Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s solution to Islamic extremism

Ali has no interest in defending the West from Islam. The West doesn’t exist anyway. The West is just “open societies,” a left-liberal formula connoting the replacement of traditional culture and nationhood by a world-wide open field of radically liberated individuals. The West has no interests of its own. It exists only for the purpose of helping spread the “open society.” With regards to Islam, it does this by being completely open to Muslim immigration, and by helping Muslims such as Ali in the feminization and opening up of the Muslim societies. The Muslim world is unable to “open” itself; it needs the West for this.
—Lawrence Auster, “What Hirsi Ali wants,” VFR, March 2007

I wrote that critique—a critique that contradicts the standard conservative view of Ali as a conservative heroine—five years ago. This week Ali has a cover article in Newsweek and The Daily Beast entitled

Muslim Rage & The Last Gasp of Islamic Hate
Once again the streets of the Arab world are burning with false outrage. But we must hold our heads up high. Ayaan Hirsi Ali on how she survived Muslim rage—and how we can end it.

Noticing the part about “how we can end [Muslim rage],” I eagerly read the article to see what Ali had to say. While it largely consists of a recounting of the Muslim death threats endured by Ali and Salman Rushdie for insulting Islam (the current riots over the anti-Muhammad film make their stories highly relevant again), at the end of the piece Ali does provide the solution to Islamic extremism that is promised in the article’s subtitle.

Her solution: let the “Islamists” (a Western euphemism that really means orthodox, sharia-believing Muslims) come to power in the Muslim countries, and after a few decades the inconveniences and horrors of Islamist rule will so turn off the mass of Muslims that they will reject Islamism and be ready for Western-style liberalism.

It’s an ingenious idea. However, Ali doesn’t seem to realize that her strategy has certain implications which she herself, as an advocate of mass Muslim emigration to the West and the feminist liberation of Muslim females, would find most unwelcome. If the Muslim countries are to be free to follow their natural tendencies and go all-out sharia and jihad, then obviously the Western world must, for the interim, disengage from the Muslim countries, both to let the Islamist experiment proceed undisturbed by outside influences, and to protect itself from the poisonous results of the experiment. Such disengagement means, among other things, the end of all democracy promotion in Muslim lands including assistance to secular liberals and empowerment of Muslim women, and the cessation of Muslim immigration into the West. Continued democracy promotion would hamper the Islamization which under Ali’s strategy must be allowed to go to the max, and would also spoil the experiment, since, if the West is still involved in the Muslim lands, the Muslims will blame the horrors of Islamist rule on Western interference. The latter would defeat the whole purpose of Ali’s strategy, which is to make Muslims realize that Islamism itself is the source of their misery. As for immigration, if Muslims continue to be allowed to escape the Muslim countries for the West, then they will be deprived of the experience of the horrors of Islamist rule which Ali hopes will turn them into democracy lovers.

So, if Ali’s ingenious experiment or strategy is to succeed, the Muslim world, including its would-be emigrating masses, must be utterly cut off and quarantined from the rest of the world, just as I have always advocated.

Here is the key passage from the article:

It is clear, as we saw in Iran in 2009 and elsewhere, that if the philosophy of the Islamists is fully and forcefully implemented, those who elected them will end up disillusioned. The governments will begin to fail as soon as they set about implementing their philosophy: strip women of their rights; murder homosexuals; constrain the freedoms of conscience and religion of non-Muslims; hunt down dissidents; persecute religious minorities; pick fights with foreign powers, even powers, such as the U.S., that offered them friendship. The Islamists will curtail the freedoms of those who elected them and fail to improve their economic conditions. After the disillusion and bitterness will come a painful lesson: that it is foolish to derive laws for human affairs from gods and prophets. Just like the Iranian people have begun to, the Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, and perhaps Syrians and others will come to this realization. In one or two or three decades we will see the masses in these countries take to the streets—and perhaps call for American help—to liberate them from the governments they elected. This process will be faster in some places than others, but in all of them it will be bloody and painful. If we take the long view, America and other Western countries can help make this happen in the same way we helped bring about the demise of the former Soviet Union.

[end of Ali excerpt]

- end of initial entry -

Daniel S. writes:

Concerning Hirsi Ali’s theory that actual Islamic governance will disillusion the Muslim masses and make them desire liberal democracy, to me there is no reason to think such a thing will happen. It demonstrates the same failed thinking that assumes deep down that Muslims want to be like the modern, liberal West. They clearly don’t. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan have been under “Islamist” rule for decades, and yet we don’t see any desire on part of the Muslims in those countries to liberalize such regimes, to the contrary they often find their current rulers not Islamic enough. Meanwhile, Muslim countries that have been oriented toward secularism and liberal democracy for the past several decades have been slowly moving back toward Islamification, countries like Turkey, Malaysia, and Bosnia are cases in point. Islam has been around for some fourteen hundred years and something as feeble as liberal democracy is not going to be able to crash through the gates of Islam.

LA replies:

Excellent point. What you’re showing is that Ali simply shares the standard conservative fantasy the Islam is reformable. Yes, she has her own theory, which I described as ingenious, about how it might be reformed, but it still comes down to the baseless and absurd notion that Islamic societies, while remaining Islamic, can and will become liberal. In reality, the only way an Islamic society can have any hope becoming liberal is if it ceases to be Islamic. Consider Turkey. Kemalist Turkey has been by far the most successful experiment in the secularization and liberalization of an Islamic country. But, because it still remained an Islamic country, as soon as the secularization resulted in democracy, i.e. in democratic elections, the country’s Islamic character re-asserted itself and the Turks elected an Islamist government which has brought to an end the Kemalist experiment.

Ed H. writes:

I am all for isolating Islam and letting it stew in its own juices. Of course this would require that no escape to the West be allowed, if only for our own survival.

However Ali’s plan has some obvious flaws.

1. Modern technology would still be acquired by such Islamic states. With it they could plan and launch jihad from their own territories. As there was no formal contact with the West we would be unsure of what is going on. Such activities would be carried out so surreptitiously that the West would be unaware until it was too late. Think of Iran’s current nuclear program or the A.Q. Khan network. [LA replies: But we are aware of Iran’s nuclear program.] Once acquired, nuclear weapons have a paralyzing effect on all further human action. Who would have acted against Saddam or even Bin Laden if it would have meant the death of 20 million Westerners in a nuclear blast? Nuclear weapons would provide the leverage for Islam to have its will.

2 As time passes, few inside these isolated Islamic hell holes would remember anything different. Who now in Lebanon remembers Beirut as “the Paris of the Middle East”? Who in Iran remembers the Shah, except as he is presented in Iranian Revolutionary propaganda? It is the memory of something different that would spur the revolution that Ali sees as ending this experiment. Such insulation would breed the most fantastic tales of the outside world. The paranoia and the superiority complex of Islam would grow unchecked. Think of Nineteen Eighty-Four and the control of the perfect totalitarian state: “He who controls the Present, controls the Past, He who controls the Past controls the Future”.

3. Once Islamic rule had sunk into one generation, a new generation would appear, intoxicated by Koranic verses and committed to the vision of a what Islam has promised for centuries, i.e. universal peace under Islamic law. Instead of there being a cleansing, final rejection of Islam, the cycle would begin again and again, as it has for 1,400 years.

3. Our own liberal West, isolated from daily car bombs, would also be able to construct even more fairy tales about Islam. New Clintons, new Obamas, new Christopher Stevens would arise and project their utopian schemes and naivete onto the blank spots on the map. Think of what ensued when TV images of starving Somali children poured into the West. The Mogadishu debacle, the empowerment of Al Qaeda, the importation of millions of Somalis into the West.

However there is one solution that would work. It would involve the control and neutralizing of Islam from within Islam itself. Autocratic Muslim rulers who know very well what Islam really is could be relied on to contain Islam. Such leaders would know all the wiles of Islamic plotters. They would use such force as necessary. They would speak the language and know their people as members of a deeply dysfunctional family all know each other. Like the Shah knew the mullahs. Like Mubarak knew the Muslim brotherhood. Like Ghadaffi knew what was really going on in Benghazi. Like Assad knows the street addresses of all the troublemakers. With such leaders we could have a relationship of sorts. We could grant them travel to the West, we could shower them with trinkets like Rolls Royces and low level military hardware. But we would not give them actual residence in the West. No, for these Muslims there also can be no escape. They cannot lose this deadly game and expect to run away to a nice villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. In such a way Islam would cancel out Islam. Of course such friends would be invaluable. We would hold their friendship in high esteem. We would look on them as the means to our own safety and salvation from a deadly threat. We would never smile in their face, and then stab them in the back. Which is what we did.

September 22

Ken Hechtman writes (September 20):

This isn’t the craziest idea Hirsi Ali ever came up with. Off the top of my head, I can think of four recent examples that prove her theory: Chechnya, Somalia, Anbar Province in Iraq and Frontier Province in Pakistan. All of them had and then repudiated Islamic governments, and it happened in two to four years rather than the decades that Hirsi Ali predicts. I remember summing this up on a previous thread as “The best cure for wanting Sharia Law is the experience of it.”

For her purposes (though obviously not for yours) isolating countries with Islamic governments would be counterproductive. Ideological dictatorship plus open borders with the West gives you East Germany in 1989. Ideological dictatorship plus isolation gives you North Korea.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 20, 2012 11:45 AM | Send

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