In a heartfelt interview with The Daily Beast controversial women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali called on liberals to speak out against Islamic extremism and honor violence.
But most interesting was the words she reserved for her fellow liberals. She said “We are seeing that Western feminists are shy about pointing out the misogyny that’s committed in the name of the religion of Islam, because they feel we can’t impose our ethnocentric or Eurocentric or American-centric ways.”
As she correctly noted, this lies at the core of much of western reticence to criticize Islamic extremism and to stand up against abuse.
Many find the inevitable accusations of bigotry too much to handle and therefore shy away from criticizing obvious abuses, such as that which takes place on a daily basis in Saudi Arabia.
But Ayaan Hirsi Ali had a simple message for western feminists who might be worried about that: “Don’t be ridiculous.”
You don’t have to agree with Hirsi Ali’s more extreme views to agree with her on this. The purpose of fighting racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination is so that everyone can be on a level playing field. That means we have an obligation to fight injustice and support freedom.
Becoming consumed by anxiety about cultural sensitivity does not help those who are oppressed – it lets you own emotional security get in the way of justice.
Hirsi Ali says: “It doesn’t matter where you are as an individual human being; freedom is freedom. Nobody likes to be oppressed. Human rights are universal. Individual rights are universal. This is the message to American feminists and other Western feminists: the best thing to share is the outcome of the emancipation.”
It is a powerful and important message and one that we all need to absorb.