Saturday, May 29, 2010


thursday i walked into the Barnes & Nobles near Time's Square and i was happily surprised to see that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a new book out entitled Nomad. i nearly screamed when i saw it at the check out counter. how did i not know of this?
i read two pages and bought it. usually, i would just check it out from the library, but since it was just released this month, they probably won't get a copy in until late summer. plus, i own and have read her other books (Infidel and The Caged Virgin), and i think she's such an amazing woman. her perspective is so extraordinary and remarkable that i cannot pass up one of her books. i would say she's one of my idols, but i don't idolize anyone. i idolize characteristics in people, but never the person.

i'm about 100 pages in so far and she's talking about specific family members of hers and detailing what she's been doing since she was stripped of her Dutch citizenship and the long-distance reunion with her family.
but in between talking of her family, she goes into the issues with Islam, the issues of underdeveloped countries (and/or with overly religious societies), and the reverence she has for the west. at some points, though, it is almost as if she has an infatuation with western countries. in a letter to her dead grandmother, she contrasts western and non-western countries ("non-western countries" meaning, in this context, countries that have a national religion or an overwhelmingly religious citizenry like Somalia, where she is from). she says this:
Grandmother, i have compared the infidels' morals to those that you taught us, and i must report that they have, in practice, a better outcome for humans that the morals of your forefathers.
the infidel insists on honesty and trust. everywhere you turn here, you must trust someone: to fly the airplane you travel in, to teach your child, to take care of you when you are sick and feed you food that is edible. and everywhere your trust is borne out.
the infidel does not see life as a test, a passage to the hereafter, but as an end and a joy in itself. all his resources of money, mind, and organization go into making life here, in Earth, comfortable and healthy. he is obsessed with cleanliness, a good diet, and the right amount of rest. ....
because the infidel trusts and studies new ideas, there is abundance in the infidel lands. in these circumstances of peace, knowledge, and predictability, the birth of a girl is just fine. ......
salvation lies in the ways of the infidel, grandmother. he has printed and bound books full of memory. he peeks through lenses that allow him to see an invisible world of creatures that live in us and with us, and he has sought and found remedies that attack them and defend our bodies. grandma, fevers and diseases are not caused by jinn and forefathers rising from the dead to torment us, or by an angry god, but by invisible creatures with names like parasites and bacteria and viruses. the infidels medicine works better than ours, because it is based on facts, inquiry, and real knowledge.
the sooner we adopt the infidel attitude towards work, money, procreation and leisure, the easier and better life will be.
it's interesting to see what my/our society looks like through someone else's scope. she praises a number of things i wouldn't consider positives. for example, she says we have an abundance in western countries. i'm assuming she's referring to our resources. but theres so many things that are ignored in that abundance. like the cheap (or often times free) labor i spoke of in the last post, the stealing of resources we do to nations like Somalia, and the countries we unlawfully dispose of this abundance.
she also speaks about western countries as if we don't have religious zealots simply because we have secular governments. anyone who has lived in a western country and paid attention could tell you the extremes religion takes in the United States, especially.

one thing that always makes me think from her books is the criticism she makes of western liberals and feminists. she says when it comes to their own countries, liberals and feminists are relentless in their criticisms, but when it comes to other countries and cultures, theres the go-to response of relativism. which is very true. conservatives are mainly the ones openly condemning some of their practices (although their criticisms are usually saturated in a superiority complex and racism).
but Ayaan sees this as egotism. to her, it is almost like someone saying "this is right, good, better, beneficial and progressive for MY society, but for yours.....its whatever. MY society is the society that can handle this concept and reap its benefits. yours probably cannot. your people aren't intelligent enough to grasp this concept, thus i suspend my opinion on YOUR country and YOUR people....".

i think religion has some benefits (very very few, that can probably be accessed through alternative mediums), but that overall it's destructive, divisive, counter-productive and idolizes mental docility, dogmatism, and ignorance in its followers. and by "religion", i mainly mean Christianity and Islam. other ideologies and practices that may fit under the umbrella of "religion" don't, to me, share or continue to exhibit these features. "religion" is too broad a term to make one single true statement about it. and while i may side with liberal on 99% of the political issues, the topic of Islam is one i would disagree with them on. that being said though, there are many aspects of any religion that is difficult to tell apart from the tradition of a land. the Qu'ran says nothing about female genital mutilation, yet it is most practiced in Muslim populated countries, and many Muslims in western countries continue to practice it. so is it a part of Islam or their culture?

this post isn't all that coherent. maybe when i finish the book i can get some cohesive thought(s) and my post won't sound like a ramble.
anyway, theres so many questions that arise while reading her books. you should definitely pick this one up.

comment. read her book. but her book. think. criticize.
also, she did an interview on the Tavis Smiley show you can view.

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