ITThe theme of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Heretic is straightforward: Islam needs a reformation that brings critical thought to bear on its doctrines. She can never return to her family’s faith, she says. She is a rationalist, liberal nonbeliever. But she argues that Muslims who would like to reconcile their faith with life in the West might benefit from the opening of Islam to serious intellectual challenge. It’s a book worth reading for its optimism, which is probably misplaced.
The problem now is that to question is to be an apostate. To be an apostate, to doubt or insult the Prophet, is to deserve death. Her collaborator in the Netherlands, Theo van Gogh, was murdered by a Muslim fanatic who with a knife pinned a note to the dead man’s chest threatening Hirsi Ali. Now an American citizen, she travels with guards.
You would think such a writer would be adopted by the American left, which likes to imagine that its roots are in classical liberalism. Not so. The Southern Poverty Law Center, attempting to play far above its class, has smeared Hirsi Ali in a new report this week as an anti-Islam extremist.They’ve done it to others. Advocates of liberal markets are members of the “fringe.” A rationalist born in Somalia is an anti-Islam “extremist.”A while ago Hirsi Ali said she would like to write a dialogue involving Mohammad and her three favorite western liberals: John Stuart Mill, Karl R. Popper, and Friederich Hayek. I read that and told my wife I was in love.
October 27 2016