Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quotable: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on confidence in American values

Friday, January 8th 2016
Magazine editor and political commentator Bill Kristol recently interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali on “The Challenge of Radical Islam” and “How We Can Fight Back.”  In the hour-long conversation, she discussed her Islamic education in Nairobi, study in the Netherlands, her views of violence and totalitarianism in Islam, the need to separate religion and politics, and American exceptionalism.  Here are some bullets from the transcript that may be of interest to Public Diplomacy.

  • I believe that America is exceptional, that America should lead the world, and if we don’t have American leadership, the world is going to become an ever more dangerous place.

  • We should be proud of articulating exactly what it is that makes the idea of America so exceptional and superior to the idea of political Islam and other bad ideas in history.

  • My problem with, say, our government is because we refuse to call the problem by its name, we tie our hands, and we limit ourselves to the most drastic of policies, which is exclusively military and exclusively surveillance, so you know – and I hope you agree with me, if you believe that ideas shape minds.

  • We’re not fighting on the battlefield of ideas when, in fact, we have a superior idea. The idea of America and the content of the Constitution of America is so much more superior to everything in the Koran. We should be able to say this explicitly. If there is somebody here in our mosques and Muslim centers taking our Americans Muslim audiences and trying to indoctrinate them that Sharia law is superior to the idea of America, we should be able to have a rebuttal ready.

  • I’m sure you’ve been following the rise of radical rightwing parties, political parties.  And the segments of the European population with substantial Muslims living among them were alarmed by Islam. They have only one place to go now, and it’s these extreme rightwing parties because the established parties, because of this political correctness, they simple refuse to address it.

  • . . . we cannot really win the war on Islamic terrorism if we don’t understand Islamic totalitarianism. Remember, we’ve been confronted with totalitarianism previously, Communism and before that National Socialism. Both ideologies claimed millions and millions and millions of lives. And we saw a great deal of war and destruction before they were defeated.

  • And what for me is frustrating, especially if I look back on the last 14 years since 9/11, is having had that past and knowing a totalitarian ideology when we see it and how it manifest itself, why are we in such denial about it? Because it is all about the sooner we recognize it, the sooner we can really deal with it.

  • We cannot defeat Islamic terrorism until we address Islamic totalitarianism. That’s the difficult part. And I hope, I really hope that we can find national unity on trying to understand that first component before we start throwing bombs and before we start slapping policies and money on, you know, different aspects of the problem.

  • We have all kinds of policies, but they are incoherent. We refused to call this by its name because we don’t want to declare war on Islam, understandably. We don’t want to declare war on 1.5 billion people, and we are not. But here is this totalitarian idea that doesn’t have and doesn’t make the same considerations. And it’s preying, first and foremost, on Muslims.

  • . . . the next president and Congress and the American people should educate themselves on Islamic totalitarianism.  What is the concept of the caliphate? What is Sharia law? What is jihad? How does it all come together? What is the political project? Who are the agents involved in this? These are questions you have to answer first before you can develop a coherent policy.

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