Democratic Senators Have No Interest in Persecuted Women if They’ve Been Persecuted by Muslims

June 26, 2017 | Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Normani
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On June 14, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Normani—both from Muslim families—testified before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Islamism. None of the committee’s four female Democratic senators asked a single question of either of these two women, and one objected to the very fact that the hearing was taking place. Hirsi Ali and Normani see this silence as evidence of “a deeply troubling trend among progressives”:

When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access, and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery, or female genital mutilation.

Sitting before the senators that day were two women of color: Ayaan is from Somalia; Asra is from India. . . . Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Islamic law by having a baby while unmarried. And we have both been threatened with death by jihadists for things we have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards. . . . [But] in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas. . . .

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted, or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving”—and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism, or political correctness—it is shortsighted, dangerous, and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.

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