Exporting Values: Thoughts on Ayaan Hirsi

If nothing else, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a very brave woman. I respect her willingness to be vilified by those who disagree with her and her ability to ignore the political correctness imposed on those who fight for social justice. That said, her lecture was frustratingly devoid of the complexity her subject deserved. Hirsi Ali denounced the way that students, especially those of the liberal arts, are encouraged not to judge other cultures or religions based on the standards of their own cultures. The Humanities Institute, in her analysis, has perpetuated this tendency of respectful deference instead of encouraging individuals to challenge aspects of Islam that are at odds with Western ideals. The question she asks, that she thinks most others are too politically correct to ask, is: Is Islam fundamentally at odds with the right of women to be free from violence and oppression? She answers yes.

I honestly have no idea whether Hirsi Ali is right or wrong about this, or if there is even a single answer to such an expansive question. Having neither education nor experience with the subject to back me up, I, like the students she criticizes, cannot judge. What I can say is that she promotes a form of neocolonialist direct intervention inconsistent with freedom and democracy, the Westernized ideals lauded by Hirsi Ali. This kind of aggression, combined with her inflammatory statements about cultural and religious hierarchies, is what brings the world closer to a Huntingtonian class of civilizations. Could women really benefit from such clashes, given the inevitable bloodshed and destruction?