My usual responses these days to that cultural-artifact-of-another-era-now-dentist-office-clutter Newsweek are to giggle or snicker. Nearly everything written for them is so predictable it’s almost a parody out of Molière. I thought the topper was when they accused our servicemen of flushing Korans down the toilet at Guantanamo without bothering to find out they don’t have flush toilets there; but the magazine’s latest salvo – a blunt-nosed attack on author-activist-actress Ayaan Hirsi Ali by someone named Lorraine Ali may even beat that.
Of course some of this sneering could be ascribed to the (in this case vagina) envy common to book reviews when the author of the book is vastly more famous than the reviewer. But the nature of the attack is straight out of the cultural relativist playbook at its most fuddy-duddy and reactionary. Lorraine Ali acknowledges that Hirsi Ali had a tough time growing up in Somalia but the fault is not Islam, it is “patriarchal society.”
Now I’ve stopped laughing. Is this news or a disinformation campaign from Newsweek? Islam is patriarchal at its very essence. All three Abrahamic religions are and were to some extent. But Islam is by far the worst. With a prophet that married a nine-year old girl, it institutionalizes misogyny in its Sharia law, rendering women official second class status in almost every aspect of society and especially in marriage where wives can be beaten by their husbands and divorced virtually at will. It goes on and on, as we know, but the treatment of the young Hirsi Ali had everything to do with Islam. Patriarchal culture is Islam and Islam is patriarchal culture.
I don’t mean to pick on Lorraine Ali, whoever she is. Her sad case of vagina envy cum Stockholm Syndrome is her problem and, unfortunately, common to many oppressed people. Newsweek is the culprit here. As an illustration for the review, they set up a glamor shot of three groovy Muslim chicks in London, as if this were a proof that everything was fine in the “diverse” Islamic world. This is like saying slavery was fine because Sally Hemings had a cool time with Thomas Jefferson. (Hey, she got some great dresses from his trip to Paris!) There’s a kind of weird racism behind all this too – not holding Islamic people to standards remotely like you would hold your own. The excuse here is cultural relativism, but I don’t believe it. I think it’s just a variant on “You know those wogs, they’ll always be like that.” Well, they will, in that case.
Newsweek isn’t part of the solution. It’s part of the problem.