2013-01-31

The Confused Nomad

It seems that Beirut International Airport is my favourite place to spot controversial books. After The God Delusion, this time, I found in the duty free bookstore the book Nomad by controversial author/politician/activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Cover of the book Nomad (ISBN: 978-1-84739-818-5)

Praised by prominent "New Atheists" like Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, the book invoked some interest in me and I decided to get it and read it.

Hirsi Ali starts her book by relating her tough early life (Hirsi Ali also has written a memoir titled Infidel) between Somalia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya by depicting her relationship to various members of her troublesome family and compares the differences she faced after running away from an arranged marriage to seek refuge in the Netherlands, where she began her activism, became a member of the parliament and then had to move to the United States of America for a job in the American Enterprise Institute.
Then she goes on by describing her account of the Muslim societies in the USA, to sum up their behaviour by three main conflicting topics: sex, violence and money, to then try to offer, what she considers, remedies.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's style is simple, pleasant and straight to the point. Her ideas on getting rid of outdated superstitions and complete helplessness, empowering women, protecting them and equating them with their men counterparts (through her foundation) are hailed although her approach is provocative to some extent (for instance the short film Submission, which caused the assassination of its director Theo Van Gogh).

Scene from the short film "Submission" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo Van Gogh.
The latter was assassinated shortly after the release of the film.

But, mevrouw Hirsi Ali, despite her much respected activism, seems to have a sort of confusion about this "new" world she is part of, in which she's a constant nomad and an eternal learner.
For an atheist who staunchly opposes religions (or is it Islam only, because of her sad past with it?), it is strikingly hypocritical to accept a job with the AEI, the think tank of the American Christian Neoconservatives, not to mention their deep attachment to the Zionist movement.

Moreover, miss Hirsi Ali, uses the ludicrous white man guilt theory to justify the support of some activists to the Palestinian cause (in the context of attacking feminists for not raising voice against issues outside their borders):
"Having sided with other movements of social revolution, such as the movement for national independence in Southeast Asia and minority groups and for the Palestinians, feminists began to define white men as the ultimate and only oppressors."

While looking up Hirsi Ali, I came along a YouTube video about a speech of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Global Atheist Convention 2012 discussing the Arab Spring from a secular v/s Islamic perspective.


The talk is very interesting except the bit where Hirsi Ali disregards all the crimes and apartheid of Israel and calls to tolerate its existence and claims that Israel is free because of the fact that newspapers can criticize politics and society.
This attitude is not restricted to this talk but, in fact, is highlighted in Nomad, in another attempt by Neoconservatives to shift the focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to one between a Jewish and (allegedly more violent, hateful and decades backward) Islamic civilizations in order to demean it and legitimize the persistence of apatheid. Regardless of the attitude of any religion, this attitude is untrue, and the core of the conflict is the Israeli forced apartheid state which ripped the Palestinian land and is mistreating its people.

Also, mevrouw Hirsi Ali seems very confused about the new found freedoms in the western world. Undeniably, the society if the West, in the USA for instance, is more advanced than the ones in the third-world (and in this case, for Hirsi Ali is anti-Islamic, Islamic) societies. But these societies are also plagued with all sort of social problems of the modern type (psychopathy, rape, crime, homelessness, unemployment, dysfunctional families, etc...). Also, she seems to consider the illusion of choices in consumption an indication of happiness. There's more to life than this.

Of course no one's denying the bigger sense of freedom and cultural advancement in these societies (mainly because of the lesser influence of religions, among other reasons) but like in the "barbaric dictatorial regimes" Mrs. Hirsi Ali is allegedly fighting, regimes of corporations are ready to do more horrific actions, warmongering, and global crises, for the sake of the interest of the corporations.

The world needs people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who raise the voice against injustice and call for progress but, to overlook important causes and promote ideals of corporations is not a compromise to be made.

Joseph.

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