America welcomed a victim of political and religious persecution this week. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been living for years with death threats for her criticisms of radical Islam. But in the end it was not her former co-religionists who have caused her to seek refuge in the U.S. It was rather the native-born citizens of her adopted country, the Netherlands, that have driven her off. If the reader will forgive a little indulgence in the soft bigotry of low expectations, it is the role of her fellow Dutchmen and women that are most worthy of contempt in this tale.
Ms. Hirsi Ali first achieved international prominence when Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh was stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street in 2004. The killer pinned a five-page manifesto to his victim's chest with the knife he'd used to kill him. The letter was titled "Open Letter to Hirsi Ali."
Ms. Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch immigrant, a female member of the Dutch parliament and an outspoken critic of Islam, particularly Islamic attitudes toward women. Ms. Hirsi Ali had scripted Van Gogh's film "Submission," on the mistreatment of Muslim women.
For making this film, Van Gogh was killed and, the letter from his killer explained, Ms. Hirsi Ali was condemned to "torture and agony." Holy War against the U.S. and Europe was also threatened. Already under police protection since 2002 for having renounced her faith, Ms. Hirsi Ali had to go into hiding. For the second time in her life she became a refugee, this time in her adopted homeland.
Now she is being put on the run again, this time by the Dutch who have grown tired of protecting such an outspoken critic of Islamic extremism. Last month a Dutch judge ordered her out of her apartment. Her fellow tenants had argued that her presence endangered them and lowered their property values, in violation of their "human rights." The judge agreed and ordered her evicted.
There are striking parallels between the way many in Europe view the U.S. and the way the Dutch and many Europeans view Ms. Hirsi Ali. Outrage over September 11 soon gave way to a reversal of cause and effect. The victim, the U.S., was held responsible for the destruction it supposedly brought upon itself through its policies and provocation of Muslims. Similarly, solidarity with Ms. Hirsi Ali quickly changed to attacking Ms. Hirsi Ali for being too provocative. Government adviser Jan Schoonenboom accused Ms. Hirsi Ali of "Islam bashing," a theme often repeated in the media.
Ms. Hirsi Ali might be the first, but won't be the last, post-9/11 dissident to seek refuge in the land of the brave and the free. And so, any recovery of property prices in Ms. Hirsi Ali's neighborhood will be short-lived. Where the defenders of democracy have to flee while the enemies of free society roam the streets, not only real estate is bound to become very cheap. So will be life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This inability or lack of willingness for the tolerant and multicultural elements of the West, represented by the Dutch to come to terms with reality is at the heart of this correspondence from Claire Berlinski to Instapundit:
Changing the subject, I have been at times been tempted to respond to those who disagree with my assessment of the moral climate of the Netherlands, but if the invalidation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's citizenship does not persuade them, they are not susceptible to persuasion, so I may as well save my time and breath. Still, I think the event should be noted, and I note it thus.
All of which brings me to the following point. When someone says that the U.S. squandered the goodwill of other nations after 9/11 it never really rang true to me. This blogger says it quite well:
This old yarn has been in circulation since 9/12/01: the USA squandered the world’s goodwill after 9/11. It irritated me then, and now it enrages me. Not because it’s untrue - that, at least, I could forgive with a little education. No, it angers me because it says something about our enemies that nobody is willing to say:
If it takes a terrorist attack to make countries feel beneficent toward the USA, those countries are not your friends. Why would a country feel “goodwill” after a terrorist attack? Because we were, for a moment, the Victim. And as everybody knows, there is leverage in victimhood.
But America doesn’t like being anybody’s victim. It’s just not who we are. Within a day or so we were picking ourselves up and looking around for the ones who momentarily knocked us on our ass. Then we picked ourselves up and went after them with everything we had.
We did not squander the goodwill of the country. The sympathy, maybe. But not the goodwill - because we never had any of that to begin with.
On the mark!