May 20, 2006

Shallow hagiographies

Good grief. Everywhere you turn in mainstream media, you find someone or other writing a hagiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. If you haven't read them, there is probably no point to reading this post, but here is an example:

All these articles seem content to perpetuate the idea that Ms. Ali put some inconsequential lies on her visum application, for which she was disproportionally punished. But the issue with Ms. Ali's visum application is that she pretended to come from a humanitarian disaster area (Somalia), in order to profit from the fast-track immigration status that this afforded her. In reality, she left Somalia when she was 6, and had been living in Kenia for over a decade before going to Europe to visit some family members in Germany. It is then that she decided to use the crisis in Somalia in order to immigrate to the Netherlands. In doing that, she callously abused the immigration system, doing a huge disservice to those who actually are in desperate need of help. The issue came to the foreground now because she chose to stress it in a recent interview, acknowledging that she was an economic refugee, thereby mocking her own party's anti-immigration platform.

And Ms. Ali has indeed claimed that she ran from her family because they wanted her to marry a Canadian man that she had never met. This is strongly denied by her family, and is highly unlikely, considering she got help from her family in her visum application in the Netherlands. In view of her previous deceit, it stands to reason that she lied about this too.

No one doubts Ms. Ali's passion, her intelligence and her charisma, but it is hard to take someone seriously who has gone from supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, to joining an atheist pro-immigration socialist party, only to then become an anti-immigration free-marketeer. Ms. Ali may be a prominent thinker, but her thoughts are changing very rapidly, and very drastically. I don’t think she’s any less sincere when she is preaching for forced integration of targeted minorities than when she was arguing that immigration policies should not prefer educated immigrants over uneducated ones. And her support for free market capitalism now is probably as heart-felt as her support for socialism used to be. But they don’t seem to be part of her core beliefs. The only constant in her political career seems to be a willingness to sacrifice principles for political gain, and to stoke the fires of controversy and hatred. Taking a position at the neo-conservative AEI, which she did well before any of this happened, seems very fitting.

Very often, hagiographies such as this claim that Ms. Ali's departure is a victory for intolerance. I do think that that is true. A strong voice for intolerance has escaped the verdict of the voters, and the consequence of her actions, in stead being rewarded with a higher pay, and a bigger platform from which to spread her hatred. What a pity.


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