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!