Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali - a worthy cause

Sam Harris sent an email asking for help protecting Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I think it is a worthy cause. I have re-posted the email below:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the most prominent advocate of free speech and women's rights in the Muslim world, and for this she must live under perpetual armed guard, even in the West. Unfortunately, on October 1st of this year, the Dutch government officially rescinded its promise to protect her. Now, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's friends, colleagues and admirers must come to her aid.

I have created a page on my website that links directly to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust. The money raised by this trust will pay Ayaan Hirsi Ali's security expenses. In the event that money remains after these costs have been met, it will be used to encourage and protect other dissidents in the Muslim world.

The ongoing protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a moral obligation. It is also a strategic one: for here is a woman doing work that most of us cannot do--indeed, would be terrified to do if given the chance--and yet this work is essential for preserving the freedoms we take for granted in the West.

If every reader of this email simply pledged ten dollars a month to protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the costs of her security would be covered for as long as the threat to her life remains.

Thanks in advance for your support.


Sam Harris

I plan to contribute. The world would be that much worse without Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


Technorati tags: , ,


Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I hate to disagree with you, and in fact, when I had my own blog, one of my first posts was in praise of AHA. Unfortunately, other facts came out that made on of my final posts a retraction of my first post.

Sadly, the woman -- while I admit she has done many good things -- seems to have a 'utilitarian' view of the truth. Her initial story to gain citizenship was an admitted lie, the story of her 'forced, unpleasant' marriage has equally proven so. Her taking a position with the American Enterprise Institute -- an extremely conservative, pro-Bush group -- was a problem, but more so was her claim, when liberal supporters questioned this, that 'she decided to work for them because she disagreed with them -- that in some way this would enable her to debate with them. (If you are aware of the AEI, you know that they rarely hire someone who, in fact, disagrees with them.)

Her position on immigration seems to have changed depending on who was asking her -- I should state I am very pro-immigration, but would also insist that immigrants should be required to adapt themselves to the country they immigrate to, in particularly in terms of rights of women and freedom of speech.

Finally, the statement about the Dutch 'rescinding' her protection is true (more or less, what they said was they would no longer pay for her protection) but misleading, because it withholds the fact that the reason they did so is that -- at the time -- she was no longer living in the Netherlands and, in fact, had already received her American 'green card.' When the decision was made, she returned -- apparently temporarily -- to the country and was again given protection.

Again, I support many of her arguments against Islam's barbarities, and concede she has accomplished much. But her personal flaws make it extremely difficult for me to consider supporting her in this way. (I can assure you, btw, that the fellows of the AEI and its backers are well able to pay for such support, far better than most bloggers I know.)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I should add that my use of 'utilitarian' in the past post was meant to be sacrcastic. In many ways I am myself a utilitarian, but not when it comes to honesty.

Mojoey said...

right - much better that she were dead.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I rarely say something like this, and even more rarely to someone I respect as much as I do you, but your comment was not merely stupid, but offensively so.

My comment made two points, that AHA is not quite as heroic as you make her out to be, and that her need is nowheres so great as you portrayed it. She had security paid for by her government until she moved to America. She only returned -- I would argue unnecessarily -- to the Netherlands 'until Security could be arranged for' in America.
And she is not in the situation of a Salman Rushdie, a freelancer who is dependent on personal assets. (And I recall no Rushdie Security Fund being arranged for during the worst of his danger -- a danger which has not ended even now since I believe the fatwa is technically still in effect.)
She is being employed, at, I assure you, a substantial salary, by an organization which also has contacts with the major security organizations in the US.

In short, what I said was hardly 'let her die' but rather that she doesn't need our help. (Unlike Rushdie, she has appeared quite openly in public in the US, under tight security yes -- and such security IS necessary I repeat again -- but still openly at The University of Pittsburgh and at the NEW YORKER festival -- held, I should state, in NYC, a city with a very large Islamic population. She also appeared at the Sydney Writer's Festival in Australia this last June.

Again, to state my point simply, there are many more needed causes than this, including some -- like Mukhtar Mai's school in Pakistan -- specifically devoted to changing Islam and lessening its medieval hold. She does not need our support.

(Maybe I would have been less emphatic had I not been watching the recent catastrophe in Bangladesh, and watching America -- including much of the blogosphere -- ignoring it.)

Again, I regret the harshness of my opening, but cannot withdraw it. Disagree with me, certainly, point to the symbolic value of supporting Ayaan Hirsi Ali, certainly. But don't mischaracterize what I said like that, please.

Mojoey said...

Sorry - I can be snarky at times. It was nothing personal.