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“Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.”     Milton Friedman

June 1, 2010

Nicholas Kristof Betrays Liberalism

by TomStrong

In a recent column, Nicholas Kristof criticized strongly Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the unbelievably brave Somali intellectual who has dedicated her career to pursuit of an Enlightenment in the Islamic world. Kristof apparently sees Ali as fomenting bigotry towards Muslims, casting aside the very legitimate and pressing criticism of the fastest growing religion that Ali posits.

Kristof has shown himself before to be more dedicated to political correctness than pointing out evil in the world. He may be more consistent in his P.C. attitude than the average liberal, as evidenced by an article from May called “More to Catholic Church than Vatican’s old boys club.” In it, he puts in full effort to be touchy-feely and offend absolutely no one:

Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came here to impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church’s. Yet, once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world’s neediest are lowly nuns and priests — notable not for the grandeur of their vestments, but for the grandness of their compassion.

As I’ve noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find the great soul of the Catholic Church.

Reading that, I’m left thinking of the open-ended question, left largely unanswered, by Christopher Hitchens about religion – What act of philanthropy has been made by a religious organization that couldn’t have been done by a secular organization? If both the Catholic Church and Islam are corrupt and oppressive at their very core, which there seems to be quite a bit of evidence for, the fact that many very wonderful people identify with those religions is fairly meaningless, especially considering that religions are more often part of someone’s heritage and not something they sought out independently.

In his review of Ali’s book Nomad, Kristof accuses Ali of “religious bigotry” that leaves him “uncomfortable and exasperated.” Bigotry is certainly something I am not a fan of, but a quick definition of bigotry from Wikipedia shows a bigot to be “person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” Seeing as Ali spent much of her life as a Muslim, escaped from an arranged marriage and cannot speak with any of her family members without having them clamoring for her to return to Islam, it is the height of confusion to label Ali a bigot and then call for some sort of enlightened condescension to a religion whose holy book provides chunks of feminist wisdom such as “I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women.”

In his criticism of Ali, Kristof disgustingly says “she never quite outgrew her rebellious teenager phase.” This is beyond reprehensible. To be a rebellious teenager in an environment of religious orthodoxy takes a courage that Kristof appears to be a stranger to. Kristof is a well traveled man, certainly more than myself, but seems to have a naivety about the close-minded nature of the extremely religiously dedicated (and, being a faith that requires you to pray five times a day, travel from any destination in the world to Mecca in order for pilgrimage and potentially give up your life, Islam makes Christianity look like a part time gig).

Kristof either never really looked inquisitively into Islam or is in denial. I once dated a beautiful woman from Saudi Arabia. Though she no longer wore the hijab, the mystic parochialism of her home country still haunted her. She had been sexually terrorized in her past and still carried with her a depth of depression over not being able to be with a past lover who had been a member of a different clan. (She said quite frankly of her experience, “our culture sucked.”) Though we spent a lot of time together, she would make efforts not to be seen with me in areas where there were a good deal of Muslims (though there are many white Muslims, it would be really hard to claim me as anything but kafir).

While it is disappointing that the rigidness of political correctness has caused Kristof to suspend reality, there are heartening laments from other liberals in the media. Bill Maher has been very welcoming to Ali, calling her a “hero” and was unrelenting in the absolutely ridiculous response by radical Muslims to an episode of South Park portraying the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit.

Liberals would be wise to realize that Islam being a religion primarily of third world people of color doesn’t endow it with some nobility not afforded the Christian faith of midwestern and southern white Americans. This soft racism may sound a whole lot better than the hard racism that still pops up in all cultures, but in the long run is just as destructive and a threat toward liberalism.


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13 Comments

  1. Great post Michael!

    I loved ‘Infidel’ and I agree that Ali is one courageous individual. I don’t agree with her on some of her political positions but considering her difficult upbringing, she deserves a pass IMHO. She has stands up proudly to the evils of Islam in the face of very real death threats.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — June 1, 2010 @ 6:03 pm
  2. Ali was recently on John Stossel’s program on Fox. I found her story quite moving.

    Comment by Akston — June 1, 2010 @ 8:41 pm
  3. I meant to include this link above, but fat-fingered it.

    Comment by Akston — June 1, 2010 @ 8:42 pm
  4. This scrawl is simply sophomoric subjectivism masquerading as liberal, enlightened writing, though not worthy of the description ‘writing’.

    Have you people ever asked the glaringly obvious question; “Why, of the possibly three-quarters of a billion Muslim women world-wide, are there so few avaricious attention-seekers in the mold of this woman you are so enamored with?” I guess, had you questioned yourselves so your answers would be stock, programmed hatred, contrived in compound ignorance. You, and those like you, are a blight on the liberal intellectual tradition.

    Linked [ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7135026.ece ] is a recent article from a respectable British newspaper that indicates that for every, bitter, deluded, spiteful apostate seeking to sup at the poisoned chalice of secularism there are tens , possibly hundreds, of thoughtful, independent individuals embracing the FREEDOM, HONOUR, DIGNITY and HUMANITY that God (Allah) offers men and women, in Islam. Read and reflect! Put your socially constructed self to the side for a while, try to tune in to the desensitized, dormant root of your humanity, the reality of your being.

    When man becomes the measure of all things, all things become withered and stunted.

    How did I get here? What possessed me to spend my precious time thinking that I could reason with those who consider themselves the epitome of good reason and are thus blind to their unreasonableness?

    May you benefit by the light of guidance.

    Comment by Clown Prince — June 1, 2010 @ 9:51 pm
  5. The “Clown Prince” is aptly named. I’m still not sure whether his comment is a parody. Islamic peoples were once the standard bearers of civilization, but now are by nearly every measure backwards. Why is that? In any case, it is a tragedy and that tragedy is only made worse if it spreads its darkness further.

    Comment by Luitgard — June 1, 2010 @ 10:04 pm
  6. “Why, of the possibly three-quarters of a billion Muslim women world-wide, are there so few avaricious attention-seekers in the mold of this woman you are so enamored with?”

    There’s a pretty simple answer to that question. They live in political systems where their personal safety would be threatened if they spoke their mind.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — June 2, 2010 @ 6:59 am
  7. Clown Prince, being the ever open minded liberal, I will read your Telegraph article and respond in kind. Please stay tuned to my posts. Thank you for reading.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — June 2, 2010 @ 7:16 am
  8. “A religion of third world people of color”? Sure, there’s no racism at all in such a statement!*end sarcasm*

    Comment by Danielle — June 7, 2010 @ 10:14 am
  9. Ayaan Hirsi Ali & her peers are very useful to the West. They tell the West exactly what it wants to hear-Islam is a violent, hateful religion that can’t exit in our world and must be “moderbized” or destroyed. Such thinking is very useful because it allows the West to absolve itself of any responsibility for what has happened in the so-called Third World. It also allows the West to justify it’s oppression of and support for regimes that murder and torture civilians. After all, it’s just “Muslims” that live in such nations so it’s fine if we invade and occupy them. If Islam is violent and evil than the West can treat Muslims anyway it wants and feel no sense of shame for it.

    Comment by Danielle — June 7, 2010 @ 10:19 am
  10. Is it possible to begin by admiring Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s story and courage without painting it with a brush broad enough to cover 1.5 billion Muslims? Or a brush broad enough to cover all people of a given band in the spectrum of skin color?

    She is an individual person with an individual story. We could start with that.

    Binary evaluations of groups which contain over a billion people based on the actions of one member seem profoundly, dizzyingly, incomprehensibly stupid to me. Do Ali’s choices represent all of Islam, all women, all humans, or all sentient life? Or do Ali’s choices represent Ali’s choices?

    Also, is it possible to agree with some aspects of a religion, and disagree with others?

    I admire the woman and her choices. I like some aspects of Islam, and dislike others. The one does not necessarily define or require a given evaluation of the other.

    Comment by Akston — June 7, 2010 @ 12:35 pm
  11. “A religion of third world people of color”? Sure, there’s no racism at all in such a statement!*end sarcasm*

    Read an entire paragraph when you’re gonna comment on it.

    Comment by Michael — June 7, 2010 @ 1:01 pm
  12. “Also, is it possible to agree with some aspects of a religion, and disagree with others?”

    Not if you want to be a follower of those religions. I believe Christians call that cafeteria faith or something to that effect – picking what you like and leaving what you don’t like. The religious mentality doesn’t pick and choose what is correct the way the intellectual does.

    “Binary evaluations of groups which contain over a billion people based on the actions of one member seem profoundly, dizzyingly, incomprehensibly stupid to me.”

    We’re not talking about a few here. Child sex abuse and subsequent cover ups are rampant in the Catholic Church, as is violent extremism in Islam. When such sizeable minorities of a group are acting in such a way while authorities approve with silence, it’s safe to assume there’s more than isolated cases at work.

    Comment by Michael — June 7, 2010 @ 1:10 pm
  13. “Also, is it possible to agree with some aspects of a religion, and disagree with others?”

    Not if you want to be a follower of those religions.

    So it’s possible, but maybe only to unbelievers and apostates? Perhaps that’s true. I sure know a lot of Cafeteria Catholics who still consider themselves Catholic. I know there are vast differences between Reform Jews and Hassidic Jews, yet they still self-identify as Jews. But I wouldn’t claim to be anything like an authority.

    When such sizeable minorities of a group are acting in such a way while authorities approve with silence, it’s safe to assume there’s more than isolated cases at work.

    Even if we assume that there are a million currently active radical Islamic terrorists (a number far, far too high), this would only constitute about six tenths of one percent of worldwide Muslims. Is that a sizeable minority?

    I agree that it’d sure be nice to hear more Muslim leaders condemning suicidal violence aimed at innocents – much like it’d be nice to hear the Pope condemning pedophile priests.

    Comment by Akston — June 7, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

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