Where are the Feminists: The Silence of the Left on Hirsi Ali

Phyllis Chesler writes a characteristically penetrating denunciation of her former colleagues in the “progressive feminist” camp asking why they have failed to make any protest over the scandalous treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

May 19, 2006, 6:42 a.m.
Priorities Out of Order
Where are the feminists?

By Phyllis Chesler

The Dutch people have driven the heroic Aayan Hirsi Ali out of parliament, out of Holland, and out of Europe. Their shameful appeasement of murderous, totalitarian Islamism has accomplished what the jihadists could not do: sadden one of Europe’s most important critics of jihad. Bat Yeor, the author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, tells me that this confirms “how low Europe has sunk. Instead of being grateful to Hirsi Ali, she is banned.” Robert Spencer, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam, assures me that “Holland would rather become a Sharia state than have to put up with someone who is trying to stop that from happening.” To be fair, Holland has recently strengthened its immigration policies in ways that Muslims claim are “offensive” and “discriminatory.” Would-be immigrants will now have to pay 350 euros ($430) to take a “civic integration examination,” must already speak Dutch, and must indicate a willingness to live in a country in which nude beaches and homosexual marriage are legal.

This represents a late-in-the-day, but serious, effort to control immigration. But Holland has also just sacrificed and exiled their most important prophet. Theo von Gogh, Hirsi Ali’s collaborator on the film Submission, was murdered by a second-generation Dutchman of Moroccan origin. Since then, Hirsi Ali has lived under 24-hour guard. Her Dutch neighbors did not want to live near such a high security risk (which also lowered their property values) and brought a lawsuit to have her evicted. On April 27, they succeeded. Then, a documentary aired in Holland which alleged that Hirsi Ali had “lied” in order to be granted political asylum and Dutch citizenship. Former Immigration Minister Hilbrand Nawijn called for Hirsi Ali to be “stripped of her Dutch nationality and deported.” Nawijn was head of Immigration and Naturalization Service when Hirsi Ali applied for asylum. Hirsi Ali’s own family provided “evidence” against her in the film. According to the Wall Street Journal, on May 15, Holland’s current immigration minister, told Hirsi Ali that “her passport, granted in 1997, would be annulled.”

Like Oriana Fallaci, who dares not travel to her beloved native Italy or to Switzerland lest she be arrested and tried for her views about Islam, Hirsi Ali will now also be living in exile in America—the last, and perhaps only, bunker against jihad. Will she be granted political asylum in America? And if so, on what grounds?

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has offered Hirsi Ali a position. Karlyn Bowman of AEI tells me that “President Christopher DeMuth extended the offer to her on May 16 to become a resident scholar.” Ali had visited AEI last year and spoke to a small group, who were “impressed by her extraordinary odyssey and by her courage, charmed by her easy manner, and also impressed by the scholarly projects she wants to pursue.”

So, one of the world’s leading feminists has been offered a safe perch by a conservative think tank. I am not surprised. My own views about Islamic gender- and religious-apartheid have been received warmly and respectfully by conservatives, while such views have been attacked by many feminists as ”white nationalist” and ”racist.” To the best of my knowledge, the American feminist movement, with its vast access to university positions, has not offered Hirsi Ali a perch. Perhaps multi-culturally correct feminists are ambivalent about challenging Islamist misogyny—lest they too be censured as “racists” or threatened with death. Indeed, as I document in my book The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, among most feminists, race trumps gender. Many feminists are now more concerned with the alleged “occupation” of Palestine than with the occupation of women’s bodies under Islam, and they tend to blame America and Israel for the sins of Islam.

America’s Nation magazine presented a critique of Hirsi Ali (who is a black African and former Muslim) as a “reactionary” who “puts all the blame on Islam” instead of blaming “patriarchal customs” and for failing to focus on the “role the West has played… in assisting the rise of the Islamist movements.” On the other hand, according to NOW President Kim Gandy, “Hirsi Ali forced the treatment of immigrant women into the public arena in the Netherlands—and she suffered for it. Perhaps her outspoken advocacy will push the issue into the U.S. consciousness as well.”

However, female whistle-blowers constitute a psychological challenge for many women. They defy the unspoken rules of female behavior. Whistle-blowers are neither conformists nor passive. They do not aim to please or appease those whose criminal misdeeds they expose. Female whistle-blowers are not ”indirectly aggressive.” Hirsi Ali is not slandering or shunning other women—the approved outlet for female aggression and competition. She is directly and publicly challenging corrupt male authority on behalf of women. Less courageous women, including feminists, may not identify with or feel compassion for her. In addition, women often find it hard to support a woman who enjoys more public attention than they themselves do.


Will Hirsi Ali find the support she deserves in America? I certainly hope so, but I am not overly optimistic. The Islamization of America is also well under way. The process is not the same as in Europe. Despite the myth of an all-powerful Zionist lobby, Islamists and their Western supporters have an increasing influence on American campuses and, to a large extent, the mainstream media. Here, Islamist hate speech and Big Lies are often protected as free speech and as worthy of academic freedom. Whereas in Europe, many stood in solidarity with the Danish cartoonsists and reprinted their work widely, the cartoons did not appear in the American mainstream media.

Hirsi Ali has increasingly referred to the Dutch betrayal of its Jewish citizens during the Holocaust—but she enters America at a moment when American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials are on trial and the Pentagon has begun to strip security clearances from government employees who hold dual Israeli and American citizenship or whose relatives live in Israel.

Like Fallaci, Hirsi Ali has argued that, if Europe does not stand up to Islamists, European civilization is doomed. She says: “Radical Islam is not just against me. It’s against [my Dutch neighbors] too. By having me evicted, the terrorists have won. It makes the situation more dangerous for everyone.”

She is right. God help America if we are not able to protect her and all other such truth-tellers.

—Phyllis Chesler PhD is an emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies and the author of 13 books including Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman and The New Anti-Semitism. Her forthcoming book is titled The Islamization of America. She may be reached through her website.

There’s an old joke about a guy whose house is threatened by a flood. A bus comes by to evacuate; he responds, “No thank you, God will provide.” Then as the waters rise, and he’s on the second floor a boat comes by. Same response. Finally he’s on his roof and a helicopter comes by. Same response. Finally he’s being swept away and he cries out “God! Why have you forsaken me?!” And a voice descends from heaven and says, “What? A bus, a boat and a helicopter weren’t enough?” Consider Ayaan Hirsi Ali one of those items.

One Response to Where are the Feminists: The Silence of the Left on Hirsi Ali

  1. igout says:

    Wash my mouth out with soap, but the more I see of pc, the more I appreciate Stalin. He sure had a way with these people.

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