It must be hard to be a liberal. Jon Stewart’s recent interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali shows how difficult it is to defend Islam after everything that’s happened. Jefrey Tayler has a great article in Salon that caught my eye:
To understand why, let’s examine the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. No one exposes the faulty thinking, moral incoherence and double standards pervading the Western liberal reaction to Islam better than this Somali-born, self-professed “infidel” and “heretic.” Herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, civil war and forced marriage, and, for more than a decade now, the object of Islamist death threats, Hirsi Ali deserves the respect of all who cherish free speech, equality between the sexes, and the right to profess the religion (or no religion) of one’s choosing.
Brought up a Muslim and once so devout she joined the Muslim Brotherhood, Hirsi Ali deserves, to say the least, a fair hearing when speaking of Islam. Yet in the constitutionally secular United States, Hirsi Ali often finds her views about her former faith treated with suspicion, even contempt. Her media appearances and publications occasion slews of sanctimoniously ignorant commentary from liberal “Islamophobia” scolds. The publicity tour she has been making for her recent book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” is no exception.
Her book offers some very basic reforms:
1. an approach to the Islamic canon that precludes its use to justify violence;
2. an emphasis on living life as an end in itself, rather than as a means to achieve paradise;
3. the adoption of legal codes conceived by people according to their needs;
4. the enforcement of these laws in accordance with modern conceptions of authority;
5. and an end to bloodshed in the name of faith.
These reforms should be the type of thing that all Americans would embrace. All liberals, all conservatives, all right thinking people. But Jon Stewart decided to dismiss this woman’s claims — this “survivor of female genital mutilation, civil war and forced marriage, and, for more than a decade now, the object of Islamist death threats” — by comparing her reform to Martin Luther’s reformation of Christianity.
Oh it must be so hard to maintain one’s sense of moral superiority when talking to someone who’s been there, done that, and is trying so desperately to create a meaningful conversation with Islam itself. (Especially when that person didn’t survive with her genitals intact.) But people are noticing the inexcusable double standard of liberals. Mention Josh Duggar, and they rightly get furious. So why do they end up defending genital mutilators? Tayler’s article — worth a whole read — explains that the tides are turning:
A new star has just arisen to expose Islam’s turncoat progressive guardians, defend Hirsi Ali (and Charlie Hedbo), and stand up for all those would tell the truth — Sarah Haider, a 24-year-old Pakistani-born American brought up in Texas. Speaking with evident trepidation at a conference at the American Humanist Association in Denver, Haider, co-founder of the group Ex-Muslims of North America, detailed, in a 38-minute must-watch speech, the hostility, questioning of motives, and name-calling (Jim Crow, house Arab, native informant) she has suffered from “liberal allies on the left” who “pigeonhole anyone who says anything negative about Islam.” By demonizing ex-Muslims, “leftists,” she said, “align themselves with the Islamic religious right,” and “use anti-Muslim bigotry as an excuse to stifle any criticism of Islam,” leaving reformist Muslims abandoned, without allies. “As a consequence, an audience on the left frightens me nearly as much as an audience of Islamists does.”
Haider said so much more; please watch the whole speech. She asked, “What kind of person holds two different groups of people accountable to two different standards of behavior but a bigot?”
A bigot. That is to say, a liberal fond of calling out “Islamophobes.” A liberal who, in doing so, effectively takes up arms in the ranks of assassins, oppressors, and genital-mutilators.