February 2, 2007

A Muslim Voltaire?

According to this profile from The Australian , Ayaan Hirsi Ali now considers herself to be of the "progressive left"....or at least what the progressive left used to be.

What is...unexpected is that such a figure - a black, Muslim woman, a refugee from a forced marriage, a survivor of female genital mutilation and of a bloody civil war, a voice for the voiceless and most oppressed of the oppressed - should be viewed with suspicion by some on the progressive Left and with outright condemnation by others.

Hirsi Ali has been prepared to attack ideas and people that the Left has treated as sacrosanct: Islam as a religion, Muslim men (as the oppressors of Muslim women), and multiculturalism and its postmodern handmaiden, moral equivalence, which postulates that all cultures and all religions are equally deserving of respect, support and government funding.

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Hirsi Ali is also an apostate to the self-proclaimed progressive Left and it's not hard to see why. She is, in politically correct terms, a classic "victim", part of what sociologists these days like to call the "other", yet she calls for integration rather than multiculturalism. She is a member of a racial minority yet she calls for an end to government support for Islamic schools. She is a refugee yet she calls for restrictions on immigration.

When the ABC's Kerry O'Brien suggested to Hirsi Ali last week that her traumatic background might have turned her into a reactionary, she replied, "I don't see what is reactionary about saying, 'Let's respect life as an end in itself, liberty as an end in itself, and the equality of men and women."

So why hasn't she been embraced by the "self-proclaimed progressive left" in the United States? Maybe because that left bears little resemblance to any movement with classic liberal values like the ones she espouses. She refuses to don the victim mantle, and isn't afraid to speak out against the oppression of women in the Islamic world.

She must have read somewhere that feminism is supposed to be about fighting for equality for all women, arguing for reproductive rights, and freedoms of speech and movement and suffrage...about effecting change in society by stressing the moral imperative to oppose the subjugation of women by men.

A confident, principled left would promote and value Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a courageous promoter of global feminism. That they don't is evidence that they have painted themselves into an intellectually inconsistent, politically correct corner.

Posted by dan at February 2, 2007 10:51 PM