Weekend Reading

Recollections of books carried back and forth on the elevated train -- in a long-term, though belated, attempt to learn something about the world.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ayaan Hirsi Ali : Infidel


As I learned from a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, at it's root Islam is violent and totalitarian.  And just for making that observation, or any other criticism, one would be marked for death by the prophet himself.   That's why Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been a fugitive from Islamic justice for over a decade.

In our Christian culture, we think of religion as more true and pure at the root than at the branches. In Islam, as in Judaism,  the reverse appears to be the case.  There are mystical  or syncretic variations of Islam that are quite appealing.  But the moment that Mohammad became a warlord as well as prophet, cruelty and hypocrisy were incorporated into religious practice, and have been there ever since.

Recent American interventions not withstanding, it's not  America's job to secular humanize Muslim societies.  They've got to do it themselves.

But harboring refugees (like my forebears)  and then letting them speak their mind is a fine American tradition, and in the marketplace of ideas, the only way Muslims have found to defend their treatment of women is to kill or threaten those who  criticize it.

So I'm proud that Ayaan has ended up being an American - though it's too bad she has ended up as a spokesperson for an aggressive, right wing, pro-Israel foreign policy.

For me, this book primarily serves as a window into the Somali clans and the Dutch political parties, representing the contrasting social structures of pastoral and modern Western civilization.

It was remarkable that our heroine  could receive support from distant relatives all over the world. In my family, kinship does not extend beyond  first-cousins - and even then it can be problematic. But  Somalis recognize kinship relationships that go back at least ten generations.

It was also remarkable that our heroine could be elected to the Dutch Parliament within a few years of becoming a citizen -- thanks to an electoral system where voters choose parties rather than candidates.


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