Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Asra Nomani, & the Soft Prejudice of Western Expectations

June 30, 2016

2 seat interview: Bill Maher and Pres. Jimmy Carter- Founder, The Carter Center, Author, "A Call To Action" ; Panel left to right: W. Kamau Bell - Comedian, WKamauBell.com; Neera Tanden - President, Center for American Progress; Rick Lazio - Fmr. CongressIn his Nobel lecture on Dec. 11, 1950, British logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.” Noble motives, he added, deserve our inquiry, for they’re often but façades.

The revival in recent months of public appraisals of Islam has thrown this type of charade into sharp relief. The Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, organized by the brassy anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, was billed as an honorable exercise of free speech. When police killed two would-be Muslim ambushers, though, even her fellow right-of-center travelers questioned her intentions. With few exceptions, the mainstream media did too. Geller’s obsessive bellicosity toward Islam made her First Amendment shtick appear rather one-dimensional.

On the whole, flamethrowers like Geller bear negligible influence. They crawl out of the bowels of the Internet, set things on fire, and then ebb back into nonexistence. They’re not so much movers and shakers as they are nuisances whose rhetoric about Muslims, while popular among dwellers of their dark online world, raises the eyebrows of others who find its content and delivery fantastically jarring.

More worrisome when it comes to Islam are those whose brand of prejudice is of a milder variety. A popular cadre of feminists is one such group. Their personal stories of trauma to triumph, and their overtures of liberalism and reform have captivated Western audiences over the past decade. Yet dampened as it is beneath the acoustic theme songs of public radio programs or the applause lines of late-night talk show audiences, their message is virtually identical to that of their more strident colleagues: Islam is a uniquely problematic religion and Muslims worldwide must embrace the ideals of the West to drag it out of its deep and dreadful slumber.

In recent weeks and months they’ve reemerged, harnessing violent flashpoints from groups like ISIS as an occasion to lament once more the everlasting failure of Muslims to measure up to American and European values.

Read more at Salon.