Friday, March 14, 2008

The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust

This is something I've been sitting on for awhile, and have just now gotten around to acting on: towards the end of last year, difficulties arose in the security situation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for the short movie Submission that got Theo van Gogh killed, and who also wrote Infidel (excellent book) and The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam (which I haven't read). She was at one time not only a Dutch citizen but a member of the Dutch parliament, so the Dutch government helped her go into hiding in the Netherlands, and then flee the country all together, though she was provided with security in the United States. Then, in October of last year, the Dutch government withdrew its support for her security.

In response, Sam Harris organized the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust and later the Foundation for Freedom of Expression, to protect Ali in the US. I think I initially found out about it through an e-mail, in which he stated that if everyone who got the e-mail were to sign up for a $10 monthly donation, the problem would be solved (though also that realistically, he did not expect such wide grass-roots support, and was hoping for larger donations as well). Full information can be found at the last link. I just got around to making a small donation of my own, and I encourage anyone reading this who can afford it to do so as well.


Andrew said...

I have a real problem with her modus operandi.

Hasn't she been calling for more war and killing?

Of course, if its Muslims, its OK?

And didn't she lie about her background?

Andrew said...

Of course, Harris can't get enough of war either, what with his calling for the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons "if necessary" (p.129 TEOG) and the Mecca Option and killing people if there BELIEFS are deemed dangerous enough. (p. 53-54)

And his buddy Hitchens is still excited about the Iraq war.

What is it with atheists and war?

Isn't that supposed to be the theist gig?

Hallq said...

Yes, Hirsi Ali thinks killing is just a wonderful thing. Way to dismiss someone based on a caricature. And as for lying about her background, you seem to be referring to what she did fleeing a society more horrible than you can likely imagine. Once you've had your dick choped off and been forced to live for years under the power of the people who did it, then maybe you can come back here and pass judgement.

Andrew said...

What are you talking about?

Don't you know she is calling for more military action against Muslim states?

And as to the "horrible conditions" she endured, who knows?

(And as to horrible conditions, my grandparents lived under the control of an officially atheistic state in Eastern Europe. So who ya kidding?)

She has already been exposed as a liar. The Dutch government certainly thought so, and they are pretty damn liberal.

kldickson said...

If she is in fact pro-war, I wonder if she thinks that will solve the problems she believes need to be solved in the Middle East.

Andrew, you see that atheists are just as divided, sometimes, as theists. We're just easier to target because we're a slightly smaller group and we lump ourselves under one name and a lot of theists of any stripe, whether they're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu, don't like us. There are pro-war atheists and anti-war atheists. I think Harris and Hitchens have some seriously badly-founded ideas about nuclear weapons and pre-emptively killing people and the war, if Harris' and Hitchens' ideas are those ideas.

Although it is entirely possible that she lied about her background, it is highly unlikely. There are independent sources which, while critical of her, have acknowledged her background.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's cause is one which I can finally feel proud donating to.

tom said...

Andrew, I'd ask you to examine your own arguments here a bit more critically. You seem fairly uninformed about Hirsi Ali, yet you manage to come to conclusions that (I imagine) are politically convenient for you by employing differing standards of evidence for various claims about her.

It is true that Hirsi Ali offered false information in order to obtain Dutch citizenship, and that this caused a bit of a row regarding her position in the Dutch Parliament. But she had made full disclosures concerning the relevant facts several times, including in her own book, in magazine interviews, and, formally, to her own political party, long before the issue became a controversy in parliament (indeed, before she even ran for parliament). So it was hardly a "gotcha" when it officially became a political issue.

Her defense, as Chris mentioned, is that she employed drastic measures in order to escape a forced marriage and an oppressed life that had included forced genital mutilation. Your "who knows?" reply - essentially saying 'prove it, Chris'- is evasive and unserious; you simply place the standard of evidence as high as possible so that you needn't actually consider the point. (For the record, there exists considerable evidence to support her claims. You can be pardoned for not wanting to read her books, but you could at least do us all the favor of spending 5 minutes on wikipedia before playing the skeptic.)

Yet when it comes to assertions made against Hirsi Ali, you set the bar as low as possible, employing no standard of evidence at all. Thus your insinuation - that her position on military intervention is driven by a belief that Muslims have no moral worth - is made without a single bit of substance to support it.

Your next move - that Hirsi Ali's point about escaping horrible conditions is bogus because your grandparents suffered at the hands of atheists - is such a blatant non sequitur that it needs no reply: to state it clearly is to refute it.

If you object to her political views, you should engage them directly and leave the rest alone. I'm not one to shout "ad hominem!!" every time an individual's character is attacked, but if you're going to argue by means of character assassination, you ought to be prepared to offer more than a series of red herrings and half truths about what the "Dutch Government" thinks (please reconsider that noun-verb combination) or insinuations that Hirsi Ali is motivated by bigotry. (Which reminds me: you aren't clear on what "modus operandi" means either.)