Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Submission to You [God] feels like self betrayal."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls herself "a dissident of Islam" because, given what Allah supposedly enjoins and what she knows is right, "the cognitive dissonance is, for me, too much." In the 11-minute film "Submission," for which she wrote the script, the main character says: "Faith in You, Submission to You [God] feels like self betrayal."

Now Ali is living as a dissident here in the US and the filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, was killed by an Islamic extremist who slit his throat with a machete. The murderer (in whose room was found a disc containing videos of "enemies of Allah" being murdered, including a man having his head slowly sawed off) used another knife to pin a long letter to van Gogh's chest. The letter was to Hirsi Ali, calling her a "soldier of evil."

The film's title is a direct translation of the word "Islam." The film suggests the mistreatment of women born to Muslim families. The film was shown on the Dutch public broadcasting network (VPRO) on August 29, 2004. It portrays a Muslim woman as having been beaten and raped by a relative. The bodies are used in the film as a canvas for verses from the Qur'an.

George Will writes of her:
Slender, elegant, stylish and articulate (in English, Dutch and Swahili), she has found an intellectual home here at the American Enterprise Institute, where she is writing a book that imagines Muhammad meeting, in the New York Public Library, three thinkers -- John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, each a hero of the unending struggle between (to take the title of Popper's 1945 masterpiece) "The Open Society and Its Enemies." Islamic extremists -- the sort who were unhinged by some Danish cartoons -- will be enraged. She is unperturbed.

Neither is she pessimistic about the West. It has, she says, "the drive to innovate." But Europe, she thinks, is invertebrate. After two generations without war, Europeans "have no idea what an enemy is." And they think, she says, that leadership is an antiquated notion because they believe that caring governments can socialize everyone to behave well, thereby erasing personal accountability and responsibility. "I can't even tell it without laughing," she says, laughing softly. Clearly she is where she belongs, at last.
The west has "the drive to innovate." But Europe is invertebrate. Great phrases for a desperate situation. But I ask again, who out there amongst our political candidates is willing to stand up and confront this issue intelligently? Perhaps Russ Feingold. Jimmy Carter [but he can't run again]? Madeleine Albright? Can you name somebody - anybody - who is willing to take the yoke and run with it? Who has the strength of character and intelligence to open and sustain the dialogue? The integrity to keep it up until something positive happens? And the charisma and ability to debate with humor and compassion?