Hitchens unloads on Hirsi Ali’s critics

posted at 2:20 pm on March 5, 2007 by Allahpundit

One of his best. I’m loath to excerpt it for fear you won’t read it all but some of it deserves baptism by blockquote. He’s writing here about reviewers, a few of them friends of his, deriding Hirsi Ali’s book as an example of “Enlightenment fundamentalism” — the secular humanist equivalent of St. Andrew equating evangelicals with Islamists via the term “Christianist.” We pick it up with his discussion of Newsweek’s review, a piece so vile as to warrant the full lizard treatment a week ago.

[T]o whom does Newsweek refer as the “Bombthrower”? It’s always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it’s the victim of violence who is “really” inciting it.

Garton Ash and Buruma would once have made short work of any apologist who accused the critics of the U.S.S.R. or the People’s Republic of China of “heating up the Cold War” if they made any points about human rights. Why, then, do they grant an exception to Islam, which is simultaneously the ideology of insurgent violence and of certain inflexible dictatorships? Is it because Islam is a “faith”? Or is it because it is the faith—in Europe at least—of some ethnic minorities?… And notice what happens when Newsweek takes up the cry: The enemy of fundamentalism is defined as someone on the fringe while, before you have had time to notice the sleight of hand, the aggrieved, self-pitying Muslim has become the uncontested tenant of the middle ground…

To flirt with this [moral] equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and “the enlightenment driven away.” Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get “respect” for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.

Number 7 this week. Word is getting out.


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Comments

So these liberals are criticizing the right to dissent? They are criticizing the right of a women to lead a liberated life? They are criticizing a women who wants to be free from living a life of virtual slavery?

The irony…oh the irony…this is the liberal mindset that so many yearn to follow.

right2bright on March 5, 2007 at 2:29 PM

Worthy of applause Hitchens

Defector01 on March 5, 2007 at 2:30 PM

I loved it when he flipped of Bill Maher’s audience. Even Maher enjoyed it.

budorob on March 5, 2007 at 2:32 PM

There are some big words in that essay, Matthews and his ilk won’t be able to fathom it. Even if they were inclined to want to.

bbz123 on March 5, 2007 at 2:37 PM

We love AHA. And we hope her book arrives today from Amazon.com since we got the e-mail saying it shipped last week.

Enrique on March 5, 2007 at 2:42 PM

I’m still hoping for that Iranian earthquake Hitchens was predicting recently on Hugh’s show. Talk about your act of God.

Buck Turgidson on March 5, 2007 at 3:06 PM

I saw the number seven on the fiction list first–Steve Berry’s The Alexandria Link. LGF linked to this review by Orson Scott Card the other day; it kind of offsets AHA’s success, i’m afraid.

see-dubya on March 5, 2007 at 3:09 PM

Dang, she’s a beautiful woman. The Helen of Troy, thousand ships kind of beautiful.

Regarding Hitchens’s question, it’s simple: the confluence of cultural Marxism and political pragmatism. Radical Islam’s goals and the goals of leftists world-wide are concurrent in the short term.

The cultural Marxists are basically bored nihilists looking for the next kick, the next set of broadly accepted standards to destroy, and the political leftists seek to subjugate the masses through fear and bureaucratically enforced apathy. Everything they accuse corporate AmeriKKKa and Bush of doing, they’ve been trying to do it since the 1960’s.

At the end of the day, they expect to drop the hammer of police state and establish total control. What self-respecting prole wouldn’t cry for permanent martial law after he’s watched his city burn for a few years?

They’ve functionally accomplished this in Europe, if only they could get rid of gadflies like AHA would have the gall to actually take the tenets of the Enlightenment seriously. Oh, wait…

spmat on March 5, 2007 at 3:13 PM

I put myself on the waiting list for her book at the local library. I’m number eight. The waiting list is up to about thirty now.

jaleach on March 5, 2007 at 3:22 PM

AP, your “full lizard treatment” link is broken. So I remain igorant of what, exactly, constitutes a full lizard treatment. I would guess it involves something Hunter S. Thompson would approve of, although that seems unlikely given that you’re linking to LGF.

“Baptism by blockquote?” As opposed to sprinkling or immersion?

Your metaphor generator is in overdrive today.

Anton on March 5, 2007 at 3:36 PM

AP, your “full lizard treatment” link is broken.

Works for me. And real baptism by blockquote would be a violation of fair use.

spmat on March 5, 2007 at 3:42 PM

I’d say God bless Hitch but he’d probably hate that.

(Hitch, that is.)

Levy on March 5, 2007 at 4:17 PM

From Newsweek: “It was not a lunatic fringe who felt this way about America and the West. I knew that a vast majority of Muslims would see the attacks as justified retaliation against the infidel enemies of Islam.”

The Newsweek author singled out this quote about Atta et al to illustrate Ali’s obsession with the character of Islam.
Is this really to be argued anymore? Outside of the US, even in England, a large majority of Muslims felt that the 911 attacks were not only justified but overdue. Seriously, is there any merit to an argument about this? I don’t think so.
This is almost embarassing to admit but Ms. Ali intimidates me, astonishes me. She just seems to have this aura about her that makes me feel like an intellectual and moral dwarf (okay, little person). That she is only thirty-eight years old and commands such personal force is humbling to this old man.

thegreatbeast on March 5, 2007 at 4:30 PM

The link works now. Good article.

Nice WH Auden quote from Hitchens. My favorite WH Auden epigram also fits Ms. Ali:

“Let us honor, if we can, the vertical man
Though we value none but the horizontal one.”

Just to be clear, the “we” refers to tired European elites.

Anton on March 5, 2007 at 4:32 PM

I adore Christopher Hitchens’ writing. Oh, the power of the pen – when sharp, it’s really, really a clean and deep cut.

I even like the cantankerous person. Life, when viewed realistically, makes one that way, at least sometimes.

Entelechy on March 5, 2007 at 6:08 PM

From the Newsweek Books review: By age 14, Somalia-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali had survived genital mutilation at the hands of her grandmother, a fractured skull from her Qur’an teacher and brutal beatings from her devout Muslim mother. By comparison, her father was kind. The Somali rebel, who had largely abandoned his family to plan coups and marry three more women, only meddled when it came to arranging his 23-year-old daughter’s marriage. When Ayaan refused, he disowned her.

This is how Newsweek Books portrays this courageous woman in the opening paragraph yet they have the audacity to ask “But how fair is the book?” Just what would it take the reviewer for Newsweek Books to accept the cruelty of Islamic teachings in her country, actually having that culture forced upon the entire USA? Sometimes I fear that is the only way Newsweek and other MSM will accept the realities that exist in the world.

Newsweek Books destroyed any credibility in their “review” of the book when they titled it “Only One Side of the Story.” They are the ones that are portraying only one side, and that side is that this woman is wrong about Islam. Too bad for Newsweek Books, they are the ones that are wrong and many people will learn from her book.

RedinBlueCounty on March 5, 2007 at 6:16 PM

How can you change the lives of your former sisters, and work toward reform, when you’ve forged a career upon renouncing the religion and insulting its followers?

Another quote from the review. I wonder the reviewer would have felt the same about, oh, SLAVERY? I can just imagine this reviewer asking: “How can you expect to stop slavery if you insult the people that keep slaves?”

Hay Newsweek, there’s an old saying that that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. You can’t speak out against an oppressive religion or culture without insulting those that believe in that religion or culture and you can’t reform a system by pretending to abide by it.

RedinBlueCounty on March 5, 2007 at 6:33 PM

I’ve read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book and it is excellent. Hitchens is, as usual, perfectly pitched on this issue.

violet on March 5, 2007 at 6:45 PM

There was a website about Afghan women that showed graphic executions of women,by the Taliban,in a soccer stadium in Kabul.(they were killed for reasons like using fingernail polish) The MSM was silent about this. FOR YEARS!
I dont get the collaboration between the Islamofacists and the Amero-Euro lefties and media—brings to mind the Vichy French–I dont understand the suicidal nature of such people.

lizzee on March 5, 2007 at 8:31 PM

I agree, Violet, it’s an excellent book, and it should be read by anybody who calls himself a “liberal”.

It’s amazing how “liberals” defend islam at every turn, yet islam stands for everything the libs pretend to stand against.

Murder. Rape. Corperal punishment. Violence. Oppression of women and minorities and homosexuals. Female genital mutilation. Wife beating. Child beating. Religious apartied. Religious fundamentalism. Religious compulsion. High birth rates. Multiple wives. Anti-art, no paintings of people, no statues of people. Oil based economies. The list goes on and on, yet the libs would rather beat up on somebody like our beloved AHA because they know she’s not gonna KILL anybody.

Tony737 on March 5, 2007 at 8:38 PM

From the Newsweek Books review: By age 14, Somalia-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali had survived genital mutilation at the hands of her grandmother, a fractured skull from her Qur’an teacher and brutal beatings from her devout Muslim mother. By comparison, her father was kind. The Somali rebel, who had largely abandoned his family to plan coups and marry three more women, only meddled when it came to arranging his 23-year-old daughter’s marriage. When Ayaan refused, he disowned her.
This is how Newsweek Books portrays this courageous woman in the opening paragraph yet they have the audacity to ask “But how fair is the book?” Just what would it take the reviewer for Newsweek Books to accept the cruelty of Islamic teachings in her country, actually having that culture forced upon the entire USA? Sometimes I fear that is the only way Newsweek and other MSM will accept the realities that exist in the world.

Newsweek Books destroyed any credibility in their “review” of the book when they titled it “Only One Side of the Story.” They are the ones that are portraying only one side, and that side is that this woman is wrong about Islam. Too bad for Newsweek Books, they are the ones that are wrong and many people will learn from her book.

RedinBlueCounty on March 5, 2007 at 6:16 PM

No doubt the folks at Newsweek Books thought just as highly of Nonie Darwish’s Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror or Brigitte Gabriel’s Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America.

SpartRan on March 6, 2007 at 1:38 AM

“How fair is the book?” Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a frame of reference from which to form her p.o.v.. By comparison, it seems like the folks at Newsweek Books have their politically-correct >”Islam-is-simply-misunderstood…” shield to hide behind, and little else. They do not persuade.

SpartRan on March 6, 2007 at 8:35 AM

It’s amazing how “liberals” defend islam at every turn, yet islam stands for everything the libs pretend to stand against.

Murder. Rape. Corperal punishment. Violence. Oppression of women and minorities and homosexuals. Female genital mutilation. Wife beating. Child beating. Religious apartied. Religious fundamentalism. Religious compulsion. High birth rates. Multiple wives. Anti-art, no paintings of people, no statues of people. Oil based economies. The list goes on and on, yet the libs would rather beat up on somebody like our beloved AHA because they know she’s not gonna KILL anybody.
Tony737 on March 5, 2007 at 8:38 PM

Amazing indeed!

brtex on March 6, 2007 at 5:54 PM