Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ali and the Boys

Some years ago, before he made the lateral move to English Al Jazeera, Avi Lewis interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali on his Ceeb show. The result: Ali wiped the floor with little Avi, and the interview went viral. Just the other day, there was a repeat performance of sorts, only this time the Ceeb weenie on the receiving end of Ali's moral clarity (something that's rarely let into the Ceeb building, and when it is, is generally stomped on as if it's an unwelcome visitor--like, say, a cockroach) was too-adorable-for-words Jian Ghomeshi. Robert Fulford recounts how it unfolded:
...When Hirsi Ali reached Toronto this week, she ran into another kind of condescension. Jian Ghomeshi, a British-born Iranian-Canadian, staged the interview with her on his CBC radio program, Q, as a kind of tutorial, a way to point out her errors. He was concerned with her tactics.
In Nomad, she said that from the standpoint of those seeking a good life (prosperity, peace, individual freedom), the West does a better job than the Islamic states, such as her homeland, Somalia. This indicated that the morals of the "infidels" in the West are superior to those of Muslims. So Ghomeshi asked, "Ayaan, do you not worry that statements like this might alienate the Muslims that you want to engage?"
No, she said. Reasonable individuals can see that the West is mainly successful whereas Somalia (and other Islamic states) are miserable failures. Ghomeshi expressed more concern: She was setting up a hierarchy, calling one set of principles better than another. He obviously considered that a mistake but it was her main point: Ideas must be judged on their merits. "There are good ideas and bad ideas." What a concept for Canada! It was nearly radical enough blow out the CBC transmitters.
She had more: "If you compare a society that is built on liberalism with a society built on what Mohamed left behind, the results speak for themselves." Sharia, she said, has failed everywhere it has been tried.
"Surely this is subjective," Ghomeshi said. There must be people in those countries who like the system. Then why, Hirsi Ali asked, are so many trying so hard to get to the West? Ghomeshi, perhaps a little desperate, played the conservative card. She must be a conservative, he said, since she's in a right-wing think-tank. Hirsi Ali was ready for that one: "What is 'right-wing' about fighting for the equality of men and women?"
Ghomeshi tried to convince her she's a conservative. She tried to educate him in liberal principles. Finally, he asked whether she believed there was anything Islam could teach the West. She said she couldn't think of a thing.
Fulford concludes:

This woman displays a level of honesty that shames the entire media industry. She means what she says and she risks her life to say it. No wonder so many find her so threatening.
And no wonder she completely flummoxes moral lightweights like Lewis and Ghomeshi.

Update: Some more moral clarity--from Andrew McCarthy, author of The Grand Jihad:
Freedom of conscience simply means that government cannot enslave our minds. We are free to believe whatever we choose to believe. That has never meant, though, that our beliefs are beyond inquiry – that they may not be criticized and regarded as foolish or dangerous. And our law has always made a sharp distinction between thought, which is free, and action inspired by thought, which may be regulated: a neutral law of general application (i.e., not targeting any religion and literally governing everyone’s conduct) must be followed even if it burdens one’s religious practices. Thus, for example, you can believe peyote has spiritual significance, but if you try to use it in your religious rituals you will be in violation of the narcotics laws. There is no religion exemption for the distribution or consumption of illegal drugs, any more than there would be for, say, human-sacrifice.
Similarly, we don’t try to stop Muslims from believing that sharia is Allah’s mandatory prescription for the good life. But many of sharia’s provisions are antithetical to our law and our culture – beginning with its bedrock presumption that people are not free to make law for themselves, irrespective of sharia. You are entitled to your belief system, and to my respect for your right to your beliefs. But that’s all. You are not entitled to my respect for your beliefs themselves. And still less are you entitled, by labeling your beliefs “religion,” to have your beliefs enshrined in law or to have actions based on your beliefs insulated from law.
Can't wait for the Ghomeshi-McCarthy interview (as if).

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