Friday, September 12, 2008

Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes surprise appearance at the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

A quote from today's Cleveland Plain Dealer (the full article can be found here):

"Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist detractor of Islam and a former member of the Dutch Parliament, is lauded in some quarters and lambasted in others for rejecting her Muslim heritage and condemning the religion's treatment of women."

Apparently it was kept secret that the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards committe had honored her with the prize for best non-fiction book for her memoir Infidel. The secret was kept to protect her and the audience members. When the surprise announcement was made and she walked on stage, the audience gasped and then rose in applause.

A quote from her speech:

"Bigotry is not only a white man's disease. It's a universal disease, and the only way to get rid of it is through self-examination. And there is not self-examination if there is no self."

The Plain Dealer reporter (book editor Karen R. Long) noted that this quote was in reference to "what Hirsi Ali sees as the subjugation of women in the Muslim World."

After her friend and documentary film collaborator, Theo van Gogh was killed by extremists in Amsterdam in 2004 - left with a death threat aimed at her stabbed to his body - Ayann Hirsi Ali has been living in isolation.

Subjugation is sometimes committed in God's name, treated not as subjugation, but as God's will. This sort of treatment is not called what it is, but its name is turned around and lauded as reverential. Those who are subjected to it are deemed so special they have to be taken care of, placed on a pedestal for their own good, for their own protection, along with harsh penalties for stepping off of that pedestal.

That's the excuse given for withholding the respect and dignity with which every person should be able to live their lives, from women. The "reverence" is really an objectification, a thingification, an excuse to treat women badly, in God's name, or just because it feels good.

And if you think it's only to be found in the Muslim world, you are vastly, sadly, sorely mistaken.

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