“We’re still waiting for a march against honor killings”: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani in NYT on religion and women’s rights

Well cut off my legs and call me Shorty! (Is that ableist?) I was astounded to see that Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani, both feminist Muslim reformers, were given a whole op-ed in the New York Times to testify about women’s rights vs religion (click on screenshot to see it):

As I wrote five days ago, when Hirsi Ali and Nomani testified about terrorism (along with two men) before a mixed panel of Senators at the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, the two women were allowed to speak, but the Democrats ignored them during questioning (see the four-hour hearing at the link at the beginning of this sentence). In fact, as Hirsi Ali and Nomani write in their op-ed, the one male and three Democratic Senators didn’t ask either of them a single question. Why? I explained that in my earlier post:

I don’t think the behavior of those Democrats has anything to do with deference to men; rather, 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.

Hirsi Ali and Nomani agree in their NYT piece:

This wasn’t a case of benign neglect. At one point, Senator McCaskill said that she took issue with the theme of the hearing itself. “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,” she said, adding that she was “worried” that the hearing, organized by Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, would “underline that.” In the end, the only questions asked of us about Islamist ideologies came from Senator Johnson and his Republican colleague, Senator Steve Daines from Montana.

Just as we are invisible to the mullahs at the mosque, we were invisible to the Democratic women in the Senate.

How to explain this experience?

. . . . what happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.

. . . . when we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity.

We all know that they’re speaking the truth. But it’s an inconvenient truth to many on the Left, even when voiced by two “women of color”. And they’re both doubly marked in the oppression scale—triply if you count that Nomani is a practicing Muslim and that Hirsi Ali was genitally mutilated in the name of Islam. They bear all the merit badges of people who should be heard. Instead, they’re demonized, with Hirsi Ali even characterized as an “anti-Muslim extremist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (They clearly haven’t read her latest book.)

There’s more to their piece, and it’s all good, but I don’t want to reproduce it in toto. Let me just reprise their main point: “The hard truth is that there are fundamental conflicts between universal human rights and the principle of Shariah, or Islamic law. . . ”

We all know that, too, and so does anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. But universal human rights somehow vanish when religion is on the table. As the odious Morgan yelled, “Show some damn respect for people’s religious beliefs!”

It’s damn well time for Leftists to stop osculating a faith that’s not only scripturally odious and oppressive, but is practiced widely in that way.  Democrats, and the Left in general, need to absorb the simple lesson that Ali Rizvi pressed on Piers Morgan in the tw**t below:

h/t: Grania


  1. GBJames
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Now I remember where I saw that quote! Ali Rizvi!

  2. TJR
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I’d go even farther than Ali Rizvi above. If you challenge islamic doctrine then you *are* defending moslem’s rights.

    Who are the main victims of islam? Moslems.

    The main victims of any religion are the followers of that religion.

    With the odd exception, e.g. the aztec religion.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes indeed, that is the truth of the matter.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      The Aztec virgins sacrificed on the great pyramid of Tenochtitlan were victims, no?

      • Posted June 22, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        …and not to forget the Yazidis, a independent proud people more than most in recent times that have felt the wrath of Islam.

    • Zach
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      “Muslims are the first victims of Islam. Many times I have observed in my travels in the Orient, that fanaticism comes from a small number of dangerous men who maintain the others in the practice of religion by terror. To liberate the Muslim from his religion is the best service that one can render him.”
      —Ernest Renan

  3. rudolphpaul
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    This is good to know. I just received, in the mail, a campaign contribution solicitation from Senator McCaskill. It went in to the trash.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Much as I disagree with McCaskill about this, let’s not do anything to help elect some reactionary Republican to her MO senate seat in 2018. Nose-spite-face.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      McCaskill seems to a progressive generally. Her error in this case shouldn’t condemn her completely. Let’s just work toward her enlightenment on issues regressives don’t seem to comprehend. I think she may be able to change her mind.

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted June 23, 2017 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      Surely more effective to send it back to her with a printout of the NYT article and a letter asking her what she’s going to do about it?

  4. darrelle
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    After reading the article I am amazed all over again how in the world any reasonable, decent person could demonize Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her views on Islam. As usual she is calm, clear, what she says is accurate and the views she exhibits are ethical and fair.

    If you find yourself demonizing Ayaan Hirsi Ali because of her views on Islam and you self identify as being progressive, on the left, ethical, pro equal rights, a feminist or similar, you probably need to take a close introspective look at yourself because you appear to have become what you claim to hate.

    And McCaskill and those other Democratic senators really ought to be ashamed of themselves. I sure as hell am ashamed of them.

    • Kevin
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      McCaskill et al. are cowards. Some of the reasons why people do not like Democrats are facile, but when Democrats turn into regressives, it is no wonder they summon so little respect that we end up with a baby president.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 22, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink


      • Posted June 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        No, they’re just being strategically smart. No need to play into ISIS’s script and make this out to be a war between Islam and the West. Doesn’t mean we can’t still fight a war *within* both Islam and the West, trying to imagine no religion, to borrow from the Beatles. But we need to be painfully aware that every move we make will be co-opted at every opportunity, both by ISIS types and Patriot Act types.

  5. Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    To Ali and Nomani; bravo. I hope this gets read far and wide. No hope those in the Alt-right or Cntrl-left will accept what they have to say, but there is a vast -VAST- number of people between the extremes. Hopefully some will be persuaded

  6. jay
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    In a related case of selective victim points to match left wing ideology:

    Recently there was a killing of a Muslim girl after what appears to be a road rage escalated out of control.

    WaPo covered the crime, about the innocent victim (appropriately) but somehow failed to mention that the killer was in the US illegally.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      They’re too busy fighting back against those who want the murder labelled a hate crime because the victim was an hijabi.

    • Gabrielle
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      The June 19th article in the Post had the following in it: “U.S. immigration officials requested that a “detainer” be placed on him (the man arrested) at the county jail, meaning they are interested in possible future deportation proceedings.”

      There’s been no attempt to hide that he’s here illegally.

  7. J Cook
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Gee, its hard to feel like a liberal/progressive these days.
    It is hard to understand why the left still refuses to look objectively at jihadism. Even when terrorists shout “Allahu Akbar” before running down pedestrians, blowing up infidels or stabbing someone.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      It is a toxic mix of religious accommodationism and cultural relativism taken to an extreme.

  8. nicky
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    There is so much right in this post one doesn’t know where to begin.
    “We all know they are talking the truth”? Yes we do.
    “…they shied away from indicting religion as a cause of terrorism, and that’s precisely what Hirshi Ali and Nomani are trying to say.”? precisely indeed.
    or “Rizvi’s “the left is wrong about Islam, the right is wrong about Muslims”? so succinct, and insightful.
    “..a faith that’s not only scripturally odious and oppressive, but is practiced widely in that way.”? Yes, the heart of the problem.
    And all the above just for starters: a Great Post Jerry!

  9. merilee
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink


  10. Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Honor killings, child marriages, sex slavery – Sigh! trivialities. Lefties have much bigger problems, such as micro aggressions, trigger warnings and safe spaces.

    • Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      And don’t forget the manspreading. Muslim women get off so lightly.

      • merilee
        Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        And they can womanspread in those burkas with no one the wiser…

      • Posted June 22, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        Oh. That’s an existential problem.

  11. Posted June 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    This is so depressing. I feel so useless and helpless when I read this stuff. It is completely beyond me that so many millions of people are so caught up in ideology that they’re incapable of recognizing the truth of the words of Hirsi Ali, Nomani, and Rivzi in this situation.

    When US activists complain about a lack of equality for women, I see women on Fox mock them because US women have it better than Malala Yousafzai. (I’ve seen that exact situation.) Then, the regressive left won’t allow criticism of any religion or culture that treats women badly where the majority of members aren’t white. In those circumstances, women’s equality is apparently less important than respecting that culture or religion.

    Of course, they’re mostly quite happy to demonize people when the a$$hol€$ are white, especially if they’re men. Anti-gay Christians in the US are rightly criticized, but the same anti-gay Christians in Africa, who developed their anti-gay laws with the assistance of right-wing US Christians, are left alone.

    Equality means equality. The whole effing point is that race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, sexual identity, disability etc doesn’t matter.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Equality means equality. The whole effing point is that race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, sexual identity, disability etc doesn’t matter.

      Hear, hear!

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted June 23, 2017 at 4:50 am | Permalink


  13. Posted June 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Well paint me bright yellow and call me a cab! That is surprising. Good for them!
    But I will expect that some from the left will twist themselves into knots trying to rebuke their simple and true message.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 22, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      What is surprising about it?

      • Jonathan Dore
        Posted June 23, 2017 at 4:51 am | Permalink

        I think that it appeared in the NY Times, which surprised Jerry too if I understand his opening correctly.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 25, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink

          Makes sense; thanks.

  14. rickflick
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    It’s great to see that Nomani and Ali got a bit of publicity out of this. Even though the hearing was a small one that will be overlooked by many and even though their testimony was to some extent drowned out by idiocy, it’s at least a forum some will notice. Perhaps they will be invited to other committees or on more TV talk shows and their publications will be picked up by more people of influence. It’s at least a start. Let’s hope it continues.

  15. dd
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    This is the most “liked” comment in the NYTimes about this article it published (and many are in the same vein):

    “Catastrophist Adelaide 12 hours ago

    Kamala Harris did not silence you. She herself remained silent. She observed you being questioned but chose not to question you. Was she right to do so? Lets see: the hearing was called by Republican senators at a time when the Republican Administration continues to press, against judicial defeat after judicial defeat, for a travel ban against Muslims. This ban, extensive reporting shows, is the brainchild of Trump advisor and former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, who apparently believes that the greatest threat facing western civilisation is jihadi extremism. With all due respect and without for one moment downplaying the appalling experience of women in many Muslim communities, this hearing was called, and you were invited to testify, for the sole purpose of boosting the case for a travel ban by stoking the hatred of Muslims in America, not to provide a forum for Muslim women to air their (quite understandable) grievances against certain practices in certain Muslim communities. The treatment of women is a major public relations vulnerability for the faith, and the Republican senator who called the hearing knows that. That’s why the hearing was called–not because of a deep sympathy for your plight. The women senators on the panel recognised this and determined not to be used by this man for this frankly un-American agenda. I don’t blame you for availing yourself of a high-profile forum for your cause, but neither can I blame the women senators for their silence. Unfair. “

    • GBJames
      Posted June 23, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      When someone sees the treatment of women under Islam as nothing but a public relations vulnerability, they have given up any claim to the moral high ground. Handing it to the Republicans as Harris et al. did is both a moral and a political failure.

  16. Posted June 23, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Their “lived experience” doesn’t count if they criticize religion, apparently.

  17. Posted June 23, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Well done, Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Nomani!

  18. Kurt Lewis Helf
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    An alternative, and fairer IMNSHO, interpretation of the Dem’s relative silence during this hearing was proposed by Hemant Mehta:
    “It’s not that Harris and McCaskill and Hassan don’t care about issues like honor killings and FGM. But this hearing was ostensibly a way for Republicans to boost support for their unconstitutional Muslim travel ban. The Democrats wanted no part in lending any credibility to it. Any hint that they agreed with Hirsi Ali and Nomani on the destruction political Islam can cause could theoretically be used to justify further encroachment on the civil rights of all Muslims. Hirsi Ali and Nomani were essentially being used by Republicans to justify policies that were far removed from fighting back against anti-women ideologies.”

    • Posted June 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      That reminds me, it didn’t take long for the Iraq War to be branded as a way to liberate Iraqi women. Heck, in minor ways, it actually did have that effect, for example as Kurds gained more power over their own affairs. Not that it was any part of the point.

  19. nicky
    Posted June 24, 2017 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    A misguided and unjustified temporary travel ban pales into insignificance compared to honour killings, FGM, sex slavery (any slavery), forced marriages, child marriages, etc, etc.
    If Hemant Mehta is right, these Democratic senators got their priorities chillingly wrong.

%d bloggers like this: