the case of the former, possibly in time due to the demographic issue in Europe, if it takes forever for sanity to prevail or PC dogma there.) Liberal democratic societies in our information age do have their soft underbellies and Islamist terrorism, with ever the prospect of some sort of nuke or perhaps bio terrorism, has alarming potency at striking at those. SpainÂ’s last major election, anyone?  
     
    ItÂ’s not the some brute about, nor is just a bunch of only semi connected, easily handle-able terrorist events and threats that donÂ’t in big picture really amount to all that much. Sort of a cold war lite at the moment, with localized hot and expensive conflicts (Iraq in all itÂ’s futility).

  61. But fire and brimstone attacks on sleeping around (It’s a sin, you’re going to the fires of hell!!!) are probably more effective than Bill & Melinda, Wolfy or the UN tepidly asking the African masses to be more responsible. 
     
    you should look up numbers. “probably more effective”? africa is mostly christian and muslim last i checked. in fact, there is likely a positive correlation between xtianity and HIV vis-a-vis paganism cuz the latter are concentrated away from cities and commercial centers (e.g., south africa is one of africa’s more christian nations). africa is also the stronghold of conservative christianity (e.g., in the anglican communion, in the roman catholic church). fyi, there is little difference between conservative christians and others in the USA re: divorce, and a lot less re: abortion than you might think. you can look that up.

  62. DonÂ’t think there was nearly such a consensus here six months or certainly a year ago though.  
     
    no, there’s been a consensus here since the beginning (2002). this blog used to focus on non-PC shit a lot more in the first few years. don’t presume your sample isn’t biased. we’ve had a moratorium on all muslim immigration on the table as a possibility since 2003 on these comment boards.

  63. diana 
    late to this, but the thing that you must understand, is that Hirsi Ali and the rest of the angry estogen posse [gabriel, darwish, sultan] are absolutely irrelevent to muslims, because they are defining an ENTIRE faith by a single personal experience, and extrapolating from there. 
    Hirsi Ali is relevent only to the demographic of middleaged white guys, who btw adore her. 
    Hirsi Ali is not a sociologist, scholar, researcher, or philosopher. 
    She’s a telegenic pissed off chick that got a bad deal. 
    Giving credibilty to her rants is like letting the sad little girls that recently got forced into plural marriages as teeenagers define Mormonism based on their bad personal experience.

  64. Giving credibilty to her rants is like letting the sad little girls that recently got forced into plural marriages as teeenagers define Mormonism based on their bad personal experience. 
     
    If mainstream Mormons were still forcing teenagers into plural marriage, testimony about that would be highly relevant to Mormonism. But they don’t. 
     
    There are expelled Mormon groups who do force teenagers into plural marriages, and the testimony of the women involved would be valid testimony against these sects.  
     
    As far as I know there’s nothing atypical about Hirsi Ali’s experience.

  65. Muslimah, 
     
    I composed a detailed rebuttal to your contemptible comment, which I will request that Razib leave, even though it does not conform to any of the comment guidelines, as an example of the personal pique, ressentiment, and prevarication that goes for reasoned debate in the Muslim/Infidel dialogue nowadays.  
     
    Translation: Muslims rant and insult, infidels smile and retreat. This is dialogue.  
     
    I’m not interested.  
     
    But neither am I interested in arguing with a block of wood. You obviously did not read her book, it’s not a rant, so shut the fuck up. 
     
    Lastly, what John said.

  66. Razib – i really meant that the religions have the right ‘theory’, but of course lots of things work in peoples heads. You’re probably correct – religion has little effect on peoples behavior in practice. While we’re on the subject of sleeping around I came across a review of Lust in Translation by Pamela Drukerman in The Economist, which catalogs infidelity-propensity by country. Two quinteresting sentences: 
     
    In Togo 37% of married or cohabiting men say they have had another sexual partner in the past 12 months. The most uxorious are probably Switzerland (3%) and Australia (2.5%). 
     
    Looks lick its jist de blecks.

  67. thanks for the reference! i got to check that out!

  68. Asn an economics prof said to my class, “Look at what people do, not what they say.”  
     
    What religion are the Togolese?  
     
    And of course, religious writ gets stretched beyond recognition according to custom — which is a very dense thing — I am not dismissing it. 
     
    Examples: female genital mutilation itself (not Islamic technically), Pushtun sexual customs (no comment, really….I just cannot figure that one out rationally, just strikes me as being totally bizarro & contravenes every ev-psych principle, not to mention Islam itself), etc. I’m sure there are other examples.

  69. Okay, Hirsi Ali. 
     
    She’s famous. Because she rejects Islam. But a lot of other people do, too. Why is she special? Because she comes from Muslims. And she says, she knows, “exactly how faith works” within such society. 
     
    Here: 
    http://www.wnyc.org/stream/ram?file=/bl/bl020707cpod.mp3 
    you get to hear her interview, where she tells us that among Muslims, the dominant idea is “there is Muslims and the enemies of Islam and you have to take on the enemies and kill them. 
     
    Well… umm… I am a musilm meself, and known quite a lot of my clan. None of them seems to think like that! Yes, NONE. There may be a few crazy nuts here and there. 
     
    She’s just looking for the neocon money. Nothing else. 
     
    A burqua clad believer in Egypt, a Islam-rejecter in neocon circles- you gotta watch out for this girl. 
     
    http://lespolitiques.blogspot.com/2007/02/disrepute-of-reason-ii-hirsi-alis.html

  70. She’s just looking for the neocon money. Nothing else. 
     
    She also enjoys being flanked by bodyguards everywhere she goes and being threatened with decapitation. I guess money sometimes just ain’t enough for a thrill.

  71. Oh and let’s forget the little matter of being forced to abandon a country she loved, that took her in and gave her everything, all because she stood up for its values. All that stuff about her brutal childhood etc was probably untrue as well, just part of the grand neocon-somali-tribe-girl conspiracy to rule the world.

  72. Wiki on Togo: 50% animist, 29% Christian, 21% Islam.

  73. Re: Lust in Translation by Pamela Drukerman in The Economist
     
    Here?s the link at the Economist: 
     
    http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RJNNDGV&login=Y 
     
    It?s one of their paid subscription only articles. However, the review is very brief and the only numbers in it were those quoted above by omar khan. 
     
    The review makes it sound pretty ?female power? biased (not that there isn?t a deplorable lack of woman power at least in many spheres in many parts of the world, it should go without saying). But maybe that?s this reviewer. E.g.:  
     
    In Japan she, like many outsiders, is baffled by the contrast between a gooey sentimentality about romance, and the sexlessness and distance of many Japanese marriages. It has its drawbacks, especially for women, but doesn’t do much harm, she concludes.  
     
    Why especially for women? They in Japan want more sex within marriage and men don?t? That would be highly unusual as a modal pattern, wouldn?t it? If that’s the case, how does this compare to some of the more closely related Asian populations, such as Korea and China? 
     
    I could mention some others but this is pretty far ot. 
     
    It’s a fascinating topic, but the Economist mini review doesn’t leave me with high hopes for how deeply or insightfully she’s dealth with it.

  74. She’s just looking for the neocon money. Nothing else. 
     
    shut the fuck up with that stupid reductive bullshit. i think ayaan goes too far in her generalizations sometimes, but you expect to have credibility throwing that crap around as a counterattack? be warned or be banned.

  75. Razib, 
     
    Hirsi Ali is almost like an inkblot.  
     
    You can tell a lot by reactions to her.

  76. As far as I know there’s nothing atypical about Hirsi Ali’s experience. 
     
    aye theres the rub. 
    Ali’s experience is based on a tribe, a sect, whose practice of al-Islam is radically different from other sects. yet she seeks to define all Islam. 
     
    FGM is also practiced by xian converts in subsaharan africa. i resent Ali attributing FGM practice to Islam….it is innacurrate. like razib says, ppl arent shaped by culture as much as ppl shape culture accordimng to their needs. FGM is a cultural hangover from older religious forms…it cannot have originated with Islam because it is practiced in south america by the yanamamo and bunyoro tribes. 
    diana u r woefully ill informed about evolutionary theory of culture. may i eccommend boyd and richerson or the Holy Atran? lol 
     
    my comment is not contemptable. 
    i merely pointed out the profound disinterest muslim women have in Ali. to u [and the demographic of middleaged white guyz that wretchards link cites] she maybe the whistle blower on al-Islam. to us muslimahs she is just another apostate flogging a book. 
     
    sry. =)

  77. my comment is held for moderation? 
     
    wow. im a co-blogger here. or i was.

  78. lets see if this comment works. 
     
    the western perception of the percieved dichotomy between Islam and science is also false. one reason i converted was that the First obligation of Mutazhili doctrine allows me to reconcile science and god-belief for the first time in my life. 
    one of my shaykhs is both a physics professor and a shi’ia theologian. 
     
    like i said in the comment being held, cultural evolution is unstoppable…but it can be impeded or accelerated. celebrating hirsi ali impedes the process. talking to tariq ramadan would accelerate it. diana u know nothing about Islam….because u are allowing Hirsi Ali to define it for u.

  79. and Hirsi Ali is a sample of 0NE. 
    hows that for scientific thot from a muslim? 
    lol.

  80. Razib wrote: 
    did voltaire or diderot sway catholic opinion? 
     
    Voltaire and diderot were both intellectuals who wrote polemics challenging Catholic ideas. Hirsi’s biography is powerful, and her own ability to overcome societal roles is impressive. But I’ve read nothing by her that challenges Islamic ideas from an intellectual perspective. Ideas matter. 
     
    I think Hirsi will serve an an extremely effective focal point for right-wing Americans (and some on the left), and is a good role model for women in truly crapy circumstances. But her impact on Islamic intellectual history will be minimal. And that’s where the real battle is.

  81. I disagree Razib… though I can’t stand both of them, I find Irshad to be intellectually superior and definitely more coherent and eloquent than Ayaan. Also, the gaping holes in Ayan’s story are problematic. 
     
    Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts. 
     
    -Amad  
    MuslimMatters.org : Discourses in Muslim life

  82. Matako, 
     
    I know you want one, but I’m not giving you an argument about Islam. It’s your religion by choice: be happy with it. 
     
    Amad, 
     
    You are entitled to your opinions about Irshad Manji and Hirsi Ali. But don’t think you’ll get away with making wild charges here without getting your ass handed to you. What gaping holes are you talking about, and what evidence do you have to back up such a charge?  
     
    I don’t take part in intra-Muslim disputes. What I tried to say in the review is that the only problem with Islam that I have, as a non-Muslim, is setting boundaries & making it very clear who is in charge. Us. Meaning the republic given to Americans by the Founders. 
     
    George Washington exempted the pacifist Quakers from military service; telling them that their “conscientious scruples” will be treated with “the utmost delicacy and tenderness.”  
     
    I maintain that there is an entire corpus of Muslim law, which cannot be so delicately treated, because it is in direct conflict with those of the secular West, at least, as expressed in US law. 
     
    See under: inheritance, divorce, rape, witness testimony. The most important of these, I think, are laws involving inheritance. It may not be as sexy as rape and divorce, but once American Muslims begin to amass significant assets, inheritance issues will come to the forefront. 
     
    There are certain things I do not wish to engage in. There are certain things I will not yield on. 
     
    All the rest is commentary.

  83. the western perception of the percieved dichotomy between Islam and science is also false. one reason i converted was that the First obligation of Mutazhili doctrine allows me to reconcile science and god-belief for the first time in my life. 
    one of my shaykhs is both a physics professor and a shi’ia theologian.
     
     
    to quote: “…a sample of 0NE.” you make a lot of assertions about how ayaan generalizes (or, more precisely, doesn’t appropriately characterize the distribution of beliefs). i won’t dispute that, but, perhaps you should submit yourself to that critique as well? you’re not the only one who knows anything about islam, and some of us aren’t as invested ni promoting a particular view as normative.

  84. But her impact on Islamic intellectual history will be minimal. And that’s where the real battle is. 
     
    there are many battles. if you are a muslim or muslim-identified the prominence of this battle will loom larger. if you are a non-muslim perhaps the prominence will be directly proportional to the casualties and materiel that this battle produces and diverts from the war at large.

  85. Diana, thank you for handing ‘my ass back to me’… I think that’s where it wants to stay. 
     
    Here is a story that you can read: 
    http://www.newstatesman.com/200607240051 
     
    If you are not convinced, you may want to gather some other ‘asses’. 
     
    Thanks Razib for posting my comments.

  86. Amad, 
     
    Been there, read that. The article is whining crap. 
     
    The book specifically addresses the charges in the Dutch television documentary. Her brother lied about the fact that she’d been genitally mutilated – what modern Muslim guy will admit to that? (Her father was opposed to it; her grandmother did it.) 
     
    “Klausen, who knows Hirsi Ali, recently claimed: “She wasn’t forced into a marriage. She had an amicable relationship with her husband, as well as with the rest of her family. It was not true that she had to hide from her family for years.”" 
     
    What the hell does he know? There are documents in the book that refute this. The whole story is there. She was married off like a consignment of goods. She objected & left. And, in response to charges of “selling out” — she traded a future of comfort for cleaning toilets in Holland.  
     
    Read the goddam book before you make up your mind. 
     
     
    Look: I criticized Hirsi Ali for not insisting that her immigration status be strictly regularized before joining Parliament. The rest of the charges are Swift-boat crap. And by the way, her citizenship was reinstated after the slanders were exposed and everyone had a chance to calm down. 
     
    Here’s your ass.

  87. razib……. 
    dude, wheres my comment? 
    was it that i said tribology? lol. 
     
    diana sez…..I composed a detailed rebuttal to your contemptible comment, which I will request that Razib leave, even though it does not conform to any of the comment guidelines, as an example of the personal pique, ressentiment, and prevarication that goes for reasoned debate in the Muslim/Infidel dialogue nowadays. 
    Translation: Muslims rant and insult, infidels smile and retreat. This is dialogue. 
    wow, ur a colossal jerk diana. 
    an i suspect a two digit. 
    razib, u have radically lowered the IQ selection gradient for this blog, 2 b sure. 
     
    to quote: “…a sample of 0NE.” you make a lot of assertions about how ayaan generalizes, or, more precisely, doesn’t appropriately characterize the distribution of beliefs) 
     
    zactly! neither Hirsi Ali or yurs truly are representative of all Islam. right? 
     
    my strong point is that if u are looking 4 solutions, embracing the middleaged-white-guy viewpoint of hirsii ali is useless…..or like Scott Atran said to Sir Richard and Sam Harris, sho, religion is teh satan, but whatcha gonna do about it buddy? 
     
    scuse me….. i gotta plane 2 catch. 
    did u know colorado springs has free wifi? 
    likely the only airport in the world.

  88. one thing more….our law is also shari’a law, if u consider it…..a set of social mores and taboos based presumptively on “religious values” but actually hardwired into our genomes and memomes, and evolved as genetic and memetic fitness enhancers. 
    right razib? 
    lol.

  89. I don’t take part in intra-Muslim disputes. What I tried to say in the review is that the only problem with Islam that I have, as a non-Muslim, is setting boundaries & making it very clear who is in charge. Us. Meaning the republic given to Americans by the Founders. 
     
    very well. 
    then wtf has Hirsi Ali’s book to do with “the republic given to Americans by the Founders” ? 
    what happened to her happened in a 3rd world country, and it happens to lots of women in 3rd world countries every day, and they need not be muslim countries. 
    you are ignorant to a fault. 
     
    manas shaykh is wrong. Ali is not is not writing books for $. it is misdirected revenge. it is not islam, but the XY and evo bio at fault.

  90. my strong point is that if u are looking 4 solutions, embracing the middleaged-white-guy viewpoint of hirsii ali is useless…..or like Scott Atran said to Sir Richard and Sam Harris 
     
    there isn’t one solution. there is a mix of solutions. we live in a complex world and people have different roles to play. e.g., sam harris is not too bright, but, he does say things that need to be said on occasion just to remind religious folk that their views aren’t universally accepted. similarly, ali’s description of islam may be distorted and biased by her own experiences, but it is no less real then your islam, or the modal islam in country x. i have listened to ali being interviewed multiple times and a common (nay, universal) muslim caller response is that “she isn’t describing the real islam!” some explicitly criticized her “primitive” and “backward” origins. one pakistani muslim woman explained that in pakistan things are different and all women have a right to refuse marriage by islamic law (no shit!). ah, the feminist utopia that it is! 
     
    acknowledging that ayaan hiris ali plays a role does not imply that that her views are necessarily a perfect description of reality, or, that a proper western response to islam (or theism in general) is militant atheism in all cases. but, for compromise and triangulation to emerge in a system the full range of ideas must be entertained and evaluated. this includes salafism all the way to atheism.  
     
    some muslims pretend as if ali describes an alien world where islam is confused with somali tribalism. but, let me explain something to you: i have been implicitly threatened by muslims because of my “apostasy” in the united states. the iranian origin president of the atheist club at the university of maryland had to have his address and number hidden because of death threats after individuals within the persian club found out that he was a public atheist (this was well known in the college free thought movement). now, such things probably don’t concern you, and they certainly don’t concern most muslims who can practice their religion in the west. but when i note that ayaan hirsi ali has to have bodyguards because she is an offensive propogandist (i can see that she is offensive and a propogandist from a muslim perspective), there is only so much tolerance i will exhibit toward attacks against her character, because i have been experienced a millionth of the threat she has. she may no longer live in a third world country, but a subset of those who call themselves muslims have brought the crude violence of the third world to her life by the virtue of her speaking in a manner in which they disagree. 
     
    be happy with your faith, it isn’t a direct concern of mine. but understand that others have a very different utility calculus in mind, and that all decisions are not weighted with the same parameters.

  91. razib u mistake me 
    i find proselytizing an obscene horror in any religion. 
    my obection to celebrating hirsi ali is that it promotes this attitude– 
    what i call the middleagedwhiteguy demographic– 
    We like Hirsi Ali because she appreciates our culture more than we do. We need to hear that kind of thing, it helps us unite against the barbarians at the gate. 
     
    The proletarian masses of muslimahs are irrelevant to us. We don’t care what you think 
    – maryatexitzero on the wretchard thread 
     
    in the lost comment i agreed with u….there is a set of solutions. the process of cultures rubbing against each other i liken to tribolation, from tribology, the science of rubbing. the process of cultural evolution is inexorable, unstoppable. 
     
    but it can be impeded or accelerated. 
    celebrating hirsi ali as an expert on Islam is an impediment…opening a discourse with Tariq Ramadan would be an accelerant. 
     
    i really dont care what faith anyone embraces…it should be private and personal…like i said, proselytization is abhorrent to me. Islam happened to be a better fit for my skull furniture than my previous atheism, and u and i both know that skull furniture is dependent on a host of variables, memetic and genetic. 
     
    one could say the equation is overparameterized. 
     
    what i am really saying, is that promoting aayan, darwish, gabriel and sultan as “experts” on Islam based on their personal experience of mistreatment at the hands of the xy [the angry estrogen posse, lol] is an impediment to the cultural evolution of Islam. my experince, my friend willows experience, are also part of the distribution. 
    but we dont get invited onto Foxnews, lol.

  92. i find proselytizing an obscene horror in any religion. 
     
    it’s a background condition of the universe. memetic selection in the united states is pretty much converging upon mild prosleytization as a selected norm (see rodney stark’s work). you can’t wish this vector out of existence, so other vectors must be extant to cancel this out. 
     
    what i am really saying, is that promoting aayan, darwish, gabriel and sultan as “experts” on Islam based on their personal experience of mistreatment at the hands of the xy  
     
    i don’t really get where you think i (or anyone here) would think that said individuals were “experts” on islam (aside from ali, i don’t know the other individuals really). they offer insights into a slice of the pie.

  93. Diana and Razib (or others), you have joined others in laying down a marker based on the attitude to impose Shariah. Does your thinking extend beyond culture-preserving justifications for social and policy proscriptions on immigrants? Do you reach judgments in the moral realm regarding the idea/belief: Shariah should be imposed as part of the struggle to right the world by establishing submission to god through submission to Muhammad; does such a motivating idea raise an issue of justice which comprehends gross humanity?  
     
    Granted, I am raising this as a middle-aged-white-guy. I don’t discredit myself as culture-bound for that reason though. I am hanging onto the anti-nihilist view that cultural evolution (as well as the form of government conceived in the American constitutional convention) depends upon a human nature that has an instinct and capacity to grasp “the good” though the instinct and capacity are corruptible.  
     
    At any rate, my comprehension of the world confronts me with that rather universalistic issue of justice. Does yours? And I am interested in understanding your reasoning.

  94. i don’t really get where you think i (or anyone here) would think that said individuals were “experts” on islam 
     
    hmmm could it be that Diana takes every word as gospel, and aayans message is that Islam is to blame? 
    did u even read this razib? 
    I composed a detailed rebuttal to your contemptible comment, which I will request that Razib leave, even though it does not conform to any of the comment guidelines, as an example of the personal pique, ressentiment, and prevarication that goes for reasoned debate in the Muslim/Infidel dialogue nowadays. 
     
    Translation: Muslims rant and insult, infidels smile and retreat. This is dialogue.
     
     
    diana just put herself up as an expert on muslim/infidel debate, didn’t she? where did i prevaricate?

  95. aye theres the rub. 
    Ali’s experience is based on a tribe, a sect, whose practice of al-Islam is radically different from other sects. yet she seeks to define all Islam. 
     
    FGM is also practiced by xian converts in subsaharan africa. i resent Ali attributing FGM practice to Islam….it is innacurrate. like razib says, ppl arent shaped by culture as much as ppl shape culture accordimng to their needs. FGM is a cultural hangover from older religious forms…it cannot have originated with Islam because it is practiced in south america by the yanamamo and bunyoro tribes. 
     
    There was a recent report in the paper (sorry no cite) saying that Arab governments have been hiding the extent of FGM in Arab countries, and that international agencies have been fooled into not recognizing the fact that FGM is an Arab tradition (not just an African one, I assume). 
     
    So perhaps Hirsi Ali’s experience is much more typical than you think.  
     
    On the other hand, even if it’s typical to 50 million or 100 million Muslims rather than to 500 million, it’s still important. And not particularly to “middle aged white men”.

  96. As far as I know there’s nothing atypical about Hirsi Ali’s experience. 
     
    This is exactly why Hirsi Ali’s book is dangerous. (And, no, not in the sense that it has “shaken” anyone’s belief systems). 
     
    In the West, Ali’s story is likely to become among the most widely read depiction of a Muslim woman’s life. It essentially confirms everything Westerners have believed or been lead to believe by totalizing pop culture narratives (e.g. Not Without My Daughter, the Oprah-approved Saudi womens’ autobios, etc.) about endemic oppression of (well over half-a-billion) Muslim women. Add that to the fact that people like John Emerson will probably never get to know a Muslim woman (except to scowl or perhaps spare pitying glances at one in the subway). 
     
    In that sense, I see Ali’s book as anything BUT good for debate.

  97. The lack of progress in this discussion has to do with the simple fact that people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, insist on dichotomizing the debate between West and Islam. 
     
    This is incorrect. There are at least three different Islams. 
     
    Western Islam is one of those Islams (I would say Arab Islam is the second and Iranian/South Asian/Sufi Islam is the third). To us, West Muslims, Hirsi Ali’s secularist/atheist criticism does apply and we will internalize it. In fact, we have known about the “cultural Muslim” long before she came around. We called it Muslim Wake Up and Progressive Muslim Union of North America. We already have Queer Muslim Magazines (Hurriyah) and Muslim punk rockers (culturally Muslim). Hirsi Ali is merely another manifestation of something we knew and that is why Western Muslims don’t really think she’s a big deal. 
     
    Matoko’s insistence that the Muslim world will not accept Hirsi Ali is correct. However, we should refine “Muslim world” to mean: non-Western Muslims. That Muslim world will not even accept someone like Khaled Abu el Fadl all that easily (public book burnings in Cairo). 
     
    I liked this article and linked to it from .org because I felt that Ms. Moon had understood there were different Islams. Clearly I was wrong.

  98. “So perhaps Hirsi Ali’s experience is much more typical than you think” 
    uh, yeah. About 98% in Somalia and Djibouti which is around where she comes from, and 90% in the Sudan. And they do an extreme form, as these practices go–everthing scraped off (the very words used by a practitioner in Sudan, quoted from “Prisoners of Ritual”) and then stitched up like a darned sock. It is not analagous to male circumcision unless the organ removal during a transgender operation is analagous to male circumcision. Neither is it Muslim–the Prophet discouraged even the milder forms of genital mutilation current in Saudi Arabia during his lifetime. Rather, it’s where pagan superstition meets Islam.  
    btw, middleagedwhiteguys were the only ones who made any attempt to eradicate it early in the 20th century. Didn’t do much good, but they tried. That may account for Hirsi’s sentimental attraction to some of their viewpoints.

  99. Thanks to Ali Eteraz for posting. 
     
    The extremist seem to be in control of the direction the religion of Islam is going to take in the near term. I hope I am wrong but I don’t see a growing moderate influence gaining control anytime soon. I also think we’re seeing the same thing here in the US with the fundamentalist movement starting to show results in political power as witnessed by Supreme Court. Faith based government is gaining power in two fundamentally opposed juggeranuts.  
     
    The scariest part is that both sides are looking forward to a climax to the story in Jerusalem.

a