Last week's New Yorker (a magazine I used to read faithfully back in my clueless days) did a hatchet job on Ayaan Hirsi Ali (and Paul Berman). The writer, Pankaj Mishra, objected to Ali because he says
a) her animus to Islam is entirely a function of her own bad experiences with it, i.e. that it's personal and therefore invalid because it doesn't speak to the reality of Islam, which is wonderful and peaceful and, er, wonderful; andRobert Spencer exposes the fatuousness--and unfairness--of such thinking:
b) saying "mean" things about Islam is akin to saying mean things about Jews.
By making it all about Hirsi Ali’s negative experiences, Pankaj Mishra abuses her again, by devaluing her judgment and implying that if she had been born into different circumstances, she would think something different about Islam. Of course, in some ways we all would think differently if we were born into different circumstances. But to make one’s judgments entirely the result of one’s experiences, rather than one’s reasoned reflection, is to render them worthless as guides for anyone else. And that, apparently, is exactly what Pankaj Mishra is trying to do to Ayaan Hirsi Ali here.
And it gets worse. Mishra compares Hirsi Ali’s critique of Islam to European anti-Semitism: “Hirsi Ali, recording her horror of ghettoized Muslim life in Whitechapel, seems unaware of the similarly contemptuous accounts of Jewish refugees who made the East End of London their home after fleeing the pogroms.”
Or in short, as the new saying goes, “Muslims are the new Jews.” There is just one problem with this ghastly equation, which trivializes the mass-murders of Jews in Europe and defames Hirsi Ali: Jews never carried out terrorist attacks in Europe, and never boasted about how they were one day going to take over (in contrast to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s boast that Muslims would soon conquer Rome and all of Europe — a boast that other Islamic leaders have echoed). The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forgery, and there was no factual basis for all the conspiracy theories about Jews scheming to control the world, any more than there is today.
There is no open-ended, universal imperative in Jewish Scripture calling upon Jews to wage war against non-Jews and subjugate them under their rule (and the verses from Deuteronomy and Joshua that are always invoked to claim that there is such an imperative have never been understood that way by Jewish or Christian exegetes). But there is such an imperative in the Qur’an, and throughout Islamic history the mainstream understanding of that imperative has been that it is something incumbent upon the Islamic community as a whole.I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty fed up with Islamists and their apologists trying to hitch a free ride on our canard.