Monday, May 22, 2006

The Bravest Woman in the Western World

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s flight from Somalia to the Netherlands, tortuous and full of dangerous twists and turns, was an intellectual pilgrim’s progress from the 10th to the 18th century.

Her family, devout Muslims all, sought political asylum in Kenya after her father, who had studied in Italy and the United States, had openly opposed Siyad Barre, the president of Somalia. Hirsi Ali’s father also opposed the Somalian practice of female circumcision, but her grandmother had the girl circumcised at five years old when her father was abroad. Promised in marriage by her father to a distant Canadian cousin, Hirsi Ali, while traveling from Kenya to visit family in Düsseldorf and Berlin, Germany, fled to the Netherlands instead of Canada.

Filing under a false name, Hirsi Ali (nee Hirsi Magan) was given political asylum and received a resident permit. Owing to a civil war and a serious famine in Somalia at the time, refugees were routinely granted asylum on humanitarian grounds and, on the advise of her aunt, Hirsi Ali told the authorities that she had come directly from Somalia, though she had been a resident of Kenya for eleven years at the time she applied for asylum in the Netherlands.

Once her feet had touched free land, Hirsi Ali took root and began to put forth flowers. She was offered a position in parliament by the conservative VVD party and qualified for a seat in January, 2003. On November 2, 2004, film maker Theo Van Gogh, a relative of the artist Vincent Van Gogh, was found shot to death on a street not far from his office. Dutch Moroccan terrorist Mohammed Bouyeri had murdered Van Gogh and thrust a knife through his chest. Pinned to Van Gogh’s chest by the knife was a rambling, six page religious manifesto.

VanGogh was murdered because he had committed the unpardonable sin of assuming he was a free man in a free country, shaped by the same Enlightenment period that here in the United States had produced a Tom Paine and a Thomas Jefferson. VanGogh had made a film, Submission, that dramatized the plight of women in Islamic culture. The knife in the chest and the rambling manifesto, addressed to Hersi Ali, were radical Islam’s answer to the perceived insult. Following the murder of VanGogh, the notorious Hofstad Network vowed that Hersi Ali, Submision’s author, would meet the same fate.

One day Hersi Ali was eating at a restaurant, surrounded by body guards, when she was approached by young student, a recent convert, who tapped her on the shoulder.

''I turned around,'' she recalled in a New York Times magazine story, ''and saw this sweet, young Dutch guy, about 24 years old. With freckles! And he was like, 'Madam, I hope the mujahedeen get you and kill you.' ''

Hersi Ali handed him her butter knife and said, “Why don’t you do it yourself.”

Naturally, all this attention from murderous thugs had her neighbors understandably nervous, and now the Dutch government gamely has decided that since Hersi Ali entered the country on false premises, her status as a Dutch national is questionable.

It must have come as a relief to her adopted land when Hirsi Ali announced on May 16, that she would leave parliament, move to the United States and accept a position with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in this the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So, with any luck – Ayann means good luck -- we may be receiving yet another stormed tossed wretch at our golden door sometime in September.

But why haven’t US liberals – women’s liberationists, morally charged atheists, Democrats who regularly sup at Jackson Jefferson dinners, editorial writers sucking at the teats of the Enlightenment – raised their boisterous voices in her defense? Why is her name not on every liberal lip in the land of the First Amendment?

The unnatural reserve of liberals towards Hirsi Ali may have something to do with the following lines from her recent book The Caged Virgin, which unashamedly celebrates the liberators of caged virgins everywhere, George Bush and Tony Blair: “The adherents to the gospel of multiculturalism refuse to criticize people whom they see as victims. Some Western critics disapprove of United States policies and attitudes but do not criticize the Islamic world, just as, in the first part of the twentieth century, Western socialist apologists did not dare criticize the Soviet labor camps.”

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