Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cognitive dissonance

In an an interview with Maclean's, Ayaan Hirsi Ali comments on a puzzling phenomenon in Western liberalism — how the commitment to multiculturalism effectively results in the defense of thoroughly illiberal attitudes:
Q: ...[A]ccording to Paul Berman in his new book The Flight of the Intellectuals, you’ve received “dreadful treatment” from, and have been trivialized by, the intelligentsia. Do you agree?

A: He’s addressing a debate within liberalism. He is, just like me and I think many others, surprised—and that’s an understatement—that some liberals choose to defend ideas that are very illiberal and choose to look away from practices that are even more illiberal. Why are they excusing radical Islam? That fascinates Berman and it also fascinates me, what the presence of Islam does to the liberal psyche in the West.

Q: What does Islam do to the liberal psyche?

A: Confuses it. The liberal psyche wants to protect minorities, to apologize for imperialism, colonialism, slavery, and the appalling treatment of black people during the civil rights movement. At the same time, they want to continue to defend the rights of individuals. They’ve convinced themselves that the best way to do that in general is to defend the cultures that are non-white. But what they forget, and what they’re being confronted with, is that non-white cultures contain misogynistic, collectivist, tribal, gay-unfriendly and female-hostile traditions. And so they’re confused: on the one hand, they’re looking at minorities as groups they need to save and speak up for, and on the other hand, they’re confronted with the ideas and practices of individuals within those minorities that are very undemocratic and appalling, really. .... [more]
Maclean's provides this description of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
Born Muslim in Somalia, Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, fleeing to the Netherlands at the age of 22 to escape an arranged marriage. Ten years later, she was elected to the Dutch parliament. A prominent feminist and critic of Islam, she received numerous death threats when she renounced her faith following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2004, Theo van Gogh, the director of a short film she wrote protesting Islam’s treatment of women, was murdered in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist who threatened that she would be next. Since 2007, the bestselling author of  Infidel, a memoir, has lived in the U.S., where she is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. ....
On why Christians should try to convert Muslims - Books, The Interview - Macleans.ca