Ayaan Hirsi Ali testified before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs last week. Hirsi Ali was there with Asra Nomani to discuss the ideology of political Islamism. But a curious thing happened at the hearing. The Democratic Senators refused to ask Hirsi Ai or Nomani any questions, ensuring they were given almost no time to speak during the hearing. Here’s how the NY Times reported it:
When the witnesses completed their brief testimonies, Democratic Senate committee members, including four women senators — McCaskill, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Maggie Hassan and Senator Heidi Heitkamp — ignored Hirsi Ali and Nomani during the question-and-answer session, never once directing a question to them — about half the duration of the entire hearing…
Because of the strategy of deflection by Democratic senators, Hirsi Ali and Nomani spoke for about 15 minutes combined.
Today, the NY Times published an op-ed co-written by Hirsi Ali and Nomani about their experience at the hearing and what they think it means:
How to explain this experience? Perhaps Senators Heitkamp, Harris, Hassan and McCaskill are simply uninterested in sexism and misogyny. But obviously, given their outspoken support of critical women’s issues, such as the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria and campus sexual assault, that’s far from the case.
No, what happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation…
There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?
This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.
I can’t improve on the take by these two women who seem legitimately concerned about human rights and especially women’s rights in the face of primitive and barbaric practices. It’s a shame that their experiences, and the lessons they’ve drawn from them, are so easily dismissed by Democratic women in the Senate. But then, when the former Democratic President of the United States is telling the world that “ISIS is not Islamic,” maybe this sort of avoidance of uncomfortable truths doesn’t come as much of a surprise.