From Islam to America
A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations
Ayaan Hirsi Ali - ISBN = 978-1439157329
Ayaan was the young Somali Muslim on her way to an arranged marriage in Canada when she defected to Holland. There she learned Dutch--her 4th language--acquired a Western education, became a translator between cultures, a Dutch citizen and member of the government. When she became a political risk Holland evicted her. Dutch Muslims were threatening to kill her as they had her counterpart, Theo Van Gogh, who produced her play: Submission. She immigrated to the U.S. where she is now productively ensconced in The American Enterprise Institute, albeit under heavy personal protection. As well, she has created her own AHA foundation. She is a brilliant, outspoken critic of Islam, and a convert to western philosophy. Nomad chronicles her travels and travails as it expounds upon her "journey through the clash of civilizations." It is every bit as good as The Caged Virgin, and Infidel which preceded it.
It is an opus to freedom in which, amongst other things, she discusses the "three obstacles to the integration of people like [her] own family [and by extension, most Muslims] in three words: sex, money and violence." These three traits embody the clash between the tribal culture of Islam and Western modernity. She is skeptical regarding Muslim integration into western societies, and spends little time searching for the near mythical moderate Muslim. It's not in the genes; it's in the religion, which she unsparingly dissects. "The West urgently needs to compete with the jihadis . . . for the hearts and minds of its own Muslim immigrant populations." These immigrants have left their own countries, but they did not, have not, and likely will not leave behind their cultures unless they are deliberately caused to. (Australian style eviction may be a viable option if they will not.) In America the radicalization of Muslim youth is still in the early stages, but the threats are real and need be addressed vigorously.
These immigrants have not been educated in the ways of the West; even those from large cities. They are not prepared for life as a modern, let alone a modern in the west. American liberals, she opines, are reluctant to acknowledge differences between cultures, and rarely register a preference for one over the other. She exposes differences in expectations of immigrants to European countries as opposed to America. American Muslims are more inclined to assimilate, while the European Muslims tend to remain foreigners for generations. American immigrants usually come for freedom; European immigrants usually come for welfare benefits. Her observations about the differences are both acute and fascinating. America is more different than most of us are aware.
She expounds on her family relationships, using them as examples of the world's problems with Muslim culture: the ruinous male vanity, the self delusion and escapist defense mechanisms as well as the oppression--even violent abuse--of women, all of which she insists to be cultural norms, not aberrations. Well-meaning Westerners promoting tolerance and respect ignore the practices of Islam, and in so harm the vulnerable--especially the females--whom they should be protecting.
It is difficult for Westerners, inheritors of the legacy of rational thought, to understand the phenomenon of group thinking; it is both primitive and controlling. Social workers incorrectly insist that immigrants need to maintain group cohesion for their mental health, but this maintenance creates victim groups which require accommodation, reinforcing demands for their own system of law and garb, separate from the adopted country. We must not support their insistence on maintaining diversity. It serves no one well.
All human beings may well be equal, but most certainly all cultures and religions are not.
Islam exhibits some noble traits, but it is a culture that mutilates girls' genitals* and confines them behind walls and veils or flogs them for falling in love; it justifies the oppression of women and supports all manner of violence; it encourages child marriage and condones marital rape. A culture which celebrates femininity and considers women to be masters of their own lives is superior. The West should legislate against these abominable practices from its own societies and move against them everywhere else, as it did with slavery. It cannot be done without first acknowledging that there is something within the religion which justifies such practices. Christianity in the West is more humane, more restrained, and more accepting of criticism and debate. The Christian concept of God today is more benign and more tolerant of dissent.
Still, the most important difference between the two cultures is the exit option. A person who chooses to opt out of Christianity may be excommunicated, but not harmed; a Muslim who leaves the faith is supposed to be killed. The Christian presumption that interfaith dialogue will magically bring Islam into the fold of Western civilization is mistaken. It will not happen.
In the real world, equal respect for all cultures doesn't translate into a rich mosaic of colorful and proud peoples interacting peacefully while maintaining a delightful diversity of food and craftwork. It translates into closed pockets of oppression, ignorance and abuse. She's lived it; she said it; she's right. Read the book. Listen up !
*The Quran does not mention such mutilation, but most of the 130 million women alive worldwide who have undergone this brutal ritual are Muslim women.