Jeff Tayler on Sarah Haider, Islam, and the betrayal of liberal values by the Left

I call your attention to Jeff Tayler’s new piece at Quillette: “On betrayal by the Left: talking with ex-Muslim Sarah Haider.” I’m a big admirer of Haider, a co-founder and director of outreach for Ex-Muslims of North America. I’ve heard her speak several times; she’s thoughtful and eloquent, and deserves a wider audience. Haider, along with Ali Rizvi—and of course Ayaan Hirsi Ali—are the American equivalents of Maajid Nawaz. Rizvi has recently published a book (see here and here), and I look forward to a book from Haider, or at least some columns along the lines of those produced by Nawaz.

Haider is facing the same dilemma as all vociferous liberal Muslims or ex-Muslims: they’re being betrayed by the left—especially feminists—who view Muslims and their odious faith as worthy of respect because the believers are seen as oppressed people of color, as underdogs. When liberalism conflicts with pigmentation, it seems, pigmentation wins.

You can read Jeff’s piece for yourself; here’s a short excerpt:

The mainstream media, she says, seem not to care about their plight. She adduces an example: the June 2016 incident in which EXMNA called the local Wegman’s bakery and ordered a cake emblazoned with “Happy Three-Year Anniversary, Ex-Muslims!” The management refused to take their order, worried that such “inflammatory” verbiage might offend its Muslim employees. The Freedom from Religion foundation eventually intervened – businesses cannot deny services based on a customer’s faith or lack thereof – and Wegman’s relented. The rightwing press and blogosphere publicized the affair, but few other news outlets did. It goes without saying that similar incidents not long ago generated great public sympathy when the victims were gays.

There we have it: the rightwing press calling out behaviors scrupulously avoided by the “liberal” media! Tayler goes on. You may say, “Yes, but the press is doing that because they’re bigoted against Muslims.” Well, yes, perhaps, but who cares if they call these incidents to our attention?

Haider is still outraged. “When I read a news article about how a woman’s hijab was pulled off or how a stewardess refuses to give a Muslim woman an unopened can of Coke, it’s national news. But no one covers what we’re going through, no one covers our persecution. Of course we know there’s anti-Muslim bigotry, and that’s being covered. But our struggle should be covered as well. It’s appalling that our pain isn’t worth discussing. In fact, we’re often painted as the victimizers.”

That the rightwing media do at times report about them only leads to EXMNA being (wrongly) associated with the right.

The left’s rejection hurts all the more since the most menaced former Muslims are women. Female apostates, she tells me, face ostracism, beatings, harassment and threats from their families and communities, forced travel back to home countries to pry them free of Western influence, and forced marriage.

And on the regressive feminists:

The discussions in the aftermath of the 2015-2016 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, gave her a chance to experience the hypocrisy of the left when it comes to Islam. She saw that older feminists strongly denounced the crimes, saying “’there’s no excuse, these assaults are rooted in religious patriarchy and we cannot allow them to happen.’ They have this idea that no culture can supersede women’s rights, but younger feminists look at things from a very strange perspective, a narcissistic perspective,” and believe it’s — “bigotry to even acknowledge that there are problems in certain cultures, unless of course you’re talking about Western culture, in which case I can acknowledge whatever I want. What could be a more effective roadblock to addressing the problems? I don’t know what world I’m living in when I can’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem and that it’s at a much more extreme level [in Islamic countries] than anything we have in the West, when saying that in itself is [considered] a form of racism, a form of bigotry.”

Criticizing Islam is especially dangerous in the Age of Trump, as Trump’s reprehensible immigration policies have led Leftists to defend Islam even more fervently than usual, as a kneejerk reaction. Everywhere hijabs are being extolled, and criticism of Islamic doctrine muted. Islamists like Linda Sarsour, who loves sharia law, are suddenly seen as feminist heroes, which is ridiculous. And so to finish, I’ll warn you against Sarsour, whose status as a “liberal feminist” is insidious as well as symptomatic of everything wrong with the Regressive Left. The quotes are from Haider:

“After Trump won, I was hoping the left might engage in some introspection” about how its refusal to hold an honest discussion about Islam had damaged the movement. (As I recently pointed out in Quillette, Hillary Clinton’s failure on the campaign trail to speak frankly about Islam and terrorism most likely put Trump in the White House). “But if anything they’ve dug in. So we see Linda Sarsour [heralded] as a warrior for women’s rights.” (This is an insult to reason and progressivism, even if Bernie Sanders would disagree. Sarsour calls herself a “racial justice & civil rights activist,” but supports Shariah law, declared herself “not Charlie” after the cartoonists’ slaughter at the hands of Islamists in 2015, and, in a 2011 tweet, said she wished she could “take away” Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s vagina.) Calling Sarsour a defender of women’s rights “is absurd on the face of it,” says Haider, “but it’s becoming more and more the norm. People will call us racist for criticizing a religion. They have no idea of what it actually means to be liberal.”

Amen. (That’s metaphorical.)

Oh, and here are two tweets from a feminist “hero”, one of the leaders of the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. Sarsour, realizing how they might look, subsequently deleted them. Perhaps someone told her that Hirsi Ali, as a victim of female genital mutilation, had already had part of her vagina taken away!

Extolling women in Saudi Arabia:

If you’re a Western feminist, this is certainly a persuasive argument to move to Saudi, right?

27 Comments

  1. Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    If a modern liberal was shown a photo of my sociology group at university in the late Eighties they’d probably conclude there were no Muslims there.

    None of the women wore the hijab and the only men with beards were those who actually looked good in them.

    Back then politically active Muslims identified as ‘Black’ in solidarity with the (largely non-Muslim) victims of apartheid.

    • rom
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Men with beards look good in hijabs?

  2. Kevin
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The modern liberal has turned the idea of tolerance into a emblem of justified conceit.

    We are somehow, now, rewarded with the mystifiable behavior from the left that everything from inequality to cultural relativism must be accommodated and defended. These people have forgotten what they are fighting for.

  3. Dan
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    And they wondered why Atheism+ was not received well. We knew that far left ideology is incompatible with skeptical secularism. Not everyone wants to toe the regressive partyline.

    And for good reason. Sometimes we need to criticize bad ideas even if those bad ideas are held by people of color or women.

    Identity politics has been polluting our discourse. We should be fighting the rightwing nutjobs from destroying our environmental protections, our religious freedoms, our scientific progress. Instead, we have devolved into infighting and institutionalizing purity tests to weed out the undesirables.

    And “minority groups” are jockeying for position as the more oppressed group. BLM against LGBT. Feminists against PoC men. This is the identity politics that we have wrought upon ourselves. As I watch this happen, I find myself politically shifting from a dyed in the wool liberal to a moderate. When libertarians start sounding more sane than liberals, you know your side has moved further than you are willing to go.

  4. Harrison
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s been said before but you can’t get much more deplorable than pointing to a woman like AHA who’s been subject to genital mutilation and saying “I wish I could take their vaginas away.” A left that truly cared about victims wouldn’t even countenance such an awful person let alone provide them with bigger and broader platforms.

  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I agree with this article, but would like people to make the same distinction about feminists that Sarah Haider has, even though it means I now have to admit to being “older”. Feminists my age (50s) and older, as Haider points out, rarely defend Islam’s record on women. We are the type of liberals that actually stand up for liberalism and not the regressive leftism that dominates amongst younger feminists.

    Personally, I do not see how you can call yourself a feminist and support Sharia – it’s such an obvious oxymoron. To me it demonstrates the same kind of cognitive dissonance required to be religious.

    • Blue
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree, Ms Hastie. I do not see how this o b v i o u s l y hypocritical “support” for A Thing Sharia rings true to [say, Ms Matilda Joslyn (Gage)’s / my] feminism either !

      Blue

    • Dan
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Older feminists have made a distinction between the three “waves” of feminism. The first wave was in the late 1800s to the early 1900s and was centered on women’s suffrage and related issues. The second wave of feminism is centered on equality with men (equality in opportunity, equality in rights and privileges, equality in pay). These first two waves of feminism is almost universally held by all people in civilized societies. There are still some problems but on the whole the inequalities are shrinking and society has been open to women’s liberation.

      The problem is the so-called third wave called intersectional feminism, which is SJW-centric. They are motivated by conspiratorial thinking, that there exist a male patriarchy that has been oppressing women and that these men ejoy “privilege” by dint of their genitals and skin color. They are usually aggressively anti-male. Also, despite being feminists in name, they have branched out intoother far-left causes like BLM, into LGBT, and other causes that involve fighting against cisgendered white males. It is this third wave of feminism that has become a problem, even for us liberals that supported the first two waves.

      • Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        There also seems to be a popular version of modern feminism that likes to have it both ways, in that they want to challenge old gender norms that limit women, but retain those that seem to be advantageous. Examples include supporting women in combat but staying silent on the issue of selective service (conscription), challenging the tradition of taking the male surname in marriage but not having a problem with the tradition of the male always proposing marriage and shelling out for an expensive (relative the male wedding band) ring, and being totally ok with female dominance in certain professions (such as primary school education) while labeling any male dominance as inherently sexist. There is also the mild but annoying sexism against men that crops up in entertainment (such as males being consistently shown as the dolts and incompetents in commercials), which would be loudly objected to if women were always portrayed. But when it’s done to men, it’s just funny.

        Feminists have so altered the territory here that any man pointing this stuff out is mocked for being a softie (an ironic and hypocritical usage of old gender norms to shame men into silence), or even accused of sexism himself for daring to suggest that sexism can sometimes be directed at men.

        All of this speaks to a feminism that has been released from its rational and ethical moorings. Rather than using reason and evidence to arrive at ethical conclusions, it uses to reason and evidence selectively to support preconceptions and desired ends. It has pushed away many males that would otherwise be supportive of it, and this may have contributed to the rise of folks like Trump. Not in the sense of men actively voting for Trump, but rather being indifferent to the modern Democratic party, which seems to be aligned with some of this flawed feminism.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    The far left such as this Sarsour have bent over so far for a religion that it sickens all reasonable people. To put this kind of thing on a public place to advertise your ignorance to the world. You cannot get much lower. I think Tayler is doing the only thing that can be done. Apparently not possible to shame such a disgusting person.

  7. eric
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    When liberalism conflicts with pigmentation, it seems, pigmentation wins.

    Hmmm, I’m not sure it’s really about pigmentation. More about religion, but also I think there’s a strong self-flagellation aspect to it. I’d probably rephrase your thought as:

    “When liberalism is connected to past colonialism, it seems, liberalism loses.”

  8. Posted March 21, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who claims that freedom for women is less important than 10 wks paid maternity leave is the one who is put to shame.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      And ten weeks maternity leave only sounds good when compared to US maternity leave. Compared to the rest of the world it is well below average.

      • Posted March 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        + 1. In my opinion, a country having less than 6 months maternity leave has nothing to brag about in this respect.

        Indeed, I understand that the Saudis just cannot extend it beyond 10 weeks. It would throw them into a recession, with all those young mothers that you see behind the wheel every morning, rushing to their workplaces… (sarcasm, of course).

      • Dan
        Posted March 23, 2017 at 12:56 am | Permalink

        According to The Atlantic, nearly a third of the world has maternity leave of 14 weeks or less, and another third has 14-24 weeks. It is only in Europe and parts of North America where you find generously long maternity leaves.

        In most developing countries, extended families take care of young babies so that it is feasible for mothers to continue to earn a living as soon as 10 weeks after giving birth.

        In the company I work for, it is the mothers who want to go back to work. They feel fidgety and anxious after just 8 weeks of leave. But we usually tell them to wait out the 10 weeks.

  9. Jim Smith
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    “The left’s rejection hurts all the more since the most menaced former Muslims are women. Female apostates, she tells me, face ostracism, beatings, harassment and threats from their families and communities, forced travel back to home countries to pry them free of Western influence, and forced marriage.”

    Acid attacks up 71% in the London. Biggest increase occurred in Newham, which has the highest percent of Muslims of any district in London at 32% 415 attacks in Newham since 2010. that’s almost a quarter of the total acid attacks in London. If you don’t like that, you’re an Islamaphobe. Acid attacks, it’s part of the new and exciting culture that Muslims are bringing to the West. Embrace it, or at least get used to it.

  10. Posted March 21, 2017 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    This is related: a Muslim woman supporting the ban on the belief.

    As a Muslim, I strongly support the right to ban the veil
    At last, the European Court of Justice has made a stand for European values
    By Qanta Ahmed

    I was raised as an observant Muslim in a British family. Women, I was taught, determine their own conduct — including their ‘veiling’. We’d cover our hair only if we freely chose to do so. That’s why I’m baffled by the notion that all good Muslim women should cover their hair or face. My entire family are puzzled by it too, as are millions like us. Not until recent years has the idea taken root that Muslim women are obliged by their faith to wear a veil.

    It’s a sign, I think, not of assertive Islam, but of what happens when Islamists are tolerated by a western culture that’s absurdly anxious to avoid offence. This strange, unwitting collaboration between liberals and extremists has been going on for years. But at last there are signs that it is ending.

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/03/the-right-to-ban-the-veil-is-good-news-for-everybody-including-muslims/

    The Left ought to be lining up behind a minority ethnic woman wishing to stand up for her rights but no, it’s The Spectator, not The Guardian or HuffPo.

  11. Martin Levin
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Women like Haider and Hirsi Ali are what we hope (albeit faintly) will be the vanguard of Islamic reformation, since I don’t see it ending any time at all soon. Qanta Ahmed is a Pakistani-American physician, a modern and moderate believer who wrote an excellent book about her time as a doctor in Saudi Arabia.

    One small thing: Ali Rizvi is a Canadian.

  12. jay
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Related, Pakistan is pressing Facebook and Twitter to ‘out’ blasphemers that are in Pakistan or are Pakistani.

    Zuckerberg did some hand waving and then talked about automatic deletion (there go your postings, Jerry) similar to the censorship they are starting to implement in Europe.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/pakistan-asks-facebook-twitter-help-identify-blasphemers

  13. Posted March 22, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    “The discussions in the aftermath of the 2015-2016 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, gave her a chance to experience the hypocrisy of the left when it comes to Islam. She saw that older feminists strongly denounced the crimes, saying “’there’s no excuse, these assaults are rooted in religious patriarchy and we cannot allow them to happen.’ They have this idea that no culture can supersede women’s rights, but younger feminists look at things from a very strange perspective, a narcissistic perspective…”

    This clears a lot up for me. I am only 41, but I tend to eschew modern music for music rock music made in the 60s/70s. Perhaps I should be doing the same for feminism.

  14. Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    In Saudi Arabia, what is the amount of PATERNITY leave? It’s great that women are getting 10 paid weeks, but if men get very little or nothing, then all this is doing is reinforcing the separate gender roles that cause discrepancies in pay and professional success. How does this “feminist” not see this?

    More enlightened countries are actively looking for ways to increase paternity leave such that women will not have to shoulder so much of the caregiving burden. Eventually, it will just all be considered “parental leave” with equal time for both parents.

  15. Posted March 23, 2017 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    I have nothing to add to this, other than i agree. Many Liberals have taken to defending religious oppression.

  16. Posted March 23, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Ah, cherry picking! (And not the delicious kind either.)

  17. nicky
    Posted March 23, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    What is Sarsour so upset about? Here in the RSA we have to pay them three months (that is more than 12 weeks!) of maternity leave. And the RSA is much poorer than the KSA. You don’t know how lucky you are there in Saudi. Only ten weeks! That sounds close to paradise for an entrepreneur here. What is even worse here: they can extend it for another few months unpaid, without possibility of firing them! We have to keep them in their vacant posts.
    And then these women here drive! Not surprisingly the RSA has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world. Not so in the KSA, where they are safely kept away from mechanical things, meant for males. Stop complaining. (/s)
    Seriously though, I find that vagina tweet about Ayaan, victim of FGM, one of the most insensitive, callous, vicious and deplorable tweets I ever read. DJT still has a lot to learn from Sarsour. She beats him hands down.

    (RSA = Republic of South Africa; KSA = Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; FGM = female genital mutilation; DJT = deplorable Cheeto)

    • nicky
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      CORRECTION
      It is four months (= 16 weeks) of PAID maternity leave in the RSA (so much poorer than the KSA).
      And it is not just about women not allowed to drive. It is about death for apostates, homosexuals, critics of Islam, blasphemers, adulterers (specifically when female) and anyone promoting other religions (not to mention atheists).
      I cannot see the callous and odious Sarsour otherwise than a (probably paid) Saudi shill.


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