We're longtime admirers of the courageous Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and so it was with pleasure that we learned from National Review's Jim Geraghty that the U.S. State Department tweeted her achievements as part of its Think Again, Turn Away campaign against ISIS.
Now, I don't expect people to turn against ISIS in droves because of any anti-ISIS social media ad campaign, but the recognition of Hirsi Ali from the State Department was quite refreshing. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born a Muslim in Somalia and now a leading critic of radical Islam, lives in the U.S. under the threat if a fatwa.
She was working with Theo Van Gogh on a film about Islam when he was murdered with a note pinned to his body saying that she was next. Irshad Manji, another proponent of reforming Islam profiles her here.
Geraghty notes that critics on the left are angered by the choice of Hirsi Ali. One of these, Kate Knibbs of Gizmo whined
Ayaan Hirsi Ali espouses a worldview where Islam is different from other religions, in that it is an inherently violent “cult of death.” She supports the proposed ban of face veils in France, and of minarets in Switzerland. In 2007, she called for the West to defeat Islam using military force… Celebrating Ali through the State Department’s official anti-ISIS Twitter account is a dense gesture. If the people running it believe in promoting a commenter who rejects Islam as essentially corrupt will do anything other than further alienate the people it seeks to reach, then the State Department’s propaganda apparatus is even more blinkered than it initially seemed.
We can argue how much the “Think Again, Turn Away” social media campaign can really accomplish. But if we’re going to make the effort to discourage young Muslim men from joining ISIS, we can’t rule a figure like Ali as too controversial to include in the discussion. The objection here is basically instructing the State Department to make the case against Islamic extremism, but don’t cite critics who are too harsh, or anyone who turned away from the faith because of it! In fact, if spotlighting a woman who knows firsthand of the brutality committed in the name of the faith makes young men less likely to resist ISIS recruitment, then that’s a pretty vivid illustration of the problem, isn’t it?
I hope the State Department–which, after all is the State Department of Barack Obama and John Kerry–won't back off or apologize.
Nobody can speak more authoritatively about Islam than Ayaan Hirsi Ali.