Ayaan Hirsi Ali is back at it again.
In her interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on March 23, Hirsi Ali continued to spew the same sensationalist and Islamophobic drivel she’s built her career off of. Let’s examine some of the golden quotes, shall we?
“Muslims value death more than life.”
“Not enough reformers”
“The West respects women and gays.”
“It’s radical Islam that’s threatening Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.”
“ISIS is Islamic.”
“70% of fatalities in the world were caused by Muslims.”
Jon Stewart did a surprisingly good job of reminding her, and the audience, that making blanket statements about a religion and its adherents is not right and that Islam itself can’t be blamed. I, for one, am tired of even retaliating this woman’s ignorant statements. She’s not creative. Her ideas aren’t revolutionary. She’s not the first person to reduce the complex and nuanced issues in MENA, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and just about every corner of the globe to “radical Izlam.” But the reality is that her identity as a Token Ex-Muslim is one that is much valued and exploited by conservative and liberal media alike in order to justify Islamophobia and imperialism.
Other than the fact that many of her claims about misogynistic and violent Quranic verses and Hadith have been debunked, and that an increasing amount of Muslims are becoming more aware of biased and patriarchal interpretations of these texts, Hirsi Ali makes the fatal mistake of attributing the violence and turmoil in these states to a religious war. More importantly, she paints Islam as a monolith. She completely ignores decades, sometimes centuries, of historical context, more often than not involving colonialism. Most of these states were under Western rule at some point and have suffered political instability, further exploitation, and foreign intervention ever since their independence. Not to mention, Islam suffered extreme deformation under Western rule, especially Victorian England. Those same foreign interventions are what created many of the extremist groups we see today like the Taliban and ISIS.
Her argument that women and gay people are treated more horribly in Muslim countries than anywhere around the world is appalling. The only reason the West, especially the USA, seems so progressive when it comes to women’s rights and LGBTQIA rights is because oppression under neoliberalism is often concealed and packaged in a pretty, pinkwashed way that’s not as easily recognizable. Women, especially women of color, still suffer horrible discrimination. Reproductive rights are almost non-existent in some states, and domestic violence and rape statistics are off the charts. The bullying, beating, and killing of gay and non-binary people is alarming across the board, but do we attribute this to America’s Christian roots and influence? We could. But we don’t. Because it’s simplistic and lazy.
Hirsi Ali continues to misuse the term jihad, claims that a Sharia state exists today — when it actually hasn’t for over a century — and makes blanket statements about 1.6 billion people. She ignores the fact that Muslims are the biggest victims of extremist groups, further proving their political motives. She ignores the fact that Islam granted women rights 1400 years ago that some women still fight for today. Have these rights been upheld properly by men? Certainly not. Is the problem with Islam itself? No.
Her consistent groveling at Western liberal audiences exposes her self-hate, Western elitism, and alarming support for neoliberal imperialism. Her support for women’s rights and human rights is so transparent and disingenuous in the fact that she’d support literal carpet bombing of nations in order to “civilize” them. That is the American way, after all.
Jon Stewart made an excellent point:
“The root of the problem is the people. Not the text. The interpretations of it in a way that people will use — it’s like atomic energy. You can split an atom this way and you can light the world. You can split it this way and you can blow it up.”
Hirsi Ali was exposed a while ago for her lies in her asylum application about her forced marriage and struggles, which she then used to create her public image. She’s admitted to countless lies. Isn’t this reason enough for us to take everything she says with a bucket of salt? She paints herself as a misunderstood guardian of justice, however her motives are unknown. I think Stewart summed it up pretty well — “You would like people to buy your book.”
Image from The Daily Show