A poster child of women’s rights—a woman who should be every feminist’s dream—was disinvited from receiving an honorary degree at Brandeis University last week. Somebody really messed up in the home office.
The 45-year-old Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who WORLD profiled in 2007) would seem to have an impeccable resume: She is a member of a Dutch political party that’s liberal on drugs, abortion, and homosexuality. She is an atheist, having been “converted” to atheism through her readings of Freud and Leiden philosopher Herman Philipse’s The Atheist Manifesto. She is the founder of the AHA Foundation, which speaks out for women against honor violence, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation, and in favor of women’s control over their bodies, access to education, financial independence, and freedom to work outside the home.
Nevertheless, the sum total of these liberal credentials was not able to save Hirsi Ali from the Muslim police. Lobbying by the ubiquitous Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), by Muslim convert professor Joseph Lumbard, and by certain offended students, resulted in the university president’s decision to rescind the prestigious invitation because the views of Hirsi-Ali, a former Muslim, are considered “Islamophobic.”
I wonder if there are any Gloria Steinem-age feminists out there who are nostalgic for the good old days of uncomplicated feminism, when they were the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Yes, weep for the cultural faction that once struck terror in every heart with the mere mention of the phrase “gender discrimination.”
It is an interesting thing, from a purely sociological perspective, to watch the jockeying for position of the various politically correct causes in contemporary America. It is a hobby made more fascinating lately because of the junctures at which these independent causes have increasingly come into conflict with each other, where only one of them can be the winner.
If you had asked any of us 30 or 40 years ago which campaign would prevail in the quest for preeminence—women’s rights, gay rights, and Islamic rights—who among us would have guessed Islam would emerge victorious. And yet here we are. A one-time backwater religion from a small town in Saudi Arabia is bringing the greatest academies of Western civilization to their knees.