The New Republic goes down the rabbit hole: argues that Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani as “worst possible ‘experts’ on Islam”

I used to write a lot for The New Republic (TNR), and enjoyed it. Then they changed ownership (with most of its staff resigning), reduced the frequency of the paper edition, and became, well, boring. . . just another political site (granted, a left-wing one), lacking the cultural and literary pieces that help give it its reputation. (Remember that the great literary critic Edmund Wilson was once TNR’s literary editor,  helped popularize figures like James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and was a major figure in refining America’s literary tastes and increasing its appetite for good literature.)

That’s no more. The magazine has become almost irrelevant (when was the last time you looked at a New Republic piece?) and has acquired regressive leftist tendencies.

Some of these are on view in Sarah Jones’s untitled “Minutes” column in yesterday’s TNR. (Remember that, unlike HuffPo bloggers, this magazine actually pays people to write, so there should at least be some editorial oversight.)

Jones doesn’t consider either Nomani, a practicing Muslim who fought against women’s inequality at her mosque, and Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim raised firmly in the faith (which she left with enormous courage and force of will) qualified to testify on violent extremism. Remember too that Hirsi Ali is the victim of that extremism, and still lives under bodyguard. But Jones says this:

The Senate is about to hear from two of the worst possible “experts” on Islam.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani, who typically refer to themselves as proponents of Muslim “reform,” will testify at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing on “Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tools, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism.” This apparently only refers to extremism of the Muslim variety—one wonders when we will get a hearing on the alt-right—and the presence of Hirsi Ali and Nomani sends a disturbing message about the motivations of the committee’s Republican members.

Well, not everybody is an expert in every form of religiously-motivated extremism. Who do they want to testify: Karen Armstrong and Reza Aslan, who simply deny that religion plays a role in violence? Or do they want one of those bearded, Qu’ran-clutching imams in the West who talk out of both sides of their mouths—one way to their followers, another to the press? Or maybe Linda Sarsour, the hijabi who pushes sharia law as a good thing?

No, for Nomani voted for Trump, which completely disqualifies her as able to say anything about extremism. And doesn’t Jones know that Hirsi Ali’s latest book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,  offers five peaceful and rational (though not very workable) solutions on how to tame the extremist form of the faith?

Nope; both women are smeared with anecdotes, to the point where they’re simply not worth hearing. Hirsi Ali is again demonized with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ludicrous judgment that she (along with Maajid Nawaz) is an “anti-Muslim extremist.” Jones concludes that they’re “unreliable”, though I’m not sure what that means:

Hirsi Ali and Nomani aren’t reliable witnesses, and their extreme views ought to disqualify them from any platform dependent on expertise. On Wednesday, they’ll simply tell Senate Republicans exactly what they want to hear about Islam. It won’t be factual, but for Republicans, it won’t matter.

What does it take for these women’s testimony to be taken seriously? Nothing, I suppose, for the Regressive Left has damned them as beyond consideration. They have violated the Purity Test.

Granted, many Republicans are anti-Muslim bigots, but my feeling is what these women have to say is well worth hearing and considering. Pity that they have been written off permanently by The New Republic. As one of my friends said, “The New Republic is the New Salon.”


UPDATE: Sarah Jones is the “Social Media editor” of the New Republic, and she seems, well, a bit of a hotheaded Regressive. One of her social media emissions that disses New Atheism.


  1. j. baldwin
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    As you and most of your readers likely know, several left-leaning states attorneys generals have initiated lawsuits against climate-change deniers…I wonder if by the same logic they’d support lawsuits against those who deny Islam’s influence on Muslim violence?

  2. Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    ‘This apparently only refers to extremism of the Muslim variety—one wonders when we will get a hearing on the alt-right….’

    How many Muslims have to die at the hands of Islamic suicide bombers before the Left thinks they should do something?

  3. Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    “It won’t be factual.” Any further details offered as to why these speakers are presumed to be liars? Do they have a history of verifiably false statements? Critics of Hirsi Ali tend to follow the same tactics as serial accusers of Hilary Clinton: make bold claims of dishonesty or crimes, then change the subject when challenged for evidence.

    • Carey Haug
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Ayaan did lie about her situation when applying for refugee status and she has been criticized severely for this. In her situation, I think most of us would have done the same thing to get away from Somalia. I still consider her a person of integrity.

      • Posted June 13, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        I no longer take part in on-line discussions (except here….for some reason…) but a year or so ago I got roped into a conversation with an SJW who thought Ali’s motives for her now famous lies disqualified her (Ali) as a commentator on Islam. The young woman thought Ali’s lie was justification enough to disregard everything else she said because she felt Ali had no compunction to lie.

        So I asked her about a friend of mine. Long ago my friend, in order to escape a violent relationship (which we were shocked to learn about) lied her way into a new apartment, a new job, and tried to start her life over. I asked the internet SJW if she thought my friend was justified in her lies and if she would trust anything my friend said after learning she was such an out and out liar.


        With people who are sold on any particular ideology there really is often no ability to think through the things they say.

      • Posted June 13, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        These same harsh critics of Hirsi Ali always seem to also be supporters of ‘undocumented’ immigrants. Hmmm.

        • Bob Murray
          Posted June 14, 2017 at 4:20 am | Permalink


    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      That’s correct. Big bold claims and then when questioned, dig up some small irrelevant minor transgression that anyone may have made, and there you go, case closed.

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    …their extreme views ought to disqualify them from any platform dependent on expertise.

    This is a ridiculous standard, and clearly just intended to impeach views Jones doesn’t like. By that standard people who have “extreme” views against anti-vaxxers shouldn’t be able to testify as witness. Just more intellectual dishonesty.

    • BJ
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      And they’re not even “extreme views,” but regressives love calling anything they don’t agree with “extreme.” They’ll redefine this word as “anything that doesn’t fit our ideology and repeat our talking points,” as they have with so many other words.

  5. nicky
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The thing is, Ayaan and Asra actually know what they are talking about, unlike the SPLC and the ‘New Republicans’.
    Sarah Jones surely is a real, highly qualified, expert on Islam, now isn’t she?

  6. Carey Haug
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    From the perspective of the Regressive Left, Muslims are an oppressed minority who deserve unconditional support. In this view, terrorism is excused as perversion of the faith or result of Western Imperialism. Once someone has agreed with these premises, they will defend them as Sacred.

    I once believed the narrative that Islamist extremists had hijacked the religion. After reading the books of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I changed my mind. I am very happy that she is testifying.

  7. Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    There was once a Sarah Jones, named like the author of this piece, who was active in the atheism and skepticism corner.

    She worked for the organisation Femin Ijtihad, a kind of Sharia Feminism think-tank. She was also associated with the Freethought Blogs / SkepChick / SkeptiCon / Secular Women crowd, which are notorious Islam accommodationists, with a burning hatred for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was involved in a few of the drama episodes that characterized this so-called movement, and particularily this corner, in the recent years.

    I don’t know with certainty whether this is the same person — could be done by checking her twitter profile — but I am confident that that she is, given the subject, views (and I vaguely recognize her twitter handle).

    • Kevin
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      It’s curious what steps are required to make a hippie-like effort to accommodate other people’s faiths. Maybe she had a dear friend who gave her insular reasons to believe that one type of Islam is how all Islam really should be.

      Any religion can have adherents who are peaceful and unabused. It is ironic that empirical observations show such peacefulness can not be generalized. Sarah is not a critical thinker on this issue.

    • nicky
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      As I suspected, a highly qualified expert on Islam..

    • Posted June 13, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Same Sarah Jones with the same permanent ‘I smell poo’ face. She previously worked for AU and founded a pro-Islam moslem women’s support group.

      • BJ
        Posted June 13, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        What a skeptic!

      • Posted June 13, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        That answers Jerry’s rhetorical question then:

        Who do they want to testify: Karen Armstrong and Reza Aslan, who simply deny that religion plays a role in violence? Or do they want one of those bearded, Qu’ran-clutching imams in the West who talk out of both sides of their mouths—one way to their followers, another to the press? Or maybe Linda Sarsour, the hijabi who pushes sharia law as a good thing?

        Sarah Jones and her faction indeed look like they preferred someone like Linda Sarsour.

  8. Randy schenck
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Jones also seems to wrap this all around the republicans and this is strictly for the republican ears. There are several Democrats on this Senate Committee as well. I guess what they might hear does not count.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking the same thing. “Aren’t some democrats going to hear these two women as well?” Jones acts like it’s a right-wing conspiracy.

  9. jay
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    “”… Granted many Republicans are anti Muslim bigots …”

    Seems​ a bit presumptuous, not sure how many Republicans you know well

    Interestingly, the ARTE network in EU had commissioned a documentary on anti Semitism in France. They expected hand wringing about right wing ‘extremists’. When the final cut was more about Muslim based anti Semitism, they canned the project ( retaining IP rights so ot cannot be show.)

    • Posted June 13, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Several weeks ago, an old French Jewess named Sarah Halimi was attacked in her home, beaten to death and thrown out of the window by a Muslim drug addict who recided Koran verses during the murder. Media kept silent; I learned of this atrocity by chance when I came across a Jewish news outlet.
      A detail that struck me was the coincidence between this victim’s family name and that of Ilan Halimi, a young French Jew who was kidnapped and tortured to death by a Muslim gang years ago.

      • BJ
        Posted June 13, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        My parents took a few trips to various European countries about a decade ago (including Turkey!). These days, they’re too afraid to go back there.

        Even back then, when they took a tour of Jewish history in Turkey, they had to be accompanied by three armed guards with guns. Things have gotten significantly worse for Jews there since.

        • Posted June 13, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          I am sorry to hear this! The Ottoman Empire, for all its defects, accepted Jews expelled from Spain. In this respect, its successor Turkey has deteriorated.

  10. Brujo Feo
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink


  11. Kevin
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    With regard to her sentiment toward Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I want no part of a world that Sarah Jones appears to want. She confiscates courage. For lack of a better motivation that I can conceive, Jones is yet another bedfellow of the deluded army protecting hurtful feelings of other people.

    The time for protecting hurt feelings is over. No religion gets a pass. Atrocities are atrocities and Islam is better than most at serving poisonous dishes to its followers, apostates, and non-believers.

    • jay
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Wapo did a feature article on the Orlando shooting without mentioning Islamic terrorism or ISIS once. Despite the repeated claims by the shooter, this was a ‘serial killing’. Nothing to see here.

  12. Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    A thought: Maybe Jerry could use his influence/prior association to ask a few questions about the motivations behind these views?

  13. Sean
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    “figure in refining and America’s literary tastes.”

    Refining and proofreading, perhaps? :p

  14. BJ
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “What does it take for these women’s testimony to be taken seriously?”

    We know exactly what it takes: agreeing with the regressive left that Islam is a beautiful Religion of Peace (TM) and any and all terrorists that come from the religion aren’t “true Muslims.” Only then can they be considered “reliable,” as in “reliably repeat the regressive left’s talking points.”

  15. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Re Jones’ comment that Ali is “Enmeshed in the conservative think tank world”.

    As conservative think tanks go, The Hoover Institution is one of the less rabid, and often gets tarred with the brush of more extreme ones. They resist the label “conservative” (though so also do a lot of other more blatantly conservative ones!!)

    Hoover once had Sidney Hook on staff, a Cold War liberal if ever there was one, and friends of friends of mine tell me they were very unhappy with Dinesh D’Souza during his tenure there from 1998-2000.

    • Posted June 13, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      And what liberal think tank would take her on?

  16. Posted June 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    The New Republic is only latest of the fatuous paleoliberal mouthpieces to denigrate Ayaan Hirsi Ali. TNR was preceded by Nicholas Kristov and Ian Buruma, and also Timothy Garton-Ash, who later apologized for making a sexist comment about her looks at a debate in London. Kristov almost salivated when he called her “strident” and passed on hearsay or gossip from some Muslim women in the Netherlands who (he said) took issue with some things she said. Buruma was patronizing (at best) in his book Murder in AMsterdam, about the assassination of Theo van Gogh, Ali’s colleague. All of these, in the face of incontrovertible evidence about Ali’s personal suffering, threats, etc., have made it their pastime to take down any and all women who speak with authority and from personal experience….as opposed to Kristov and Buruma who sit in their comfortable armchairs, never having been forced into marriage or had their genitals maimed or received death threats. As for SPLC, they qualify as a hate group themselves and have no credibility whatsoever,being the ego trip of Morris Dees, who still manages to get the media to ingest the SPLC pigswallow.

    • BJ
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Support women’s voices! We need to hear from more women!

      Unless they disagree with us! Then we should harass and harangue them until they shut up, just like we do with any disagreeing member of every other group we claim to care about.

  17. Diane G.
    Posted June 14, 2017 at 12:27 am | Permalink


  18. Posted June 14, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    “new atheists prop up figures like Hirsi Ali and Nomani because they tell them what they want to hear. it’s not very difficult to grasp.”

    Exactly… it isn’t difficult to grasp, the misogynist behaviour within Islam. Have you experienced it yourself lately, are the words female, oppression and Islam in the same sentance difficult to grasp? . Do you feel as IT is a minority faith that IT needs propping up?
    Because we’ve learnt by way of these two women that it’s a difficult road being an independent female and a Muslim especially in those countries ruled by a oppresive Islamic regime and it needs to be told.
    Something you Ms Jones can’t seem to come to grips with.

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