Ayaan Hirsi Ali has gotten non-stop media attention since she arrived in the US last year and began working for the American Enterprise Institute. Everywhere you turn, she’s on cable news shows, on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and even being interviewed for collegiate social science journals.

There was a time I actually liked Hirsi Ali. Back then, she was a social hero any feminist could root for: a strong woman championing women’s liberation, calling attention to gendered violence, and giving cultural relativism the smack upside the head it so richly deserves.

Then, she jumped from being a critic of misogyny and injustice, to a relentless and unfair disparager of Islam and the Muslims the world over. She was soon thereafter adopted as the darling of the European extreme right, and then the American far right. She began wielding her atheism like a mace, insulting and patronizing  not just her Muslim targets, but people of all faiths. Somewhere on the road to fame and fortune, she lost sight of her original mission to empower Muslim immigrant women in Europe. Now, she spends her days attending posh conferences hosted by AEI and other conservative think tanks and organizations, being fawned over by some of the most unabashedly prejudiced among America’s policy elite.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali could have become a force for positive change, but now she’s the trans-Atlantic poster girl for Islamophobia Inc.

From Newsweek:

Hirsi Ali is more a hero among Islamophobes than Islamic women. That’s
problematic considering she describes herself in "Infidel" as a woman
who "fights for the rights of Muslim women, the enlightenment of Islam
and the security of the West." How can you change the lives of your
former sisters, and work toward reform, when you’ve forged a career
upon renouncing the religion and insulting its followers? Hirsi Ali
says overhauling Islam is not her responsibility: she just lays out
"the facts" and leaves it to others to go about fixing this supposedly
broken faith. But her facts are often subjective: at one point she
characterizes "every devout Muslim who aspires to practice genuine
Islam" as a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood. That may have been true
in Hirsi Ali’s experience, but it hardly speaks for the globe’s 1.3
billion other followers. It’s ironic that this would-be "infidel" often
sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she’s worked so
hard to oppose.

How sad. Here’s hoping she fades into obscurity soon, or, at the very least, tempers her rhetoric. What this world needs is a dual dose of liberalism and religious tolerance. And no, the two are not mutually exclusive.

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