I previously thought there was nothing more terrifying than a seasoned Islamophobe preaching hatred from a platform like Fox News. The network is notorious for fabricating untruths and propagating misinformation about Islam and Muslims in order to create fear in the minds of Americans. The fact that Fox abuses the word “news” to disguise bigotry as factual information is frightening for anyone who does not come from a similar background as the puppets — excuse me, “anchors” — on the show. Essentially, Fox associating itself with news (fact based current events) is like the kid who associated him/herself with you on group projects without contributing at all – and when they leech off the benefits from your hard work, it’s an insult to your intelligence. While the advancement of Fox’s discriminatory agenda is concerning, I’ve learned what’s more threatening for the Muslim community is an individual who claims she’s from the inside; thereby using her personal experience to authenticate and further advance the hateful rhetoric towards Islam.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s mission is a twisted fantasy come true for individuals dedicated to the vilification of Islam. The simple fact that she uses her Muslim surname shows a level of deception in how she exploits her assumed Muslim identity to further demonize Islam to advance her career. It’s dangerous when American personalities like Bill O’Reilly and Pamela Geller profess their irrational disapproval of Muslim Americans, but it’s toxic when an individual like Ali asserts she’s personally witnessed the negativity present within Islam under the pretense of having been Muslim. What could be more self-serving for the Islamophobic agenda than a previous Muslim who proclaims that Islam is in fact a religion to be feared? Essentially, Ali’s message to Americans is: “Take it from someone who not only knows many Muslims, but knows what it’s like to be one. Save yourself the trouble of getting to know your Muslim neighbors; I can tell you why you should fear them and their faith.”
Ali’s mission is dually threatening because not only does she cite her questionable accounts as a Somali born Muslim, but her misinterpreted activism is supported by prominent personalities and academic institutions to bolster her anti-Islamic message. Under the guise of academic prowess, Ali fabricates certain statistics and declares that Muslims are responsible for a majority of violence and related deaths – without properly accounting for historical research or accurate citations. An article by Max Blumenthal exposing Ali further details why both her personal experience and academic work need to be critically questioned by those who consume her work. He reveals how Ali has a history of fraud in reporting her experience as a Muslim living in Somalia and that her literary works specialize in blaming Islam as a logical culprit for violence, without considering any historically relevant context. She’s authored books with titles like The Caged Virgin, Infidel: My Life, and her latest release entitled Heretic, all from which she builds her credibility as a victim of Islam by propagating the false notion that the faith is oppressive and Western ideals liberated her. She employs fear to portray Muslims as a community deserving to be ostracized and watched closely under justified surveillance.
While she declares her disgust for the Islamic faith, she largely owes much of her success to her once Muslim identity. Without the assumption that Ali was trapped within the confines of Islam, her experience would not be as persuasive to the many Americans who are misinformed about Islam, and therefore more likely to accept her opinions towards Muslims. After all, is an individual on the operating table more likely to put his/her trust in a surgeon, or a plumber? The obvious choice is to put one’s trust in the surgeon because of the knowledge and expertise that individual should possess as compared to an unrelated profession. Similarly, Americans are more inclined to believe the opinions of Ali and regard them as facts without question because she presents herself as an individual with knowledge and expertise about Islam. Thankfully, many Americans do think for themselves and know enough Muslim Americans to understand that Ali’s message is a farce. However, for those who tune into Fox “News” for their daily dose of information, these individuals are far more susceptible to Ali’s deception.
That is why it is important to raise red flags about Ali’s publications, because her credibility is based on the principle that she was able to shed her Muslim identity and break free of a “submissive” lifestyle. If Ali truly wanted to dissociate herself from the throes of such an oppressive identity, why doesn’t she take on the surname of her spouse, Naill Ferguson? It seems like a simple gesture, but ‘Ayaan Ferguson’ sounds less Islamic than ‘Ayaan Hirsi Ali’, a much more Islamically charged surname; however, she exploits her name to incite more fear in the hearts of Americans by keeping “Ali” as the name that warns against the faith it is associated with. In effect, just one of the subtle ways she is using Islam to bash itself. Ali’s writings and mission serve once purpose: to convince the world that Muslims are single-handedly to blame for radical violence and all acts of terrorism. Despite the fact that most mass shootings are committed by non-Muslim, white American males, her hateful message is one welcomed by mainstream media because it continues to bully Islam those who practice the faith in peace.
Tragically, the institutions which endorse her work such as Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the American Enterprise Institute do not hold her accountable for providing false statistics or the lies she alleges against an entire community of people. Ayaan Hirsi Ali remains a darling embraced by far-right affiliations, but increased awareness from independent media sources about her deception is spreading and exposing her lies. Her mission is similar to that of other opponents of Islam and the Muslim community who have made it their mission to degrade Islam as a way of life for millions. The best rejection of Ali’s assertions that all those who follow Islam are violent is for Muslim Americans to continue on a peaceful path by contributing positively to society in any way possible — most notably, by extending friendships towards fellow Americans so they can deduce for themselves that claims such as Ali’s are based in hateful nonsense.
This article originally appeared on The Dean’s Report.
Image from The Guardian