Democratic Senators ignore women testifying about violent Islamism

If you click on the screenshot below, you’ll go to a four hour video of Wednesday’s Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on “the ideology behind violent extremism and potential tools the U.S. can use to counter it.”

Here are those involved, starting with the four who testified, including five Democratic Senators and two Republicans.

As an article in the Washington Post pointed out, and I’ve verified by watching much of the testimony, the women Democratic Senators largely ignored Hirsi Ali and Nomani in favor of the males, particularly Leiter.  The article gives tw**ts from some social media-ites who also noticed this. Here are a couple:

I don’t think the behavior of those Democrats has anything to do with deference to men; rather, the they shied away from indicting religion as a cause of terrorism, and that’s precisely what Hirsi Ali and Nomani were trying to say.  The male witnesses, in contrast, avoided religion and dealt with other solutions to terrorism.  Democrats, it seems, studiously avoid mentioning religion or Islam, taking a cue from the Obama/Hillary Clinton playbook. The article supports that conclusion:

Tensions were high even before the hearing began. A Muslim man wearing a prayer cap attempted to disrupt the event by yelling at Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim and Somali-born human rights activist, a witness who was in the room said.

The contentious atmosphere carried on to the committee members themselves as Democratic committee leader, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, expressed her disagreement with the premise of the hearing, called by Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

“Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,” she said. “We should not focus on religion.” McCaskill proceeded to lecture the panelists on “freedom of religion” in the United States.

“No evil should ever be allowed to distort these premises,” she continued. “I’m worried, honestly, that this hearing will underline that.”

. . . Hirsi Ali, who was the first witness to speak, stated clearly that her testimony and evidence was focused solely on the threat of Islamism as a social-political totalitarian ideology.

“The part [of Islam] that is a political doctrine consists of a worldview, a system of laws, and a moral code that is totally incompatible with our constitution, our laws, and our way of life,” she testified.

Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Women in the World contributor, echoed Hirsi Ali. “The ideology of Islamism contradicts the constitutional values of this country,” she said. “The elements of Islamism are very clear.”

However, Michael Leiter, the former director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Center, rejected the core of Hirsi Ali and Nomani’s testimonies. “Muslims honoring of sharia is not inherently in tangent with living in constitutional democracies anymore than it would be for Christians or Jews who also seek to honor their religious traditions while still complying with civil authority,” he said.

Here’s some more Ostrich Leftism by Democrats:

At one point, when Nomani shared examples of violent preachings on “women beating” she had received through Amazon, McCaskill turned the conversation to book banning.

. . . Democratic Senator Gary Peters later criticized the “anti-Islamic sentiment” in some of the written testimonies.

“I became concerned about a recurrent theme of anti-Islamic sentiment,” Peters stated. “The perpetuation of anti-Islamic attitudes undermine our collective values and it contributes to the undercurrent of xenophobia.”

I have but one beef. Andy Ngo, the article’s writer, said this:

It was the first time a Senate hearing was devoted to discussing the ideas motivating both violent and nonviolent Islamist movements around the world, but, through a strategy of deflection and demonization, the Democratic senators — mostly women — ignored the scholarly and lived expertise of Hirsi Ali and Nomani.

Oy! The “lived expertise” trope! But Hirsi Ali and Nomani didn’t dwell on their “lived expertise”; the former talked about the moderation of Islam she proposed in her latest book, and Nomani is a reporter, and described some of the national and religious sources of terrorism she derived not from her “lived experience,” but from her reporting. Yes, “lived expertise” was there, but it’s far too close to the “lived experience” trope of Regressives for my taste. This, however, is just a quibble.

What it all shows is that the Left is still avoiding the “r” word (or the “I” word) when discussing terrorism. I think most of us know, however, that to deal properly with terrorism one simply has to come to grips with the ideology that promotes and motivates it.


  1. GBJames
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink


  2. Posted June 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Out of interest (I’m a non-American asking), why are there 5 Democrat Senators to only 2 Republicans?

    • GBJames
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      There are fifteen members total, eight of whom are Republicans.

      Members often don’t show up at meetings.

    • Zach
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      No real reason. Committees evaluate issues and propose legislation, but they don’t vote on it. Hence, they tend to be less partisan than Congress-writ-large. They have good incentives to include both parties (so legislation they propose isn’t dead-on-arrival), but not a pressing need to ensure their membership is perfectly balanced.

      • Zach
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        but not a pressing need to ensure their membership is perfectly balanced.

        On second glance, maybe they do. Checking, it looks like most committees have an odd number of members, with the majority party (currently Republican) having a one person advantage on them.

        Also, what GBJames said above.

        • BJ
          Posted June 17, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          This is correct. The part that has the majority has one more member than the party that doesn’t on committees in general. The problem is that, often, not everybody shows up to non-essential briefings.

      • GBJames
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think that is really true about committees being less partisan. Party line votes in committee are rather common.

        As to the number of members from each party… this is a function of the percentage of Republicans vs. Democrats overall but the exact assignments are subject to negotiation.

        More here at the Senate web site.

        • Zach
          Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          Well, this is awkward..

  3. GM
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Muslims honoring of sharia is not inherently in tangent with living in constitutional democracies anymore than it would be for Christians or Jews who also seek to honor their religious traditions while still complying with civil authority

    But, as everyone should be well aware, Sharia rejects civil authority and contradicts a long list of existing laws. So how can you say that with a straight face?

    • Posted June 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      They just need to add: “it is known, Khaleesi.”

  4. Zach
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    What do Democrats honestly think will happen if we “focus on religion”? Pogroms?

    • Zach
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      On a related note, and at the risk of raising PCC’s blood pressure still further, here’s how HuffPo summarized the hearing:

      After Shooting Of GOP Lawmakers, Senate Extremism Hearing Focuses Only On Muslims. And it featured testimony from witnesses pushing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.

      I mean, really…

      • Craw
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Hearings scheduled long in advance.

      • Merilee
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Disgraceful! ( calming my bp down…) Ali and Nomani and Lenczowski were superb. Can’t believe Mc Caskill being such a sourpuss.

    • GM
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Pogroms are not very efficient — despite all the pogroms, Jews still comprised a substantial fraction of the population of Eastern Europe.

      The only things that worked were the Alhambra Decree in 1492 in Spain (convert do Catholicism, leave Spain, or be executed) and Hitler’s program.

  5. Merilee
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    What’s with the Class 1, 2, and 3 Senators? Don’t think I’ve ever noticed that before. I know Kamala Harris is a newbie; does that make her a Class 3?

    • Craw
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      I think it refers to electoral cycles. Class 1 is up for election next year.

      • Harrison
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        Correct. Senators hold 6 year terms and ~1/3 of them are up for election every two years.

        • Merilee
          Posted June 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. I did know about the 6-yr. terms and that they were staggered, but somehow had never noticed the Class designations.

  6. Craw
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink


    Funnily enough, the tangent plane to the normal of a curve is the osculating plane — and osculating is exactly what is happening here.

  7. Tom
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    If this picture is supposed to depict a certain blind attitude to Islam I would respectfully point out that it is really the Tail that is buried in the sand, The thinking part is under that white bump and hidden by the feathers

  8. Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I think that the testimony of Prof. Lenczowski was interesting in that it was compatible with Ali’s and Nomani’s themes. Yet Senator McCaskill addressed him (in a hostile manner) but not the women.

    She mainly addressed Mr. Leiter whose difficult and chutzpah-filled schtick was that his organizations since 9/11 had constantly engaged with never-specified Muslim organizations and failed: yet they still needed hugely greater funding. Quite mysteriously she asked him about ‘no-go areas’ in Europe organised by Muslims: about which nobody had spoken. She used the conversation to direct her emotional signifiers at something noone had even alleged. Neither did it occur to her to ask the ex-European MP Ayaan about conditions in Europe.

    Whenever the camera swung to McCaskill, her body language towards Nomani and Ali was appalling. Her prepared opening statement specifically discounted and countered N and A’s ideas: fair enough, but one would expect her to engage with the women themselves when they are in front of her. Instead, she couldn’t even look at them. Her demeanour towards them was one of a recalcitrant child: shamed, having been caught out by mum, unable to explain herself and deflecting her inner self-loathing onto Leiter who, in his pitch for more ackers, was willing to confirm whatever snarky inaccuracy Ms. McCaskill wanted to imply about the thesis that Islam is such an inherently political religion.

    Other Dem senators seemed as bad: McCaskill’s bearing was just the most demonstrably graceless.

  9. Randy schenck
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    McCaskill’s opening statement seemed to make it pretty clear that her mind and attitude was made up and set in stone. So why have people with real knowledge show up and waste her time?

  10. Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    …ignored the scholarly and lived expertise of Hirsi Ali and Nomani.

    I interpreted that as a stab at the left, having a predilection towards deferring to “lived experience” and here the left ignored it, in a blatant display of hypocrisy.

  11. Merilee
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Cool – I just realized that I met John Lenczowski a number of times in his home in Berkeley way back when we were both students in the early 70s. His dad, George, a prof at Berkeley, was an old friend of my dad’s. i had completely lost track of them. You GO, John!

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Oy! The “lived expertise” trope!

    I agree wholeheartedly that claims regarding “lived experience,” when presented as a basis for excluding the opinions of outsiders, is wrongheaded. And I avoid that phrase “lived experience” as trite, anyway.

    There are domains, nevertheless, in which claims regarding one’s personal experience provide a valid basis with which to support an argument. No less than an authority (and no bigger a critic of the “personal is political”) than Christopher Hitchens discussed this from time to time, including in his piece on Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier. The arguments made from the personal, of course, should be based on individual experience, rather than on group identity.

    In making his point about Hirsi Ali and Nomani, I think Andy Ngo is using the unfortunate phrase “lived expertise” in an appropriate (if banal) way.

    • Carey Haug
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I’m a big fan of Andy Ngo. He is a student though and has probably heard the phrase so often it slipped into his vocabulary

      • Posted June 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Or was he slyly throwing it back in the faces of the SJWs?

  13. rickflick
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    At least Hersi and Nomani did get their views into the record. That was satisfying to see.

    Sam Harris just interviewed Graeme Wood (The End of the World According to ISIS), about his experience reporting on ISIS. He naturally agrees that the ultimate cause of jihad is Islam itself. However, he did emphasis that ISIS and the world wide Islamist network is very small in numbers. He felt that they have much less influence in the world than many fear. No caliphate is around the corner. The terror attacks will continue but will not change the political configuration. ISIS will attempt to build inroads in small failed states in Africa and Asia.

    Contra Leiter, he spoke of the myth of online recruitment. Most recruitment is through personal contacts.

    • BJ
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I think what people are really worried about is the huge wave of Muslim immigration to Europe, and how that will affect the societies there. If one looks at the polls taken in the countries most of them come from, one sees that in almost every country, at least 50% of the population sympathizes with terrorists and/or supports their goals. This is further complicated by the immigrants purposefully cloistering themselves in communities they police for outsiders and outside influence of any kind, refusing any attempts at integration. This paints a picture of a pot that could start boiling over with extremism at any time. While their children may end up better integrated, most of these immigrants are young males and will be around for a very long time.

      • Harrison
        Posted June 18, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Recent history suggests extremism is more common among second generation immigrants, nurtured on their parents’ retrograde views but not sharing their more pressing desire to just get away from the conditions of their homeland and make a decent living.

  14. Carey Haug
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I am curious how many of Democratic Senators’ constituents agree that Islamist ideology has nothing to do with terrorism. Part of Trumps appeal is likely that he doesn’t deny the danger posed by Islamaic jihad. The senators could end up losing votes.

    There must be some way to protect the civil rights and human rights of Muslims while fighting the hateful Islamist doctrine.

    • Posted June 17, 2017 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Part of the media blackout on this subject is to convince critics of Islam that they are a small minority who must therefore be wrong and remain silent or be ostracised.

    • Zach
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      There must be some way to protect the civil rights and human rights of Muslims while fighting the hateful Islamist doctrine.

      You pretty much did it right there—by delineating “Muslims” and “Islamist[s]” as separate categories.

      The tragic irony is that most nice, secular people—e.g., Democratic Senators’ constituents—are unable to do this, because they are unwilling to even look at the problem. “All religions are basically the same” is their tolerant slogan and they are sticking to it, historical literacy and nuance be damned.

      • noname
        Posted June 18, 2017 at 1:19 am | Permalink

        I think they just don’t want to criticize
        “the predominant feature of Saudi culture” or
        money and/or power are more important than human rights.

  15. nicky
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I could not get beyond 1:20h in the video, so I might have missed some things.
    McCaskill was clearly begging the question, and did not address the points raised by Ali and Nomani and hardly adressed Lenczovski. I think Jerry is spot on there: a struthious politician.
    Leiter had a lot of good points, but several bad ones too (which is easy since he talked -by being addressed- most of the time).
    If he thinks that there are no no-go zones in, say, Brussels, he is seriously delusional. An occasional (once a month?) pussyfooting by some police patrols in, say, Molenbeek or the Muslim parts of Schaarbeek means nothing in that context. He also concentrated too much on actual terrorism (immo), which is, as Ali, Nomani and Lenczovski pointed out, but the tip of the iceberg, the rash that shows secondary syphilis, if you want.
    I think the committee missed a chance here to learn something useful, and hence will not have much positive impact. No one as deaf as does not want to hear, no one as blind as does not want to see.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      I agree. McCaskill is in general a decent Senator supporting progressive causes. Here though she seems to have had her staff of regressives coach her on her reaction. She delivered what seemed like a prepared speech, totally disregarding the ideas expressed at the hearing. She might as well have mailed it in. I was deeply disappointed.

      • Filippo
        Posted June 17, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        I’d like to hear McCaskill state for the record her position on female genital mutilation, and whether she supports the right of a Muslim anywhere on the planet to reject sharia and to leave the faith.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 17, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

          I would too. Unfortunately, she’s not in a position to answer tough questions. She’s only pontificating.

  16. Mark R.
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m very confused by what’s happening in our capital. Shit storm politics. I read e-papers and WEIT and watch O’Donnell and Maher and hear headlines on the radio and on my internet news feeds and read commentary by FOX watchers like Heather Hastie and it seems I can’t keep up with the chaos. This is just another facet of our current state of living in that riddle wrapped in an enigma. Sucks.

  17. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Liberals these days are happy to vilify Scientology on the level of ideas.

  18. Kevin
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Cowards. Truth is liberals have always been for not hurting anyone’s feelings. At least since the eighties.

    What’s different now is that religion is out of the bag, I.e., an appreciable number no longer care for religion, but no one wants to saying anything bad about a religion.

  19. Merilee
    Posted June 17, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Fwiw, this is what John Lenczowski’s dad is well-known for:
    Russia and the West in Iran : 1918-1948, a study in Big-Power rivalry by George Lenczowski … [Foreword by George V. Allen.]

    My dad was with the OSS in Iran at the end of the war ( and spoke fluent Russian ) and I guess this must be where he and George became friends. I’m presuming that son John might be a Republican but I’m guessing that he’s one of the more intelligent and reasonable ones. Haven’t seen or heard from/of him for 45 years…

  20. rickflick
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    “Kamala Harris Was Silenced. Then She Silenced Us”

    Ali and Nomani respond in the NYT:

    “Defending universal principles against Islamist ideology, not denying that these conflicts exist, is surely the first step…”

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