Masih Alinejad discusses her women’s and human rights campaigns on Bill Maher (watch before they remove the video).

October 1, 2022 • 12:30 pm

By now, thank goodness, people are growing aware of what is going on in Iran, particularly how the Islamic theocracy oppresses its women; and we are learning how anti-government protests, by both men and women, are spreading across Iran. The original cause of these protests, now being covered by Western news, was the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, apparently killed by Iran’s “morality police” after being arrested for not wearing her hijab properly. The incident now has its own Wikipedia page.

One of the biggest critics of Iran’s treatment of its women has been exiled Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad, whose tweets and writings I’ve featured for a long time on this site. She launched the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom and instituted the custom of “White Wednesdays,” when women in Iran wear white to protest oppression and misogyny. If you follow people on Twitter, do follow Masih, as she posts daily updates on Iran and often features videos and photos conveyed to her from Iranian women. The Iranian government considers her so dangerous that they confected a plot to kidnap her, but this was foiled by the U.S. government.

Reader Enrico called my attention to the fact that Alinejad appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher this week.  The full interview (about ten minutes long) is below, and Enrico says that this video will probably disappear within two days, so watch it now. If you click on the video, it begins when Alinejad appears, but the video contains the full show, which is why it will soon be taken down.

At 12:05 Maher asks her, “why are liberals so moronic about the problem?” Why does he ask this? Because Alinejad has been quite vocal and critical about Western feminists ignoring the oppression of women in Iran (discussing the issue is considered “Islamophobic”, as she says below). Further, the Biden administration is cozying up to to a regime that spits on human rights and regularly kills its citizens. (In my view, the “nuclear deal” that Biden is trying to make with Iran is ludicrous and will be ineffectual—except in enriching Iran as Iran enriches uranium).

He also sent the link below, a 6-minute extract from the interview which, Enrico says, probably won’t disappear within two days.

Sarah Haider on World Hijab Day

February 2, 2022 • 3:19 pm

Yesterday was World Hijab Day, a day to celebrate a symbol of misogyny and oppression. In its honor(?) we have a thoughtful 15-minute video by Sarah Haider, Executive Director of the Ex-Muslims of North America, about the hijab. Needless to say, she’s almost entirely critical of reasons for wearing the headscarf.

My own view about it has been given many times (e.g., here): to see whether it’s a “choice” or a “mandate,” remove all social, religious. and political pressures to wear it, and see how many women still wear the headscarf.

That’s not an impossible experiment because it’s pretty much what Iran and Afghanistan were like in the 1970s. And most women let their hair fly free.  Sure enough, when the theocracy began in Iran in 1979, a mandatory hijab law was enacted, and women protested by the thousands. It was of no use. They were forced to wear it, and violators were beaten or even jailed for long periods.

Further, if it’s a “choice”, why would you need “morality police” in Iran and Afghanistan to beat women whose hijab doesn’t fully cover there hair? What kind of monstrous culture dictates the beating of women who, exposing a wisp of hair, are supposed to excite the libido of men?

To tell the truth, I think that women who say that their wearing the hijab is a “choice”, a sign of modesty, are largely dissimulating. Many are wearing it to make it obvious that they are in the class of the victimized, a point articulated clearly in Haider’s video by the odious Linda Sarsour, who says “Before wearing a hijab, I was just an ordinary white girl from New York City” (12:57). Now she’s a public victim as a Person of Color. Sarah doesn’t make this point, because she’s too nice to, but listen again to Sarsour.

Many have been forced to wear the veil since they were little girls, and it’s now a habit—no more of a choice than Amish wearing suspenders and black clothes. A sure sign that it’s bogus is shown by those who wear hijabs and then tons of makeup and other fancy garments. How is that supposed to be modest?

It is a sad irony that Western women, including feminists seem to valorize the hijab, for they are valorizing oppression. For that’s where the garment came from: the misogynistic idea that women must cover their hair (and bodies) to avoid exciting the uncontrollable lusts of men. Why shouldn’t the men control their own damn lusts? Again it’s an instance of MacPherson’s Law: when two “progressive” tenets collide—in this case feminism versus Muslim dictates (the culture of the Oppressed)—the women always lose.

My favorite take on the hijab comes from Alishba Zarmeen:

And now the estimable Sarah Haider, who makes a number of good points, many of them related to Zarmeen’s remark above. BTW, I just discovered that Haider has just started a Substack site, “Hold that Thought” that will be a repository of her essays and thoughts.

The Council of Europe retracts pro-hijab campaign

November 7, 2021 • 9:15 am

I haven’t written about the hijab, burqa, or other forms of Muslim female covering for a while, simply because I’ve written about them so much that I have nothing new to say (for all the posts, go here).  Now, though, the hijab is back in the news.

See here for a one-post summary of what I think, which is that the hijab (and similar garments) are forms of female oppression, are rarely “choices”, but that religious garments that obscure the face should not be banned except in situations when other religious symbols are banned, and in places like banks where one’s face should be visible. Overall, I share the feeling expressed below by Alishba Zaremeen, an ex-Muslim activist and feminist:

And a few more words about the “voluntary” nature of wearing hijabs. Many women, like Masih Alinejad in the video below, were forced to don the head covering at a young age and continue to wear it because of social or family pressure (Masih gave up Islam and her hijab, and is the world’s most active opponent of forced body covering). That is neither “voluntary” nor a “choice.” Of course some women truly do have a choice, and wear the hijab as a form of non-compulsory piety. That’s fine, but I believe that far fewer women who claim it’s their “choice” really had a choice.

To see how much of a “choice it is” in Muslim countries, you can do a kind of experiment: look at what women wore in those countries before the theocracy imposed religious dress codes. In that situation, hijab-wearing would be much more of a choice. But as I reported in two posts, in two such countries—Afghanistan and Iran—most women abjured the hijab until the theocracy came. Indeed,  in 1979 in Iran, when the theocracy began, over 100,000 women protested the hijab en masse; and in 2017-2019 there were smaller mass protests against the headscarf there. Headscarves remain mandatory in Iran, even for visiting foreigners.

Now for the news, reported in this BBC piece (click on screenshot):

What happened is the the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organization, started a pro-hijab campaign, emphasizing that the headscarf was a sign of freedom and “choice”. As the article notes (their emphasis):

Europe’s top human rights organisation has pulled posters from a campaign that promoted respect for Muslim women who choose to wear headscarves after provoking opposition in France.

The Council of Europe released the images last week for a campaign against anti-Muslim discrimination.

A slogan on one advert read: “Beauty is in diversity as freedom is in hijab”.

Several prominent French politicians condemned the message and argued the hijab did not represent freedom.

But some Muslim women who wear headscarves said the reaction showed a lack of respect for diversity and the right to choose what to wear in France.

France’s youth minister, Sarah El Haïry, said she was shocked by one poster, which showed a split image of one women wearing a hijab, and one not.

In an interview on French TV, the minister suggested the poster had encouraged women to wear headscarves. She said this message jarred with the secular values of France, which had expressed its disapproval of the campaign.

On Wednesday, the Council of Europe told the BBC that tweets related to the campaign had been deleted “while we reflect on a better presentation of this project”.

I too decry Islamophobia and feel that banning hijabs except in the most necessary situations is a violation of religious freedom, but images like the two below from the campaign don’t really convey the whole truth.

For example, there is no “diversity in dress” permitted in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. A woman who went out in shorts would be arrested. Even in Muslim families or communities in Europe, the hijab is not always optional.  To use Alishba’s metaphor, images like these are equivalent to a campaign for “express your views by flying your flag” and then advertising it showing people waving Confederate flags.

How boring would the world look if everyone would look the same? Just look at Saudi Arabia or Iran compared to, say, Berlin or Paris.

Here’s another.

In fact, the CoE doesn’t even hold the opinions expressed in the tweeted images:

The campaign was the product of two online workshops held in September and organised in collaboration with Femyso, a forum of Muslim youth organisations across Europe.

The wording of the campaign “reflected individual statements from people who took part in one of the project’s workshops”, the Council of Europe spokesman said.

The spokesman said the messaging did not reflect the position of the Council of Europe or its secretary-general, Marija Pejcinovic Buric.

The president of Femyso, Hande Taner, defended the campaign on Wednesday in an interview with the BBC.

She said “the campaign itself is still on” but added: “As for why the tweet was deleted, I can’t speak on behalf of the Council of Europe.”

Ms Taner said it was “really sad that the efforts of minority youth are being attacked and undermined” by politicians.

The reaction was “another example of how the rights of Muslim women are non-existent to those who claim to represent or protect notions such as liberty, equality and freedom”, she said.

Ms. Taner is partly right and partly wrong. First of all, it is Islam that largely abrogates the rights of Muslim women, who, even in Europe, are considered inferior to men and often relegated to domestic and child-rearing duties. Islamic pressure to wear hijabs is a violation of women’s rights. On the other hand, France does ban face coverings in public except during worship or traveling in a private car. Some could argue that this violates religious freedom. (For a counterargument in favor of the French law banning face coverings, see this article by Christopher Hitchens as well as his video clash with a Muslim woman in Australia.)

The Council of Europe made a misstep with this campaign. Promoting the hijab as a choice is disssimulation partly promoting the denial of women’s rights. There are better ways to combat bigotry against Muslims.

Why is a white Western man writing about the hijab? Because so few Western feminists do. Much of that is deliberate: we are supposed to ignore Muslim misogyny because they are “people of color.”  That has been called “the bigotry of low expectations.”

The going-along with hijab mandates is the topic of Masih Alinejad’s eloquent and passionate speech below:

 

h/t: Stephen

Readings for today: speaking the unspeakable

February 15, 2021 • 12:00 pm

I’m seriously sleep deprived and am finding it hard to even type.  Like many people, or so I hear, sleeping has become more erratic and disturbed during the pandemic. I’m lucky if I get 5½ hours a night, and I tend to wake up at ungodly early hours. I was going to write posts on the two articles below, but don’t have the ability to think so well today, so I’ll merely call them to your attention, make a few remarks, and pass on. Click on screenshots to access all articles. These two are “contrarian” in that they go against prevailing Woke opinion in dealing with subjects so taboo that one shouldn’t even bring them up.

The first piece, by Douglas Murray at the Spectator, deals with how reviewers—particularly the New York Times—have dealt with Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new (and fourth) book, shown below (click to go to Amazon site). It came out just last week.

I haven’t read it yet, but will, just as I’ve read all her books. But as Hirsi Ali has been moved to the “alt-right” because of perception that she’s an “Islamophobe”, the reviewers have not been kind. And it’s going to get worse for her after this book, for it tackles the issue of immigration, and what Hirsi Ali sees as the bad consequences of allowing immigration of fundamentalist Muslims to the West. These bad consequences include Britain’s infamous “grooming gangs.” As we know, the liberal British press, and the government, does a lot to hide the fact that these gangs exist, for that admission is seen as Islamophobic.

I don’t know how we should restructure the immigration system to minimize the detrimental effects on a liberal and democratic society of admitting those with cultural norms inimical to its values, but Hirsi Ali apparently has some solutions. I’ll withhold judgement until I read her book.

What Murray does is analyze a New York Times review of Hirsi Ali’s book (click on screenshot below), and make the case that the reviewer, Jill Filipovic, disses the book unfairly, criticizing Hirsi Ali for things she didn’t say, and doing that because Hirsi Ali’s message is not consonant with the NYT’s biases.


Just two quotes:

As soon as [Hirsi Ali’s] book came out, The New York Times published a characteristically inaccurate hit-piece to try to kill it at birth. Speaking engagements – even virtual ones – involving Hirsi Ali came under sustained pressure to cancel. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups started to campaign against the book. And figures like an obscure communist activist called Maryam Namazie, who claims to campaign against Islamism, found common cause with the Islamists in trying to take-out Hirsi Ali. In the latter case, Hirsi Ali was berated for having views that are ‘regressive’, as though one must have ‘progressive’ communist views or have no views at all.

But in the scheme of things, it is the New York Times whose campaign against the book will register with the most. And so it is worth showing just how false and agenda-laden that piece – written by one Jill Filipovic – actually is.

Throughout her review, Filipovic seems intent on using Hirsi Ali’s personal story against her. . .

Murray then goes through a number of Filipovic’s criticisms and argues that they completely misrepresent what Hirsi Ali says. Certainly the excerpts seem to show that when put next to some of Hirsi Ali’s statements, but one needs to read her book to get the full context.

At the end, Murray hypothesizes why the NYT is so hard (and so misguided) on Ayaan’s book, and, knowing the paper, there’s at least a bit of truth in this:

In recent times, the NYT has had a terrible problem – more so than any other mainstream publication – of racism among its staff. The publication has hired writers who make overtly racist comments (Sarah Jeong) and fired other people for allegedly using racist terminology.

I don’t know why the NYT can’t get through a month without an internal racism scandal, but I begin to desire to take it by its own lights and simply accept that the paper in question has a racism problem. And I suppose that a piece like Filipovic’s must be read in this light.

Filipovic seems to think that because Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a black immigrant of Muslim origin she must say only one set of things. When she says a different set of things she must have words put in her mouth by America’s former paper of record. That paper must then muffle the woman’s opinions, defame her and otherwise unvoice her. These have all been tropes in the history of racism. And I suppose that the history of racism is alive, well and continuing at the New York Times. Under the guise of ‘anti-racism’, obviously.

It’s true that Hirsi Ali doesn’t say the kind of stuff that the NYT finds congenial. Indeed, if anyone qualifies as expressing “Islamophobia”, it is her, for she is indeed afraid—not of Islam itself, but of the tenets of Islam that are pernicious and dangerous to men and especially women. Seen in that light, “Islamophobia” isn’t always invidious, but the term is used to slander those who criticize anything about Islam. And the misogynistic, homophobic, and oppressive tenets of Islam are indeed dangerous when transplanted into liberal Western cultures. But we are not allowed to speak of such things, for this subject is taboo.

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On February 8, Glenn Loury (most of you know of him; he’s a black economist at Brown) delivered a lecture at the University of Colorado at Boulder; it was part of the Benson Center Lecture Series.  He’s now published the text of the lecture at Quillette (click on screenshot):

Loury’s “unspeakable truths” involve placing some of the blame for black inequality on the black community itself. While the aspects of “black culture” that he sees as inimical, like single-mother families, may ultimately rest on racism, the family issue has worsened substantially since the 1950’s, and it’s hard to see that as a result of either historical racism or present-day “systemic” racism—which surely has not gotten worse since the 1950s. At any rate, I’ll list Loury’s unspeakable truths and recommend that you read his piece. Here his words are indented:

The first unspeakable truth: Downplaying behavioral disparities by race is actually a “bluff”. Socially mediated behavioral issues lie at the root of today’s racial inequality problem. They are real and must be faced squarely if we are to grasp why racial disparities persist. This is a painful necessity.

A second unspeakable truth: “Structural racism” isn’t an explanation, it’s an empty category. The invocation of “structural racism” in political argument is both a bluff and a bludgeon. It is a bluff in the sense that it offers an “explanation” that is not an explanation at all and, in effect, dares the listener to come back.

Another unspeakable truth: We must put the police killings of black Americans into perspective. . . For every black killed by the police, more than 25 other black people meet their end because of homicides committed by other blacks. This is not to ignore the significance of holding police accountable for how they exercise their power vis-à-vis citizens. It is merely to notice how very easy it is to overstate the significance and the extent of this phenomenon, precisely as the Black Lives Matter activists have done.

Thus, the narrative that something called “white supremacy” and “systemic racism” have put a metaphorical “knee on the neck” of black America is simply false. The idea that as a black person I dare not step from my door for fear that the police would round me up or gun me down or bludgeon me to death because of my race is simply ridiculous.

Yet another unspeakable truth: There is a dark side to the “white fragility” blame game. Likewise, I suspect that what we are hearing from the progressives in the academy and the media is but one side of the “whiteness” card. That is, I wonder if the “white-guilt” and “white-apologia” and “white-privilege” view of the world cannot exist except also to give birth to a “white-pride” backlash, even if the latter is seldom expressed overtly—it being politically incorrect to do so.

The above is the least credible of Loury’s worries, I think, but may contain some truth. I have no idea if the application of Critical Race Theory, for example, has turned some whites into white supremacists.

On the unspeakable infantilization of “black fragility”I would add that there is an assumption of “black fragility,” or at least of black lack of resilience lurking behind these anti-racism arguments. Blacks are being treated like infants whom one dares not to touch. One dares not say the wrong word in front of us; to ask any question that might offend us; to demand anything from us, for fear that we will be so adversely impacted by that. The presumption is that black people cannot be disagreed with, criticized, called to account, or asked for anything.

On achieving “true equality” for black Americans. . . Here, then, is my final unspeakable truth, which I utter now in defiance of “cancel culture”: If we blacks want to walk with dignity—if we want to be truly equal—then we must realize that white people cannot give us equality. We actually have to actually earn equal status. Please don’t cancel me just yet, because I am on the side of black people here. But I feel obliged to report that equality of dignity, equality of standing, equality of honor, of security in one’s position in society, equality of being able to command the respect of others—this is not something that can be simply handed over. Rather, it is something that one has to wrest from a cruel and indifferent world with hard work, with our bare hands, inspired by the example of our enslaved and newly freed ancestors. We have to make ourselves equal. No one can do it for us.

The other day, a black reader made a comment to the effect that I like John McWhorter’s views (which are very similar to Loury’s) because “they let white people off the hook.” That is, by blaming black inequality and “inequity” on the black community itself, those views free whites from guilt, the need for “reparations”, and, I guess, from the need to do anything about such inequalities. I disagree on two counts. FIrst of all, as Americans we are obliged to lend a hand to those less fortunate than we. And that includes the poor and some minorities (groups like Indians, East Asian immigrants, and Nigerians are not disadvantaged). To me this doesn’t mean policing ourselves for language, scrutinizing our souls for implicit bias, or firing people who use the n-word didactically. It means a much larger and harder task, one that both Loury and McWhorter agree with: ensuring that every American has equal opportunities from the very first moment they draw breath. That will take a huge investment and reallotment of money, and I, for one, am willing to take a financial hit for this end.

Second, you can’t blame all those inequities on the perfidies of white people who, mired in their unconscious racism, promulgate “structural racism” everywhere. Things like black-on-black crime, so prevalent in my city, must be tackled by the black community as well: in fact, tackled in the main by the black community. When the commenter I just mentioned told me I was too inclined to let white people off the hook, I couldn’t resist replying that he, too, might consider that he was too inclined to let black people off the hook.

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Lagniappe: Bari Weiss has a new piece on her Substack site, “Giano Carano and crowd-sourced McCarthyism“. I haven’t yet read it, but it’s free (consider subscribing, though). It’s about the actress who was fired from a television series for comparing the persecution of American conservatives to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis—a comparison that Weiss admits was stupid and ridiculous.

Cancel culture alive and well

February 11, 2021 • 2:15 pm

If you laugh at the idea of a cancel culture, well, here’s a good example. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which I consider an Islamist organization, is trying to cancel tonight’s discussion with Bari Weiss and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, scheduled for the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

CAIR has a petition page where you can sign on to the cancellation (click on screenshot):

The grounds? Hate speech, which apparently doesn’t deserve airing:

CAIR-SFBA, American Muslims, and our allies across the San Francisco Bay Area are calling on the Commonwealth Club to cancel their planned February 11 event featuring anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian speakers Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bari Weiss.

These fringe speakers are contrary to the Club’s mission to seek truth and insight about the issues we face as a society. Both speakers have a shameful track record of propagating Islamophobia, which exacerbates ongoing intolerance and hate towards Muslims, immigrants, and others.

Well, CAIR, Students for Justice in Palestine, and similar organizations, are, in my view, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, and themselves “exacerbate intolerance”, but I wouldn’t for a moment try to stop them from holding events. I’m not sure what “truth” is being effaced by the two speakers, but part of it is probably the religiously-based defensiveness of organizations like CAIR.

Apparently the Commonwealth Club, which seems to be a public-affairs group with a wide range of speakers, agrees with me, for at the bottom of the petition you can read this:

CAIR of course has a right to object to the speakers, and to petition the club to cancel them, but it would have better “optics” if they didn’t try to stifle the voices of everyone they think is “Islamophobic.” I guess Hirsi Ali better bring her bodyguards tonight. . .

h/t: Luana

An exchange about Wokeism featuring Sarah Haider and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

September 29, 2020 • 9:15 am

Well, there’s only one letter in the “exchange” so far: from Sarah Haider (co-founder and development director of Ex-Muslims of North America) to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The exchange will appear bit by bit at the Letter site (click on screenshot below, and you may want to subscribe):

 

The exchange will not be about Islam, as you might expect (both Haider and Hirsi Ali are vocal ex-Muslims, critical of the faith), but about “wokeism”, which intersected—pardon the word—with Haider’s criticisms of Islam to inspire the coming dialogue.  We all know that although Islam is, in general, an oppressive religion, seeing gays as immoral and women as inferior (this of course is not true of all Muslims), it is still defended by the Woke, who regard criticism of the faith’s tenets as “Islamophobia”. The Left’s defense of Islam is based on one reason only: Muslims are seen as “people of color”, and so their oppressive practices become immune from censure. That immunity does not extend to faiths like Catholicism or Protestantism, which are seen as “white” faiths. This is also one of the reasons why the Woke blast Israel at the expense of the much more oppressive Palestinian Territories, for Palestinians are also seen as people of color, although Palestine is really the “apartheid state” that Israel is said to be.

But I digress. Haider’s eyes opened to Wokeism when she couldn’t find people who would join her in criticizing Islam. Excerpts from Haider’s letter:

In fact, it was my activism with religion that first drove me to investigate this issue many years ago. When I first began speaking publicly about Islam, I quickly found (as did you), that those whom I anticipated would be on our side viewed me with suspicion. My criticisms of Islam were based on the very principles that those liberals claimed to champion, and yet I was swiftly rejected by them. This behavior left me stunned and confused, so I set out to understand it.

Very quickly, it became evident that the hesitancy to critique Islam actually had nothing to do with Islam. Educating my fellow liberals would not be enough—as ignorance was not the root of the problem.

Over the previous few decades, a new ideology had taken hold throughout liberal and progressive circles: writer and cultural critic Wesley Yang called it “the successor ideology,” but now it’s more usually called wokeism. At its core, this ideology is a delegitimization project—and it targets the very foundations of humanist, Enlightenment values. Wokeism is not the only movement to exploit the same programming that makes us vulnerable to religion. But it has achieved astounding success because it has also managed to neutralize liberals, who might otherwise stand against religious impulses, by hijacking our caring instinct, and by ruthlessly exploiting social dynamics to crush dissent.

It’s curious that the aspect of Wokeism that leads to the hesitancy to criticize Islam—the movement’s embrace of Critical Race Theory, so that Muslims are seen as oppressed people of color—isn’t mentioned by Haider, and I’m not sure why.  That is in fact the dominant impetus of Wokeism, and can’t be neglected. Yes, Wokeism denigrates some Enlightenment values, like freedom of speech, but it also embraces (to an extreme and unwarranted extent) an Enlightenment value: concern for the underdog. It’s not a battle against all Enlightenment values, but a dog’s breakfast of extreme Enlightenment values (the holiness of the oppressed) and anti-Enlightenment values.

At any rate, Haider thinks the Woke have won—for the time being. She’s right, for they’ve hijacked the universities and the media, as well as other organizations, including scientific societies. They’ve won because nobody wants to be seen as a racist, and so people have, as John McWhorter said, gone along to get along.

Haider:

I believe that what we are witnessing is not the dawn of open war, but its conclusion. The woke have won, and decisively. But all is never truly lost, and this is not a prelude to submission. My approach is one of pragmatic optimism: In order to fight this—and we must fight it—we need to understand what lies ahead of us.

. . .Wokeism has won because it has captured our cultural and sense-making institutions.

Nearly all our educational, media, and non-profit institutions (including major grant-making organizations) are advancing in one direction. Meanwhile, the hearts and minds of the global elite are almost uniformly supportive of this new secular faith.

. . .it is no anomaly that the New York Times can hire and stand by an employee who speaks of white people as “dogs pissing on fire hydrants,” but cannot publish an op-ed by a sitting US congressman without a major staff insurrection. The conditions required for the extremists to thrive already exist. The door is open; they only need to walk through.

One may object, however, and point out that the majority of Americans are not woke. I believe that this is true. I also believe that it doesn’t matter. When so many of our fundamental institutions are in cult-like consensus, when the richest and most powerful among us routinely display public allegiance to one faith [Haider mentions that Jeff Bezos has pledged nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to “social justice causes”], the preferences of the average American are largely irrelevant.

We must adjust our approach accordingly. To put it rather dramatically: we are not meeting the barbarians at the gate; we are rebelling against the empire.

So what does Haider think we must do? Well, she argues that to fight Wokeism we must first understand it, and you can do that by reading Pluckrose and Linday’s book, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody.  They provide a scholarly but lucid account of the roots of Wokeism.  Yet once you see Wokeism as a religion—the topic of McWhorter’s next book—you might agree with him that “battling it out” directly isn’t the way to fight. That’s no more efficacious than trying to engage the faithful to make them give up their religion. As with “militant” atheism, I’m with McWhorter in thinking that no, we shouldn’t engage the Woke directly. They will not be moved, and will simply call you names and try to ruin your life.  The way to fight them is the way atheists have been successful in eroding religion: mocking your opponents, refusing to buy what they’re selling, and writing books taking Wokeism apart.

I am not buying the stuff any more, and will mock it despite the possibility of being called a racist. And so should we all, for we need, as did atheists, to appeal to those on the fence—the uncommitted and open-minded. As for writing those books, well, Pluckrose and Lindsay have a good one, and McWhorter’s will, I suspect, be a powerful salvo against Wokeism.

In the meantime, keep your eye on the Haider/Hirsi Ali exchange.

 

h/t: Luana

A new book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on sexual violence in Europe

April 4, 2020 • 10:30 am

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a new book, her fifth, and the fourth to have a one-word title (the others are The Caged Virgin, Nomad, Infidel, and Heretic, and I’ve read all but the first). The last one, Heretic, was subtitled Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, and was her manifesto not to destroy Islam (which many think is her agenda), but to reform it from within. I wrote about it previously, and thought that while the motivation was good, Muslims would never accept Hirsi Ali’s five suggestions for reforming the faith (example: “Muslims must not take the Qur’an literally”).

If Islam is to be defanged, making the extremist and violence-prone segments go away, it not only has to be from within, but there’s no good program for doing it—even from Hirsi Ali, who spent much of her life as an ardent believer.

And if the last book diminished Hirsi Ali’s reputation as an “Islamophobic” (it didn’t—the SPLC pronounced her, along with Maajid Nawaz, “an anti-Muslim activist” and then withdrew that characterization when sued by Nawaz), this book will restore it. For it’s about those immigrants—many of them Muslim—who commit sexual violence on and harassment of women in Europe. Click on the screenshot to go to the Amazon site, or see the HarperCollins publisher’s description here.

The sexual violence committed by immigrants to Europe, and its higher frequency among male Muslim immigrants, is an issue that, it seems, most European countries would rather keep under wraps, because it looks “Islamophobic” to both highlight it and, especially, to connect it with the misogyny endemic in much of Islam.  “Grooming gangs” of young Muslims are reported on in the British press, but the ethnic/religious connection has stalled both investigations of the crimes as well as their highlighting by journalists. Of course there are many rapists and harassers who aren’t Muslims, or are non-Muslims from East Asia, but it’s ridiculous to avoid discussing how religion (which is largely equivalent to “culture” for many Muslims) might feed into sexual violence. How can you deal with such crimes without understanding their source? But then, of course, there’s the hard problem of “what do we do with this understanding?”  That’s above my pay grade.

These are the issues that Hirsi Ali apparently deals with in Prey. Here’s HarperCollins‘s summary of the book, which I’ve excerpted (their emphasis):

Why are so few people talking about the eruption of sexual violence and harassment in Europe’s cities? Because almost no one in a position of power wants to admit that the problem is linked to the arrival of several million migrants—most of them young men—from Muslim-majority countries.

In Prey, the best-selling author of Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, presents startling statistics, criminal cases and personal testimony. She shows that, after a period when sexual violence in western Europe barely increased, after 2014 it surged. In Germany “offences against sexual self-determination” in 2018 were 36% above their 2014 level. Nearly two-fifths of the suspects were non-German. Asylum seekers were suspects in 11% of all reported rapes and sexual harassment cases in Austria in 2017, despite making up less than 1% of the total population.

This violence isn’t a figment of alt-right propaganda, Hirsi Ali insists, even if neo-Nazis exaggerate it. It’s a real problem that Europe—and the world—cannot continue to ignore.

Hirsi Ali explains why so many young Muslim men who arrive in Europe engage in sexual harassment and violence. She traces the roots of sexual violence in the Muslim world, from institutionalized polygamy to the lack of legal and religious protections for women.

A refugee herself, Hirsi Ali is not against immigration. . . Deeply researched and featuring fresh and often shocking revelations, Prey uncovers a sexual assault and harassment crisis in Europe which is turning the clock on women’s rights much further back than #MeToo has advanced it.

I’ll read it, as I’ve read most of her books, but be aware that this book is going to be excoriated for simply highlighting the problem, which everyone recognizes is a problem.  It’s ironic that the publisher mentions #MeToo here, for that underscores the double standards of liberal societies when dealing with feminism and Islam. Islamic doctrine is explicitly anti-feminist, and, in the thesis of this book, has devalued women to the extent that it leads to both sexual harassment and rape, just as it leads to the oppression of women in most Muslim counties. So we have a clash of underdogs—underdogs whose defense is a classic virtue of liberalism. In this case it’s Islam versus feminism. In America, the UK, and the rest of Europe, the Left seems to have decided that, as “people of color”, Muslims are more oppressed than women, and so, as Hirsi Ali insists, this has exacerbated the oppression of women in the West.

I’ll report on the book after I’ve read it.

h/t Enrico

Ex-Muslims of North America mounts a “Awesome without Allah” campaign, but aren’t allowed to put those words on billboards

September 9, 2019 • 9:00 am

Here’s the announcement I found on Twitter:

The Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) just put up billboards in three cities—Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston—basically stating that a substantial proportion of Muslims raised in the U.S. have become apostates, and implicitly affirming that that’s okay (of course, to many Muslims apostasy is a capital crime). According to the EXMNA announcement, they had some trouble doing this:

After several rounds of rejections, changes, and even one contract termination from companies afraid of offending religious sensibilities, the billboards are scheduled to be placed on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 3rd and 4th, 2019.

“In a dozen Muslim-majority countries, ex-Muslims are condemned to the death penalty”, said Muhammad Syed, President of Ex-Muslims of North America. “In the West, our existence is not a crime, but we still face isolation, threats, and abuse by our own families and former faith community. Unsurprisingly, many former Muslims choose to hide their lack of belief. But the first step to gain acceptance is coming out openly, without shame or fear.”

“We want closeted ex-Muslims to know they are not alone”, said Sarah Haider, Executive Director of Ex-Muslims of North America. “We also want them to know that while the prospect of coming out as nonreligious is frightening, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can make it to the other side, you can rebuild your life and find joy in the freedom from religion.”

Syed, Haider, and their colleagues are doing useful and courageous work. Putting up a billboard that, say, noted that a high proportion of Christians had become “nones” would be unlikely to be rejected in this way. As we all know, it’s a lot more dangerous to offend Muslims than Christians.

This page gives more details about the difficulty of getting the billboards displayed:

The billboards took months of planning and countless rounds of rejections from companies who were concerned about offending religious sensibilities. Unfortunately, the process diluted our message quite substantially. Our billboards went from challenging religious claims head-on to a simple declarative sentence about our existence. Many of our first versions were rejected. Even the proposed hashtags were rejected, and fearing a longer delay in publishing, we decided to remove the “Awesome Without Allah” hashtag entirely from the billboards.

The most controversial of the billboards we drafted and proposed featured a drawing of the Islamic mythological figure called the “buraq”. This figure sports the face of a woman, the body of a donkey, wings and a peacock tail. The idea was to provoke critical thinking by pointing out the absurdity of religious myths. However, all companies we worked with rejected this concept. It appeared that the most distressing aspect was the cartoon itself. Of course, the fear is not surprising. There is a record of extremist Muslims answering a drawing with violence, such as the murders of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and attacks on Danish cartoonists.

However, even after choosing a message as mild as possible, one of the contracts was cancelled. The company had not realized how near our billboard was to a mosque, and when they realized, they told us they could not honor the agreement.

The site has a number of short videos (“mini-documentaries”) of ex-Muslims explaining their departure from the faith. Here’s one of many, with the caption “A Canadian woman who converted to Islam in her late-teens, Stephanie married a Libyan Muslim man, and gave birth to two daughters.”

This is heartbreaking, for you see the mother’s anguish well up as she describes how her husband tricked her into going back to Libya and then basically kidnapped their daughters, whom she hasn’t seen in five years. I defy you to watch the whole thing without tearing up.

 

Join me in donating to EXMNA, which you can do by going here.  They are way short of their $25,000 campaign goal, and that’s not a large amount. If every reader gave just a dollar, that would more than double the amount targeted. How about a buck or five?

Maajid Nawaz sees a change in world leaders’ tweets about the Christchurch and Sri Lanka terrorist attacks

April 22, 2019 • 11:00 am

Maajid Nawaz put up a short clip from his radio show about the reactions of three world leaders—Theresa May, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton—to the two terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand (against Muslims in mosques) and the bombings in Sri Lanka (against Christians in churches). He quotes tweets from these three leaders and shows a disparity between their reactions to the attacks—a disparity that, I think, really does say something about political attitudes. Click on the screenshot below to hear Maajid (a Muslim).

Here are May’s tweets.

Nawaz finds a difference in May’s reaction to the latest attack, in which she doesn’t mention terrorism but does note “acts of violence”. (It’s now clear that it was a terrorist attack, as the explosions were caused by suicide bombers.)

Things get more disparate when we get to the Americans. Do you notice a difference between the first and second tweets of Obama, and a similar disparity between the first and second tweets of Hillary Clinton?

Here’s a similar pair from Hillary Clinton:

Maajid says this:

“I’ve just named three global leaders from a Liberal and a Conservative perspective after two respective terrorist attacks.

“One in New Zealand against my fellow Muslims and one in Sri Lanka against Christians who are at worship.

“As you can see from the tone, when it came to the New Zealand one, almost all of them mention that it was an attack against the Muslim community and it was a terrorist attack.

“Yet when it came to Sri Lanka, why say Easter worshipers?

“Why not come out straight away and say this is an attack against Christians?” [JAC: Note that Clinton and Obama also use “terrorists” to refer to the New Zealand attacks but not to the Sri Lanka attacks.

I’m not trying to be a “terrorist truther” here, but I think Maajid has a point, and he’s not the first one to notice it. Why call Muslims “Muslims” but Christians “Easter worshippers”? This is not a coincidence between Clinton and Obama; it’s a deliberate decision not to say “Christian”, for that would imply that the terrorists were Muslims, which they almost certainly were. As Foreign Policy noted, “Sri Lanka’s government says the attacks were carried out by National Thowheeth Jamaath, a little-known radical Islamist group.”

What we see here, in Nawaz’s view, and mine, is an attempt to avoid blaming Islamic terrorists for the crimes. I’m not quite sure why they transmute “Christians” into “Easter Worshipers”, but it may be to downplay the animus of Muslims against Christians.(Why say “Muslim” but not “Christian”?)

I’m nearly certain, though, that this is a careful use of language to cater to Muslims, and bespeaks of how the Islamic community, through threats and claims of offense, have managed to sanitize our discourse. Nawaz doesn’t say this, but of course it’s what he means.

But you be the judge.

Oh, and I just noticed that HuffPost just pulled the same dodge. Their headlines (both for the same piece). Only the article identifies the organization as one containing Islamist militants:

Such circumlocution! HuffPo won’t mention in the headline that the “international network” is one of radical Muslims.

A Qatari sociologist gives Islamic instructions (and a demonstration) on how to beat your wife

April 9, 2019 • 10:00 am

To all those who seem to think that being Muslim is in itself a badge of honor, to those who ignore the misogyny inherent in the religion and its dictates, to those feminists who turn a blind eye to the oppression of women in the Middle East, calling Israel an apartheid state but ignoring the “apartheid” against women in Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran—to all these people, have a look at this video from Qatar, featuring a sociologist demonstrating the Islamically permissible way to beat your wife.

MEMRI describes a new video featuring Qatari sociologist Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khazraj Al-Ansari, who uploaded his “demonstration” on the Al-Mojtama YouTube channel. The video is below, and I’ve put some screenshots below it, which I posted before I found the subtitled video on YouTube (MEMRI doesn’t often put its videos there).

Remember that Qatar is considered one of the more liberal Islamic countries, though it’s actually quite despotic in its employment of sharia law, its use of corporal punishment, its deeming of homosexual acts as capital crimes, and its abysmal treatment of guest workers.

I suppose it’s a mercy that Al-Ansari (demonstrating on a boy) shows that Islam mandates just a mild slapping around of the disobedient wife rather than full-on beating and punching, but saying that it’s okay to lay hands on a wife, and even arguing that the women want that because they love domineering men, is flat-out misogynistic. And, of course, there’s the unquestioned assumption that the man is the boss and the woman must do his bidding (see data below). Apartheid, indeed!

Some screenshots:

From the 2013 Pew Survey of the World’s Muslims, a survey taken in many (but not all) Muslim-majority countries. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Yemen, for instance, are not represented:

Had enough? At least have a listen to this short video of the enlightened sociologist discussing International Women’s Day. As the YouTube notes say,

On March 8, 2019, Qatari sociologist Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khazraj Al-Ansari uploaded a video to the Al-Mojtama YouTube channel, which he runs, in which he mocked International Women’s Day for being a celebration of women’s freedom to “act like whores, to play around… and to do whatever they want.” He mocked Western criticism of the hijab and of the Muslim male chaperone system, alleging that the West tells women to act like sluts instead. He also mocked the West for turning women into “cheap merchandise” and encouraging them to dance, use Snapchat, work as TV hosts and actresses, and attend co-ed universities, where male students fondle them behind the professors’ backs during class. He mockingly said: “Bear him a bastard child!… Yes, freedom!” He also said that the West allows women to serve in the military and police in order to “provide comfort” to male service members, and added that dogs are more honorable than the “filthy” secular people who fool women into driving cars, working as electricians, completing their education, and turning into prostitutes like in Europe, where he claimed 90 percent of children are bastards. Al-Ansari’s Facebook page says that he is the manager of the Center for the Organization of Marriage Projects. The Al-Mojtama YouTube channel’s “About” section says that the channel calls for a return to the instructions of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

I doubt there are many women who, thinking from behind John Rawls’s “position of ignorance”, would be happier if they were born in Qatar than in almost any Western country.