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No Role Models: Ayan Hirsi & the White Savior Complex

No Role Models: Ayan Hirsi & the White Savior Complex

When it comes to Islam, Ayan Hirsi is an important figure, although I don’t think she’s important in the way that she believes she is.  As a so-called “expert” on Islam, by default, her voice is assigned a certain degree of credibility, but let’s be clear–what credentials does she have to support the platform she’s been given?
More than likely, the only reason she’s even been given a platform is because she caters to a very specific need that serves a political narrative, and with it, an agenda.
We see people like Ayan Hirsi all the time–they’re the Muslim supporters of Zionism, the black conservatives–the people whose beliefs seem to clash with their very identities, making it slightly unfathomable to the rest of us that their thoughts are even their own.

Like what are you even SAYING right now?
Like what are you even SAYING right now?  Photo credit: Judge Judy
Photo credit: Keeping Up With the Kardashians
So why do they do it? Why do people like Ayan Hirsi ostracize themselves from their families, and make being Muslim in America that much harder for the rest of us?

Cue the white savior complex. People like Hirsi are basically the lap dog/favorite child/handmaiden of people like Pamela Gellar, who are on a mission to “save” Muslims, and by “save” Muslims, what I really mean is erase Islam.

But back to Hirsi and why she does it:  It’s easy.  It helps her to fit into the world that once shunned her, and creates the idea of a “model Muslim” for the rest of the world.  Meanwhile, it allows politicians to be low-key racist and Islamophobic without our call-out culture calling them out on it. People like Ayan Hirsi and Tawfik Hamid, the man who kindly referred to wearing hijab as a form of “passive terrorism,” are essential to the smear campaign against Muslims and Islam. That’s the real reason–and the only reason–they are celebrated.  I don’t believe it’s because of their intelligence, or because of their ground-breaking work, but instead because they cater to a much-needed idealogical narrative.

Photo credit: Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Photo credit: Keeping Up With the Kardashians
I’ve been following Hirsi’s work since I was 14. The first time I tried reading The Caged Virgin was during a family road trip:  My mom saw the book, and threw it out the window as my dad drove down the prairie highway. The lecture I received from my mother was standard issue; I shouldn’t be filling my mind with garbage. But it wasn’t garbage–it was fascinating. Even at 14, I was so aware of the fact that this woman was being willingly exploited by a movement that wanted to take rights away from everyone who looked like her; that she was the enemy they were trying to erase, and she was willing to use her body as a weapon against the people she shared blood with. It was reading her work that showed me how important it was to find a sense of belonging. For Hirsi, belonging meant exploiting her family, and everything about her identity, to be accepted in mainstream society.
Interestingly enough, I think you can actually compare Hirsi and Tawfik to young men who join extremist groups overseas.  While it may sound crazy at first, it’s not far-fetched at all; they’re merely two sides of the same coin.  Both groups of people abandon their former lives, and all traces of their former self for this idea that they are “saving” and reshaping Islam, and they do it by working with people who aren’t Muslims. Then, they become the token Muslim spokespeople of Islam, and everyone who doesn’t practice their particular brand of  Islam becomes the enemy, a threat to their very existence.

Just like Daesh, Hirsi considers herself a reformer; a “savior” of Islam.  And just like Daesh, her entire legacy is devoted to Islam’s destruction.

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It seems to me that the Muslim “reformers” have a tendency to declare Islam’s problem as being all other Muslims; yet people like Hirsi are constantly given a platform.  Again, I don’t think it’s because she’s reforming anything–it’s because she’s regurgitating the narrative that her handlers spoon-feed her, and this narrative serves someone else’s agenda.  It would seem to me that just like her ideas aren’t her own, her agenda isn’t her own, either.
People like Ayan Hirsi–pawns–will not be going away anytime soon.  Politicians need people like this–people to sell their stories, people who can lend credibility to a selected political narrative–and it’s important to remember that in the end, it’s just a poorly orchestrated ruse to disguise racism and discrimination and pass it off as just foreign policy.
At the end of the day, the pawns and the kings all go back in the same box, and it really shouldn’t matter, because everyone knows that it’s by thinking outside the box that progress is made.

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View Comments (12)
  • Thankyou!! Finally someone put into words what I’ve been thinking. I’ve read her biography and she makes no sense. White people use her as a way to further hate Islam. She is doing more harm than anything.

    • That’s kinda not her problem. White racists will use anything. She has no obligation to keep quiet about her atheism or the abuse she endured or the death threats she continues to receive.

  • You keep misconstruing her character and putting words into her mouth and ideas into her head that she never said or thought. You are straw manning her in order to present her as this vile ugly thing which is so easy for you to argue against. For someone who acts as if she is an intellectual, what you are doing is intellectually dishonest. And if you think that everyone who criticizes islam is just some dumb porch monkey or uncle tom for the far right and the white nationalists, you’re even more intellectually dishonest than I thought.
    I love how you say you’re thinking out side the box. Have you ever actually looked at the arguments presented against islamic scripture, against the quran, against sahih al bukhari, against sahih muslim etc. Or do you just jump straight to the pages and works of the apologists so you can have your counter argument ready set?
    And btw Ayan Hirsi Ali had her genitals mutilated as a child in Somalia, a sunni majority country. and guess what? Out of the four major schools of thought in Sunni Islam (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafii) two mandate FGM while two merely recommend it.
    So is her criticism of FGM and islam in concerns to FGM just her being a shill for the far right and white nationalists?
    You’re real cute. some intellectual you are.

  • So in short, people can’t leave and criticize their religion. Even if the religion clashes with values she holds dear.
    There is nothing she can do or say to improve the nasty nature of a white supremacist. That’s not her job in life anyway. She was spiritually abused when she was young and isn’t hiding it to make life easier for others who don’t want to hear it. That also isn’t her problem.

  • Oh look, a character attack on Hirsi Ali. Now I will start to distrust whatever she is saying. I will not be wondering why so many articles attack her instead of her claims. I will not be thinking that so many people doing this actually gives away how much she hits a nerve. I will not be thinking that there is something really wrong with the group that produces so much smear and off topic hits on a persons character. I will not be thinking that I would not want to be treated this way when trying to touch on a topic that concerns me. That there is something really off with the group that feels so freely to commit fallacies. What is wrong with this group? What fallacy am I talking about? Most of these kind of articles come down to this fallacy:
    Description of Poisoning the Well
    This sort of “reasoning” involves trying to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information (be it true or false) about the person. This “argument” has the following form:
    Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.
    Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.
    This sort of “reasoning” is obviously fallacious. The person making such an attack is hoping that the unfavorable information will bias listeners against the person in question and hence that they will reject any claims he might make. However, merely presenting unfavorable information about a person (even if it is true) hardly counts as evidence against the claims he/she might make. This is especially clear when Poisoning the Well is looked at as a form of ad Homimem in which the attack is made prior to the person even making the claim or claims.
    -the end-
    This is another article in that mold. Another example of how dirty her critics are. This makes me support her even more. Not only does she need body guards to fight off Muslim vigilante that are not isolated enough by Muslims (Muslims do a horrible job in for example condemning discrimination and bigotry in especially Muslim country vs minorities, like atheists, Christians, shia in sunni countries who try to use their freedom of Speech and are prosecuted as a result of Islamic apartheid blasphemy laws), she also have to fight off this this kind of drivel from people with a dark and biased agenda.
    She is an amazing women. Better than most of us and so brave. I could not do what she is doing. Fighting all the discrimination and bigotry as a result of the Quranic text. 537 verses to be precise that promote bigotry and discrimination towards unbelievers. It is time for Muslims to deal with all the hate that is caused by that, rather than attacking the shining lights that try to do just that.

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