Free Flower- A Somali Atheist

What distinguishes us [scientists] from the pious and the believers is not the quality but the quantity of belief and piety; we are contented with less. But if the former should challenge us: then be contented and appear to be contented! - then we might easily reply: 'We are, indeed, not among the least contented.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

She's No Fundamentalist

By Christopher Hitchens

W.H. Auden, whose centenary fell late last month, had an extraordinary capacity to summon despair—but in such a way as to simultaneously inspire resistance to fatalism. His most beloved poem is probably September 1, 1939, in which he sees Europe toppling into a chasm of darkness. Reflecting on how this catastrophe for civilization had come about, he wrote:

Exiled Thucydides knewAll that a speech can sayAbout Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talkTo an apathetic grave;
Analyzed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:We must suffer them all again.

"The enlightenment driven away … " This very strong and bitter line came back to me when I saw the hostile, sneaky reviews that have been dogging the success of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's best seller Infidel, which describes the escape of a young Somali woman from sexual chattelhood to a new life in Holland and then (after the slaying of her friend Theo van Gogh) to a fresh exile in the United States. Two of our leading intellectual commentators, Timothy Garton Ash (in the New York Review of Books) and Ian Buruma, described Hirsi Ali, or those who defend her, as "Enlightenment fundamentalist[s]." In Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Buruma made a further borrowing from the language of tyranny and intolerance and described her view as an "absolutist" one.

Now, I know both Garton Ash and Buruma, and I remember what fun they used to have, in the days of the Cold War, with people who proposed a spurious "moral equivalence" between the Soviet and American sides. Much of this critique involved attention to language. Buruma was very mordant about those German leftists who referred to the "consumer terrorism" of the federal republic. You can fill in your own preferred example here; the most egregious were (and, come to think of it, still are) those who would survey the U.S. prison system and compare it to the Gulag.

In her book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali says the following: "I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage for the world of reason and sexual emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values." This is a fairly representative quotation. She has her criticisms of the West, but she prefers it to a society where women are subordinate, censorship is pervasive, and violence is officially preached against unbelievers. As an African victim of, and escapee from, this system, she feels she has acquired the right to say so. What is "fundamentalist" about that?

The Feb. 26 edition of Newsweek takes up where Garton Ash and Buruma leave off and says, in an article by Lorraine Ali, that, "It's ironic that this would-be 'infidel' often sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she's worked so hard to oppose." I would challenge the author to give her definition of irony and also to produce a single statement from Hirsi Ali that would come close to materializing that claim. Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q&A sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: "A Bombthrower's Life." The subject of this absurd headline is a woman who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the "Bombthrower"? It's always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it's the victim of violence who is "really" inciting it.
Garton Ash and Buruma would once have made short work of any apologist who accused the critics of the U.S.S.R. or the People's Republic of China of "heating up the Cold War" if they made any points about human rights. Why, then, do they grant an exception to Islam, which is simultaneously the ideology of insurgent violence and of certain inflexible dictatorships? Is it because Islam is a "faith"? Or is it because it is the faith—in Europe at least—of some ethnic minorities? In neither case would any special protection from criticism be justified. Faith makes huge claims, including huge claims to temporal authority over the citizen, which therefore cannot be exempt from scrutiny. And within these "minorities," there are other minorities who want to escape from the control of their ghetto leaders. (This was also the position of the Dutch Jews in the time of Spinoza.) This is a very complex question, which will require a lot of ingenuity in its handling. The pathetic oversimplification, which describes skepticism, agnosticism, and atheism as equally "fundamentalist," is of no help here. And notice what happens when Newsweek takes up the cry: The enemy of fundamentalism is defined as someone on the fringe while, before you have had time to notice the sleight of hand, the aggrieved, self-pitying Muslim has become the uncontested tenant of the middle ground.

Let me give another example of linguistic slippage. In ACLU circles, we often refer to ourselves as "First Amendment absolutists." By this we mean, ironically enough, that we prefer to interpret the words of the Founders, if you insist, literally. The literal meaning in this case seems (to us) to be that Congress cannot inhibit any speech or establish any state religion. This means that we defend all expressions of opinion including those that revolt us, and that we say that nobody can be forced to practice, or forced to foreswear, any faith. I suppose I would say that this is an inflexible principle, or even a dogma, with me. But who dares to say that's the same as the belief that criticism of religion should be censored or the belief that faith should be imposed? To flirt with this equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and "the enlightenment driven away." Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get "respect" for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please come back soon. We need more Somali Atheists to stop these crazed-Arabaized Somalis who are now slaughtering their own children to please a dead Arab named Mohamed who murdered people and made love to girls. Lest they acknowledge his involvement in 60 wars or so, they will consider the corpse a holy piety. A dead man who couldn't save his own soul is no prophet, so is a self-proclaimed phrophacy. Soo noqo adoo nabad ah walaal.

7:44 pm  
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11:13 pm  
Blogger Tuke said...

I'd like to answer to the anonymous who uses wrongly, and naively the beautuful frase "Soo noqo adoo nabad ah walaal".

The matter it is very simple: You have a nation that has been set on "THE SELF DESTRUCTION MODE", and it obvoius that it's been done by powers that are outside of their control, and it is obvious that it is NOT the ARABS. And these latar civil wars is NOT caused by RELIGION, again, i feel i need to point out the obvious "POWERS THAT ARE BEYOND THEIR CONTROL". That means it goes beyond wars/ civil wars, it goes to the HEART of the SOMALIS (THEIR SOUL, THEIR BEING). The soul destruction that they're powerless to stop can be seen in the WESTERN SOMALIS (SOOMAALI ABOOW), and SOUTHERN SOMALIS (in the north east kenya), both poeple and land. The same POWERS who created these disasters for these somalis have not only kept and keep away their freedom, but they also kept and keep the part that stood by itself "SOMALIA" in that misery. Misery that is manifesting itself as "self-rejection", be it being somali, be it being african, be it being and sharing with close fraternaty with arabs, be it being muslim, be it their language, be it simply the NATURAL THEMSELFS - being SOOMAALI. The way AYAAN XIRSI manifests herself, your role model, not only it is the proof of that self-rejection but the way to ethno-religously to clean the somalis from this planet, except perhaps the name somali. And it is happening very fast that they call FREEDOM of CHOICE when STARVING OPRESEED somalis (by that method)are forced leave their religion for another or for whatever else that is fake but presented to them as their salvation; becuase the are told (by now the brain has gone out of them) the root problem of their misery is MUXAMMAD salawaatu-llaahi calayhi wasalim. (Do i need to explain more... in order to bring to you the reality which the somalis are in... or are going to self-dustruct because you are told...?

So i will repeat that somali frase in light of whay i said "Soo noqo adoo nabad ah walaal".

2:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: Tuke

I think you are just another dumb Somali who has been brainwashed by his Arab masters and considers their ancient myths and folklore stories factual.

Islam is an Arab-centric religion that promotes Arabism while destroying every other culture or identity through brainwashing. That is why you defend these indefensible fairy tales from the Arabian deserts. You cannot think freely or logically so you are left with emotional garbage that sustains this demonic cult of death and destruction. Islam does not enlighten nor does it civilize, Arabs have said and it is evident for anybody with half a brain.

To be Muslim is to be Arab slave. To be Muslim is to be stupid. It's a low rung life form that manifests in those stupid enough to buy these stories from the stone age. These flat-Earthers have no idea what they believe since most don't understand the history of the Middle East or its hundreds of Gods which includes Allah the pagan moon god of the cave savages because they are uneducated and don't speak Arabic.

You went into conspiracy theories and unrelated subject which is typical of the damaged Muslim mind. Islam relies on the stupidity of its followers while attacking intellectually sound and fact-based truths as hearsay. Somali have been brain damaged by the mental enslavement through Islam by the Arabs. The inability to reason in this day and age and solely rely on fairies is all too evident for all to see. Our people need to wake up before it's too late and not be managed by uneducated clerics who memorized foreign texts and funded by evil outsiders.

11:44 pm  

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