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Liberal betrayal

Posted by Richard on May 5, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi AliAyaan Hirsi Ali is a remarkable woman. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1969 and brought up Muslim, she at one time was an Islamic fundamentalist who wanted to become a martyr. In 1992, on her way to Canada for an arranged marriage with a distant cousin, Hirsi Ali went to the Netherlands instead and was granted asylum. She studied political science in the Netherlands, eventually getting a Masters degree. She became active in the Social Democrat party, and today serves in the Dutch Parliament as a member of the center-right (classical liberal) V.V.D. (People’s Party of Freedom and Democracy).

Hirsi Ali is an outspoken critic of radical Islam and especially its treatment of women. She’s been honored numerous times for her work in defense of human rights and Western/Enlightenment values. She wrote the script for the short film Submission, for which director Theo Van Gogh was brutally murdered on an Amsterdam street by an Islamist thug. Her life has been threatened countless times, and she’s under armed guard everywhere she goes.

This past weekend, she was in New York, speaking at the PEN American Center’s "World Voices" event. International PEN bills itself as the world’s oldest human rights organization and defender of free expression, so they should welcome and honor someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, right?

Umm, not so much. It seems the New York liberals who run PEN aren’t all that comfortable with someone who passionately defends Western values, reason, and the Enlightenment and who challenges Western leftists’ multiculturalism and tolerance of the intolerant. Pamela at Atlas Shrugs provided portions of Brendan Bernhard’s New York Sun column (paid subscribers only) about her appearance:

Mr. Chernow’s introduction was curiously ungracious. It consisted largely of a warning that the audience might find itself in agreement with only some of what Ms. Ali had to say, or perhaps just a small portion of it, or even none of it. Nevertheless, he assured us, we could all agree that she is a woman of uncommon courage and integrity.

A slender, dark-skinned woman with a pretty face and long-fingered, expressive hands, Ms. Ali, 37, smiled politely as she took this in. She is, after all, a politician, and accustomed to what in a few minutes she would term “the liberal betrayal” — namely, the failure of the West to defend its own Enlightenment values against those who openly seek to undermine or destroy them. On this particular afternoon, it would take an African refugee to remind a New Yorker writer (Mr. Gourevitch), a multi-lingual European intellectual impresario (Mr. Holdengraber), and the president of PEN American Center (Mr. Chernow) that courage and integrity are not necessarily at odds with rational, coherent thought, and might even be an integral part of it. At least Salman Rushdie, seated in the front row in what appeared to be a gesture of moral support for a co-religionist in trouble with Muslim radicals, seemed to understand.
. . .

“My criticism of the West, especially of liberals, is that they do take freedom for granted,” Ms. Ali responded. She noted that Western Europeans born after World War II are unused to conflict. “They have lost the instinct to recognize that there can be such a thing as an enemy or a threat to freedom, and that’s what I’m witnessing in Europe now,” she stated. “[There is] a pacifist ideology that violence should never be used in any circumstances, and so we should talk and talk and talk. Even when your opponent tells you, ‘I don’t want to talk to you, I want to destroy you,’ the reaction is, ‘Please, let’s talk about the fact that you want to destroy me!’”

Reportedly, after Mohammed Bouyeri pulled a gun and shot Theo van Gogh the first time, van Gogh shouted, "We can still talk about it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!" Bouyeri wasn’t interested in talking; he shot van Gogh a few more times, then slit his throat, and finally stabbed him in the chest.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali understands quite clearly that one can’t reason with or accommodate Islamofascism. One can submit — or die — or fight. She understands that the liberals’ unwillingness to fight — or even to let others fight — for the values they claim to support is a profound betrayal.

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4 Responses to “Liberal betrayal”

  1. Dave Meleney said


    This is an excellent post…no, actually it is well beyond excellent…

    Hirsi Ali is a remarkable fighter in the battle for our freedoms….

    While you and Bidinotto and other soldiers of liberty are busy fighting and demeaning the crazy apologists for tyranny that are all over the leftist blogoshere and the msm, you might sometimes get so worked up that you ignore those who don’t support the war in Iraq… but who do recognize that a huge battle is at hand. Those who oppose the war but do recognize that much of what energizes the anti-war movement is old fashioned nostalgia for fascists of the left. And who oppose the war but do recognize that Bush’s plan could possibly end up working out quite well in Iraq and the whole region.

    And most of all, those who oppose the war but still recognize that the freedoms we enjoy every day of our gifted and lucky lives…..should not be taken for granted.

    That this brave woman is still alive and still proclaiming freedom in ways that put her life in daily jeopardy is inspiring to us as well…

    While the argument between pro-war types and anti-war types often tends to polarize and entrench both sides, it’d be great to get anti-war types to consider what great things might ensue if Mr. Bush’s war does eventually produce a substantially more open society in much of the Arab world.

    Similarly, you and “your allies” might want to at least consider some of the “unintended” effects that libertarians of every stripe are often pointing out about big government programs of every sort. While everyone’s attention is on the daily carnage in Baghdad…. and by everyone I include those consumers of news in places such as South America…. some politicians have brilliantly used the images of carnage and American frustration to foment anger and to power electoral victories for Marxists and semi-Marxists. Hugo Chávez, who grew up memorizing all of the speeches of Simon Bolivar and reading Karl Marx nightly, now uses the world’s most famous soccer player to fan anti-American discontent and anti-capitalist dogma all over South America. He has trained millions to connect Bush’s name and face to carnage, to oppression, and to capitalism. Read in the May Atlantic magazine how Chávez turned a disastrously failed coup against an elected government into a remarkable ascension to power and how he now has Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile following in his wake.

    His followers and method also threaten Brazil and Mexico…and he has close ties with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad… and he’s a protege of the late Argentine Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole.

    So, we were the generation who got to see on our televisions one of the most amazing coups for freedom in all of human history — the remarkable conjunction of bravery, wisdom, and good fortune that was Walesa and Gorbachev, Pope John Paul and Reagan, Thatcher and Deng and Yeltsin…….

    Can’t we see that what we do in Baghdad, regardless of how it turns out, is being used by master polemicists to undo much of the progress of the last 20 years? Something very much like communism is again on the move. It’s as if smallpox and polio were returning and everyone’s attention was on the common cold. Many people die every year from the cold, but it is not polio.

    Dave Meleney

  2. Anonymous said

    I appreciate your kind words, Dave. And I’ll grant you that there’s much truth in what you say. But I think we evaluate the relative threats from Islamofascism and from socialism differently. You said:

    ”It’s as if smallpox and polio were returning and everyone’s attention was on the common cold. Many people die every year from the cold, but it is not polio.”

    Please read These men are animals. The ideology that celebrates such acts and motivates men to commit them and revel in them is not a mere cold.

    Nearly a billion people accept the fact that such unspeakable depravities are committed in the name of their religion and either approve or don’t care or are afraid to object, and that chills me to the bone.

  3. Dave Meleney said

    Richard, you say: “Nearly a billion people accept the fact that such unspeakable depravities are committed in the name of their religion and either approve or don’t care or are afraid to object, and that chills me to the bone.”

    This is the chilling reality… and one that most anti-war Americans have yet to face, they seem to think we need do nothing…

    You and I know that many Americans are fighting in Iraq with valor and decency and toughness and compassion…as did many of their fathers and uncles in Viet Nam. But let us ask if the current US effort in Iraq isn’t tragically like our efforts in Viet Nam. Are we sending apparent images of American viciousness and American ineptness and American duplicity …. into the living rooms of at least 3 or 4 billion people, around the world, pretty much every night? Many of the viewers are impressionable young men, and lots of them will feel impelled to take up against the “evil triad of Bush, America, & capitalism.” Are there more than a handful of universities in the whole world that are not now politically dominated by the “Bush-America-Bombs-Torture-Capitalism” song that the far left is selling?

    Imagine the difficulties of an outspoken libertarian on a campus anywhere in the world today…as compared to just 3 or 4 years ago. If the libertarian be American or Israeli they likely have it much, much worse. Look at the appalling rise in intellectual circles of anti-Semitism that is part of this anti-capitalist anti-Bush wave.

    Coke could only wish this’d happen to Pepsi. Or take General Motors… they might have a chance if somehow Toyota and Honda were thus “caught with their pants down” on television night after night for years on end and in every single country that buys cars…

    Before 9/11 our brand, was doing so well…far from perfectly, but far better than we could have expected just 20 years ago…

    doing possibly even better after 9/11…

    and even doing very, very well after we took Kabul…

    While it chills me that so few in the anti-war movement allow themselves to understand the importance of your last paragraph…. yet it chills me even more that so few in the pro-war movement seem to see that the inept and endless war is making this very danger worse as each day goes by.

    all the best,

    Dave Meleney

  4. rgcombs said

    ”(The following comment from Karl at was accidentally deleted)”

    People need to take more of a Clint Eastwood attitude and less of a Truman Capote attitude.

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