Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the quest against Islam

In June Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave the Donner lecture in Toronto Canada. The lecture was podcast with CBC's Ideas and TVO's Big Ideas. The point of her lecture is to show that Islam is dominated by a destructive ideology, she calls it the ideology of death. Her mission appears to be to warn the west of how fundamentally different this ideology is from its own, she calls it an ideology of life. In addition she hopes to reach as many Muslims as possible and to persuade them to give up the ideology of death, which means to either turn away from Islam or reform it - although she is quite pessimistic about the rational forces within Islam.

I think her strong point lies in showing optimistic multiculturalists that a rational dialog with Islamists is rather impossible. The ideology of death, the irrational readiness to choose sacrifice in death is easily overlooked and as a result the true intentions of the likes of Ahmedinijad are easily misconstrued. A rationalist interpretation of Ahmedinijad's strife for nuclear weapons and his collision course with the west will not be able to see that death and total destruction are an acceptable element in his mind set.

I think her weak point lies the uneven perspective she is taking on Islam and on the West. She is looking at Islam from the downside, fed by her own biographic experience, emphasizing the dogmatism, the oppression and the irrational simplified version of it. The West she views from the upside and here the dogmatism, the oppression and the irrational simplified versions of Christianity, Judaism, Capitalism, Communism, Liberalism and so on, which historically can be shown to show their ugly heads, are pushed to the background. She is so entrenched in framing the competition as the famous clash of cultures that there can only be for and against. It goes so far that during the question and answer session, which can only be heard on Ideas, she calls someone like Tariq Ramadan a 'Closet Islamist'.

More Big Ideas:
Jewish Humor,
JRR Tolkien versus CS Lewis,
Malcolm Gladwell,
The Age of Inequality,
Disappearing cultures.

More Ideas:
Short review.