Isn't this odd - if a public figure were to publicly state that, for example
- Muslims are inherently incapable of negotiating in good faith because of their religion, or that
- We should have a war on Islam generally and specifically not a war on Islamists or extremists and terrorists, or that
- Repressive, religiously-targeted laws intentionally aimed at one faith only are highly desirable
...Then I don't think many of us would have trouble working out what type of politics we were dealing with. Even the wackiest Torygraph commenter would probably suss that this is deep far-right nastiness territory.
Sadly however, we're talking about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, so it's apparently compulsory for us all to pretend that this wackiness isn't dodgy in the slightest, and is in fact some form of admirable liberalism. This, on pain of a bit of name-calling - back when her book came out, Timothy Garton-Ash and Ian Buruma got a terrific monstering for uttering very mild criticisms of her, objections that today look very meek and mild.
Now, I can't say I'm that much arsed about much of the stuff AHA comes out with. Astounding as it sounds, I have other things that I could be getting on with than typing up posts about her rammy with Brandeis and, but for the wails and screams of horror that are intermittently cropping up on my Twitter timeline, I'd probably have ignored this latest round of melodramatic panicking.
Given AHA's awful background* and the very credible death-threats made against her, I think some fairly extreme views are the least we could expect and, to pick a daft analogy, I can see the difference between Iain Paisley's criticisms of the Catholic Church and e.g. Sinead O'Connor's, even if neither is exactly a reliable source on the matter.
Nonetheless, the pretense that you can be a liberal and e.g. support religiously-targetted restrictions on one particular group is getting pretty damn tiresome. If you make a big noise about how you escaped oppression by coming to the west and then choose to hang out with a lot of people who campaign to crack down on immigration for whiffy reasons, that looks a lot like pulling up the ladder behind you on other women in your former position. Which is a somewhat bizarre thing for a self-proclaimed feminist to do, never mind an alleged liberal**.
Other mild annoyances - people kidding on that having an offered bauble withdrawn is "censorship" or "silencing". She's sure getting a lot of column inches at the moment to tell everyone how horribly she's been silenced and censored, which is perfectly reasonable and fine, but not exactly a gagging order.
I'm also pretty tired of the argument that goes - AHA should be promoted in the interests of a rationalist debate. If my rational debating point is that I damn well hate your religion, think you're an idiot for following it and want it entirely destroyed, then we're not going to have much of a debate. We're going to have a screaming-match.
And I really don't have any time for commands to "support" her in some non-specific way which plainly means "accept what she says uncritically". I thought the whole point of rational inquiry is that there are no sacred cows.
So you can make a case that Hirsi Ali is a valuable voice on her area of expertise, but it's kind of central to the debate to acknowledge that her political views are about as reasonable and well-considered as those of Tommy Robinson or Avigdor Lieberman***.
If you instead wave your arms, rend your garments and call down the hammer of condemnation on everyone who disagrees with you, then you're not promoting debate. You're polluting the issue with nonsense, and that helps nobody, except folk who want to further the cause of nonsense.
*Doubts cast on the authenticity of said background here, but since I've no idea how reliable the source documentary is and the person pushing it seems a bit Mr Angry, I'm going to dismiss it for now. Included in case anyone else can vouch.
**As is running off with another woman's husband, by the way. I imagine Niall Ferguson's ex-wife raises an eyebrow every time AHA is described as a "feminist campaigner", and has some interesting thoughts upon the nature of sisterhood.
***Also worth noting that AHA is pretty much the only Muslim that the counter-jihad mentals like. Which is ironic, since she's pretty forthright about being an atheist.