Pollitt on “Islamofascism”

As far as I’m concerned, Katha Pollitt is the best columnist in the United States. This would be true even if she weren’t an outspoken critic of religion.

In the most recent Nation, Pollitt writes on “David Horowitz, Feminist?”. It’s on how US right-wingers exploit the position of Muslim women, in the context of the generally fake notion of “Islamofascism.”

I especially like her comments on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

…Take, for example, the only Muslim woman who is, so far as I know, associated with Islamofascism Awareness Week–Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the world-famous Somali-born Dutch Muslim feminist, former parliamentarian, author of The Caged Virgin and Infidel and now American Enterprise Institute fellow. Hirsi Ali gets bad press on the left–The Nation has published two long, negative pieces about her: an indignant review of The Caged Virgin by the very good fiction writer Laila Lalami, who accused her of promoting patronizing views of Muslim women as passive and helpless, and a snide piece by Deborah Scroggins portraying her as a grandstanding diva who only made life more difficult for Muslim women in the Netherlands. This is a woman who has been the target of multiple death threats from Muslim fanatics like the one who murdered her colleague, filmmaker Theo van Gogh; who is frankly secular, in fact an atheist; who was herself genitally mutilated at the age of 5, and as a legislator did, in fact, seek to cut through the “benign neglect” of Dutch Muslim women’s rights that prevailed in multicultural Holland. I’m as dismayed as anyone by Hirsi Ali’s rightward trajectory, but I admire her all the same. Maybe we leftists and feminists need to think a bit more self-critically about how the AEI–to say nothing of the clownish Horowitz–managed to win over this bold and complex crusader for women’s rights.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University