Can't we just go Dutch?
October 9, 2007 3:25 PM   Subscribe

If European and North American societies are morally responsible (print-friendly) for safeguarding free speech, should we also take financial responsibility for its proponents' safety (pf)? Hitchens seems to think so.

Today's moral dilemma is brought to you, of course, by the West's favourite Voltairian nightmare: prominent Islam critic, former Dutch MP, and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Especially illustrative of the effect of Hirsi Ali on North American punditry I found her encounter with CBC's Avi Lewis, and its replies by Michael Coren and Dennis Prager.

Previously: 1 2 3

Wikipedia: Ayaan Hirsi Ali | Theo van Gogh | Avi Lewis | Michael Coren |
American Enterprise Institute | Dennis Prager discussion of 2004 secret NL Navy flight to Maine |
Hirsi Ali on the Colbert Report
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:27 PM on October 9, 2007

Does this mean we're paying for Hitchens' liver transplant?
posted by Ironmouth at 3:29 PM on October 9, 2007 [5 favorites]

...she soon found work as a translator for other Somali refugees, many of whom, like herself, were casualties of Islam.

Nothing against you, goodnews, or your post, but And this sentence marks the moment that my brain shut down. "Casualties of Islam?" So, what does that mean, exactly? That the guy who owns the deli across the street is somehow subjugating women just by existing?

Also the way the article throws around the "billion Muslims" canard (.i.e "she has a billion enemies", etc.) is just silly. Hirsi Ali isn't the enemy of "a billion people", it would be much more accurate to say that she's the enemy of a small number of very violent religious fanatics.

Yes, yes, "But the Koran says..." lots of things. Some good, beautiful things. Some violent, ugly things, too. Some Muslims take the bad parts way too literally, but most don't.

Hirsi Ali is in a tough spot. Its a scandal that she needs guards to protect her. The issues surrounding women in Islam, and our relationships with Muslims around the world are complex -- much moreso than IHT's "Beware the Muslim Peril" agitprop.
posted by Avenger at 3:46 PM on October 9, 2007 [5 favorites]

Although I don't like Hirsi Ali much, I'd be ready to contribute to a fund to provide her with protection.
What I find amusing...well, sort of...although not very surprising, is how her AEI colleagues aren't exactly falling over themselves to help her out. The douchebag prize goes to Michael Ledeen who has been cited in Dutch media as saying that bodyguards are cowardly Europeans' answer to terrorism, and that a proud American would take care of his own security.
posted by Skeptic at 3:50 PM on October 9, 2007

all fanatics are wrong, it's as simple as that.
posted by Substrata at 3:50 PM on October 9, 2007

Firstly, fuck Hitchens.

Secondly, what exactly is the dilema here? Hirsi Ali is under some kid of protection, which seems like a pretty good idea as there appear to credible threats against her, where does the story get more complex than that?
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on October 9, 2007

The story Artw is that the protection has been provided by the Dutch government so far, and that, since Hirsi Ali has made clear her intention to stay in the US in the future, the Dutch government says that from now on her security is the US' problem and is discontinuing its funding. Hitchens is not happy.

On preview: Why don't you f*cking read the links before commenting?
posted by Skeptic at 3:59 PM on October 9, 2007

My understanding is that the government should pay to protect anyone who has a credible threat, and in fact protection of citizens is the most fundamental purpose of government.

Now, does that entail providing protection for people who want to travel and go on tour, do lectures, etc? My feeling is no, the government should set reasonable budgets, etc.
posted by delmoi at 4:14 PM on October 9, 2007

Skeptic - Well, I read some of them. TBH it would have been helpful if the FPP alluded to the move to America thing.

And yes, if she stays in America it's Americas problem. Again, no dilema. Hitchens is outraged because, well, becuase he's Hitchens, and he's a dick.
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on October 9, 2007

And yes, if she stays in America it's Americas problem.

Um, no, it's not. I like Hitchens, but I think he's way off on this one. It's simply not the duty of the American taxpayers to pay for the protection of a private citizen foreign national who happens to have an America green card.

On a personal note, I was probably the first person to put Theo Van Gogh's Submission online (which #1 kindly FPP'd). Where's my bodyguard?
posted by dhammond at 4:53 PM on October 9, 2007

I expect the U.S. to protect her. Happy to have her. Don’t know why the Dutch should continue to do so if she’s not within their sphere of influence. You can’t really guarantee protection that well that way anyway. Legal problems and whatnot, basic logistics, system familiarity (health, police), etc.
Free speech - unquestionably, but from Hitchen’s POV the Skokie police should pick up the tab wherever the neo-nazi’s choose to march.
That aside, she’s a valuable world citizen. I’ll send her a check.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:58 PM on October 9, 2007

Hirst Ali is no longer a member of Dutch parliament, so she is no longer a government officeholder. Is Hitchens proposing that any private citizen whose words or actions raise questions of free speech be given comprehensive, govt. funded 24 hour security in the absence of an immediate threat? Or only if they speak out against manifestations of what Hitchens calls "islamofascism"? Of course not, because that would mean making a systematic, logical argument, and Hitchens, as always, prefers to stick with clever rhetoric and purple prose.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:18 PM on October 9, 2007

Last year Hitchens wrote

At the Swedish event, Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke calmly and rationally about the problem. I never know whether or not it's right to mention, with female public figures, the fact of arresting and hypnotizing beauty, but I notice that I seem to have done so.

... so perhaps Hitchens' view is that the government should protect brave speakers of truth who are totally hot.
posted by lukemeister at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2007

She is in fact totally hot.

I doubt that "the beautiful woman who spoke out against Islam" would ever lack for conservative == rich supporters who would protect her in America.

However, Hitchens is in fact completely annoying.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:51 PM on October 9, 2007

She works for American Enterprise Institute so I feel compelled to let the market sort it out and to point out there is no scientific consensus that she is actually in danger.
posted by srboisvert at 4:46 AM on October 10, 2007 [6 favorites]

srboisvert nails it. :)

I'm not a Hitch fan, but I will agree with him that this person is deserving of protection, and it's an issue that the Dutch seem to have fumbled a bit, but i also think that the Dutch are essentially correct to ask that if she is going to remain in the US, her protection is really no longer their responsibility.

The AEI can foot at least part of the bill. Her protection might be a nice face-saving contract for Blackwater.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:25 AM on October 10, 2007

I've read several pieces by/about Ms. Ali. She's a brave woman who endured death threats and 24-hr security while serving in the Dutch parliament.

I was disappointed when the American Enterprise Institute got her as a fellow. I would have preferred a left-wing think tank get her instead.

Read her story. The woman is important and courageous.
posted by 4midori at 12:19 AM on October 11, 2007

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