Monday, August 13, 2007

Infidel

[WARNING: "PLOT" SPOILERS FOLLOW]

The face of reason confronts Dark Age primitiveness. That summarizes Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The face of reason is hers, the beautiful, intransigent face that appears on the cover of her book.

Ms. Ali was born in Somalia. She grew up in that country, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Her father fought for a better government in Somalia but he, along with all of the people close to her, were Muslims. Primitivism meant female genital circumcision, which she endured without anesthesia at age 6. Primitivism meant Muslim Brotherhood imams preaching fundamentalism. Primitivism meant women wearing restrictive hidjabs. Primitivism meant having to endure forced marriages and beatings from your husband, if he so chose. Primitivism meant an oppressive clan network that reached all the way into European countries.

Rejecting the primitiveness of her background, Infidel is the story of Ms. Ali’s personal unfolding, and her discovery of the Western values of free speech, the right to one’s own life, and religious freedom. By the end of the book, Ms. Ali declares herself an infidel, since she rejects the Islamic faith that she grew up with. She rejects all religious faith. Step by step over the course of her life, Infidel shows her make the conclusions that brought reason into her life.

For that, for the ideas she publicly stated as a member of Parliament in Holland, for a movie she made, and ultimately for this book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has had a death sentence placed on her. Like Salman Rushdie, a fatwa is on her life. The director of her movie, Theo Van Gogh, was already murdered in cold blood on the streets of Amsterdam.

Today, Ms. Ali lives in the freest country on earth, the United States. Her book is a warning to us of the nature of the Muslim enemy we fight. Islam is not a religion of peace; it is a religion of unspeakable evil.


UPDATE OCTOBER 2007: Ms. Ali has left the United States after the Dutch government, which had been paying for her protection, stopped doing so. Apparently because Ms. Ali is a Dutch citizen, the U.S. did not take up the slack and offer her protection. By returning to Holland, Ms. Ali can presumably once again be protected by her country.

Question: Has the U.S. government ever spent taxpayer money to provide security protection to this foreign citizen? You can see him on the right side of the picture holding hands with our President. That man is Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. If a double-standard does exist, could it be that the U.S. government is unwilling to protect someone like Ms. Ali, who is an "infidel" and denounces Islam, while offering protection to our "ally" who financially and morally sponsors terrorism against us? Ms. Ali is our ally and the man walking with the President is not. Until we learn that, and it becomes the basis of official government policy, we are gravely at risk. Islam's persecution of Ms. Ali and her flight from this country is a metaphor for what we all face until we gain the wisdom and courage to defend our values.

5 comments:

Valda Redfern said...

"By the end of the book, Ms. Ali declares herself an infidel...She rejects all religious faith."
I didn't know that (I haven't yet read the book). I thought she had remained a Muslim, even if an astonishingly enlightened one. In any case, she's a heroine.

Galileo Blogs said...

Sorry, I just added a "plot spoilers" warning at the beginning of my post.

Yes, she does indeed declare herself an atheist toward the end of the book. Her transformation is even more remarkable by its completeness. Ms. Ali correctly identified religion as such as false, and prone to fundamentalist intolerance. Certainly, we have seen such bloody intolerance in the Christian and pagan religions, although the worst days of Christianity admittedly ended some 400 years ago.

Galileo Blogs said...

I will add an additional thought in response to your post.

It is possible that Ms. Ali would identify herself as a Muslim, but I venture to say she would mean it in a cultural sense, not a religious sense. She is a Muslim in the sense of having grown up in a Muslim society, much in the same way that an atheist Jew might still identify himself as Jewish. He would consider himself a cultural Jew, if not any more a religious one.

Interestingly, I have never heard of such a thing as a "Christian atheist." The term Christianity invariably refers to religion. It would not be used to refer solely to a cultural tradition, devoid of religious content.

Jim May said...

I suspect that the reason why "Christian Atheist" doesn't occur is because the West went from a religious phase through a nationalist/secular phase, which informs the current derivation of identity. Europeans identify themselves as such, because in the West, after the displacement of religion by the secular nation-state, the latter has become our primary identifier. I myself, for example, might identify myself as Canadian, in the sense of being born and raised in Canada. Americans have historically done so as well, though for for a profoundly different reason; where in Europe the nation/collective ended up being a mere substitute for God, being "American" has always referred to the unique nature of its founding principles.

Unfortunately, with Christianity starting to go feral again, that may be changing in some quarters.

Galileo Blogs said...

That makes sense, Jim. I am glad that Christianity does refer strictly to religion, and that to be Christian and to be American are not synonyms.

However, as you point out, re-emergent feral Christianity would like those two terms to be synonymous. They are working hard to bring coercive Christianity back, however they can. The latest stunt I have read about is offering Bible classes in public schools.

Sure, I can imagine how a Christian fundamentalist teacher in the public schools would teach the Bible in a secular manner. No... I can't imagine it.