Friday, September 22, 2006

Hirsi Ali, national treasure

Sorry for the extensive quoting, I just love her story.

...Born 36 years ago in Somalia, Hirsi Ali has lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, where she settled in 1992 after she deplaned in Frankfurt, supposedly en route to Canada for a marriage, arranged by her father, to a cousin. She makes her own arrangements.

She quickly became a Dutch citizen, a member of parliament, and an astringent critic, from personal experience, of the condition of women under Islam. She wrote the script, and filmmaker Theo van Gogh directed, "Submission,'' an 11-minute movie featuring pertinent passages from the Koran (such as when it is a husband's duty to beat his wife) projected on the bodies of naked women.

It was shown twice before Nov. 2, 2004, when van Gogh, bicycling through central Amsterdam in the morning, was shot by an Islamic extremist who then slit his throat with a machete. Next, the murderer used another knife to pin a long letter to van Gogh's chest. The letter was to Hirsi Ali, calling her a "soldier of evil'' who would "smash herself to pieces on Islam.'' [editor's note: what's not mentioned is that the killer was unrepentant and taunted family members in court]

The remainder of her life in Holland was lived under guard. Neighbors in her apartment building complained that they felt endangered with her there and got a court to order her evicted. She decided to come to America.


Slender, elegant, stylish and articulate (in English, Dutch and Swahili), she has found an intellectual home here at the American Enterprise Institute, where she is writing a book that imagines Muhammad meeting, in the New York Public Library, three thinkers -- John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, each a hero of the unending struggle between (to take the title of Popper's 1945 masterpiece) "The Open Society and Its Enemies.'' Islamic extremists -- the sort who were unhinged by some Danish cartoons -- will be enraged. She is unperturbed.

Neither is she pessimistic about the West. It has, she says, "the drive to innovate.'' But Europe, she thinks, is invertebrate. After two generations without war, Europeans "have no idea what an enemy is.'' And they think, she says, that leadership is an antiquated notion because they believe that caring governments can socialize everyone to behave well, thereby erasing personal accountability and responsibility. "I can't even tell it without laughing,'' she says, laughing softly. Clearly she is where she belongs, at last.

I think this helps explain the gulf of attitude between Americans and Europeans. Those who feel strongly enough just move to the other side of the pond.

More like her please.


At 22/9/06 13:04, Blogger mama kay said...

Excellent post. I am going to have to read more.

At 22/9/06 16:12, Blogger TSS said...

Here's her wikipedia article. Haven't read it yet, but there's lots of info.

At 24/9/06 15:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While she sounds like a kickass woman, I have to disagree with the account of European government thinking
"that leadership is an antiquated notion because they believe that caring governments can socialize everyone to behave well, thereby erasing personal accountability and responsibility"

Sounds like a petty exaggeration from a person with an opposing opinion. It is such a shame it came from the mouth of a person with so much insight to offer. imo

At 24/9/06 23:42, Blogger TSS said...

I happen to agree with her, but nobody's perfect. You gotta love her determination though.


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