If it is it doesn't matter

Monday, May 15, 2006

No Longer a Hero

Early in my blogging a I wrote a post entitled "A new hero" about a woman named Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose story, and her heroism touched me. She is the woman who wrote the movie that Theo Van Gogh directed that got him killed -- and that achievement remains untarnished. She also had fled to the Netherlands from Somalia, getting off the plane in Germany and seeking asylum as she escaped from her family and an arranged marriage. Except, it now turns out, she didn't. She'd left Somalia years before, had lived in Kenya and then in Germany, and finally chose to move to the Netherlands. And, as she states blithely on her website
"Hirsi Ali repeated on the TV documentary that when she arrived in 1992 she changed her name from Hirsi Magan and her birth date on her asylum application and did not tell the authorities that she had lived in three different countries since leaving Somalia.

"I invented a story that would be consistent with the conditions for asylum," she told The Associated Press."

Apparently she had admitted the change of name and age a long time previously, when she first ran for Parliament. But on the same website she is still being referred to as 'a refugee from an arranged marraige,' also now brought into question.

I condemned, rightfully so, George Deutsch for lying on his White House application -- and he merely claimed he had graduated from college when apparently he had done the course work but got so caught up in political work he never returned to graduate.

I can not forgive her for these lies, not merely because of her casual comments quoted above, but because her dishonesty in this casts a shadow on all her important work for human rights, women's rights, and against the worst problems in Islam. Her continuing to post mentions of the arranged marraige, plus a poll, supposedly of her readership that says that 98% of them 'do not think less of her because of these lies' (I have rarely seen an honest poll of anything that gets a 98% vote on one side) give her enemies ready made ammunition to dismiss anything else she says, and even worse to link other female critics of Islam to her and discount their statements as well.

(It is particularly ironic that she should post a story admitting her lies directly above one that awarded her a 'moral courage award.")

She is no longer a 'hero of mine.' She will be, however, a fellow countryman, since she is coming here, apparently to work at the American Enterprise Institute, an extremely conservative think tank that was willing to accept her. (That she simultaneously attempted to apply to the Brookings Institution and Johns Hopkins University may be merely an act of desperation, and not hypocrisy, though I wonder how many other people in history have applied to both Brookings and AEI at once.)

I have spoken in her favor on several blogs. I wish to apologize to any reader who read my comments. Truth matters. If it doesn't, what are we fighting for?

UPDATE on the poll:
Apparently it was the readers of LGF that slanted the poll so strongly. Originally the division was about 3 to 1 AGAINST her, 122 saying they thought less of her, only 27 in her favor. LGF published these results and said (do I hear echoes of Limbaugh) 'you know what to do.' The poll wound up 8276 in her favor, 133 against, a fact she doesn't mention when she quotes the results.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have been very open about the fact that when I applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, I did so under a false name and with a fabricated story. In 2002, I spoke on national television about the conditions of my arrival, and I said then that I fabricated a story in order to be able to receive asylum here. Since that TV program I have repeated this dozens of times, in Dutch and international media. Many times I have truthfully named my father and given my correct date of birth. (You will find a selection of these articles in the press folder). I also informed the VVD leadership and members of this fact when I was invited to stand for parliament."
"I have said many times that I am not proud that I lied when I sought asylum in the Netherlands. It was wrong to do so. I did it because I felt I had no choice. I was frightened that if I simply said I was fleeing a forced marriage, I would be sent back to my family. And I was frightened that if I gave my real name, my clan would hunt me down and find me. So I chose a name that I thought I could disappear with – the real name of my grandfather, who was given the birth-name Ali. I claimed that my name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although I should have said it was Ayaan Hirsi Magan."
[...]"This is my clan, and therefore, in Somalia, this is my name: Ayaan Hirsi Magan Isse Guleid Ali Wai’ays Muhammad Ali Umar Osman Mahamud."[...]
"Now for the questions about my forced marriage. Last week’s TV program cast doubt on my credibility in that respect, and the final conclusion of the documentary is that all this is terribly complicated. Let me tell you, it’s not so complex. The allegations that I willingly married my distant cousin, and was present at the wedding ceremony, are simply untrue. This man arrived in Nairobi from Canada, asked my father for one of his five daughters, and my father gave him me. I can assure you my father is not a man who takes no for an answer. Still, I refused to attend the formal ceremony, and I was married regardless. Then, on my way to Canada -- during a stopover in Germany -- I traveled to the Netherlands and asked for asylum here. In all simplicity this is what happened, nothing more and nothing less."

12:58 PM  
Blogger Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I wish you'd signed your comment. I accept anonymous comments but prefer to have some sort of a name to reply to.

As for what you say, I don't buy it. I wish I did, but the number of problems I see with both her story and her website make me unwilling to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite the unquestionable good she's done in some areas.

11:06 PM  

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