Wanted Women, a new joint biography of two Muslim women, refuses to distinguish between an al-Qaida terrorist and a feminist intellectual
According to this book, Hirsi Ali has a “one-track mind”; she once used a ghost-writer; she’s had her hair straightened; she “joined the AEI choir” (i.e., agreed with many of the stances adopted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington-based think tank). Yet when one analyzes these attacks a bit more closely, they either collapse or fall resolutely under the heading: So What?
For, far from having a one-track mind, Hirsi Ali has, as her best-selling autobiographies Infidel and Nomad prove, led a rich, varied, fascinating, and courageous life. She has been a Dutch MP and is an accomplished public speaker. She has an interest in the arts, speaks several languages, has worked in an orange-juice factory and a cookie factory, has advised presidents and prime ministers, and is now the mother of a 1-month-old baby. How many more tracks does Scroggins demand? Now, if the same people who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Theo van Gogh were to put a fatwa on me, I might well develop a one-track mind. But it’s not true of Hirsi Ali.
Indeed, if the obsessive criticisms in this book are anything to go by, it is Scroggins herself—what a wonderfully Trollopian name, by the way—who suffers from the one-track mind. The way in which she tenderly recalls and reprises every negative review Hirsi Ali has ever received for her books—including rude picture captions from the gutter press—while skating over the admiring ones, also underlines the utter lack of objectivity in this book.
There are also no fewer than 15 pages devoted to Hirsi Ali’s supposed lying. The lies that Scroggins refers to Hirsi Ali making are about her age and full family name on her immigration form for entry into Holland, about which she herself has written at length long before Scroggins put her pen to paper. Of course a woman attempting to escape her family and religion was not about to put all her correct details on immigration forms—a thought that does not seem to have occurred to the ever-censorious Scroggins, who describes one of Hirsi Ali’s books (wrongly) as “a thin patchwork of heavily-edited opinion pieces,” which is ironically precisely what her own book is, except this work is not edited heavily enough. She as good as admits that she can’t back up her allegations that Hirsi Ali invented her arranged marriage to a cousin she had never met, and so we are left with a young lady desperate to escape her country, family, and faith telling two small lies to immigration officials. Let us therefore compare those essentially understandable white lies to the gross, sustained black ones told by Siddiqui in her trial two years ago, which Scroggins covers in less than three pages.
When Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan in July 2008 after five years on the run, she was in possession of a computer thumb drive containing plans for conventional weapons and WMD, notes on planned terrorist attacks written in her own handwriting, instructions on how to construct missiles that could shoot down drones, descriptions of New York landmarks containing references to mass casualties, and two pounds of sodium cyanide in a glass jar. At her jury selection in a Manhattan court in January 2010, she demanded that no one must be allowed to sit on the jury “If they have a Zionist or Israeli background. I have a feeling everyone here is them—subject to genetic testing.”
How—under such circumstances, and given the murder Siddiqui subsequently tried to commit with an M-4 assault rifle once captured by American and Pakistani forces—Scroggins can write, “If Aafia had listened to her lawyers, she might have been found not guilty,” is anyone’s guess. When Siddiqui took the stand, the prosecutor very soon caught her out lying about almost every single aspect of the shooting incident, and then about her life and career, just as al-Qaida operatives are trained to do. To compare that, as this book implicitly does, with Hirsi Ali not telling real-estate agents that she doesn’t like the houses they are showing her, is so pathetic as to be laughable. Yet, Scroggins writes, Siddiqui shows “piety” and “academic excellence.” While she raised money for a charity in Bosnia, Hirsi Ali is portrayed as mendacious and “free-spending.”
The forced clitoridectomy that Hirsi Ali underwent in Somalia at age 5 is treated with something akin to blithe disregard in this book, which states that her parents “probably didn’t regard female genital mutilation with the revulsion many Westerners felt.” There goes that word “probably” again, yet we do know that her father had stated that he did not want it to happen to his daughter. But because “nearly every woman they knew was infibulated,” Scroggins implies that they were making a fuss about nothing much, and perhaps feels that it’s a form of Western domination over Muslims to express revulsion over such traditional practices anyhow. “Like the bikini and the burka or the virgin and the whore,” writes Scroggins with breathtaking viciousness if one considers the context, “you couldn’t quite understand one without understanding the other.” Siddiqui wears the burka, so what does that sentence imply Hirsi Ali is?
Don’t bother reading this morally hollow book. If you do, keep water and plenty of soap nearby.
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