A joint post with Heather Hastie on more mistreatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Visiting Heather Hastie in the small town of Taumarunui, I was the victim of a strong two-day rainstorm sent by nefarious Australia. It’s produced flooding everywhere and kept us indoors, away from one goal of my visit: the famous glowworm caves of Waitamo. But I’ve gotten a well-needed rest, and it’s given Heather and me a chance to collaborate on a new post about the forced cancellation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s visit to Australia and New Zealand. How often do two liberal atheist bloggers in different countries get to collaborate under the same roof?

Our post, appropriately called “The cancellation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s trip to Australia and New Zealand,” is up at the Heather’s Homilies site. Read it there and enjoy—though “enjoy” is probably not the right word.


  1. Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Tolerance of intolerance is intolerance by proxy.

  2. Linda Calhoun
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that your article contained the true statement that most Muslims (and Christians, too) have not read their “holy” books.

    I am sometimes accused of “religious bigotry”. I have read the Bible cover-to-cover, and I’ve read enough of the Qu’ran to know that it turns my stomach. Every time I run into a religious person who is spouting their position, even though I try to look at the person as a person, part of me is asking (not out loud), “What kind of a person are you, that you DON’T find that stuff repulsive and disgusting?”

    They don’t even know what they are espousing. L

  3. Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    When tolerance is reciprocal it is good, but when tolerance is returned with intolerance, tolerance is nuts. Resistance is needed.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    An excellent post over there, as always.
    I am glad to see that you will later see the glowworms.

  5. Ken
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I too was dismayed to hear Ali felt she had to cancel her talks, particularly due to fear for her physical safety. There is just no excuse for such behaviour and I hope none of the pressure came from Aotearoa.

    I have noted in other threads on Heather’s blog, however, that not all Ali’s positions in the past deserved support, in particular from ten years ago when she stated explicitly that the West was at war with all Islam and that it should be defeated with any means, including military. Apart from being abhorrent, this approach is deeply ironic, as it is just about the most effective way to ensure her worthy goal of reform within Islam will fail.

    Heather and others have assured me that she has retracted all such extremist views, but I’ve never actually seen where this is the case – perhaps in one of her books? I have heard more recent interviews where she doesn’t say anything close to those statements, but would still like to know where she said she was wrong ten years ago. Can anyone who follows her more closely than me please provide a reference?

    (I posted an almost identical comment on Heather’s blog too.)

    • Posted April 6, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I am not aware of an explicit retraction, but I always assumed that the “war” was an ideological one and didn’t involve military action. I can see, though, how some could construe her statement as a call for real. physical war.

      That said, her latest book makes it eminently clear that she doesn’t hold a military “war” position. Have you read Heretic, whose subtitle is “WHy Islam needs a reformation”? It gives five ways she thinks we should “moderate” Islam. All are structural changes in the faith; none involve military action.

      Is her explanation of her views in her latest book, which is explicitly about non-military ways Islam should be moderated, not enough for you, or will you continue to criticize and discount her views until you get an explicit apology or clarification from her?

      I would go by her record instead of singling out one statement and using it to discount everything she says. I note with interest that although you properly decry her banning, you concentrate entirely on that one statement and don’t say you agree with anything she’s ever said? Do you? If so, what?

      Or is she to be totally dismissed because of one statement that, to my mind, is ambiguous given her history of writing? That tactic, used by regressive leftists, has been used against many, including Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. It’s irrational to dismiss a corpus of work because of a single statement. Who among us has not said something stupid or strange?

      • Diane G.
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        + 1

      • Dan
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        I agree. The regressives are masters of quote-mining to dismiss their enemies. Look at Sam Harris, his detractors misquotes his thought experiment as support for nuclear first strike against muslims. Many of them know what a philosophical thought experiment is, but they’re not giving Sam the benefit of the doubt and gives his books the most uncharitable reading possible because he’s perceived to be a racist.

      • Ken
        Posted April 7, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        Thanks for responding, Jerry. I’ve not read Ali’s book, hence my asking whether it contained a retraction. I’ll put it on my reading list. I said her goal was worthy, because I generally agree with what I know of her views on Islam, even though I’ve questioned a few comments, mainly this one about her support for war. In fact, I have taken her side in arguments with people on the left before, who have countered with the charge that she is a neocon, because she once worked for a conservative think tank and has said she supports war against Muslims. Of course, her other views wouldn’t all be wrong for being a neocon, but I think it’s difficult to say that something like supporting violence against Muslims wouldn’t undermine her credibility. The comments I refer to about war come from a Reason interview from 2007 and are not only about an ideological war, but a real physical war (I can post a transcript if you like). But as I also said, I’ve heard recent interviews where she hasn’t said anything about war on Muslims. So it doesn’t seem to me that she is, at least now if she ever was, a neocon, and it would be much better to be able to say definitively that she had repudiated previous extreme statements. Because I’ve heard more than one person say she’d done just that, I was hoping to find the evidence. It would be too much to expect that her harshest critics would change their tune even if she did, but it would surely make it that much easier to defend her.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted April 8, 2017 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      I have seen Ayaan being whisked away by 4 armed security once.

      (I was feeling ill at the global atheist convention in Melbourne Australia and was wandering around trying to find a quiet room)

      And even in Melbourne there were people protesting with signs like “Kill atheists” and the old behead you know who and so on.

      I don’t recall her, at that time, calling for specific military action, however, I did hear
      a charming, softly spoken,intelligent person, who has been attacked and is under constant military attack herself, by them.

      That she wants a significant push back is no surprise and is not unreasonable.

      And it was amazingly cool to see her live.
      (Pun intended)

      • Ken
        Posted April 8, 2017 at 4:03 am | Permalink

        I can agree no surprise given what she’s been through, but whether it’s reasonable depends entirely on what push back is desired and must be evaluated independently of the person advocating it. And if that includes military action against innocent people, it is most definitely not reasonable.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          I realise that but it seems improbable that she would advocate military action against ‘innocent’ people.
          I can easily see a reasonable advocation of Military action in a variety of contexts.

          Some may consider any Military action against ‘a religion’ as unreasonable. Not me. Not when a religion has political and military arms.
          I still doubt she advocated action against innocents.
          Could you give me a link?

          • Ken
            Posted April 11, 2017 at 5:02 am | Permalink

            The 2007 Reason interview is here: https://reason.com/archives/2007/10/10/the-trouble-is-the-west. The comments I refer to are on the second and third pages.

            As you can see, Ali very explicitly rejects the notion that just radical Islamists are the enemy, arguing that all Islam must be defeated and all means including military should be used to do it. The interviewer is clearly surprised and gives her several chances to nuance her position, but she was having none of it. Simply not reasonable.

            Now I’ve been told she had just become an atheist a month earlier and of course had been under extreme pressure for some time. So maybe she was just very upset at the time and said some things she regrets. I’d be happy to believe that was the case, but it is odd she seems never to have retracted these comments despite people thinking she had. It’s certainly true you’d never expect something like this from her now, but of course, the Internet never forgets, which she must know. As this is one of the things that drives opinion against her, I can’t see why she would let it persist if she’d changed her mind.

            Regarding your own comment, while there are times a military action can be justified, calling it an action against a religion, as opposed to an armed extremist group (or something similar) seems very ill advised, even when religion is one of the motivating factors.

  6. Posted April 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Interesting statement from Ali, seeing as that’s the kind of thing I’d expect Ali haters would say. It’s got a Marcusean tint to it.

  7. Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  8. Dan
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a brave woman. I’ve read her books The Caged Virgin and Infidel. She may be bitter against Islam, but given her life story, I can understand why.

    She is no Islamophobe. She is a victim of Islam.

  9. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been #1 on my personal list of hero(in)es since I read Infidel, and cemented her position there with Nomad, which I just finished.

    Not sure the source of the image in the OP, but her name is misspelled.

  10. mrclaw69
    Posted April 7, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Sorry you didn’t get to see the Waitomo. I managed to *just* get there in time when I went – they got rained out just a day after I went.

    They’re pretty amazing. That said, there are other glowworm caves in NZ though. Hopefully you’ll have some luck there:


    • mrclaw69
      Posted April 7, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Jebus that’s terribly written! Oh for an edit button….

  11. Posted April 7, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Downloaded the eBook or whatever we should call it.

  12. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted April 8, 2017 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I know Heather doesn’t like Australia but now It’s ‘nefarious’ because there is rain in the land of the long white cloud?

    That doesn’t seem fair.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 8, 2017 at 2:56 am | Permalink

      Pretty sure that was just a joke…


    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Yep, a joke, for sure, but still.

      There is a touch of attitude.

      I don’t think it is all Greg Chappell’s fault but it might be.

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