Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Call For Clear Thinking

In the essay below, Hirsi Ali asks people to think for themselves. What are the chances of success? People do not think for themselves if they are ideologues. Ideologues cannot think for themselves. That is why they are ideologues: they do not want to think for themselves; they want the comfort of having someone else thinking for them, deciding for them, telling them what to think. Today's ideologues, the dregs of the intellectual world, are the Left. They follow the same tired and stupid formulae to the extremes of stupidity that the logic of Irrationality lead them too. I give up on the Left. I think they are worthless and irredeemable. The leaders of the Left are not good people with some bad ideas or utopian dreams that don't really work in the world: they are evil people who should be, and one hopes will be, hanged as war criminals. Those who do not think clearly are not forgiven for their follies if their follies are criminal. Stupidity and ignorance and good intentions and fine feelings are not any legitimate excuse for criminality and murder.

This is a small part of Hirsi Ali's essay:

There is an alternative to Islam's example
In her essay A Call For Clear Thinking, Ayaan Hirsi Ali urges her fellow Muslims to reject fundamentalism and to embrace the open society

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become a widely admired and controversial political figure because of her attempts to free women from an oppressive Muslim culture. She survived years of death threats and furious denouncements after moving to the Netherlands, where she was elected an MP. Labelled an infidel, she has had to have permanent protection since 2002, when she described the Prophet Muhammad as a tyrant and pervert and Islam as a backward religion. She was threatened with deportation by the Dutch authorities after a dispute over her asylum application, and announced her intention of living in America.

Her bestselling collection of essays, The Caged Virgin, brings together some of her most passionate and compelling writing on a wide range of issues concerning Islam. Drawing on her own first-hand experience and cultural background, she assesses the role of women in Islam both in practice and in theory; the rights of the individual; fanaticism; and Western policies towards immigrant communities.

AFTER THE CARNAGE OF THE terrorist bombings in London on July 7, 2005, Tony Blair defined the situation as a battle of ideas. "Our values will long outlast theirs," he said, to the silent acquiescence of the world leaders who stood alongside him. "Whatever (the terrorists) do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world."

By defining this as a battle of values, Blair raised the question: which values are at stake? Those who love freedom know that the open society relies on a few key shared concepts. They believe that all humans are born free, are endowed with reason and have inalienable rights. These governments are checked by the rule of law, so that civil liberties are protected. They ensure freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, and ensure that men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, are entitled to equal treatment and protection under the law. And these governments have free-trade practices and an open market, and people may spend their recreational time as they wish.

The terrorists, and the Sharia-based societies to which they aspire, have an entirely different philosophical point of view. Societies that espouse the following of Sharia law, which is a code derived from a literalist reading of the Koran, are fundamentalist Islamists. They believe that people are born to serve Allah through a series of obligations that are prescribed in an ancient body of writings. These edicts vary from rituals of birth and funeral rites to the most intimate details of human life; they descend to the point of absurdity in matters such as how to blow your nose and with what foot to step into a bathroom. Humans in this philosophy must kill those among them who leave their faith, and are required to be hostile to people of other religions and ways of life. In their hostility, they are even sanctioned in the murder of innocent people. The edicts make no distinction between civilians and the military — anyone who does not share this faith is an infidel and can be marked for murder.

In this Sharia society women are subordinate to men. They must be confined to their houses, beaten if found disobedient, forced into marriage and hidden behind the veil. The hands of thieves are cut off and capital punishment is performed on crowded public squares in front of cheering crowds. The terrorists seek to impose this way of life not only in Islamic countries, but, as Blair said, on Western societies too.

The central figure in this struggle is not bin Laden, or Khomeini, or Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Sayyid Qutb (the Egyptian schools' inspector whose ideas fed the minds of those who flew the planes on 9/11), but Muhammad. A pre-medieval figure to whom these four men — along with all faithful Muslims in our modern world — look for guidance, Muhammad and his teachings offer a fundamental challenge to the West. Faithful Muslims — all faithful Muslims — believe that they must emulate this man, in principle and practical matters, under all circumstances. And so, before we embark on a battle of ideas, we will need to take a look at this figure, and his presence in the daily lives and homes of faithful Muslims today.

On reading the Koran and the traditional writings, it is apparent that Muhammad's life not only provides rules for the daily lives of Muslims, it also demonstrates the means by which his values can be imposed. Yet remnants from some of the earliest Korans in existence, dating from the 7th and 8th centuries, show small aberrations from the text that is now considered the standard Koran. Nonetheless, just as some fundamentalist Christians cannot understand that the Bible went through numerous changes, interpretations, and translations before it became the contemporary text now widely used, and consider it inerrant, many fundamentalist Muslims consider the Koran a perfect, timeless representation of the unchanging word of God.

To spread his visions and teachings, which he believed to be from God, and to consolidate his secular power, Muhammad built the House of Islam using military tactics that included mass killing, torture, targeted assassination, lying and the indiscriminate destruction of productive goods. This may be embarrassing, and even painful, for moderate Muslims to admit and to consider, but it is historical fact. And a close look at the propaganda produced by the terrorists reveals constant quotation of Muhammad's deeds and edicts to justify their actions and to call on other Muslims to support their cause.

In their thinking about radical Muslim terrorism most politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and other commentators have avoided the core issue of the debate, which is Muhammad's example. In order to win the hearts and minds of those millions of undecided Muslims, it is crucial to engage them in a process of clear thinking on how to evaluate the moral guidance of the man whose compass they follow. The advantage of this rational process is that it provides an alternative to the utopia as well as the hell promised by the terrorists. Indeed, the threat of Hell is the single most effective menace that the fundamentalists hold over the heads of young men and women in order to indoctrinate and intimidate them into violent action. Yet the literal translation of utopia is "not (a) place", from the Greek "ou", meaning not, or no, plus topos, meaning place. The dictionary defines a utopia as "an imaginary and indefinitely remote place". The true alternative to such an impossible place is the open society, democracy, which has already been empirically proven to work. The open society gives Muslims, as it gives Christians and Jews, the opportunity to liberate themselves from the ever-present menace of Hell. The extremists tell the young people that they must defend their faith, avenge insults against Muhammad and the holy word of God, the Koran. What is it exactly that they think they are defending? A call for clear thought on this important question should not be offensive, or hurtful, to Muslims. And yet many people in the West flinch from doing so. The communis opinio seems to hold that questioning or criticising a holy figure is not polite behaviour, somehow not done. This movement for cultural relativism within Western society betrays the basic values on which our open society is constructed. As thinking human beings, we should never censor our analytic thoughts; we should never censor our reason.


Whether we think or not, we are responsible for our own lives and our actions therein. The Left, of course, denies that, assigning activities of the mind to environment and conditioning. That kind of dehumanisation suits them just fine in order that they may manage the people in some gnostic ritual of their version of a higher understanding. The Philosopher Kings will do your thinking for you, you not being able on your own, being in a state of false consciousness in a capitalist system, and so on. Probably most people are simply too busy to think things through based on sufficient fact gathering. But our intuitions and our common life experiences tell us the Left is psychotic and evil. Those who still subscribe to the Left fascism and promote murder are still responsible, regardless of their ideological template mouthings.

If you think clearly and think for yourself, then say so out loud in public. Most people will agree with you, you'll find. And those who don't are probably stupid or evil or maybe just too dunned with Left dhimmitude to know any better. But most people will tell you that murder is wrong. Talk to those people. Invite them out for conversation and coffee at your local library on Thursday evening. People rely on you to make their lives open up. They wait for you. The world of thinking people needs you.

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