One of the more curious tragedies of contemporary culture is the amount of public attention showered upon those who deserve none. Nowhere is this truer than in post-9/11 literature, where a large number of terrible books have been written, published, and lauded for their “insights” into the Islamic tradition. It is an ongoing cultural phenomenon, the latest episode of which is Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Ali has made a very successful career out of writing/speaking about her own experiences as a young woman in Somalia, where, according to her previous books, she was forced to go through a great deal of trauma.
Though the truth of what she relays has been called into question (to say the least) on multiple occasions, Ali has had consistent success with equivocating those experiences with Islam itself. In other words, the argument she puts forth in Heretic and all her previous books is that Islam is a rotten religion with violent and sexist foundations, something she knows via first-hand experience in Somalia.
Given the shoddy way with which she tries to prove this ridiculous thesis, it’s particularly amusing to watch the amount of praise Heretic has garnered. Such is the condition of the Western world’s public and cultural discourse when it comes to Islam.
Ali writes that Islam isn’t just a good religion with a few bad apples to ruin it for everybody else. She’s saying that “the whole basket is rotten,” that the tenets of Islam itself is deeply and foundationally unethical and callous. Therefore, it’s incompatible with 21st century notions of human rights, etc. It’s a bold statement, but one that she never bothers to prove or expand upon with anything concrete.
Regardless, Ali is still bold enough to suggest a “Reformation” for Islam in order to rid the religion of its unsavory essence. It’s hard to think of a more dull, callous, and unintelligent treatment of anything related to Islam. All of this is consistent with a post-9/11 cultural trend where non-experts are treated as credible teachers and relaters of knowledge. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is at this top of the pile.